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Idun or Iduna, is a goddess in Norse mythology. Idun appears in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, she is described as the wife of the skaldic god Bragi, and in the Prose Edda, also as a keeper of apples that grant the gods eternal youthfulness.

Poetic EddaEdit

Idun appears in the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna and, included in some modern editions of the Poetic Edda, in the late poem Hrafnagaldr Óðins.

LokasennaEdit

Idun is introduced as Bragi's wife in the prose introduction to the poem Lokasenna, where the two attend a feasted held by Ægir. In stanzas 16, 17, and 18, dialog occurs between Loki and Idun after Loki has insulted Bragi. In stanza 16, Idun says:

Idunn said:
I ask you, Bragi, to do a service to your blood-kin
and all the adoptive relations,
that you shouldn't say words of blame to Loki,
in Ægir's hall.
Loki said:
Be silent, Idunn, I declare that of all women
you're the most man-crazed,
since you placed your arms, washed bright,
about your brother's slayer.
Idunn said:
I'm not saying words of blame to Loki,
in Ægir's hall
I quietened Bragi, made talkative with beer;
and all living things love him.[1]

In this exchange, Loki has accused Idun of having slept with the killer of her brother. However, neither this brother nor killer are accounted for in any other surviving source. Afterwards, the goddess Gefjun speaks up, claiming that Loki is joking and the poem continues in turn.

As for the accusations leveled towards Idun by Loki, modern scholars such as Lee Hollander explain that Lokasenna was intended to be humorous and that the accusations thrown by Loki in the poem are not necessarily to be taken as "generally accepted lore" at the time it was composed. Rather they are charges that are easy for Loki to make and difficult for his targets to disprove, or which they do not care to refute.

Hrafnagaldr ÓðinsEdit

In stanzas 6 and 7 of the late poem Hrafnagaldr Óðins, additional information is given about Iðunn, though this information is otherwise unattested. Here, Idun is identified as descending from elves, and is described as a dís.

Prose EddaEdit

Idun is mentioned in section 26 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, and in Skáldskaparmál.

GylfaginningEdit

Idun is introduced in the Prose Edda in section 26 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning. Here, Idun is described as Bragi's wife and keeper of an eski (a wooden box made of ash and often used for carrying personal possessions)[2] within which she keeps apples. The apples are bitten into by the gods when they begin to grow old and they then become young again, which is described as occurring up until Ragnarök. Gangleri (described as King Gylfi in disguise) states that it seems to him that the gods depend greatly upon Iðunn's good faith and care. With a laugh, High responds that misfortune once came close, that he could tell Gangleri about it, but first he must hear the names of more of the Æsir and he continues.

SkáldskaparmálEdit

As related in the stanzas of Haustlöng by Þjóðólfr of Hvinir preserved in the book Skáldskaparmál, Idun was abducted with her apples by Þjazi, a jotun (giant) who used Loki as a stooge to lure Idun out of Ásgarðr. During her absence, the Æsir began to age without the rejuvenating qualities of her apples, prompting them to press Loki into the task of rescuing her. Borrowing Freyja's falcon skin, Loki retrieved Idun from Þrymheimr, transforming her into the form of a nut for the flight back. Þjazi, displeased, pursued them in the form of an eagle, but was defeated by having his wings set afire by a bonfire created by the Æsir.

ReferencesEdit


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