Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bölverkr's whetstone

There's a passage in Skáldskaparmál that a lot of people find a bit obscure. It deals with Odin's scheme to steal Sutting's mead:
Odin departed from home and came to a certain place where nine thralls were mowing hay. He asked if they desired him to whet their scythes, and they assented. Then he took a hone from his belt and whetted the scythes; it seemed to them that the scythes cut better by far, and they asked that the hone be sold them. But he put such a value on it that whoso desired to buy must give a considerable price: nonetheless all said that they would agree, and prayed him to sell it to them. He cast the hone up into the air; but since all wished to lay their hands on it, they became so intermingled with one another that each struck with his scythe against the other's neck.
The question is, why would the thralls be so intent on getting that whetstone? If you ever wondered about the value of a sharp scythe, wonder no more:



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