Thor's Journey to Utgard
This story can be found in the Prose Edda.
This tale begins with Thor journeying in his goat drawn chariot with Loki as his companion. One night they came to a farmer's home where they got lodgings for the night. Thor killed and skinned his goats and placed the meat in a cauldron over the fire. When they were cooked, Thor and his companion sat down to supper and invited the farmer and his wife and their children to share the meal with them. Their son was called Thialfi and their daughter Roskva. Thor spread the goat skins out away from the fire and told the farmer and his household to toss the bones upon the skins. Thialfi, the farmer's son, took hold of a thigh bone and split it open to get at the marrow. Thor stayed there that night and just before daybreak got up and dressed. Thor took Mjollnir, raised it and consecrated the goat skins. The goats were reformed and stood up, but one of them was lame. Upon seeing this Thor declared that the farmer or one of his household had not treated the bones with proper care. Thor grew enraged, he clasped his hammer so tight that his knuckles went white. The farmer and his family grew afraid and cried out to be spared and offered to atone with all their possessions. When Thor saw their terror his wrath left him and he calmed and accepted their children as settlement. Thor charged the farmer with the care of the goats and Thor, Loki, Thialfi, and Roskva continued the journey to Utgard.
Thor started on his journey east to Jotunheim and all the way to the sea. He crossed the sea and when he went ashore Loki, Thialfi and Roskva were with him. The companions journeyed on foot for the day and that night found themselves in a large wood. Thialfi, who was the fastest of runners, carried the sack holding their provisions. As darkness came the companions began looking for some sort of lodging in which to spend the night. After some searching they found a strange building with an opening that seemed to take up one entire side of the structure. The companions settled in but were awakened at midnight by a great earthquake. They woke and sought shelter farther inside the building and came at last to a side chamber halfway down the right side of the building. Thor positioned himself at the entrance of this chamber and prepared to defend himself against whatever might come while his companions went into the chamber and resumed sleeping.
When the dawn arrived Thor went out and discovered the source of the ground shaking. A little way's off a giant was asleep and snoring mightily. As Thor sighted the giant, the giant awoke and stood. It is said that for once Thor was afraid to strike with Mjollnir. Instead, he asked the giant his name. The giant replied that he was called Skrymir and said he did not need to ask who was questioning him for he knew it was Thor of the Ęsir. Skrymir then asked if Thor was making off with his glove. Skrymir reached over and picked up his glove and it was then that Thor realized the strange building was the giant's glove and the side chamber had been the thumb. Skrymir asked if Thor and his companions wished to travel with him since they were going in the same direction and Thor agreed. Skrymir then picked up his sack and prepared his breakfast while Thor and his companions moved a short way off and did the same. Skrymir then suggested they pool their food and took the companions sack and placed it in his own. After tying up the sack they set off towards Utgard. Skrymir took great strides and late in the evening found them a lodging beneath a large oak tree. Skrymir laid down to sleep and tossed the sack to Thor saying he and his companions should prepare their supper.
Thor took the sack and tried to untie it but no matter how hard he labored, he couldn't loosen a single knot or move a single strap end. When he realized his efforts were getting nowhere he grew angry. Gripping Mjollnir he stepped to where Skrymir was sleeping and struck at his head. Skrymir awoke and asked if some leaf had fallen upon his head. He then asked Thor if his company was done eating and was ready for bed. Thor replied they were just getting ready to sleep. The companions moved under another oak tree and tried to sleep. At midnight Thor was awakened by Skrymir's snoring such that the forest resounded. Thor got up and, gripping Mjollnir tightly, went to where Skrymir lay and swung the hammer quickly and hard down the center of Skrymir's head. Thor felt the face of the hammer sink deeply into his head. At that moment Skrymir awoke and asked if some acorn had fallen on his head. Seeing Thor, Skrymir asked what he was doing. Thor backed away and said he had just awoken and that it was midnight and still time to sleep. Thor then resolved that if he got a chance for a third blow Skrymir would never open his eyes again. Just before dawn Skrymir was deep asleep and Thor got up and ran at him swinging Mjollnir with all his might and struck at the temple. The hammer sank in up to the handle but Skrymir woke and stroked his cheek asking if there were any birds in the tree above him, commenting that he thought he had felt some droppings from the twigs above as he was waking.
