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Title: Stories and Ballads of the Far Past - Translated from the Norse (Icelandic and Faroese) with - Introductions and Notes
Author: Kershaw, Nora, 1891-1972
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Very few of the _Fornaldar Sögur Northrlanda_ have hitherto been
translated into English. The _Völsungasaga_ is of course well known,
but with this exception the 'Stories of Icelanders,' and the 'Stories
of the Kings of Norway' are probably the only sagas familiar to the
majority of English readers. Of the four sagas contained in this
volume only one--the _Tháttr of Sörli_--has appeared in English
before, though the poetry which they contain has frequently been
translated, from the time of Hickes's _Thesaurus_ (1705). So far as
I am aware no version of any of the Faroese ballads has appeared in
English. Out of the great number which were collected during the
18th and 19th centuries I have chosen a few which deal with the same
stories as the sagas translated here; and for purposes of comparison I
have added a short extract from one of the Icelandic _Rímur_, as well
as a Danish ballad and part of the Shetland _Hildina_.

In accordance with general custom in works of this kind I have
discarded the use of accents, unfamiliar symbols, etc., except in a
few Norse words which can hardly be anglicised.

My thanks are due to the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press for
undertaking the publication of this book, and to the staff for their
unfailing courtesy.

To Professor Thuren of Christiania I am indebted for kindly allowing
me to print the melodies from his son's _Folkesangen paa Færøerne_. I
have also to thank many friends in St Andrews and Cambridge for
help which they have kindly given to me in various ways, including
Professor Lawson, Dr Maitland Anderson and the staffs of the two
University Libraries, and Mr B. Dickins. Especially I wish to thank
Professor Chadwick to whom I am indebted for constant help and advice
throughout the book.

  N. K.

  _2 November, 1920._

Table of Contents


  General Introduction                              3
  The Tháttr of Nornagest                          11
  The Tháttr of Sörli                              38
  The Saga of Hromund Greipsson                    58
  The Saga of Hervör and Heithrek                  79
  Appendix to Part I (The Combat at Samsø
  and Hjalmar's Death Song)                       144



  General Introduction                            153
  Gríplur I                                       171
  The Faroese Ballad of Nornagest                 176
  The Faroese Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr      182
  The Danish Ballad of Angelfyr and Helmer        186
  The Faroese Ballad of Arngrim's Sons            193
  The Faroese Riddle Ballad (Gátu Ríma)           212
  The Shetland Ballad of Hildina                  217

  Notes                                           220
  List of editions and translations               254






The following stories are taken from the _Fornaldarsögur Northrlanda_,
or 'Stories of Ancient Times relating to the countries of the
North'--a collection of Sagas edited by Rafn in 1829-30 and re-edited
by Valdimar Ásmundarson in 1886-1891. The stories contained in this
collection deal almost exclusively with times anterior to Harold the
Fairhaired (c. 860-930) and the colonisation of Iceland, and stop
therefore where the better known stories relating to Iceland and the
historical kings of Norway begin. Some of them relate to persons and
events of the ninth century, while others are concerned with times
as remote as the fourth or fifth centuries. Their historical value is
naturally far inferior to that of the _Íslendinga Sögur_, or 'Stories
of Icelanders' and the _Konunga Sögur_, or 'Stories of the Kings.'

From the literary point of view also the 'Stories of Ancient Times'
are generally much inferior to the others. The 'Stories of Icelanders'
are derived from oral tradition, which generally goes back in more
or less fixed form to the time at which the characters in the stories
lived, and they give us a vivid picture of the persons themselves and
of the conditions of life in their time. In the 'Stories of Ancient
Times,' on the other hand, though there is some element derived from
tradition, often apparently of a local character, it is generally very
meagre. More often perhaps the source of the stories is to be found in
poems, notable instances of which will be found in _Hervarar Saga_ and
in _Völsunga Saga_. In many cases, however, the stories without doubt
contain a large proportion of purely fictitious matter.

The texts of the 'Stories of Ancient Times' which have come down to us
date as a rule from the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth
centuries though the actual MSS. themselves are generally later. Most
of the stories, however, were probably in existence before this time.
The Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200) was familiar with many
of them, including the story of Hethin and Högni[1] and one of the
scenes recorded in _Hervarar Saga_[2]. And we are told that a story
which seems to have corresponded, in its main outlines at least, to
the story of Hromund Greipsson was composed and recited at a wedding
in Iceland in 1119[3]. But in many cases the materials of our
stories were far earlier than this, though they no doubt underwent
considerable changes before they assumed their present form.

