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Lokasenna

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220px-Lokasenna by Lorenz Frølich

Loki quarrels with the gods in the hall of Ægir

The Lokasenna is a poem in the Poetic Edda. It depicts the exchange of several insults between Loki and the Æsir. It takes place during a banquet held for th gods by Ægir and Rán. Many references to mythological events mention in the Lokasenna (particularly those mentioned by Loki) are elsewhere unattested. This may be due to the nature of the poem, in which Loki hurls insults upon the gods, probably with little or no foundation.

BackgroundEdit

AttendanceEdit

Ægir had organised a feast, to which he invited all the gods. Among those in attendance include Óðinn, his wife Frigg, Bragi and Iðunn, Týr, Njörðr, Skaði, Freyr (accompanied by his servants Byggvir and Beyla), Freyja, Víðarr, Gefjun, Heimdall and Sif. Thor is not in attendance, as he was journeying (as is mentioned in the prose opening of the poem). Many other Æsir and Vanir were in attendance, as were Ægir's servants Fimafeng and Eldir.

Ægir had Fimafeng and Eldir welcome the guests, who heaped praise upon the two, and Ægir's hall. Loki, in a fit of jealousy, slew Fimafeng and was subsequently driven away by the gods, who then feasted and drank in the hall. Loki, after returning from the woods, confronts Eldir outside the hall, where the poem begins.

TextEdit

The following is an excerpt of the text, depicting the insults Loki hurls upon the gods.

(Having killed Ægir's servant Fimafeng, Loki has been driven from the hall by the gods. Having returned, Loki speaks with Ægir's other servant, Eldir, who is also outside the hall)
Loki:

"Speak now, Eldir,
for not one step
farther shalt thou fare;
what ale-talk here
do they have within,
the sons of the glorious gods?"

Eldir:

"Of their weapons they talk,
and their might in war,
the sons of the glorious gods;
from the gods and elves
who are gathered here
no friend in words shalt thou find."

Loki:

"In shall I gointo Ægir's hall,
For the feast I fain would see;
bale and hatred I bring to the gods,
And their mead with venom I mix."

Eldir:

"If in thou goest to Ægir's hall,
and fain the feast wouldst see,
and with slander and spite
wouldst sprinkle the gods,
think well lest they wipe it on thee."

Loki:

"Bethink thee, Eldir, if thou and I
shall strive with spiteful speech;
richer I grow, in ready words
if thou speakest too much to me."

(Loki enters the hall and silence falls)
Loki:

"Thirsty I come
into this thine hall,
I, Lopt 1, from a journey long,
to ask of the gods
that one should give
fair mead for a drink to me.
Why sit ye silent, swollen with pride,
ye gods, and no answer give?
At your feast a place
and a seat prepare me,
or bid me forth to fare."

Bragi:

A place and a seat will the gods prepare
no more in their midst for thee;
for the gods know well what men they wish
to find at their mighty feasts."

Loki:

"Remember, Odin, in olden days
that we both our blood have mixed;
then didst thou promise no ale to pour,
unless it were brought for us both."

Odin:

Stand forth then, Víðarr, and let the wolf's2 father
find a seat at our feast;
lest evil should Loki speak aloud
here, within Ægir's hall."

(Víðarr pours a drink for Loki, who, before drinking, speaks to the gods assembled)
Loki:

"Hail, Æsir!
Hail, Asyniur!
And ye, all-holy gods!
all, save that one man,
who sits within there,
Bragi, on yonder bench."

Bragi:

"I know that were I without,
as I am now within,
the hall of Ægir,
I thy head would
bear in my hand,
and so for lying punish thee."

Loki:

"Valiant on thy seat art thou, Bragi!
but so thou shouldst not be,
Bragi, the bench's pride!
Go and fight,
if thou art angry;
a brave man sits not considering."

(Iðunn intervenes to protect of her husband)
Iðunn:

"I pray thee, Bragi!
let avail the bond of children,
and of all adopted sons,
and to Loki speak not
in reproachful words,
in Ægir's hall."

Loki:

"Be silent, Idunn!
of all women I declare thee
most fond of men,
since thou thy arms,
carefully washed, didst twine
round thy brother's murderer."

Iðunn:

"Loki I address not
with opprobrious words,
in Ægir's hall.
Bragi I soothe,
by beer excited.
I desire not that angry ye fight."

Gefjun:

"Why will ye, Æsir twain,
here within,
strive with reproachful words?
Lopt perceives not
that he is deluded,
and is urged on by fate."

