Definitions

Angrboda

Angrboda

[ahng-ger-boh-duh, -baw-]
Angrboda (Old Norse Angrboða 'Harm-foreboding') appears in Norse mythology as a giantess. She is mentioned in the Eddic poems only in the Shorter Völuspá (in some edition included in the Hyndluljóð) as the mother of Fenrir by Loki. However, she is also (by Loki) mother of Fenrir's siblings, Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, and Hel, ruler of the underworld. Snorri Sturluson in his Prose Edda (in the Gylfaginning) calls Angrboda a "giantess in Jötunheimr" and mother by Loki of Fenrir, Jörmungandr, and Hel. As indicated following, she may be identical with Iárnvidia 'She of Iron-wood' mentioned in the list of troll-wives in Snorri's nafnaþulur.

The eddic poem Völuspá (stanzas 40–41 in most editions) speaks of a giantess dwelling in Járnvid ('Iron-wood') whom commentators usually identify with Angrboda (and the Iárnvidia of the list of troll-wives):

The giantess old       in Ironwood sat,
In the east, and bore       the brood of Fenrir;
Among these one       in monster's guise
Was soon to steal       the sun from the sky.

There feeds he full       on the flesh of the dead,
And the home of the gods       he reddens with gore;
Dark grows the sun,       and in summer soon
Come mighty storms:       would you know yet more?

Snorri's Gylfaginning gives a prose explanation and a variant form of these stanzas. Brodeur's translation renders:

A witch dwells to the east of Midgard, in the forest called Ironwood: in that wood dwell the troll-women, who are known as Ironwood-Women [Iárnvidjur]. The old witch bears many giants for sons, and all in the shape of wolves; and from this source are these wolves sprung. The saying runs thus: from this race shall come one that shall be mightiest of all, he that is named Moon-Hound [Mánagarm]; he shall be filled with the flesh of all those men that die, and he shall swallow the moon, and sprinkle with blood the heavens and all the lair; thereof-shall the sun lose her shining, and the winds in that day shall be unquiet and roar on every side. So it says in Völuspá:

Eastward dwells the Old One       in Ironwood,
And there gives birth       to Fenrir's brethren;
There shall spring of them all       a certain one,
The moon's taker       in troll's likeness.

He is filled with flesh       of fey men.
Reddens the gods' seatsvwith ruddy blood-gouts;
Swart becomes sunshinevin summers after,
The weather all shifty.       Wit ye yet, or what?

Perhaps "moon's taker" and "moon hound" or alternately as "the one to steal the sun from the sky" as earlier mentioned was in reference to Hati or Skoll, Fenrir's own children, since similar poems read that Skoll and Hati were birthed by "the witch of the Ironwood"

In stanza 13 of the eddic poem Baldrs draumar Odin says to the prophesying seeress whom he has brought up from the dead:

No wise-woman art thou,       nor wisdom hast;
Of giants three       the mother art thou.

This might refer to Angboda as mother of the three monsters. The seeress states that she will never be charmed from the dead again until Loki is loosed from his bonds.

The name is sometimes rendered in English as Angerboda.

See Gullveig for details of arguments by which Viktor Rydberg in his Teutonic Mythology identified Angrboda with Gullveig.

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