Indeed many stages in the literary history of the North are
represented in the following translations. Of these probably the
oldest is that section of the _Hervarar Saga_ which deals with the
battle between the Goths and the Huns "at Dylgia and on Dunheith and
upon all the heights of Jösur." The poetry here included in the saga
dates even in its present form probably from the Viking Age, perhaps
from the tenth century. But the verses themselves do not appear to be
all of the same date. Some of them show a certain elaboration and
a sense of conscious art, while others are comparatively bare and
primitive in type and contain very early features[4]; and there is
every probability that such poetry was ultimately derived from poetry
composed at a time when the Goths were still remembered. This is not
surprising in view of the fact that stories relating to the Goths were
popular in English and German heroic poetry, as well as in the heroic
lays of the North. Indeed we know from Jordanes[5] and elsewhere that
heroic poetry was common among the Goths themselves and that they were
wont to celebrate the deeds of their ancestors in verse sung to the
accompaniment of the harp.

This poem is no doubt much older than the saga. Originally it would
seem to have been complete in itself; but many verses have probably
been lost. Thus there can be little doubt that the prose passages in
chs. XII-XV are often merely a paraphrase of lost verses, though it
must not be assumed that all the prose in this portion of the saga
originated in such a way[6]. "It is difficult to tell ... where the
prose of the manuscripts is to be taken as standing in the place
of lost narrative verses, and where it fills a gap that was never
intended to be filled with verse, but was always left to the reciter
to be supplied in his own way[7]." The difficulty, however, is greater
in some cases than in others. The following picturesque passage
from the opening of ch. 14 of the _Hervarar Saga_ is a very probable
instance of a paraphrase of lost verses:

    It happened one morning at sunrise that as Hervör was standing
    on the summit of a tower over the gate of the fortress, she
    looked southwards towards the forest and saw clouds of dust,
    arising from a great body of horse, by which the sun was
    hidden for a long time. Next she saw a gleam beneath the dust,
    as though she were gazing on a mass of gold--fair shields
    overlaid with gold, gilded helmets and white corslets.

The motif of a chief or his lady standing on the pinnacle of a tower
of the fort and looking out over the surrounding country for an
approaching army is a very common one in ballads. The motif of the
above passage from _Hervarar Saga_, including the armour of the foe
and the shining shields, occurs in the opening stanzas of the Danish
Ballad _De vare syv og syvsindstyve_[8], which probably dates from
the fourteenth century (though it may possibly be later[9]) and which
derives its material ultimately from old heroic lays[10].

To the same period approximately as the poem on the battle with the
Huns belong the two pieces from the _Older Edda_ contained in the
_Tháttr[11] of Nornagest_. The _Reginsmál_ indeed, of which only about
half is quoted, may be even earlier than the former (in the form in
which it appears in _Hervarar Saga_), while the _Hellride of Brynhild_
can hardly be later than the early part of the eleventh century.

A second stage in the literary history of the North is represented
by the 'episodic' poems _Hjalmar's Death Song_ and the _Waking of
Angantyr_, both of which are attributed to the twelfth century by
Heusler and Ranisch[12]. Unlike the poem on the battle between the
Goths and the Huns, neither of these forms a story complete in
itself. They presuppose the existence of a saga in some form or other,
presumably oral, dealing at least with the fight at Samsø; and the
existence of such a saga in the twelfth century is confirmed by the
account of the same event given by Saxo[13].

A third stage in the literary development of the heroic legends is
represented by the written saga itself, which has evidently been
formed by the welding together, with more or less skill as the case
may be, of several distinct stories, and of more than one literary
form. A particularly striking instance of this is to be found in the
_Hervarar Saga_ with its stories of the Heroic and Viking Ages,
the poems dealing with the fight on Samsø, the primitive Riddles of
Gestumblindi and the early poem of the battle between the Goths and
Huns[14]. Something of the same kind has also taken place in the
composition of the _Thættir of Nornagest_ and of _Sörli_ respectively,
though into the former has entered a considerable element of folk-tale
which is introduced with a certain _naïveté_ and no little skill
alongside the old heroic legends. As has been already mentioned, these
three sagas, like others of the same type, appear to have been written
down in the late thirteenth or the early years of the fourteenth
century. On the other hand most if not the whole of the _Saga of
Hromund Greipsson_ appears to have been composed early in the twelfth
century, but we do not know when it was first written down.

