TED-Ed Lesson TRANSCRIPT
Asgard, a realm of wonders, was where the Norse Gods made their home. There Odin’s great hall of Valhalla towered above the mountains and Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, anchored itself.
But though their domain was magnificent, it stood undefended from the giants and trolls of Jotunheim, who despised the gods and sought to destroy them.
One day when Thor, strongest of the gods, was off fighting these foes, a stranger appeared, riding a powerful gray horse. The visitor made the gods an astonishing offer. He would build them the greatest wall they’d ever seen, higher than any giant could climb and stronger than any troll could break.
All he asked in return was the beautiful goddess Freya’s hand in marriage — along with the sun and moon from the sky. The gods balked at this request and were ready to send him away.
But the trickster Loki concocted a devious plan. He told the gods they should accept the stranger’s offer, but set such strict conditions that he would fail to complete the wall in time.
That way, they would lose nothing, while getting most of the wall built for free. Freya didn’t like this idea at all, but Odin and the other gods were convinced and came to an agreement with the builder.
He would only have one winter to complete the wall. If any part was unfinished by the first day of summer, he would receive no payment. And he could have no help from any other people.
The gods sealed the deal with solemn oaths and swore the mason would come to no harm in Asgard.
In the morning, the stranger began to dig the foundations at an astonishing speed, and at nightfall he set off towards the mountains to obtain the building stones.
But it was only the next morning, when they saw him returning, that the gods began to worry. As agreed, no other people were helping the mason. But his horse Svaðilfari was hauling a load of stones so massive it left trenches in the ground behind them.
Winter came and went. The stranger kept building, Svaðilfari kept hauling, and neither snow nor rain could slow their progress.