Seeing Thor awake Skrymir said it must be time to wake and dress. Skrymir told Thor that it was not far to the castle called Utgard and that he had heard the companions whispering that he was a person of no small build. Skrymir said the men of Utgard are bigger than he is and that Thor and his companions would be better off to turn around and not journey to Utgard. Skrymir also offered advice to the companions not to act big in Utgard, as the men there would not take kindly to those actions. Skrymir told the companions that if they were determined to go on, they should travel east while his path lead north to the mountains. Skrymir took the sack, turned north, and set off for the mountains.
Thor and his companions set off to the east and by midday they saw a castle standing in an open field. They gazed up at the castle and had to bend their heads back until they touched their spine to see up over the castle. They approached the castle and came to a shut gate across the entrance. Thor went to the gate and tried to open it but could not. However, by struggling they were able to squeeze between the bars and thus they came into the castle. Once inside they saw a great hall with an open door and they went inside. There they saw a great number of people seated on two benches and most of them were a fair size. Next they came before the king, Utgartha-Loki, and addressed him. It was some time before the king turned to them and when he did he bared his teeth in a smile and said, "News travels slowly over long distances. Or am I wrong in thinking that this little fellow is Oku-Thor (Thor the Charioteer)? You must be bigger than you look to me." He then asked what feats they intended to perform saying no one is allowed to stay in Utgard unless he has some art or skill in which he is superior to most.
Loki answered from the back that he could eat faster than anyone there. Utgartha-Loki smiled at this and called forth Logi to compete with Loki. A trencher was set between the two contestents and it was piled with meat. Loki and Logi sat at opposite ends and each ate as quickly as he could. They met in the middle and while Loki had eaten all the meat on his half of the trencher, Logi had devoured the meat, bones and the trencher itselfand it seemed to everyone that Loki had lost the contest.
Next Utgartha-Loki called to Thialfi and asked what feat he would perform. Thialfi said he would run a race with whoever Utgartha-Loki put foward. They all went out to a space where the ground was flat such that it would make a good course for running a race and Utgartha-Loki called forth a boy named Hugi and bade him run a race with Thialfi. They started the first race and Hugi was so far ahead that he turned back and to meet Thialfi at the end of the race. Utgartha-Loki then told Thialfi he would have to make a greater effort if he was going to win the contest but did say never before had people come to Utgard who seemed able to run as fast as Thialfi. They then began another race and when Hugi got to the end of the course and turned back Thialfi was still an arrow shot behind. Then Utgartha-Loki said that Thialfi had run a good race but he no longer had confidence that Thialfi would win the contest. Then they started a third race and Hugi reached the end of the course and turned back before Thialfi had gotten half-way. Everyone agreed then that the contest was decided.
Utgartha-Loki then asked Thor which of his accomplishments he would display before them. Thor replied he would most willingly engage in a drinking contest with someone. Utgartha-Loki said that would be fine and called for the horn the men of the court were used to drinking from. The horn was brought to Thor and Utgartha-Loki said the horn is considered to be well drunk if it can be emptied in a single draught, but some people drain it in two though no one is such a poor drinker that he can not empty it in three. Thor looked at the horn and thought it was not very big, though it was long. He began to drink and took great gulps intending to empty the horn in one drink. When he ran out of breath and straightened himself he looked in the horn to see how his drinking had progressed and saw that there was very little difference in the level of the horn now compared to before he had drunk. Utgartha-Loki said it was a good drink, and not excessive, but he wouldn't have believed it if anyone had told him that Thor would not have drunk a greater draught. He then said he was sure Thor was intending to finish off the horn with his second draught. Thor made no comment and was determined to drink a bigger draught. He struggled with the drink as long as his breath held out but found that the tip of the horn would not go as high as he would have liked. When he lowered the horn and looked into it this time it seemed that the level in the horn had gone down less than it had the previous time. Utgartha-Loki then asked Thor what was the matter. Was he keeping back for a third draught, and if he was it would have to be the biggest one yet. Utgartha-Loki then said Thor would have to give a better accounting of himself in other contests if the dwellers of Utgard were going to consider him as great a man as the Ęsir claimed he was. At this, Thor grew angry and put the horn to his mouth drinking as hard as he could for as long as possible and when he ceased drinking and looked into the horn this time he saw that he had made the most difference, though the horn was still not empty. Thor handed the horn to Utgartha-Loki and would drink no more.