A fourth stage is represented by the Icelandic _Rímur_ which are for
the most part rhyming metrical versions of the sagas and which date
from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. As an illustration of
this stage I have translated a few stanzas from the _Gríplur_, a
_Ríma_ based on an early form of the story of Hromund Greipsson[15].
The _Rímur_ are, so far as we can judge, somewhat wearisome
paraphrases of the prose stories, and while the metre and diction
are elaborate in the extreme, the treatment of the story is often
mechanical and puerile. Comparatively few of the _Rímur_ have as yet
been published and the _Gríplur_ is the only one known to me which is
primarily concerned with any of the sagas contained in this volume.

The ballads, both Faroese and Danish[16], belong to a fifth stage in
the life of heroic legend in the North; but their origin and history
is by no means so clear as that of the _Rímur_, and it is at present
impossible to assign even approximate dates to more than a few of
them with any degree of certainty. I have touched on this question at
somewhat greater length below[17]; and I would only add here that
some Danish and Swedish ballads, e.g. _Ung Sveidal_[18], _Thord af
Haffsgaard_[19] and perhaps _Her Aage_[20], appear to be derived more
or less directly from poems of the Viking Age, such as _Fjölsvinsmál_,
_Thrymskvitha_ and _Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I_--without any
intermediate prose stage.

A careful study of the Faroese ballads as a whole might enable one
to determine something more of the relation of ballads to
'Literature'[21] and of the various ballad forms to one another, such
as that of the short and simple _Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr_
to the longer and more complicated _Ballad of Arngrims Sons_.
Simplification and confusion are among the chief characteristics of
popular poetry[22]; but it is to be noted that in the case of
the _Hervarar Saga_ confusion set in long before the days of the
ballad--as early as the saga itself, where there must surely be at
least one case of repetition of character[23]. In reality, considering
through how many stages the ballad material has passed, one is amazed
at the vitality of the stories and the amount of original groundwork
preserved. A careful comparison of the _Völsunga Saga_ and the Faroese
cycle of ballads generally classed together as _Sjúrðar Kvæði_--which,
be it observed, were never written down at all till the nineteenth
century--brings out to a degree literally amazing the conservatism of
the ballads on the old heroic themes.

Readers who desire to make further acquaintance with the 'Stories of
Ancient Times' as a whole will find a further account of the subject
in Professor Craigie's _Icelandic Sagas_ (p. 92 ff.). More detailed
accounts will be found in Finnur Jónsson's _Oldnorske og Oldislandske
Litteraturs Historie_[24], Vol. II, pp. 789-847, and in Mogk's
_Geschichte der Altnordischen Literatur_ in Paul's _Grundriss der
Germanischen Philologie_, Ed. II, 1904, Vol. II, pp. 830-857, while a
discussion of the heroic stories will be found in Professor Chadwick's
_Heroic Age_, chs. I-VIII. For a full bibliography of the texts,
translations, and general literature dealing with the _Fornaldarsögur_
collectively, see the annual _Islandica_, Vol. V, pp. 1-9, compiled
by Halldór Hermannsson and issued by the Cornell University Library,

    [Footnote 1: Cf. Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, Book V, p.
    160 (Elton's translation, pp. 197, 198).]

    [Footnote 2: Cf. Saxo, _op. cit._, Book V, p. 166 (Elton's
    translation, p. 205).]

    [Footnote 3: Cf. Introduction to the _Saga of Hromund
    Greipsson_, p. 58 below.]

    [Footnote 4: Cf. Heusler and Ranisch, _Eddica Minora_
    (Dortmund, 1903) p. xii.]

    [Footnote 5: _De Origine Actibusque Getarum_ (transl. C.C.
    Mierow, Princeton, 1915), cap. 5.]

    [Footnote 6: Cf. Heusler and Ranisch, _op. cit._, p. x ff.]

    [Footnote 7: Ker, _Epic and Romance_ (London, 1908, 2nd ed.),
    p. 112.]

    [Footnote 8: S. Grundtvig, _Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser_
    (Copenhagen, 1853-1890), Bd I, no. 7.]

    [Footnote 9: See General Introduction to Part II, p. 166

    [Footnote 10: Cf. Axel Olrik, _Danske Folkeviser í Udvalg_
    (Copenhagen and Christiania, 1913), pp. 81, 82.]

