"Brawler." A powerful jötunn, the strongest of them all. Snorri Sturluson in Skáldskaparmál tells that when Thor had gone into the east to slay trolls, Odin rode Sleipnir into Jötunheimr and visited the giant named Hrungnir:
Hrungnir asked what manner of man he with the golden helm might be, who rode through air and water; and said that the stranger had a wondrous good steed. Odin said he would wager his head there was no horse in Jötunheim that would prove equally good. Hrungnir answered that it was a good horse, but declared that he had a much better paced horse which was called Gold-Mane. Hrungnir had become angry, and vaulted up onto his horse and galloped after him, thinking to pay him for his boasting. Odin galloped so furiously that he was on the top of the next hill first; but Hrungnir was so filled with the giant's frenzy that he took no heed until he had come in beyond the gates of Ásgard. When he came to the hall-door, the Æsir invited him to drink. He went within and ordered drink to be brought to him, and then those flagons were brought in from which Thor was wont to drink; and Hrungnir swilled from each in turn. But when he had become drunken, then big words were not wanting: he boasted that he would lift up Valhall and carry it to Jötunheim, and sink Ásgard and kill all the gods, save that he would take Freyja and Sif home with him. Freyja alone dared pour for him; and he vowed that he would drink all the ale of the Æsir. But when his overbearing insolence became tiresome to the Æsir, they called on the name of Thor.
Straightway Thor came into the hall, brandishing his hammer, and he was very wroth, and asked who had advised that these dogs of giants be permitted to drink there, or who had granted Hrungnir safe-conduct to be in Valhall, or why Freyja should pour for him as at a feast of the Æsir. Then Hrungnir answered, looking at Thor with no friendly eyes, and said that Odin had invited him to drink, and he was under his safe-conduct. Thor declared that Hrungnir should repent of that invitation before he got away. Hrungnir answered that Ása-Thor would have scant renown for killing him, weaponless as he was: it were a greater trial of his courage if he dared fight with Hrungnir on the border at Grjótúnagard. 'And it was a great folly,' said he, 'when I left my shield and hone behind at home; if I had my weapons here, then we should try single-combat. But as matters stand, I declare thee a coward if thou wilt slay me, a weaponless man.' Thor was by no means anxious to avoid the fight when challenged to the field, for no one had ever offered him single-combat before.
Then Hrungnir went his way, and galloped furiously until he came to Jötunheim. The news of his journey was spread abroad among the giants, and it became noised abroad that a meeting had been arranged between him and Thor; the giants deemed that they had much at stake, who should win the victory, since they looked for ill at Thor's hands if Hrungnir perished, he being strongest of them all. Then the giants made a man of clay at Grjótúnagard: he was nine miles high and three broad under the arm-pits; but they could get no heart big enough to fit him, until they took one from a mare. Even that was not steadfast within him, when Thor came. Hrungnir had the heart which is notorious, of hard stone and spiked with three corners, even as the written character is since formed, which men call Hrungnir's Heart. His head also was of stone; his shield too was stone, wide and thick, and he had the shield before him when he stood at Grjótúnagard and waited for Thor. Moreover he had a hone for a weapon, and brandished it over his shoulders, and he was not a pretty sight. At one side of him stood the clay giant, which was called Mökkurkálfi: he was sore afraid, and it is said that he wet himself when he saw Thor.
Thor went to the meeting-place, and Thjálfi with him. Then Thjálfi ran forward to the spot where Hrungnir stood and said to him: 'Thou standest unwarily, Giant, having the shield before thee: for Thor has seen thee, and comes hither down below the earth, and will come at thee from beneath.' Then Hrungnir thrust the shield under his feet and stood upon it, wielding the hone with both hands. Then speedily he saw lightnings and heard great claps of thunder; then he saw Thor in God-like anger, who came forward furiously and swung the hammer and cast it at Hrungnir from afar off. Hrungnir lifted up the hone in both hands and cast it against him; it struck the hammer in flight, and the hone burst in sunder: one part fell to the earth, and thence are come all the flint-rocks; the other burst on Thor's head, so that he fell forward to the earth. But the hammer Mjöllnir struck Hrungnir in the middle of the head, and smashed his skull into small crumbs, and he fell forward upon Thor, so that his foot lay over Thor's neck.
Neither Þjálfi nor the rest of the gathered Æsir were strong enough to lift the giant's leg until Magni, Thor's tree year old son, came along. As a reward, Thor gave him Hrunginir's horse Gullfaxi. Further attempts to remove the shard from Thor's head were only partially successful (see Gróa).
The tale is versified by Þjóðólfr of Hvinir in Haustlöng.
The giant may be referred to as Rungnir in a kenning by the ninth-century poet Bragi Boddason inn gamli.
- Hárbarðsljóð, 14, 15.
- Skáldskaparmál, 17.