Balder the Beautiful, Volume I. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 473 pages of information about Balder the Beautiful, Volume I..

[253] A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, op. cit. pp. 70 sq., No. 72. 2.

[254] A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, op. cit. p. 71, No. 72. 3.

[255] Karl Muellenhoff, Sagen, Maerchen und Lieder der Herzogthuemer Holstein und Lauenburg (Kiel, 1845), pp. 158 sg., No. 217.

CHAPTER III

THE MYTH OF BALDER

[How Balder, the good and beautiful god, was done to death by a stroke of the mistletoe.]

A deity whose life might in a sense be said to be neither in heaven nor on earth but between the two, was the Norse Balder, the good and beautiful god, the son of the great god Odin, and himself the wisest, mildest, best beloved of all the immortals.  The story of his death, as it is told in the younger or prose Edda, runs thus.  Once on a time Balder dreamed heavy dreams which seemed to forebode his death.  Thereupon the gods held a council and resolved to make him secure against every danger.  So the goddess Frigg took an oath from fire and water, iron and all metals, stones and earth, from trees, sicknesses and poisons, and from all four-footed beasts, birds, and creeping things, that they would not hurt Balder.  When this was done Balder was deemed invulnerable; so the gods amused themselves by setting him in their midst, while some shot at him, others hewed at him, and others threw stones at him.  But whatever they did, nothing could hurt him; and at this they were all glad.  Only Loki, the mischief-maker, was displeased, and he went in the guise of an old woman to Frigg, who told him that the weapons of the gods could not wound Balder, since she had made them all swear not to hurt him.  Then Loki asked, “Have all things sworn to spare Balder?” She answered, “East of Walhalla grows a plant called mistletoe; it seemed to me too young to swear.”  So Loki went and pulled the mistletoe and took it to the assembly of the gods.  There he found the blind god Hother standing at the outside of the circle.  Loki asked him, “Why do you not shoot at Balder?” Hother answered, “Because I do not see where he stands; besides I have no weapon.”  Then said Loki, “Do like the rest and shew Balder honour, as they all do.  I will shew you where he stands, and do you shoot at him with this twig.”  Hother took the mistletoe and threw it at Balder, as Loki directed him.  The mistletoe struck Balder and pierced him through and through, and he fell down dead.  And that was the greatest misfortune that ever befell gods and men.  For a while the gods stood speechless, then they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly.  They took Balder’s body and brought it to the sea-shore.  There stood Balder’s ship; it was called Ringhorn, and was the hugest of all ships.  The gods wished to launch the ship and to burn Balder’s body on it, but the ship would not stir.  So they sent for a giantess called Hyrrockin.  She came riding on a wolf and gave the ship such a push that fire flashed from the rollers and all the earth shook.  Then Balder’s body was taken and placed on the funeral pile upon his ship.  When his wife Nanna saw that, her heart burst for sorrow and she died.  So she was laid on the funeral pile with her husband, and fire was put to it.  Balder’s horse, too, with all its trappings, was burned on the pile.[256]

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Balder the Beautiful, Volume I. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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