Angrboða

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In Norse mythology, Angrboða (Old Norse "the one who brings grief"[1] or "she-who-offers-sorrow"[2]) is a female jötunn (giantess). In the Poetic Edda, Angrboða is mentioned only in Völuspá hin skamma (found in Hyndluljóð) as the mother of Fenrir by Loki. However, in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, she is referred to as a "giantess in Jötunheimr" and said also to be the mother of Fenrir's siblings Jörmungandr (the Midgard Serpent) and Hel. She may be identical with Iárnvidia, 'She of Iron-wood', mentioned in the list of troll-wives in the Prose Edda list nafnaþulur.

Attestations[edit]

Poetic Edda[edit]

The poem Völuspá (stanzas 40–41 in most editions) speaks of a giantess dwelling in Járnvid ('Iron-wood') whom commentators usually identify with Angrboða (and the Iárnvidia of the list of troll-wives):

The giantess old       in Ironwood sat,

In the east, and bore       the brood of Fenrir;
Among these one       in monster's guise
Was soon to steal       the sun from the sky.

There feeds he full       on the flesh of the dead,
And the home of the gods       he reddens with gore;
Dark grows the sun,       and in summer soon

Come mighty storms:       would you know yet more?

Prose Edda[edit]

Snorri's Gylfaginning gives a prose explanation and a variant form of these stanzas. Brodeur's translation renders:

A witch dwells to the east of Midgard, in the forest called Ironwood: in that wood dwell the troll-women, who are known as Ironwood-Women [Iárnvidjur]. The old witch bears many giants for sons, and all in the shape of wolves; and from this source are these wolves sprung. The saying runs thus: from this race shall come one that shall be mightiest of all, he that is named Moon-Hound [Mánagarm]; he shall be filled with the flesh of all those men that die, and he shall swallow the moon, and sprinkle with blood the heavens and all the lair; thereof-shall the sun lose her shining, and the winds in that day shall be unquiet and roar on every side. So it says in Völuspá:

Eastward dwells the Old One       in Ironwood,

And there gives birth       to Fenrir's brethren;
There shall spring of them all       a certain one,
The moon's taker       in troll's likeness.

He is filled with flesh       of fey men.
Reddens the gods' seats       with ruddy blood-gouts;
Swart becomes sunshine       in summers after,

The weather all shifty.       Wit ye yet, or what?

Perhaps "moon's taker" and "moon hound" or alternately as "the one to steal the sun from the sky" as earlier mentioned was in reference to Hati or Skoll, Fenrir's own children, since similar poems read that Skoll and Hati were birthed by "the witch of the Ironwood".

In stanza 13 of the eddic poem Baldrs draumar Odin says to the prophesying seeress whom he has brought up from the dead:

No wise-woman art thou,       nor wisdom hast;
Of giants three       the mother art thou.

This might refer to Angrboda as mother of the three monsters. The seeress states that she will never be charmed from the dead again until Loki is loosed from his bonds.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Simek (2007:16).
  2. ^ Lindow (2001:59).

References[edit]