Folk-Lore and Legends: Scandinavian | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

How Thor Went a-Fishing

THOR had not been long at home before he left it so hastily that he did not take his car, his goats, or any follower with him. He left Midgard disguised as a young man, and when night was coming on, arrived at the house of a giant, called Hymir. Thor stayed there as a guest for the night, and when he saw in the morning that the giant rose, dressed himself, and prepared to go out to sea-fishing in his boat, he begged him to let him go also. Hymir said he was too little and young to be of much use.

              "And besides," added he, "you will die of cold, if I go so far out and sit so long as I am accustomed."

              Thor said he would row as far out as ever Hymir wanted, and he thought he might not be the first to want to row back. While he said this he was in such a rage that he had much to do to keep himself from throwing the hammer at once at the giant's head, but he calmed himself thinking that he might soon try his strength elsewhere. He asked Hymir what bait he should use, but Hymir told him to look out for himself. Then Thor went up to a herd of oxen belonging to Hymir, and capturing the largest bull, called Himinbrjot, he wrung off its head, and went with it to the sea-shore. Hymir launched the skiff, and Thor, sitting down in the after-part, rowed with two oars so that Hymir, who rowed in the fore-part, wondered to see how fast the boat went on. At length he said they had arrived at the place where he was accustomed to fish for flat fish, but Thor told him they had better go on further. So they rowed till Hymir cried out that if they proceeded further they might be in danger from the Midgard serpent. In spite of this, Thor said he would row further, and so he rowed on, disregarding Hymir's words. When he laid down his oars, he took out a very strong fishing line to which was a no less strong hook. On this he fixed the bull's head and cast it over into the sea. The bait soon reached the ground, and then truly Thor deceived the Midgard serpent no less than Utgard-Loki deceived Thor when he gave him the serpent to lift in his hand. The Midgard serpent gaped wide at the bait, and the hook stuck fast in his mouth. When the worm felt this he tugged at the hook so that Thor's hands were dashed against the side of the boat. Then Thor got angry, and, collecting to himself all his divine strength, he pulled so hard that his feet went through the bottom of the boat and down to the sea's bottom. Then he drew the serpent up on board. No one can be said to have seen an ugly sight who did not see that. Thor threw wrathful looks on the serpent, and the monster staring at him from below cast out venom at him. The giant Hymir, it is said, turned pale when he saw the serpent, quaked, and, seeing that the sea ran in and out of the skiff, just as Thor raised aloft his mace, took out his knife and cut the line so that the serpent at once sank under the water. Thor cast his mace at the serpent, and some say it cut off its head at the bottom, but it is more true that the Midgard serpent is yet alive lying at the bottom of the ocean. With his fist Thor struck Hymir such a blow over the ear that the giant tumbled headlong into the water, and Thor then waded to land.


From the Prose Edda.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: How Thor Went a-Fishing
Tale Author/Editor: Tibbitts, Charles John
Book Title: Folk-Lore and Legends: Scandinavian
Book Author/Editor: Tibbitts, Charles John
Publisher: W. W. Gibbings
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1890
Country of Origin: Iceland
Classification: unclassified

Back to Top