Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thrud, Thor's Daughter

Alvíss and Þrúðr by Frølich
Thrud and Alviss
What do we know about Thrud (AKA Þrúðr)? Well. We know (According to Snorri in the Prose Edda) that Thor can be referred to in a kenning as Thrud's father, and we know that there are references to a Valkyrie named Thrud as well, who may or may not be the same woman. We know also, that she's the daughter of Sif (by another kenning for Sif) -- and as far as I can tell, she's the only named daughter and legitimate child of Thor and Sif's marriage.

We can infer that Thrud is the daughter of Thor being discussed in the Alvissmal, since there really isn't any other, but she's never actually named in that poem. So, she was at one point promised to the dwarf Alviss in marriage, while Thor was away on some travel or other -- but the Alvissmal is a later contribution to the lore of the Norse gods, and it's impossible to say if the story itself comes from something earlier or was just made up by the poet for the fun of it since neither Alviss, nor the events of the poem itself, are attested to anywhere else. In any event, Thor refused to honor the betrothal made without his permission, and tricked Alviss into what might be the earliest villain-monologue (and probably Tolkien's influence for Bilbo's encounter with the Trolls), which resulted in Alviss turning to stone because he was too busy showing off his knowledge to notice the sun was coming up.

All-wise answers Thor
why is Alviss such an egghead? Thor and Thrud and Alviss.
Needless to say, Thrud's wedding was called off. But we don't even know, how Thrud came to be promised to Alviss, or anything about their courtship. We don't know anything about Thrud's character at all. She's unique enough to be named-- well-known enough for "Mother of Thrud" and "Father of Thrud" to be kennings for her parents, but as far as anything else goes, Thrud doesn't stand on her own two feet.

So what do we know about Thrud?

Outside of her family bonds, nothing. Everything about her tells us more about the other people involved than her own character. What's that? I think it's the sound of opportunity knocking...


  1. Fascinating! And you're right -- these little silent spaces within literature, where the character herself doesn't get to speak for herself, are wonderful opportunities for you to explore. Mercedes Lackey does this in Black Swan, her retelling of the Swan Lake tale from the perspective (partly) of Odile, the evil sorcerer's daughter.

    Lovely post!

  2. Thanks for your comment! I really enjoy the silent spaces--and I love that expression to describe them! I am going to use it from now on :) So much story lives there waiting to be discovered and brought to light again. I mean, we get these little clues, and it's just a shame to let it go unwritten!

  3. Love it--especially the last line! Go for it. But in many ways, that's what happens to a lot of women in myth and history isn't it--they become defined by their relationship bonds...

  4. It's terrible in Norse mythology, even among the gods. The Greco-Romans at least had strong female representation in Athena and Aphrodite and Hera, who didn't take any grief, and even used their powers to manipulate Zeus. The Norse goddesses are kind of pale, even Freyja and Frigg. There's so much room to play there!

  5. There is one aspect of Thrud that we know that you did not examine. Her name. According to all sources I have found that do so indicate that the meaning of the name is strength. Considering her one brother, Magni, name also is said to mean strength I would assume they are different kinds of strength, perhaps one is physical, while the other is strength of will?

    By the sounds of their names, I personally would make Thrud's strength that of striking power, where Magni lends itself more to feats of strength like the lifting of heavy objects. But that's a bias based on my foundation in the English language. What these names were really meant to convey would be better served by one who has studied the language that gave them birth.

    1. Thank you so much for bringing this up, David! Definitely something to consider and explore!

    2. Yes yes yes. Magni and modi are always together as might and courage (wrath) and thrudr stands alone. Always alone. Defind by what she is not we then have what is left. And thats who she is. Strength of will. Being a strong mind and learning from the questions asked of allwise.


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