Old Norse - Gylfaginning

The Tricking of Gylfi: Hermod’s ride to Hell

En þat er at segja frá Hermóði at hann reið níu nætr døkkva dala ok djúpa svá at hann sá ekki fyrr en hann kom til árinnar Gjallar ok reið á Gjallar brúna. Hon er þökð lýsigulli. Móðguðr er nefnd mær sú er gætir brúarinnar. Hon spurði hann at nafni eða ætt ok sagði at hinn fyrra dag riðu um brúna fimm fylki dauðra manna,

‘ “En eigi dynr brúin minnr undir einum þér ok eigi hefir þú lit dauðra manna. Hví ríðr þú hér á Helveg?”

‘Hann svarar at “ek skal ríða til Heljar at leita Baldrs. Eða hvárt hefir þú nakkvat sét Baldr á Helvegi?”

‘En hon sagði at Baldr hafði þar riðit um Gjallar brú, “en niðr ok norðr liggr Helvegr.”

Þá reið Hermóðr þar til er hann kom at Helgrindum. Þá sté hann af hestinum ok gyrði hann fast, steig upp ok keyrði hann sporum. En hestrinn hljóp svá hart ok yfir grindina at hann kom hvergi nær. Þá reið Hermóðr heim til hallarinnar ok steig af hesti, gekk inn í höllina, sá þar sitja í öndugi Baldr bróður sinn, ok dvalðisk Hermóðr þar um nóttina. En at morni þá beiddisk Hermóðr af Helju at Baldr skyldi ríða heim með honum ok sagði hversu mikill grátr var með Ásum. En Hel sagði at þat skyldi svá reyna hvárt Baldr var svá ást sæll sem sagt er,

‘ “Ok ef allir hlutir í heiminum, kykvir ok dauðir, gráta hann, þá skal hann fara til Ása aptr, en haldask með Helju ef nakkvarr mælir við eða vill eigi gráta.”

‘Þá stóð Hermóðr upp, en Baldr leiðir hann út ór höllinni ok tók hringinn Draupni ok sendi Óðni til minja, en Nanna sendi Frigg ripti ok enn fleiri gjafar; Fullu fingrgull. Þá reið Hermóðr aptr leið sína ok kom í Ásgarð ok sagði öll tíðindi þau er hann hafði sét ok heyrt.

‘Því næst sendu Æsir um allan heim ørindreka at biðja at Baldr væri grátinn ór Helju. En allir gerðu þat, menninir ok kykvendin ok jörðin ok steinarnir ok tré ok allr málmr, svá sem þú munt sét hafa at þessir hlutir gráta þá er þeir koma ór frosti ok í hita. Þá er sendimenn fóru heim ok höfðu vel rekit sín eyrindi, finna þeir í helli nokkvorum hvar gýgr sat. Hon nefndisk Þökk. Þeir biðja hana gráta Baldr ór Helju. Hon segir:

  1. “Þökk mun gráta
  2. þurrum tárum
  3. Baldrs bálfarar.
  4. Kyks né dauðs
  5. nautka ek karls sonar:
  6. haldi Hel því er hefir.”

‘En þess geta menn at þar hafi verit Loki Laufeyjarson er flest hefir illt gert með Ásum.’

Text from: Anthony Faulkes (ed.), Snorri Sturluson. Edda. Prologue and Gylfaginning (Oxford, 1982), pp. 47–8

But there is this to tell of Hermod, that he rode for nine nights through valleys dark and deep so that he saw nothing until he came to the river Gioll and rode on to Gioll bridge. It is covered with glowing gold. There is a maiden guarding the bridge called Modgud. She asked him his name and lineage and said that the other day there had ridden over the bridge five battalions of dead men.

‘ “But the bridge resounds no less under just you, and you do not have the colour of dead men. Why are you riding here on the road to Hel?”

‘He replied: “I am to ride to Hel to seek Baldr. But have you seen anything of Baldr on the road to Hel?”

‘And she said that Baldr had ridden there over Gioll bridge, “but downwards and northwards lies the road to Hel.”

‘Then Hermod rode on until he came to Hel’s gates. Then he dismounted from the horse and tightened its girth, mounted and spurred it on. The horse jumped so hard and over the gate that it came nowhere near. Then Hermod rode up to the hall and dismounted from his horse, went into the hall, saw sitting there in the seat of honour his brother Baldr; and Hermod stayed there the night. In the morning Hermod begged from Hel that Baldr might ride home with him and said what great weeping there was among the Æsir. But Hel said that it must be tested whether Baldr was as beloved as people said in the following way,

‘ “And if all things in the world, alive and dead, weep for him, then he shall go back to the Æsir, but be kept with Hel if any objects or refuses to weep.”

‘Then Hermod got up and Baldr went with him out of the hall and took the ring Draupnir and sent it to Odin as a keepsake, and Nanna sent Frigg a linen robe and other gifts too; to Fulla a finger-ring. Then Hermod rode back on his way and came to Asgard and told all the tidings he had seen and heard.

‘After this, the Æsir sent all over the world messengers to request that Baldr be wept out of Hel. And all did this, the people and animals and the earth and the stones and trees and every metal, just as you will have seen that these things weep when they come out of frost and into heat. When the envoys were travelling back having well fulfilled their errand, they found in a certain cave a giantess sitting. She said her name was Thanks. They bade her weep Baldr out of Hel. She said:

“Thanks will weep dry tears for Baldr’s burial. No good got I from the old one’s son either dead or alive. Let Hel hold what she has.”

‘It is presumed that this was Loki Laufeyiarson, who has done most evil among the Æsir.’

Translation from: Anthony Faulkes (trans.), Snorri Sturluson. Edda (London, 1987), pp. 47–8.


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