    [Footnote 11: A. _Tháttr_ (pl. _Thættir_) is a story within a
    story--an episode complete in itself but contained in a long

    [Footnote 12: _Eddica Minora_, pp. xxi, xlii.]

    [Footnote 13: _Op. cit._, Book V, p. 166 (Elton's translation,
    pp. 204, 205).]

    [Footnote 14: See Introduction to the _Hervarar Saga_, pp.
    81-4 below.]

    [Footnote 15: See Introduction to the _Gríplur_, p. 171 ff.

    [Footnote 16: Cf. p. 165 ff. below.]

    [Footnote 17: Cf. General Introduction to Part II, p. 166

    [Footnote 18: Bugge's edition of the _Saemundar Edda_, p. 352
    ff.; also Ker, _Epic and Romance_, p. 114 etc.; Vigfússon and
    Powell, _Corpus Poeticum Boreale_ (Oxford, 1883), Vol. I, p.
    501 ff.]

    [Footnote 19: _C. P. B._, Vol. I, pp. 175 and 501 ff.]

    [Footnote 20: _C. P. B._, Vol. I, p. 502 ff.]

    [Footnote 21: Always, however, with the proviso that, owing
    to the avowed literary origin of many of them, the Faroese
    ballads to some extent form a class by themselves; cf. General
    Introduction to Part II, p. 166 below.]

    [Footnote 22: Cf. Chadwick, _The Heroic Age_ (Cambridge,
    1912), p. 95.]

    [Footnote 23: Cf. the Introduction to the _Saga of Hervör and
    Heithrek_, p. 81 f. below.]

    [Footnote 24: Copenhagen, 1901.]


This story occurs as an episode in the long _Saga of Olaf
Tryggvason_--to be distinguished from the shorter _Saga of Olaf
Tryggvason_ contained in the _Heimskringla_ and translated by Morris
and Magnússon in the _Saga Library_[1]. The best known manuscript
(_F_) of the longer saga is the _Flateyjarbók_ which comes from the
island of Flatey in Breithifjörth off the west of Iceland, and was
written between 1386 and 1394. The second (_S_) is the Codex _Arn.
Magn. 62_ in the Royal Library (at Copenhagen), which, like the
former, contains a fragment only of the _Saga of Olaf Tryggvason_,
but includes the _Tháttr of Nornagest_. This MS. dates, in all
probability, from shortly after the middle of the fourteenth
century. Finally, besides several paper MSS. (comparatively late and
unimportant), there is a MS. _A_ (number 2845 of the Royal Library at
Copenhagen) dating from the fifteenth century, in which the _tháttr_
stands by itself.

Rafn[2], in his edition of the _Fornaldarsögur_, based his text of the
_tháttr_ on _A_; but subsequent examination has rendered it probable
that this MS. is hardly independent of _F_ which gives an earlier and
better text. As regards MSS. _F_ and _S_, the latter frequently gives
a better reading than the former[3]. For this reason it was followed
by Bugge[4] who believed it to be the better source. Wilken[5] however
held that _F_ represents the 'Vulgate' of the _tháttr_, while _S_
gives a corrected and edited version. In his edition, therefore, he
chiefly followed _F_, though he made use of _S_ throughout, and also
(for the poems) the _Codex Regius_ of the Older Edda. His example has
been followed by later editors, including Valdimar Ásmundarson[6],
from whose version the following translation has been made. The
differences between all three MSS. appear to be very slight, but
Ásmundarson's edition approximates more closely to Wilken's than to
Rafn's. Indeed the variations between the texts of Wilken's second
edition[7] and Ásmundarson are negligible. For a full bibliography of
texts, translations, and literature relating to this saga the reader
is referred to _Islandica_, Vol. V, p. 32.

The saga itself dates from about 1300[8]. It is derived from
tradition, mainly Icelandic; but the various stories contained in
it differ greatly from one another in their historical value. This
episode is probably to be regarded as legendary in part; and it would
seem also to contain a good deal of conscious fiction.

