The myth of Kvasir and the origin of mead

Translation by Bjǫrn Vargsson

« All began when the Æsir fought with the people named Vanir. When they wanted to establish peace, they acted so: both sides went near a chalice and spat into it. When they parted, the Æsir took that symbol of peace because they won’t to forget it, so they drew up from it a man and they named him Kvasir; and he was so wise that there wasn’t a question he can’t answer. He traveled around all the world, teaching wisdom and knowledge to the men, and finally reached the home of the dwarfs Fjallar and Gallar. They invited him to talk with them and they killed him. They shed his blood in two cups named Són and Boðn and in a jar named Óðrœrir. Then they blended some honey with the blood, and derived so the mead which makes wise or poët whoever drink it. The dwarfs said to the Æsir that Kvasir has been killed by his own knowledge, because there wasn’t anyone so wise to make him a question and then understand the answer. »

Original text, taken from Skáldskaparmál, Younger Edda, chapter 2

« Þat váru upphǫf til þess, at goðinn hǫfðu ósætt við þat fólk, er Vanir heita. En þeir lǫgðu með sér friðstefnu ok settu grið á þá lund, at þeir gengu hvárirtveggju til eins kers ok spýttu í hráka sínum. En at skilnaði þá tóku goðin ok vildu eigi láta týnast þat griðamark ok skǫpuðu þar ór mann. Sá heitir Kvasir. Hann er svá vitr, at engi spyrr hann þeira hluta, er eigi kann hann órlausn. Hann fór víða um heim at kenna mǫnnum frœði, ok þá er hann komat heimboði til dverga nǫkkurra, Fjalars ok Galars, þá kǫlluðu þeirhann með sér á einmæli ok drápu hann, létu renna blóð hans í tvau kerok einn ketil, ok heitir sá Óðrørir, en kerin heita Són ok Boðn. Þeirblendu hunangi við blóðit, ok varð þar af mjǫðr sá, er hverr, er afdrekkr, verðr skáld eða frœðamaðr. Dvergarnir sǫgðu ásum, at Kvasir hefði kafnat í mannviti, fyrir því at engi var þar svá fróðr, at spyrjakynni hann fróðleiks. »

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