Naglfar - Attestations

Attestations

Naglfar is attested in both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. In the Poetic Edda, Naglfar is solely mentioned in two stanzas found in the poem Völuspá. In the poem, a deceased völva foretells that the ship will arrive with rising waters, carrying Hrym and Loki and with them a horde of others:

Hrym steers from the east, waters rise,
the mundane snake is coiled in jötun-rage.
The worm beats the water, and the eagle screams:
the pale of beak tears carcasses; Naglfar is loosed.
That ship fares from the east:
come will Muspell's people o'er the sea, and Loki steers.
The monster's kin goes all with the wolf;
with them the brother of Byleist on their course.
From the east comes Hrym with shield held high;
In giant-wrath does the serpent writhe;
O'er the waves he twists, and the tawny eagle
Gnaws corpses screaming; Naglfar is loose.
O'er the sea from the north there sails a ship
With the people of Hel, at the helm stands Loki;
After the wolf do wild men follow,
And with them the brother of Byleist goes.

In the Prose Edda, Naglfar is mentioned four times. The ship is first mentioned in chapter 43 of Gylfaginning, where the enthroned figure of High notes that while Skíðblaðnir is best the ship—constructed with the finest skill—"the biggest ship is Naglfari, it belongs to Muspell".

In chapter 51, High foretells the events of Ragnarök. Regarding Naglfar, High says that after the stars disappear from the sky, the landscape will shake so severely that mountains fall apart, trees uproot, and all binds will snap, causing the wolf Fenrir to break free. After, the Midgardr Serpent Jörmungandr will fly into a rage and swim to the shore, causing the ocean to swell unto land. Naglfar, too, will be break free from its moorings. High describes the composition of Naglfar as that of the untrimmed nails of the dead, and warns about burying the dead with untrimmed nails, stating that "the ship is made of dead people's nails, and it is worth taking care lest anyone die with untrimmed nails, since such a person contributes much material to the ship Naglfar which gods and men wish would take a long time to finish". High adds that the ship will be captained by the jötunn Hrym, and that Naglfar will be carried along with the surging waters of the flood. Further in chapter 51, High quotes the Völuspá stanzas above that references the ship.

Naglfar receives a final mention in the Prose Edda in Skáldskaparmál, where it is included among a list of ships.

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