The _tháttr_ falls naturally into three parts. The framework of
the story--the arrival of Guest at the hall of Olaf Tryggvason, his
inclusion in the King's retinue, and his baptism--forms a whole in
itself and contains nothing inherently improbable save the manner of
his death, where the folk-tale element creeps in. The first 'story
within a story,' the account that Guest gives of his wanderings and
more especially of the adventures of Sigurth, is legendary--or perhaps
rather made up from old legends with the help of the _Edda_ poems. As
in the case of the Anglo-Saxon poem _Widsith_--and indeed to a much
greater extent--the persons who figure in the stranger's stories lived
in reality in widely different ages. Sigurth and his brothers-in-law
belong to the early part of the fifth century, Harold the Fairhaired
and the sons of Lothbrok to the latter part of the ninth century.
Other characters such as Guthmund of Glasisvellir who is mentioned in
the first chapters are probably mythical.

The third part, which is perhaps the most interesting part of the
_tháttr_, is the passage in which Guest explains how he came by his
name. There can be no doubt that here we are in the region of pure
folk-tale. The story of the visit of the Norns shows a very remarkable
resemblance to the Greek legend of Althaea and Meleager. The same
motif appears to some extent in the mediaeval French romances of
_Ogier the Dane_, and is familiar to everyone in a slightly different
form as the first part of the German folk-tale, _Sleeping Beauty_,
where the reference to spinning should be noted.

The poetry contained in this _tháttr_, unlike that in the _Hervarar
Saga_, is all taken from the _Older Edda_. One of the poems, the
_Hellride of Brynhild_, is given almost complete and there are long
extracts from _Reginsmál_. There are, however, some references to
poems which no longer exist[9].

In many respects the story of Nornagest is among the most interesting
of the Romantic Sagas. It gives a vivid picture of life in a northern
court--the _naïveté_ and friendliness of the conversation; the
personal interest that the King took in his men; the intimacy and
directness and simplicity of the intercourse between them. There is
something, too, of the same boyish indulgence--e.g. in King Olaf's
attitude towards the wager--which one notices in Hrolf Kraki's talk
with Vögg[10]. Yet combined with the amiability of both kings is a
certain natural dignity which is very convincing.

    [Footnote 1: An abridged translation of the longer saga by
    J. Sephton is published in the _Northern Library_, Vol. II
    (London, 1898).]

    [Footnote 2: _Fornaldarsögur Northrlanda_ (Copenhagen, 1829),
    Introduction, pp. xix, xx.]

    [Footnote 3: Wilken, _Die Prosaische Edda nebst Völsungasaga
    und Nornageststháttr_ (Paderborn, 1877), p. lxxxv ff.]

    [Footnote 4: _Norrøne Skrifter af Sagnhistorisk Indhold_
    (Christiania, 1873).]

    [Footnote 5: _Op. cit._, p. lxxxviii.]

    [Footnote 6: See _Fornaldarsögur Northrlanda_ (Reykjavík,
    1891), Vol. I, pp. 247-266.]

    [Footnote 7: The second edition follows the _Codex Regius_ in
    the text of the poems included in the _Tháttr_ more closely
    than did the first edition.]

    [Footnote 8: Cf. Finnur Jónsson, _Den Oldnorske og
    Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie_, Vol. II, p. 847; also
    Mogk, _Norwegisch-Isländischen Literatur_ (Strassburg, 1904),
    p. 822.]

    [Footnote 9: Cf. p. 19 below and note (p. 222).]

    [Footnote 10: Cf. _Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 3; also _Hrólfs Saga
    Kraka_, ch. 42.]


I. The story goes that on one occasion when King Olaf Tryggvason was
living at Trondhjem, it chanced that a man came to him late in the day
and addressed him respectfully. The King welcomed him and asked him
who he was, and he said that his name was Guest.

The King answered: "You shall be guest here, whatever you are called."

Guest said: "I have told you my name truly, Sire, and I will gladly
receive your hospitality if I may."

The King told him he could have it readily. But since the day was far
spent, the King would not enter into conversation with his guest; for
he was going soon to vespers, and after that to dinner, and then to
bed and to sleep.

Now on that same night King Olaf Tryggvason was lying awake in his
bed and saying his prayers, while all the other men in the hall were
asleep. Then the King noticed that an elf or spirit of some kind had
come into the hall, though all the doors were locked. He made his way
past the beds of the men who were asleep there, one after another, and
at last reached the bed of a man at the far end.

Then the elf stopped and said: "An empty house, and a mighty strong
bolt on the door! People say that the King is the wisest of men. If he
were as clever in things of this kind as they say he would not sleep
so soundly."

After that he vanished through the door, locked as it was.

Early next morning the King sent his servant to find out who had
occupied that bed over night, and it proved to have been the stranger.
The King ordered him to be summoned before him and asked him whose son
he was.

