Bergelmir

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For the moon of Saturn, see Bergelmir (moon).

In Norse mythology, Bergelmir (/bɛərˈjɛlmɪər/ bair-YEL-meer; Old Norse "Mountain Yeller" or "Bear Yeller")[1] is a frost giant, the son of giant Þrúðgelmir and the grandson of Ymir (who was called Aurgelmir among giants), the first frost giant, according to stanza 29 of the poem Vafthrudnismal from the Poetic Edda:

"Uncountable winters before the earth was made,
then Bergelmir was born,
Thrudgelmir was his father,
and Aurgelmir his grandfather."
— Larrington trans.

According to the Gylfaginning section of the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, Bergelmir and his wife alone among the giants were the only survivors of the enormous deluge of blood which flowed from Ymir's wounds when he was killed by Odin and his brothers Vili and Vé. They escaped the sanguinary flood by climbing onto an object and subsequently became the progenitors of a new race of frost giants.

Theories[edit]

R. D. Fulk notes that Snorri's Prose Edda account "conflicts with the poetic version, as the [Prose Edda] presents a Noah-like figure, while the latter has Bergelmir laid (lagiðr) in the lúðr, implying he is an infant, as in the Scyld story. But Snorri does add the crucial element not made in the explicit verses, that the lúðr is to serve as a floating vessel."[2]

Fulk continues that "the key word here is lúðr, which ought to refer to a flour-bin. To be precise, the object is a box or wooden trough, perhaps on legs, in which the stones of a hand-mill sit [...]. It is true that most glossators assume some meaning other than 'flour-bin' in Vafþrúðnismál and Snorra edda [an alternate name for the Prose Edda], suggesting instead something in the range of 'coffin (or cradle), chest, ark (i.e. boat)'." Fulk details that "the interpretation of 'ark' derives solely from the passage in Snorra Edda, because of Bergelmir's resemblance to Noah, and the fact that [Old Icelandic] ǫrk [...] can refer to both Noah's ark and a chest or a sarcophagus."[2] Although it is also attested in legend and apocrypha that one of the antediluvian giants, the Gibborim survived by the mighty Og.[clarification needed]

Scholars John Lindow and Carolyne Larrington agree that the Prose Edda account of the flood borrowed from Judeo-Christian tradition of Noah's Ark.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lindow, 2001. Lindow also gives "Bare Yeller" as a third possible interpretation.
  2. ^ a b Fulk (1989:316).

References[edit]