Loki:

"Be silent, Gefjun!
I will now just mention,
how that fair youth
thy mind corrupted,
who thee a necklace gave,
and around whom thou thy limbs didst twine?"

(Odin interrupts)
Odin:

"Knowest thou that I gave
to those I ought not -
victory to cowards?
Thou was eight winters
on the earth below,
milked cow as a woman,
and didst there bear children.
Now that, methinks, betokens a base nature."

Loki:

"But, it is said, thou wentest
with tottering steps in Samsö,
and knocked at houses as a Vala 3.
In likeness of a fortune teller,
thou wentest among people;
Now that, methinks, betokens a base nature."

(Frigg defends her husband)
Frigg:

"Your doings
ye should never
publish among men,
what ye, Æsir twain,
did in days of yore.
Ever forgotten be men's former deeds!"

Loki:

"Be thou silent, Frigg!
Thou art Fjörgynn's daughter,
and ever hast been lustful,
since and Vili, it is said,
thou, Viðrir's wife 4, didst
both to thy bosom take."

Freyja:

"Mad art thou, Loki!
in recounting
thy foul misdeeds.
Frigg, I believe,
knows all that happens,
although she says it not."

Loki:

"Be thou silent, Freyja!
I know thee full well;
thou art not free from vices:
of the Æsir and the Alfar,
that are herein,
each has been thy paramour."

Freyja:

"False is thy tongue.
Henceforth it will, I think,
prate no good to thee.
Wroth with thee are the Æsir,
and the Asyniur.
Sad shalt thou home depart."

Loki:

"Be silent, Freyja!
Thou art a sorceress,
and with much evil blended;
since against thy brother thou
the gentle powers excited.
And then, Freyja! what didst thou do?"

(Njörðr intervenes to defend his daughter)
Njörðr:

"It is no great wonder,
if silk-clad dames
get themselves husbands, lovers;
but 'tis a wonder that a wretched man,
that has borne children5,
should herein enter."

Loki:

"Cease now, Njörðr!
in bounds contain thyself;
I will no longer keep it secret:
it was with thy sister
thou hadst such a son
hardly worse than thyself."

(Týr defends Freyr) Týr:

"Freyr is best
of all the exalted gods
in the Æsir's courts:
no maid he makes to weep,
no wife of man,
and from bonds looses all."

Loki:

"Be silent, Týr;
to thy wife it happened
to have a son by me.
Nor rag nor penny ever
hadst thou, poor wretch!
for this injury."

Freyr:

"I the wolf see lying
at the river's mouth,
until the powers are swept away.
So shalt thou be bound,
if thou art not silent,
thou framer of evil."

Loki:

"With gold thou boughtest
Gýmir's daughter,
and so gavest away thy sword:
but when Muspell's sons
through the dark forest ride,
thou, unhappy, wilt not
have wherewith to fight."

(Byggvir, a servant of Freyr, defends his master)
Byggvir:

Had I birth so famous
as Ingvnar-Freyr,
And sat in so lofty a seat,
I would crush to marrow
this croaker of ill,
And beat all his body to bits."

Loki:

"What little creature
goes crawling there,
Snuffling and snapping about?
At Freyr's ears ever
wilt thou be found,
Or muttering hard at the mill."

Byggvir:

"Byggvir my name,
and nimble am I,
As gods and men do grant;
And here am I proud
that the children of Hropt 6
Together all drink ale."

Loki:

"Be silent, Byggvir!
thou never couldst set
Their shares of the meat for men;
Hid in straw on the floor,
they found thee not
When heroes were fain to fight."

Heimdall:

"Loki, thou art drunk,
and hast lost thy wits.
Why dost thou not leave off, Loki?
But drunkenness
so rules every man,
that he knows not of his garrulity."

Loki:

"Be silent, Heimdallr!
For thee in early days
was that hateful life decreed:
with a wet back
thou must ever be,
and keep watch as guardian of the gods."

Skaði:

"Thou art merry, Loki!
Not long wilt thou
frisk with an unbound tail;
for thee, on a rock's point,
with the entrails of thy ice-cold son,
the gods will bind." 7

Loki:

"Milder was thou of speech
to Laufey's son, 8
when to thy bed thou didst invite me.
Such matters must be mentioned,
if we accurately must
recount our vices."

(Sif pours mead for Loki)
Sif:

"Hail to thee, Loki!
and this cool cup receive,
full of old mead:
at least me alone,
among the blameless Æsir race,
leave stainless."