He answered: "My father's name was Thorth. He was a Dane and was
called 'The Contentious,' and lived at a place called Groening in

"You are a well set-up man," said the King.

Guest was bold of speech, and bigger in build than most men. He looked
strong but was somewhat advanced in years. He asked the King if he
might stay for a while in his retinue. The King asked if he were
baptised. Guest said that he had been prime-signed but not baptised.
The King said that he was free to remain in his retinue, but added:

"You will not remain long unbaptised with me."

The reason for the elf's remark about the bolt was that Guest had
crossed himself, that evening like other men, but was in reality still
a heathen.

The King said: "Can you do anything in the way of sport or music?"

He replied that he could play the harp and tell stories which people

Then said the King: "King Svein has no right to let unbaptised men
leave his kingdom and wander about from one country to another."

Guest replied: "You must not blame the King of the Danes for this,
for it is a long time since I left Denmark. In fact it was a long time
before the Emperor Otto burnt the Dane-work and forced King Harold
Gormsson and Earl Haakon the Heathen to become Christians."

The King questioned Guest about many subjects and he always gave him
good and intelligent answers. Men say that it was in the third year of
King Olaf's reign that Guest came to him.

In this year also there came to him two men called Grim who were sent
by Guthmund from Glasisvellir. They brought to the King as a present
from Guthmund two horns which were also called 'Grim.' They had also
some further business with the King which we will return later.

As for Guest, he remained with the King, and had a place at the far
end of the visitors' seats. He was a man of breeding and had good
manners, and was popular and much respected by everyone.

II. A little before Yule, Ulf the Red and his following came home. He
had been engaged on the King's business all summer, for he had been
appointed to guard the coasts of 'The Bay' against Danish raids. He
never failed to be with King Olaf at mid-winter.

Ulf had many fine treasures to bring to the King, which he had got
during the summer, and one gold ring in particular which was called
Hnituth. It was welded together in seven places and each piece had a
different colour. It was made of much finer gold than rings usually
are. The ring had been given to Ulf by a landowner called Lothmund,
and before that it had belonged to King Half, from whom the
Halfsrekkar take their name. The ring had come to them as forced
tribute from King Halfdan Ylfing. Lothmund had asked Ulf in return for
it that he would guard his home with the support of King Olaf, and Ulf
had promised to do so.

Now King Olaf was keeping Yule in magnificent style at his court in
Trondhjem; and it was on the eighth day of Yule that Ulf gave him the
gold ring Hnituth. The King thanked him for the gift as well as for
all the faithful service which he had constantly rendered him.

The ring was passed round the building in which the drinking was going
on.--As yet no halls had been built in Norway. Now each man showed it
to his neighbour and they thought that they had never seen such
fine gold as that of which the ring was made. At last it came to the
guest-table, and so to the guest who had just arrived. He looked at
the ring and handed it back on the palm of his hand--the hand in which
he had been holding his drinking horn. He was not much impressed with
the treasure, and made no remarks about it, but went on jesting with
his companions. A serving-man was pouring out drink at the end of the

"Do you not like the ring?" he asked.

They said; "We all like it very much except the new-comer. He can't
see anything in it; but we think he can't appreciate it simply because
he doesn't care for things of this kind."

The serving-man went up the hall to the King and told him exactly what
the guests had said, adding that, the new-comer had taken little note
of the treasure, valuable as it was, when it was shown to him.

Then the King remarked: "The new-comer probably knows more than you
think: he must come to me in the morning and tell me a story."

Now he and the other guests at the farthest table were talking among
themselves. They asked the new-comer where he had seen a better ring
or even one as good as this.

"Since you evidently think it strange," said he, "that I make so
little of it, I may say that I have certainly seen gold which is in no
way inferior, but actually better."

The King's men now laughed heartily and said that that promised good
sport, adding:

"Will you agree to wager with us that you have seen gold as good as
this, and prove it? We will stake four marks in current coin against
your knife and belt; and the King shall decide who is in the right."

Then said Guest: "I will neither be made a laughing-stock for you nor
fail to keep the wager which you offer. And I will certainly lay a
wager with you on the spot, and stake exactly what you have suggested,
and the King shall judge who is in the right."

