Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Gods were not ignorant, that those children were breeding up in the country of the Giants; they were apprized by many oracles, of all the evils they must suffer from them; their being fprung from such a mother was but a bad presage ; and from such a Sire was still worse. Wherefore the Universal Fão ther dispatched • certain bf' the Gods to bring thofe children to him. When they were come, he threw. the Serpent down into the bottom of the ocean. Bat there the monster waxed fo large, that he wound him. self around the whole globe of the earth ; and that so intirely, that at pleasạre he can with his mouth lay hold of the end of his tail. Hela was precipitated into Nifbeim, or hell; there she had the government of nine worlds given her, into which she diftributes those that are sent her; that is, all who die through fickness or old age (B). Here the poffeffes vast apartments, strongly built, and fenced with large grates. Her hall is GRIEF; FAMĪNE is her table; HUNGER; her knife ; DELAY, her valet; SLACKNESS, her mad; PRECIPICE, her gåte; FAINTNESS, her porch ; SICKNESS and Pain, her bed ; and her tent *; GOŘSING and HôWLING. The one half of her body is blue, the other half covered with skin, and of the cotour' of human Aeshi She hath a dreadful terrifying. look, and by this alone it wete easy to know her.

* Or pertraps, her curtains; &&

REMARKS ON THE SIXTEENTH PABLE,

Cary He Hátha ekpoted the cães ; did not the thicks he plays « Gods to very great perils:”} them ofcenexceed the bounds of thould be inclined to call Loté, ralllery. Béfides, the monsters the Momus of the northern Dei- he hath engendered, and who are

along

along with their father, in the late Gods, and destroy, tire world. ter: agçs, to make rude assaults How could the Evil Principle upon the Gods, plainly indicates a have been more strongly charactefyftem little different from that rized? of the Evil Principle Notwith, (B) "All, who dię through standing, what hath been advan. “ fickness or old age."] Cimbri ele ced by some learned men, this opi, Celtiberi in acie exultabant, tanquam nion was not unknown either to gloriosè &o. felicites witâ exceffuri. the Persians, Goths' or Celtes: Lamentabantur in morbo, quasi tur: perhaps indeed we ougl# thus far piter & miferabiliter perituri. Val, Qnly to agree with them, that, it Max. c. 6, “ The Cimbri and did not belong to the ancient relie « Celuiberi, leaped with joy in gion of eithet of these peopls. Eug marching to battle, as being to the hazardous and labouring con. quit this life in a manner equaldition in which they believed all " dy happyand glorious; but beo nature to be, and the affaqļus, which “ wailed, themselves, when con, it was co sustain at the lait day, “ fined by diftempers, alatnied at led them insensibly to imagine that the thought of dying a hane. there was a power who was at en- “ ful and miserable, death” Here mity, with Gods and, Mery, and we have a proof, that this doce who wrought all the evils which trips, of the Ropa was that alfo'

folate the universe. This was, of all the Celtic nations; and here the occupation of Arimanes, among we see what an impression it made the Persians, and of Loke anong upon their minds. I could accu. the Scandinavians. Loke produces mulate ancient authorities, fillfurthe grcat ferpent, which entirely ther in confirmation of it, but reencircles the world. This ferpent, fer the reader to the preceding by some of the characteristics of volume. (See Vol.1.p.176,&c.) Let it in this fame Mythology, feems us obferve, however, that the into have been incended as an em- fernal region here described, where blem of corruption or sin. He al- a punishment, rather disagreeable fo gives birth to Hela, or Death, than cruel, is reserved for those that

queen of the infernal regions, who have died without their arms of whom the Edda gives us here in their hands, is not an eternal to remarkable a portrait : And Hell, but only an intermediate alastly, to the wolf Fenris, that bode, or, if you will, a Prison, nonfter who is to encounter the whence those who are confined

[merged small][ocr errors]

.