Loki:

"So alone shouldst thou be,
hadst thou strict and prudent been
towards thy mate;
but one I know,
and, I think, know him well,
a favoured rival of Hlórriði 9,
and that is the wily Loki."

(Beyla, wife of Byggvir, replies)
Beyla:

"The mountains shake,
and surely I think
From his home comes Hlórriði now;
He will silence the man
who is slandering here
Together both gods and men."

Loki:

"Be silent, Beyla!
thou art Byggvir's wife,
And deep art thou steeped in sin;
A greater shame
to the gods came ne'er,
Befouled thou art with thy filth."

(Thor, previously absent, bursts into the hall)
Thor:

"Silence, thou impure being!
My mighty hammer, Mjölnir,
shall stop thy prating.
I will thy head
from thy neck strike;
then will thy life be ended."

Loki:

"Lo, in has come the son of Earth 10:
Why threaten so loudly, Thor?
Less fierce thou shalt go to fight with the wolf 11
When he swallows Sigfather12 up."

Thor:

"Unmanly one, cease, or the mighty hammer,
Mjollnir, shall close thy mouth;
I shall hurl thee up and out in the East,
Where men shall see thee no more."

Loki:

That thou hast fared on the East-road forth
To men shouldst thou say no more;
In the thumb of a glove didst thou hide, thou great one,
And there forgot thou wast Thor.13"

Thor:

"Unmanly one, cease, or the mighty hammer,
Mjollnir, shall close thy mouth;
My right hand shall smite thee | with Hrungnir's slayer 14,
Till all thy bones are broken."

Loki:

"Along time still do I think to live,
Though thou threatenest thus with thy hammer;
Rough seemed the straps of Skrýmir's wallet 15,
When thy meat thou mightest not get,

Thor:

"Unmanly one, cease, or the mighty hammer,
Mjollnir, shall close thy mouth;
The slayer of Hrungnir shall send thee to hell,
And down to the gate of death."

Loki:

"I have said to the gods and the sons of the god,
The things that whetted my thoughts;
But before thee alone do I now go forth,
For thou fightest well, I ween.
Ale hast thou brewed, but, Ægir, now
Such feasts shalt thou make no more;
O'er all that thou hast which is here within
Shall play the flickering flames,
And thy back shall be burnt with fire.16"

The poem concludes with an account of the capture and subsequent binding of Loki until Ragnarok. The poem finishes with the line

"And there he lies till the destruction of the gods."

NotesEdit

1 Loptr is another name for Loki.

2 Loki is the father of Fenrir.

3 The same as "völva" i.e. a seeress. Thus Loki is insulting Odin's manhood.


4 Viðrir is another name for Odin. Loki insinuates that Frigg has had affairs with both of her husband's brothers; Vili and .

5 Njörðr refers to Loki's rearing of Sleipnir. Loki had taken the form of a mare and seduced Svaðilfari the stallion. Njörðr may also refer to Loki's three children by Angrboða; Fenrir, Jormungand and Hel.

6 Hropt, or Hroptr, is another name for Odin.

7 The manner that Skaði describes is that used to bind Loki until Ragnarok. After this scene in the hall, Loki runs away but is eventually caught by the gods. Skaði herself places a snake above Loki's head.

8 Loki refers to himself.

9 Hlórriði is another name for Thor. Loki claims that he once slept with Sif.

10 Thor is the son of Jörð, goddess of the Earth.

11 Fenrir, who, at Ragnarok, will consume Odin, only to be killed by Vidar.

12 Sigföðr, another name for Odin.

13 Loki refers to a trip to Útgarðr, where they (and their companions Þjálfi and Röskva) where escorted by Skrýmir, a giant who turned out to be Útgarða-Loki, King of Útgarðr. Thor and the others once slept in the fingers of Skrýmir's glove, believing it to be a cave.

14 Thor once slew a giant named Hrungnir. The head, heart and shield of Hrungnir were made of stone.

15 On the journey with Skrýmir, the giant tricks the travellers out of the food, placing it in his wallet. THor, unable to open the wallet, attempt to kill Skrýmir thrice, with Mjollnir. Skrýmir protects himseld with a mountain but, to the travellers, seems to be unharmed each time, claiming the blows to be falling acorns. However, Thor succeeds in creating three clefts in a mountain, one for each blow.

16 Loki refers to Ragnarok, where the victorious Múspellsmegir (fire giants) cover the world in flames, only for it to be born anew.

External LinksEdit

  • The Loksaenna and other pieces from the Poetic Edda can be found here

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