Then they stopped talking, and Guest took his harp and played it well
till far into the evening, so that it was a joy to all who heard him.
What he rendered best was _The Harping of Gunnar_; and last of all he
played the ancient _Wiles of Guthrun_, neither of which they had heard
before. And after that they went to sleep for the night.

III. In the morning the King rose early and heard Mass; and after that
he went to breakfast with his retinue. And when he had taken his place
in the high seat, the guests came up to him, and Guest with them; and
they told him all about their agreement and the wager which they had

"I am not much taken with your wager," replied the King, "although it
is your own money that you are staking. I suspect that the drink must
have gone to your heads; and I think you would do well to give it up,
especially if Guest agrees."

"My wish is," replied Guest, "that the whole agreement should stand."

"It looks to me, Guest," said the King, "as if it was my men rather
than you whose tongues have got them into trouble; but we will soon
put it to the test."

After that they left him and went to drink; and when the drinking
tables were removed, the King summoned Guest and spoke to him as

"Now is the time for you to produce the gold if you have any, so that
I can decide your wager."

"As you will, Sire!" replied Guest.

Then he felt in a pouch which he had with him, and took out of it a
fob which he untied, and then handed something to the King.

The King saw that it was a piece of a saddle-buckle and that it was of
exceedingly fine gold. Then he bade them bring the ring Hnituth; and
when they did so, the King compared the ring and the piece of gold and

"I have no doubt whatever that the gold which Guest has shown us is
the finer, and anyone who looks at it must think so too."

Everybody agreed with the King. Then he decided the wager in Guest's
favour, and the other guests came to the conclusion that they had made
fools of themselves over the business.

Then Guest said: "Take your money and keep it yourselves, for I don't
need it; but don't make any more wagers with strangers, for you never
know when you may hit upon someone who has both seen and heard more
than you have.--I thank you, Sire, for your decision!"

Then the King said: "Now I want you to tell me where you got that gold
from, which you carry about with you."

Guest replied: "I am loth to tell you, because no-one will believe
what I have to say about it."

"Let us hear it all the same," said the King, "for you promised before
that you would tell us your story."

"If I tell you the history of this piece of gold," replied Guest, "I
expect you will want to hear the rest of my story along with it."

"I expect that that is just what will happen," said the King.

IV. "Then I will tell you how once I went south into the land of the
Franks. I wanted to see for myself what sort of a prince Sigurth the
son of Sigmund was, and to discover if the reports which had reached
me of his great beauty and courage were true. Nothing happened
worth mentioning until I came to the land of the Franks and met
King Hjalprek. He had a great court around him. Sigurth, the son of
Sigmund, the son of Völsung, and of Hjördis, the daughter of Eylimi,
was there at that time. Sigmund had fallen in battle against the sons
of Hunding, and Hjördis had married Alf the son of King Hjalprek.
There Sigurth grew up together with all the other sons of King
Sigmund. Among these were Sinfjötli and Helgi, who surpassed all men
in strength and stature. Helgi slew King Hunding, thereby earning the
name Hundingsbani. The third son was called Hamund. Sigurth, however,
outstripped all his brothers, and it is a well-known fact that he was
the noblest of all warrior princes, and the very model of a king in
heathen times.

At that time, Regin, the son of Hreithmar, had also come to King
Hjalprek. He was a dwarf in stature, but there was no-one more cunning
than he. He was a wise man, but malign and skilled in magic. Regin
taught Sigurth many things and was devoted to him. He told him about
his birth and his wondrous adventures.

And when I had been there a little while, I entered Sigurth's service
like many others. He was very popular with everybody, because he was
friendly and unassuming, and generous to all.

V. It chanced one day that we came to Regin's house and Sigurth was
made welcome there. Then Regin spoke these verses:

  The son of Sigmund cometh to our hall,
  A valiant warrior. It must needs befall
  That I, less doughty and oppressed with age,
  Shall fall a victim to his wolfish rage.

  But I will cherish Yngvi's valorous heir,
  Since Fate hath sent him hither to our care,
  Train him to be, in valour and in worth,
  The mightiest and most famous prince on earth.

At this time, Sigurth was constantly in Regin's company. Regin told
him much about Fafnir--how he dwelt upon Gnitaheith in the form of a
serpent, and also of his wondrous size. Regin made for Sigurth a sword
called Gram. It was so sharp that when he thrust it into the River
Rhine it cut in two a flock of wool which he had dropped into the
river and which was drifting down stream, cutting it just as clean as
it did the water itself. Later on, Sigurth clove Regin's stithy with
the sword. After that Regin urged Sigurth to slay his brother Fafnir
and Sigurth recited this verse:

  The sons of Hunding would laugh loud and high,
  Who shed the life-blood of King Eylimi,
  If that his grandson bold should more desire
  Rings of red gold than vengeance for his sire.

