So, we are now on Day 4 of the 30 Days of Deity Devotion, and today’s topic is: My favourite myth about Frigg. Thus I bring you:
An extremely shitty retelling of Grímnismál
So Frigg and Odin happen upon these kids, who happen to be the recently orphaned sons of a king, and they are like “Hey, let’s raise these kids.” Now, I’m remembering like a shipwreck on a deserted island sort of thing with Frigg and Odin posing as the only locals, but I can’t be assed to look it up right now. I’m literally writing this in the bath.
For some reason – probably that Frigg likes taking the piss out of Odin and it kinda turns him on when she does – they decide to foster the kids separately. Frigg raises the younger son to be a great leader, while Odin decides against the long shot and raises the older son. They do this as part of a bet over which one will be king.
Eventually, the two boys, now men, find their way home. (I think I recall Odin being like, “Okay, we’re done now. Here’s a boat; go that way.” But possibly a search party found them.) And, obviously, the older one becomes king. And he does a decent job of it. Younger Brother is basically like, “Welp, that how it be, I guess,” and goes on with his life.
Frigg is not happy. Of all the people Odin can outsmart and out-maneuver, it’s never worked on her. But at the moment, it’s not looking that way, and Odin has decided to brag.
“Oh, look at my foster son!” he brags. “He became king easily, as he was obviously going to, and he maintains his station easily as well.”
“Yeah, well,” says Frigg, “I heard your foster son is rude and inhospitable.”
Now, here’s the thing about Norse culture. Insults were pretty prominent. Hell, insult rap battles were a semi-acceptable way to air grievances. But what happened as a result depended on context, the thickness of skin of the target, and the kind of insult being hurled. There were some insults considered fair to murder over, and while you didn’t have to murder your bully, your local poet-lawyer would probably decide in further grievances that you brought the problem on yourself by not nipping it in the bud.
Being inhospitable to guests is a big fucking insult. Hospitality ruled Norse society. Given the area they lived in, a lack of hospitality could result in death. So Frigg’s claim was like saying “He murders literally everyone he speaks to.” It’s nearly absurd and would make anyone sit at attention to hear their foster son accused of it.
“What are you talking about?” demands Odin. “No kid I raised would be inhospitable.”
Frigg realizes her insult has overstepped, but she can’t back down now. And furthermore… She sees an opportunity.
Frigg tells him, “I heard he doesn’t pay attention to his visitors, makes it clear he doesn’t want them, and if they overstay their welcome or act suspicious, he tortures them!”
“That’s ridiculous!” says Odin.
Frigg shrugs and goes back to her knitting, saying, “‘s just what I heard.”
Grumbling, Odin gets to his feet and starts preparing himself. He declares, “I’ll prove you wrong, Beloved. I’ll go visit my foster son as a stranger. Then we’ll see.”
“Have a nice time!” says Frigg, still knitting.
As soon as Odin has gone from their home, Frigg retrieves her favourite handmaid, Fulla, and tells her to go to the king (Odin’s foster son) and warn him that an evil wizard was going to ask for hospitality from him and use the opportunity to kill him. He would know the wizard by the fact that no dog would attack the wizard.
So, Fulla goes and does that. She’s faster than Odin because servants are usually faster than masters, and Odin, unconcerned, is taking his time.
Odin arrives, dogs don’t attack him, and the king arrests him.
“Who are you?” demands the king.
“You can call me Grimnir,” says Odin.
“That tells me absolutely nothing!” says the king. “What’s your given name? Who was your father? Where do you come from? Why have you come here? What magics do you possess?”
Odin shrugs and says, “I traveled here from far away. I came only intending to stay the night.”
The king quickly tires of the traveler’s vague answers, so he has the traveler (Odin) chained between two fires as a form of torture. Since Odin is a god, this doesn’t bother him as much as he pretends it does. He has seen that Frigg was right – the king would torture a guest – but decides to stick it out and see what happens.
For eight nights, he endures this, receiving no food or water (which, honestly, should have been a tip off) and being occasionally interrogated. On the ninth day between the fires, the king’s son begs for the traveler’s release saying this is cruel and the king has gone too far. The king refuses, and his son takes pity and brings the traveler a horn of ale. Upon receiving his drink, Odin magically frees himself and reveals himself, giving blessings to the boy and curses to the king.
The king is so shocked and ashamed that he rushes to apologize… and trips and falls on his own sword, dying instantly. His son is made king.
Odin goes home having lost his bet but able to be happy that Frigg’s foster son didn’t become king. Frigg, however, rests content that her cleverness had denied Odin his victory, and that, technically, she had said Agnar would be king.
After all, both her foster son and the king’s son had been named Agnar.
Please note: This isn’t a translation. It’s a recollection from memory because I enjoy being informal. Details may be off and the dialogue I wrote didn’t occur in the original. If you enjoyed this version, or want to learn more about Norse mythology, ai definitely encourage you to look up an actual translation of Grímnismál.
Much later edit:
Okay, now I have time to actually check sources, and I definitely got details wrong. Turns out Frigg’s foster son was the eldest of the two, but Odin had taught his foster son to be ruthless, so when they rowed back to the shore of their homeland, Odin’s fosters on jumped out first, pushed the boat away, and became king. Frigg’s foster son married a giantess and lived in a cave, but seems fine with that.