The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 980 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

But Loki did not escape his deserved punishment.  When he saw how angry the gods were, he fled to the mountain, and there built himself a hut with four doors, so that he could see every approaching danger.  He invented a net to catch the fishes, such as fishermen have used since his time.  But Odin found out his hiding-place and the gods assembled to take him.  He, seeing this, changed himself into a salmon, and lay hid among the stones of the brook.  But the gods took his net and dragged the brook, and Loki, finding he must be caught, tried to leap over the net; but Thor caught him by the tail and compressed it, so that salmons ever since have had that part remarkably fine and thin.  They bound him with chains and suspended a serpent over his head, whose venom falls upon his face drop by drop.  His wife Siguna sits by his side and catches the drops as they fall, in a cup; but when she carries it away to empty it, the venom falls upon Loki, which makes him howl with horror, and twist his body about so violently that the whole earth shakes, and this produces what men call earthquakes.


The Edda mentions another class of beings, inferior to the gods, but still possessed of great power; these were called Elves.  The white spirits, or Elves of Light, were exceedingly fair, more brilliant than the sun, and clad in garments of a delicate and transparent texture.  They loved the light, were kindly disposed to mankind, and generally appeared as fair and lovely children.  Their country was called Alfheim, and was the domain of Freyr, the god of the sun, in whose light they were always sporting.

The Black or Night Elves were a different kind of creatures.  Ugly, long-nosed dwarfs, of a dirty brown color, they appeared only at night, for they avoided the sun as their most deadly enemy, because whenever his beams fell upon any of them they changed them immediately into stones.  Their language was the echo of solitudes, and their dwelling-places subterranean caves and clefts.  They were supposed to have come into existence as maggots produced by the decaying flesh of Ymir’s body, and were afterwards endowed by the gods with a human form and great understanding.  They were particularly distinguished for a knowledge of the mysterious powers of nature, and for the runes which they carved and explained.  They were the most skilful artificers of all created beings, and worked in metals and in wood.  Among their most noted works were Thor’s hammer, and the ship “Skidbladnir,” which they gave to Freyr, and which was so large that it could contain all the deities with their war and household implements, but so skillfully was it wrought that when folded together it could be put into a side pocket.


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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.