Valhalla - Attestations - Prose Edda - Gylfaginning

Valhalla is first mentioned in chapter 2 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, where it is described partially in euhemerized form. In the chapter, King Gylfi sets out to Asgard in the guise of an old man going by the name of Gangleri to find the source of the power of the gods. The narrative states that the Æsir foresaw his arrival and had prepared grand illusions for him, so that when Gangerli enters the fortress, he sees a hall of such a height that he has trouble seeing over it, and notices that the roof of the hall is covered in golden shields, as if they were shingles. Snorri then quotes a stanza by the skald Þjóðólfr of Hvinir (c. 900). As he continues, Gangleri sees a man in the doorway of the hall juggling short swords, and keeping seven in the air at once. Among other things, the man says that the hall belongs to his king, and adds that he can take Gangleri to the king. Gangleri follows him, and the door closes behind him. All around him he sees many living areas, and throngs of people, some of which are playing games, some are drinking, and others are fighting with weapons. Gangleri sees three thrones, and three figures sitting upon them: High sitting on the lowest throne, Just-As-High sitting on the next highest throne, and Third sitting on the highest. The man guiding Gangleri tells him that High is the king of the hall.

In chapter 20, Third states that Odin mans Valhalla with the Einherjar: the dead who fall in battle and become Odin's adopted sons. In chapter 36, High states that valkyries serve drinks and see to the tables in Valhalla, and Grímnismál stanzas 40 to 41 are then quoted in reference to this. High continues that the valkyries are sent by Odin to every battle, where they choose who is to die, and determine victory.

In chapter 38, Gangleri says: "You say that all men who have fallen in battle from the beginning of the world are now with Odin in Valhalla. With what does he feed them? I should think the crowd there is large." High responds that this is indeed true, that a huge amount are already in Valhalla, but yet this amount will seem to be too few when "the wolf comes." High describes that there are never too many to feed in Valhalla, for they feast from Sæhrímnir (here described as a boar), and that this beast is cooked every day and is again whole every night. Grímnismál stanza 18 is then recounted. Gangleri asks if Odin himself eats the same food as the Einherjar, and High responds that Odin needs nothing to eat—Odin only consumes wine—and he gives his food to his wolves Geri and Freki. Grímnismál stanza 19 is then recounted. High additionally states that at sunrise, Odin sends his ravens Huginn and Muninn from Valhalla to fly throughout the entire world, and they return in time for the first meal there.

In chapter 39, Gangleri asks about the food and drinks the Einherjar consume, and asks if only water is available there. High replies that, of course, Valhalla has food and drinks fit for kings and jarls, for the mead consumed in Valhalla is produced from the udders of the goat Heiðrún, who in turn feeds on the leaves of the "famous tree" Læraðr. The goat produces so much mead in a day that it fills a massive vat so large that all of the Einherjar in Valhalla might satisfy their thirst from it. High further states that, more notably, the stag Eikþyrnir stands atop Valhalla and also chews on the branches of Læraðr. So much moisture drips from his horns that it falls down to the well Hvelgelmir, resulting in numerous rivers.

In chapter 40, Gangleri muses that Valhalla must be quite crowded, to which High responds by stating that Valhalla is massive and remains roomy despite the large amount of inhabitants, and then quotes Grímnismál stanza 23. In chapter 41, Gangleri says that Odin seems to be quite a powerful lord, as he controls quite a big army, but he yet wonders how the Einherjar keep themselves busy when they are not drinking. High replies that daily, after they've dressed and put on their war gear, they go out to the courtyard and battle one another in one-on-one combat for sport. Then, when mealtime comes, they ride home to Valhalla and drink. High then quotes Vafþrúðnismál stanza 41. In chapter 42, High describes that, "right at the beginning, when the gods were settling" they had established Asgard and then built Valhalla. The death of the god Baldr is recounted in chapter 49, where the mistletoe that is used to kill Baldr is described as growing west of Valhalla.

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