In Norse mythology, Rán (Old Norse "sea" or "robber") is a sea goddess. According to Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, in his retelling of the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna, she is married to Ægir and they have nine daughters together. Snorri also reports that she had a net in which she tried to capture men who ventured out on the sea:
Ran is the name of Ægir's wife, and their daughters are nine, even as we have written before. At this feast all things were self-served, both food and ale, and all implements needful to the feast. Then the Æsir became aware that Rán had that net wherein she was wont to catch all men who go upon the sea.
Her net is also mentioned in Reginsmál and in the Völsunga saga, where she lends it to Loki so that he can capture Andvari. She is also associated with the practice of sailors bringing gold with them on any voyage, so that if they drowned while at sea, Ran would be pleased by their gift. 
Her willingness to capture sailing men is referred to in this citation from the Eddic poem Helgakviða Hundingsbana I where escaping the perils of the sea is referred to as escaping Rán:
- En þeim sjalfum
- Sigrún ofan
- folkdjörf of barg
- ok fari þeira;
- snerisk ramliga
- Rán ór hendi
- gjalfrdýr konungs
- at Gnipalundi.
- But from above
- did Sigrun brave
- Aid the men and
- all their faring;
- Mightily came
- from the claws of Ron
- The leader's sea-beast
- off Gnipalund.
Whether men drowned by her doing or not, she appears to have received those drowned at sea, as exemplified in the section called Hrímgerðarmál in the Eddic poem Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar, where the giantess Hrímgerðr is accused of having wanted to give the king's warriors to Rán, i.e. to drown them:
- 18. "Þú vart, hála,
- fyr hildings skipum
- ok látt í fjarðar mynni fyrir;
- ræsis rekka
- er þú vildir Rán gefa,
- ef þér kæmi-t í þverst þvari.
- 18. "Witch, in front
- of the ship thou wast,
- And lay before the fjord;
- To Ron wouldst have given
- the ruler's men,
- If a spear had not stuck in thy flesh.
In addition, Snorri says in Skáldskaparmál that "Rán's husband" (verr Ránar) and "land of Rán" (land Ránar) are kennings for the sea. Furthermore, her close association with the sea permitted the kenning for gold "brightness of the sea" to be rendered as "brightness of Rán" (gull er kallat eldr eða ljós eða birti Ægis, Ránar eða). Not surprisingly, the sea was also referred to as "Rán's road" (Ránar vegr), as in the following stanza by the skald Njáll Þorgeirsson quoted by Snorri:
- 290. Hrauð í himin upp glóðum
- hafs, gekk sær af afli.
- Börð, hygg ek, at ský skerðu.
- Skaut Ránar vegr mána.
- To the sky shot up the Deep's Gledes,
- With fearful might the sea surged:
- Methinks our stems the clouds cut,-
- Rán's Road to the moon soared upward.
Rán was a dangerous goddess and Snorri adds a stanza of poetry by the skald Refr where the voracious sea is called "Ægir's wide mouth" and "Rán's mouth".
- 87. Færir björn, þar er bára
- brestr, undinna festa
- oft í Ægis kjafta
- úrsvöl Gymis völva.
- 88. En sægnípu Sleipnir
- slítr úrdrifinn hvítrar
- Ránar, rauðum steini
- runnit, brjóst ór munni.
- Gymir's wet-cold Spae-Wife
- Wiles the Bear of Twisted Cables
- Oft into Ægir's wide jaws,
- Where the angry billow breaketh.
- And the Sea-Peak's Sleipnir slitteth
- The stormy breast rain-driven,
- The wave, with red stain running
- Out of white Rán's mouth.
In this poem "Gymir's wet-cold Spae-Wife (völva)" is likely a reference to Rán, as Snorri and the skald present Gymir as another name for Ægir.
Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna
In the legendary saga Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna, Friðþjófr and his men find themselves in a violent storm, and the protagonist mourns that he will soon rest in Rán's bed.
- Sat ek á bólstri
- í Baldrshaga,
- kvað, hvat ek kunna,
- fyr konungs dóttur.
- Nú skal ek Ránar
- raunbeð troða,
- en annar mun
- On bolster I sat
- In Baldur's Mead erst,
- And all songs that I could
- To the king's daughter sang;
- Now on Ran's bed belike
- Must I soon be a-lying,
- And another shall be
- By Ingibiorg's side.
The protagonist then decides that as they are to "go to Rán" (at til Ránar skal fara) they would better do so in style with gold on each man. He divides the gold and talks of her again:
- Nú hefir fjórum
- of farit várum
- lögr lagsmönnum,
- þeim er lifa skyldu,
- en Rán gætir
- röskum drengjum,
- siðlaus kona,
- sess ok rekkju.
- The red ring here I hew me
- Once owned of Halfdan's father,
- The wealthy lord of erewhile,
- Or the sea waves undo us,
- So on the guests shall gold be,
- If we have need of guesting;
- Meet so for mighty men-folk
- Amid Ran's hall to hold them.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Section XXXIII of Skáldskaparmál in translation by Arthur G. Brodeur (1916, 1923)
- ↑ Monaghan, Patricia (2009). Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. abc-clio. pp. 641. ISBN 978-0-313-34989-8. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=8zHxlL8my-YC&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
- ↑ Helgakviða Hundingsbana I at Norrøne Tekster og Kvad, Norway.
- ↑ Ship.
- ↑ The First Lay of Helgi Hundingsbane, Henry A. Bellows' translation (1936), at Sacred Texts.
- ↑ Hrímgerðarmál at Norrøne Tekster og Kvad, Norway.
- ↑ Hrímgerðarmál, Henry A. Bellows' translation (1936), at Sacred Texts.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Skáldskaparmál at Norrøne Tekster og Kvad, Norway.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Section XXV of Skáldskaparmál in translation by Arthur G. Brodeur (1916, 1923).
- ↑ Section LX of Skáldskaparmál in translation by Arthur G. Brodeur (1916, 1923).
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Friðþjófs saga ins frækna at Norrøne Tekster og Kvad, Norway.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 "The Story of Frithjof the Bold" in Three Northern Love Stories and Other Tales, in translation by Eiríkr Magnússon and William Morris (1901).
- Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-513-1
|This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Rán. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.|