"Lightning?", "Bright one?" The hammer of Thor. Snorri Sturluson in Gylfaginning says that Mjöllnir is the first of the three most prized possessions of the god, the other two being his iron gloves, the Járngreipr, and his belt of strength, the Megingjörð:
He likewise possesses three very precious things. The first is a mallet called Mjolnir, which both the Frost and Mountain Giants know to their cost when they see it hurled against them in the air; and no wonder, for it has split many a skull of their fathers and kindred. The second rare thing he possesses is called the belt of strength or prowess (Megingjardir). When he girds it about him his divine might is doubly augmented; the third, also very precious, being his iron gauntlets, which he is obliged to put on whenever he would lay hold of the handle of his mallet.
The origin of the hammer is found in Skáldskaparmál. According to Snorri the weapon was forged by the dwarfs Brokkr and Eitri, along with other precious gifts for the gods, as part of a wager with Loki. When finished Brokkr brought the items to the Æsir to be judged:
Then he gave the hammer to Thor, and said that Thor might smite as hard as he desired, whatsoever might be before him, and the hammer would not fail; and if he threw it at anything, it would never miss, and never fly so far as not to return to his hand; and if be desired, he might keep it in his sark, it was so small; but indeed it was a flaw in the hammer that the fore-haft was somewhat short.
The Æsir decided that the hammer was the best of all the precious works because it offered the greatest defense against their enemies the jötnar. Thor killed many giants with Mjöllnir, among whom Hrungnir, Hymir, Þrymr, the anonymous giant builder, and possibly Þjazi; he also attempted to smash Skrýmir's head as he lay sleeping, but the giant merely thought that a leaf had fallen upon his head.
The eddic poem Þrymskviða is a comic tale of Thor's attempts to retrieve Mjöllnir, which was stolen by Þrymr. The giant demanded to wed the goddess Freyja or Thor would never see his weapon again. Thor, at the suggestion of Heimdallr, disguised himself as Freyja and traveled with Loki as his maid-servant to Þrymr's home. When the hammer was later brought in to hallow the "bride," Thor seized it and killed Þrymr and the assembled giants.
Another use of the hammer is to hallow the hides of Thor's goats Tanngnjóstr and Tanngrisnir after they have been slaughtered for their meat, so that they are restored to life. At Baldr's funeral, Thor used Mjöllnir to consecrate the funeral pyre.
A kenning for Thor is Possessor of Mjöllnir.
- Gylfaginning, 21, 42, 44, 45, 49, 53.
- Hymiskviða, 36.
- Lokasenna, 57-63.
- Skáldskaparmál, 4, 17, 18.
- Vafþrúðnismál, 51.