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01.11.2019

Durnir

Dúrnir was a dwarf who appears in three Old Norse skaldic poems, which suggests that he once was a well-known dwarf in Norse mythology.

The most notable poem is Ynglingatal:

En dagskjarr

Dúrnis niðja

salvörðuðr

Sveigði vétti,

þá er í stein

enn stórgeði

Dusla konr

ept dvergi hljóp,

ok salr bjartr

þeira Sökmímis

jötunbyggðr

við jöfri gein.

By Diurnir's elfin race,

Who haunt the cliffs and shun day's face,

The valiant Swegde was deceived,

The elf's false words the king believed.

The dauntless hero rushing on,

Passed through the yawning mouth of stone:

It yawned – it shut – the hero fell,

In Saekmime's hall, where giants dwell.

A more literal translation:

The day-fearing

spawn of Durnir

warden of the hall

betrayed Sveigdir

who into stone

the rash hero

ran after the dwarf.

The bright hall

of Soekmimir

built of giants

was enriched

by the chieftain`s presence.

He also appears in a list of Dwarves in the anonymous Dverga heiti:

Alþjófr, austri,

aurvangr ok dúfr,

ái, andvari,

ónn ok draupnir,

dori ok dagfinnr,

dulinn ok ónarr,

alfr ok dellingr,

óinn ok durnir.

The third poem is found in Laufás-Edda:

Kveða skal hróðr fyr hríðar

hræ-blakks viðum sævar,

drykkr var Durnis rekkum

døkkr, ljósara nøkkvi.

Snorri also includes Dúrnir in a list of giants in the Skáldskaparmál section of his Prose Edda (Faulkes translation, p. 157).

It is possible that the name Durnir is an emendation of Durinn, mentioned as the father of dvarfs in Dvergatal. Both names mean door, or door-warden. The names Durinn and Durnir do not appear in the same texts. The Norwegian translation of Ynglinga Saga from 1900 uses the name of Durinn instead of Durnir.

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