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Page from the Skírnismál

The song of Skírnir (Old Norse Skírnismál (Skm) or Skírnisför) is a song of the gods of the Edda song . It is dated to the late 12th century at the earliest . The use of the run names in particular suggests a very late development.


The actual poem consists of 42 stanzas, which are written in Eddic verse Ljóðaháttr , and which present the whole plot as a dialogue, most of it between Skírnir and Gerðr. Snorri has included a short form of this dialogue in Gylfaginning (Gylf 36).


In this song, the poet tells of an extraordinary courtship during which a servant of Freyr , Skírnir, frees for the giant daughter Gerðr , whose consent can ultimately only be obtained through magical compulsion . After Gerðr has refused Freyr's gifts, eleven golden apples and the Draupnir ring , Skírnir resorts to his last resort and threatens the giantess with Run-runes (th-rune Þuroíaz), which he wants to scratch in order to disgrace and shame her (Skm 36). A short prose introduction consisting of a few sentences, similar to that of the Grímnismál , describes the initial situation: Freyr saw Hliðskjálf from Óðinn's high seat , which allows one to see the whole earth, the beautiful Gerðr, with whom he fell in love. This love gave him a deep depression because he could not own Gerðr. Freyr's father Njörðr instructed his servant Skírnir to get his son to share his concerns. As a result, Skírnir was then commissioned to leave for Jötumheimr to woo Freyr for the giantess, and received his sword and horse as well as some gifts.


In 1909, Magnus Olsen saw the representation of the resurrection of the earth goddess, who rests in hibernation and is brought back to life by the sun in spring to green, bloom and bear fruit. Freyr, the god of fertility, would like to marry Gerðr, the goddess of the earth, but does not manage to wake her up and therefore asks Skimir, the solar radiation, shown here as a force of nature (= Thurse = giant), for help. Skimir manages to awaken Gerðr, who can then marry Freyr and become fertile. This type of divine union is also called the Holy Wedding Hieros gamos .

The names of the gods and Thursen in this story have the following meanings. The name Freyr means lord. His sister's name Freya means woman. The name of the Thursen (giant) Skimir means solar radiation. And the name Gerðr means the fenced, what is meant is the fenced field.

Other interpretations

In the 1980s, other researchers interpreted this myth as an example of high medieval love poetry, which expresses the tension between marriage as a legal institution and love between man and woman as an individual passion.

Lotte Motz assumes that this myth could be a representation of the Æsir-Vanir war: the Æsir , represented by Freyr, the Vanir classified by Gerðr. In Norse mythology , however, Freyr does not appear anywhere as a conqueror (even in the Skírnismál he needs an alter ego), and the pain of love and depression do not quite fit into this interpretation.

Steinsland has recently interpreted this poem from the point of view of royal ideology. Freyr has settled on the high seat and has the rulership insignia ring, apple and staff (scepter) with him, which he will then give to Skírnir. In the Ynglinga saga chap. 10 it is said that the first king Fjolne has its origin in the connection between the god Freyr and the giantess Gerðr in the forest of Barre . Establishing the origin of a royal family in a hieros gamos is common royal ideology. The Ladejarle family in the Háleygjatal of the skald Eyvind Finnsson can be traced back to the connection between the god Odin and the giantess Skade, from which the progenitor Sæming emerges. Steinsland interprets the motif of violence as the image for the submission of the dominion.

Figures of poetry

  • Æsir , the members of the pantheon of the Norse family of gods , mainly gods of war and patrimonial rule; they are gods of the preservation and order of creation
  • Vanir , the second great family of gods next to the Æsir, who are considered to be Germanic fertility gods and were asked by the population for good harvest, sun, rain and good wind (especially Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja , who were hostages at the end of the Æsir-Vanir war came to the sir)
  • Freyr (Old Norse Lord), son of Njörðr and brother of Freyja, the most important god of the Vanir and fertility god of Germanic mythology; he owns the ship Skíðblaðnir and the boar Gullinborsti
  • Skírnir (Old Norse the radiant), servant and messenger of the god Freyr, who woos the giant daughter Gerðr for him
  • Njörðr , one of the Vanir gods, who rules over the wind, the sea (rich fishing), but also over fire and is said to give wealth; he is the father of the siblings Freyr and Freyja
  • Gerðr , daughter of the giant Gymnir , an earth goddess and partner of the fertility god Freyr


  • Felix Genzmer: The Edda. Poetry of gods, proverbs and heroic songs of the Germanic peoples. Munich 1996 (Skm. 85-91).
  • Hans Kuhn (ed.): Edda. The songs of the Codex Regius and related monuments . II. Short dictionary. Heidelberg 1968.
  • Gustav Neckel (ed.): Edda. The songs of the Codex Regius and related monuments . I. Text, 5th improved edition by Hans Kuhn. Heidelberg 1983 (Skm. 69-77).
  • Karl Simrock: The Edda. The older and younger Edda and the mythical tales of the skalds . Essen, n.d. (Skm. 97-103).
  • Baul Bibire: "Freyr and Gerðr. The story and its Myths." In: Rudolf Simek et al .: Sagnaskemmtun: Studies in Honor of Hermann Palsson. Vienna, Cologne, Graz 1986. pp. 19-40.
  • Carolyne Larrington, "What Does Woman Want? Mær and munr in Skírnismál " , Alvíssmál 1 (1992): 3-16. (PDF file; 252 kB)
  • Heinz Klingenberg, " För Skírnis : Brautwerbungsfahrt eines Werbungshelfers " , Alvíssmál 6 (1996): 21–62. (PDF file; 318 kB)
  • Anatoly Liberman, Review of Klaus von See et al .: "Skírnismál": model of an Edda commentary. In: Alvíssmál 6, 1996, pp. 114–18 ( PDF; 156 kB)
  • Anne Heinrichs: The lovesick Freyr, euhemeristically demythed. In: Alvíssmál. 7, 1997, pp. 3-36 ( PDF; 280 kB).
  • Lars Lönnroth: Skirnismál och den förnisländska äktenskapsnormen. In: Christian Jacobsen et al .: Opuscula Septentrionalia. Festskrift til Ole Widding October 10, 1977. Copenhagen 1978. pp. 154-178.
  • Stephen Mitchell: För Skirnis as Mythiological Model: Frið at kaupa . In: Sven Benson, et al. (Ed.): Arkiv för nordisk filologi (ANF) . Episode 7, volume 5 (= band 98 of the complete edition). CWK Gleerups förlag, Lund 1983, p. 108–122 (multilingual, [PDF]).
  • Julie Randlev: "Skírnismál. En tekst - og dens udsagn; digtning og tradition." In: Maal og Minne 1985. pp. 132-158.
  • Gro Steinsland: "The mythological basis for the Nordic royal ideology." In: Heinrich Beck, Detlev Ellmers , Kurt Schier (eds.): Germanic religious history. Sources and source problems. Berlin 1992. Supplementary volumes to the Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde Vol. 5. pp. 736–751.

Web links

Wikisource: Skírnismál  - sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Magnus Olsen 1909.
  2. Lönnroth, Mitchell, Bibire, Randlev.
  3. Lotte Motz: The Faces of the Goddess. Oxford University Press, New York 1997.