Trisiras Ullikummi Hrungnir

In post-Rigvedic myth Visvarupa appears under the name Trisiras, 'Three-head'. His father Tvastr created him out of resentment towards Indra. He grew so great that Indra was afraid he would ingest the whole universe. In an attempt to undo him Indra told the Nymphs (Apsarases) to dance before him, display their charms, and try to seduce him. But he proved too austere to be moved by the exhibition. So Indra hurled his fiery bolt and struck him dead. He fell like a mountaintop, but still blazed with ardour. Indra then persuaded a woodcutter to cut off his heads with his axe. When this was done, heathcocks, partridges, and sparrows flew out from the different heads.78

The Hittite Song of Ullikummi relates a story with noteworthy similarities to this. Kumarbi, the father of the gods, has hostile designs towards the Storm-god. He copulates with a cliff, which gives birth to a stone child, Ullikummi. Ullikummi grows rapidly to a prodigious size, threatening the gods. The Storm-god is downcast. The goddess of love and sex arrays herself seductively, goes before Ullikummi, and makes music and sings, but he is blind and deaf to her charms. The Storm-god then attacks him with lightning and tempest. But these too are ineffective. Ullikummi is bigger than ever, nine thousand leagues high and the same in width, blocking communications among the gods. Finally his feet are cut through with the saw that once separated heaven and earth. The Storm-god renews the battle and (we must suppose; the end is lost) brings the colossus crashing down.

This narrative is agreed to be translated or adapted from a Hurrian original.79 Its Indo-European status is therefore doubtful. Certain motifs in it—the insemination of a rock that gives birth to a formidable god or hero, and his eventual undercutting from below--recur in Caucasian legend,

78 TS 2. 5. 1; SB 1. 6. 3. 1; MBh. 5. 9. 3-38; Bhaddevata 6. 149-51. The motif of the creatures springing forth from the severed heads has an indirect link with Geryon: his father Chrysaor and the winged horse Pegasus leapt out when Perseus decapitated Medusa (Hes. Th. 280 f.).

whether by diffusion from east Anatolia or by originally kindred tradition.80 But these are not the features that it shares with the Indian myth, and it may be that we have to do with an Anatolian compound of Indo-European and non-Indo-European elements. We should not forget that an Indic dynasty had ruled over Hurrian Mitanni in about the sixteenth century.

The possibility of an Indo-European ingredient is strengthened by a Nordic parallel. The mightiest of the giants, Hrungnir, who had a head and heart of stone and a massive stone shield, got into Asgard and threatened to destroy it, carry off Freyja and Sif, and kill the rest of the gods. It was arranged that Thor would fight him. Hrungnir stood waiting with a great whetstone on his shoulder. As his second, the giants made a clay giant Mokkurkalfi, 'Fog-leg', who was nine rasts high and three wide. But he was a coward, and when he saw Thor he wet himself (which presumably dissolved his legs). Hrungnir was tricked into believing that Thor would attack him from below, and he put his shield under his feet. Then Thor came with thunder and lightning, hurled his hammer, and shattered Hrungnir's stone head.81

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