Utgartha-Loki then told Thor it was clear he was not as great as they had heard. He asked if Thor wanted to try other contests, as it was clear he was getting nowhere with the horn. Thor said he would try other contests, though he would have been suprised if drinks such as he had taken would have been reckoned so slight in Asgard. He then asked what contest Utgartha-Loki offered now. Utgartha-Loki told Thor how the lads in Utgard, though it did not seem that significant, would lift his cat off the ground. He went on to say that he would not have mentioned it to Thor, had Thor not already shown that he was less impressive than had been heard. A big grey cat then ran into the hall and Thor strode foward and took hold with one hand under its belly and lifted it up. But the cat arched its back as much as Thor stretched up his hand and when Thor had stretched up his hand as much as he could the cat lifted only one paw from the floor. Utgartha-Loki then said the contest had gone as he expected as the cat was rather big and Thor was short and small compared to the men there in Utgard. Thor responded by saying, "Small as you say I am, just let someone come out and fight me! Now I am angry!"
Utgartha-Loki looked about the hall and replied that he saw no one there who would not think it demeaning to fight with Thor. He then called for his old nurse, Elli, saying she had brought down people who seemed no less strong-looking than Thor. Then came into the hall an old crone and Utgartha-Loki said she was to have a wrestling match with Thor. When they wrestled the harder Thor strained against her, the firmer she stood. Then the old woman started trying some tricks, Thor began to lose his footing, there was some hard pulling and it was not long before Thor fell to one knee. Utgartha-Loki then went foward and stopped the wrestling and said there was no point to Thor challenging anyone else in the hall to a fight.
It was now late and Utgartha-Loki showed Thor and his companions to where they could spend the night and they received hospitable treatment. When dawn came Thor and his companions got up and dressed and prepared to set off when Utgartha-Loki came to them and had a table laid out for them. There was no lack of good cheer, food and drink. When they had finished eating they set off and Utgartha-Loki travelled with them out of the castle.
As they parted Utgartha-Loki asked Thor how he thought his expedition had gone and whether he had come up against any person more powerful than himself. Thor replied that he could not deny he had suffered great shame in their dealings and that, "I know you will say I am a person of little account and it is that which upsets me." Then Utgartha-Loki spoke and said now that they were outside the castle he would tell Thor the truth. He said, "You would never have been allowed in the castle if I had known what strength you possessed or how close you would bring us to disaster." He told Thor how he had deceived him and had been the one who met them in the forest. He explained how the sack had been fastened with a trick wire and how he had moved a mountain in front of Thor's blows and the three valleys they had seen in a mountain near the castle were the results of Thor's three strikes at Skrymir. He then explained that it had been the same with the contests in Utgard.
When Loki engaged in the eating contest, his opponent Logi was wildfire and it burned the trencher as quickly as the meat. When Thialfi had engaged in the race with Hugi, it was Utgartha-Loki's thought against whom he raced and Thialfi was not likely to be able to match his speed. When Thor was drinking from the horn and it seemed to be going slowly a great miracle had occured. The other end of the horn was connected to the sea and that when they next came to the sea they would see what a lowering of the level Thor had made with his drinking. (This is now called the tides.) When Thor next attempted to lift the cat from the floor, it was no cat, but was Jormungand and its length was hardly enough so that both its head and tail were touching the ground. When Thor was wrestling with Elli, he was wrestling against old age and no one, should they get old enough to experience old age, will not be brought down by it. Utgartha-Loki then said that it would be better that Thor never return to Utgard for next time he would defend his castle with similar tricks or others such that Thor would get no power over him.
Upon hearing all this Thor grasped his hammer and prepared to strike, only to find Utgartha-Loki gone. He then turned for the castle, intending to destroy it, but the castle was gone and there was only open meadow. He then turned back and returned to Asgard, though he had determined to Jormungand again and it did happen during as told in Thor Goes Fishing.