twil.comė forth at the last day, lour by shedding their blood id to be judged upon other princi- battle. These, thus received into ples; and to be condemned or ab. the residence of the Gods, weré folved for more real virtues and fill exercised all the operations vices. To this intermediate Hell of war, in order to keep them in was opposed an Elysium of the breath, ready against the last great same duration ; viz. Valbella, or conflict. This was the great end Valball, of which we shall pre- to which all their pleasures and sently have ample mention. One employments weté direded. As sees with surprize, in attentively to cowardly or inactive persons, reading this Mythology, that the what could the Gods have done whole is better connected and the with them, when they were thus parts more dependant on onc ano- threatened with an attack as sudther, than in any other work of den, as dangerous ? They gave the fame kind, that hath come to them up to the custody of Death, our knowledge. The inferior Gods, who was to punish their weakness created along with this world, and with languor and pain. All this united to it by their nature, and hath nothing to do with that E. the conformity of their destiny, ternal Hell and Elysium, which had every thing to fear at the last we shall see sketched out in the day from the enemies of nature. EDDA with much more force and In order therefore to be the better dignity; and where nothing will able to resist them, they called be regarded but fidelity, chastity, home to them all the warriors, integrity and justice. who had given proof of their vas

THE

THE SEVENTEENTH FABLE.

Of the Wolf Fenris.

A

S to the Wolf FENRIS, the Gods bred him up

among themselves ; Tyr being the only one among them who durst give him his food. Nevertheless, when they perceived that he every day increased prodigiously in size, and that the oracles warned them that he would one day become fatal to them ; they determined to make very strong iron fetters for him, and presenting them to the Wolf, defired him to put them on to fhew his Itrength, in endeavouring to break them. The Monster perceiving that this enterprize would not be very difficult to hin, permitted the Gods to do what they pleased; and then vio. lently stretching his nerves, burft the chains, and let himself at liberty. The Gods having seen this, mado a new set of iron chains, half as strong again as the former, and prevailed on the Wolf to put them on, assuring him in breaking these he would give an undeniable proof of his vigour. The Wolf saw well enough that these second chains wonld not be very easy to break; but finding himfelf increafe in ftrength, and that he could never become fanious without run. ning fome risk, he veluntarily submitted to be chained. As soon as this was done, he thakes hinteif, rolls upon the ground, daches his chains against the earth, violently stretches his limbs, and at last burits his fetters, which he made to fly in pieces all about him. By these means he freed himself from his chainsi; and gave rise to the proverb which we still I

apply

apply, when any one makes strong efforts *. After this, the Gods despaired of ever being able to bind the wolf: wherefore the Universal Father sent Skyrner, the messenger of the God Frey, into the country of the black Genii, to a dwarf; to engage him to make a new bandage to confine Fenris t. That bandage was perfectly smooth, and as limber as a common string, and yet very strong, as you will presently fee. When it was brought to the Gods, they were full of thanks and acknowledgments to the bringers ; and taking the Wolf with them into the isle of a certain lake, they shewed him the string, entreating that he would try to break it, and assuring him that it was fomewhat s ronger than one would think, on seeing it so slender. They took it themselves, one after another into their hands, attempting in vain to break it; and then told him, that there was none besides himself who could accomplish such an enterprize. The Wolf replied, That string which you prefent to me is so flight, that there will be no glory in breaking it; or if there be any artifice in the manner of its formation, although it appear never so brittle, assure yourfelves it shall never touch a foot of mine. The Gods assured him that he would eafily break so flight a bandage, since he had already burst afunder thackles of iron of the most folid make; adding, that if he should not succeed, he would then have shown the Gods that he was too feeble to excite their terror, and therefore

they

* In the Icelandic, Leyfa or Lathingi edr drepi or Droma, i. e. according to Goranson’s Latin version, Solvi ex Lædingo, et excuti ex Droma. DROMA is the name given in the EDDA, to this chain of the Gods. T.

+ Goranson's Edition adds, “ This nerve or ftring was made of fix * things, viz. of the noise made by cats feet; of a woman's beard; of " the roots of mountains; of the nerves of bears ; of the breath of fifh"es; and the spittle of birds, &c." (with much more.) T.

« PreviousContinue »