Edda Recap: The Matter of Skírnir - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Edda Recap: The Matter of Skírnir

Edda Recap: The Matter of Skírnir

Published April 30, 2019

Grayson Del Faro
Photos by
Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir

In this series, I illuminate the individual poems of the Edda –that most famous, epic masterpiece of Icelandic literary tradition–with humour, vulgarity, and modern realness. Are you reading this and thinking, “What the fuck is the Edda?” If so, you should start by reading my first recap of the Edda, chock-full of helpful context and shameless attitude. Or you can just shut up and read on.

This poem is just your classic tale of human trafficking. Well, technically it’s giant trafficking, but that doesn’t make it any less shitty. It’s about Freyr, the god of sunshine and fertility, sending his servant Skírnir to basically kidnap Gerður, a beautiful giantess, and force her to have sex with him. Uncomfortably enough, the poem is named after the kidnapper instead of the victim! Patriarchy is as patriarchy does, eh?

Help a bro out

So one day Freyr is sitting around on Óðinn’s throne. From there, he can see into Giantworld and there he spots a giantess just minding her own fucking business. The thing is that she’s totally hot, like a perfect 10. Maybe even a 16 if you count her height. So of course Freyr falls in love and starts moping like an angsty teenager. Like any caring parent, Freyr’s father sends his servant to ask his son what’s wrong.

“I saw a girl,” Freyr begins. “Her arms are so shiny that no other woman could ever please me! She is so beautiful that no other woman –” But Skírnir is already over it. “Okay, I get it,” he says. “I’ll go get her if you shut the hell up. But also give me your magic horse and sword.” So then he flounces all up into Giantland and asks some dude, “Hey, man. How do I talk to that giant babe?” The man is incredulous. “Nobody talks to that giant babe, dude. Forget it.”

No means “no, fuck off”

Inside her castle, Gerður asks her maid, “Dafuq is going on out there?” When she learns it’s a visitor, she very hospitably invites him in for a drink. Skírnir gets right down to business, offering her 11 golden apples if she’ll sleep with Freyr. Gerður says, “I don’t fuck for apples and also Freyr is gross.” So he offers her a ring, to which she gives him another hard pass. So Skírnir’s natural next step is, “I’ll cut your head off if you don’t do what I say!” When she refuses, he threatens to kill her father instead but she cannot be coerced.

So Skírnir whips out a magic wand. “I curse you to do what I say,” he begins. “You will go away forever and feel alone always and beg for hell and cry and starve and drink nothing but goat piss and everyone will hate you and laugh at you and you will always suffer for this!” Defeated, Gerður names the place to meet Freyr to begin her new life of eternal suffering and loneliness. Skírnir rushes home to celebrate their successful abduction with Freyr and everyone lives happily ever after—except for the woman. As usual.

Moral of the story: 1. Consent by coercion is not consent. 2. Just leave women alone.

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