Rán

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In Norse mythology, Rán (Old Norse "theft, robbery"[1]) 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. Sturluson 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.[2]

Her net is also mentioned in Reginsmál and in the Völsunga saga, where she lends it to Loki, so he can capture Andvari.

Contents

Attestations

Poetic Edda

Her willingness to capture sailing men is referred to in this citation from the Poetic Edda poem Helgakviða Hundingsbana I where escaping the perils of the sea are referred to as escaping Rán:

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:

Prose Edda

In addition, Snorri tells in Skáldskaparmál that "Rán's husband" (verr Ránar) and "land of Rán" (land Ránar) are kennings for the sea.[8][9] 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).[2][8] 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:

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