Summary of James Baldwin's The Apples of Idun: A Tale of Odin and Loki

Retelling of James Baldwin's "The Apples of Idun: A Tale of Odin and Loki"

The Boon of Youth

In this mythic narrative, Bragi recounts the tale of Idun, the spouse of Bragi himself. Idun, renowned for her beauty and wisdom, possesses a box of apples, a priceless gift of youth highly cherished by the gods. The gods turn to Idun as a source of eternal youth when the specter of old age looms, fearing the feebleness and weakness it brings.

Odin and Asa-folk's Quest

Odin and his Asa-folk find themselves on the brink of losing the coveted apples and Idun along with her golden key. To safeguard this vital source of rejuvenation, they embark on a journey into the wilderness, donning human disguises to commune with nature. In an unexpected turn, they encounter Hymer's cattle, leading to a fateful encounter that unfolds the next part of the tale.

The Deception and Flight

Odin and his companions decide to slaughter Hymer's cattle for sustenance, but their attempt at cooking the meat proves futile. A gray eagle, perched on an oak branch, intervenes. Loki, agreeing to the eagle's offer, finds himself betrayed as the eagle claims the lion's share. Loki flees, but Old Winter, in eagle form, captures and drags him through the woods and rocks.

Idun's Imprisonment

Recognizing the impending threat of aging, Loki returns to Bragi's house, seeking the rejuvenating apples. Idun, having aged since Loki's last visit, is warned of the dire consequences of another winter without the apples. Loki reveals Idun's absence in the forest and her entrapment in the eagle-talons of Old Winter.

Loki's Quest for Redemption

Filled with grief and fear of Death, the gods question Loki about his mischief and demand Idun's safe return. Threatened by the gods, Loki borrows the falcon-plumage of Freyja and ventures into the land of giants. In a prison-tower, he finds Idun, hides her in a magic nut-shell, and flees to reunite her with the gods.

The Triumph Over Winter

As Loki and Idun return to Bragi's house, they drop the nut-shell before the door. Idun, freed from her prison, reunites with her husband and the gods. Unlocking the box with her golden key, she distributes the apples, restoring the youth of the gods. The seasons bring renewal, and the earth rejoices as the icy fetters of Old Winter are melted, ushering in the return of life.

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