After that Sigurth made ready an expedition to attack the sons of
Hunding; and King Hjalprek gave him many men and some warships.
Hamund, Sisurth's brother, was with him on this venture, and so was
Regin the dwarf. I was present too, and they called me Nornagest. King
Hjalprek had got to know me when he was in Denmark with Sigmund the
son of Völsung. At that time, Sigmund was married to Borghild, but
they parted because Borghild killed Sinfjötli the son of Sigmund by
poison. Then Sigmund went south to the land of the Franks and married
Hjördis, the daughter of King Eylimi. The sons of Hunding slew him, so
Sigurth had both his father and grandfather to avenge.

Helgi, the son of Sigmund, who was called Hundingsbani, was the
brother of Sigurth who was afterwards called Fafnisbani. Helgi,
Sigurth's brother, had slain King Hunding and three of his sons,
Eyjulf, Hervarth, and Hjörvarth, but Lyngvi and his two remaining
brothers, Alf and Heming, escaped. They were exceedingly famous for
exploits and accomplishments of every kind; but Lyngvi surpassed all
his brothers. They were very skilled in magic. They had reduced many
petty kings to subjection, and slain many champions, and burnt many
cities. They had worked the greatest havoc with their raids in Spain
and in the land of the Franks. But at that time the Imperial Power had
not yet been transferred to the regions north of the Alps. The sons of
Hunding had seized the realm which had belonged to Sigurth in the land
of the Franks, and they had very large forces there.

VI. Now I must tell you how Sigurth prepared for battle against the
sons of Hunding. He had got together a large and well-armed host, and
Regin was a mighty man in the councils of the force. He had a sword
which was called Rithil and which he had forged himself. Sigurth asked
Regin to lend him the sword. He did so, begging him to slay Fafnir
when he should return from this adventure, and this Sigurth promised
to do.

After that we sailed away south along the coast, and then we met with
a great storm raised by witchcraft, and many believed that it had
been stirred up by the sons of Hunding. After this we hugged the shore
somewhat more closely, and then we saw a man on a rocky promontory
which jutted out from the cliffs. He wore a green cloak and dark
breeches, and had high laced boots on his feet, and carried a spear in
his hand. This man addressed us in the following stanza:

  What folk are ye who ride the sea-king's steed,
  Mounting the lofty billows, and proceed
  Athwart the tossing main? Drenched is your sail,
  Nor can your ships against the wind prevail.

Regin replied:

  Hither come we with Sigurth o'er the foam,
  Whom ocean breezes blow to our last home.--
  Full soon the breakers, higher than the prow
  Will sink our 'ocean-steeds'; but who art thou?

The man in the cloak replied:

  Hnikar the name men did for me employ,
  Young Völsung, when I gave the raven joy
  Of carnage. Call me either of the two--
  Fjölnir or Feng, but let me fare with you.

Then we steered towards the land and the wind fell immediately; and
Sigurth bade the man come on board. He did so, and a fair breeze
sprang up. The man sat down at Sigurth's feet and was very friendly,
asking if Sigurth would like to hear some advice from him. Sigurth
said that he would, and added that he had an idea that Hnikar could
give people very helpful advice if he were willing to turn it to their
advantage. Then Sigurth said to the man in the cloak:

  O Hnikar, since you know the destiny
  Of gods and men, declare this unto me.--
  Which are the omens that should most delight
  When swords are swinging and a man must fight?

Hnikar replied:

  Many propitious signs, if men could know,
  Appear when swords are swinging to and fro.
  I hold a warrior has a trusty guide
  When a dark raven hovers at his side.

  I hold it too for a propitious sign
  If men to make a journey should design,
  And, coming out of doors, see close at hand
  Two gallant warriors in the pathway stand.

  And if you hear beneath the rowan tree
  A howling wolf, the sound spells luck to thee,
  And luck shall helmed warriors bring to thee,
  If thou such warriors art the first to see.

  Facing the sinking and late shining light
  Of the Moon's sister, warriors should not fight.
  Victory is theirs who, eager for the fray,
  Can clearly see to order their array.

  I hold it no occasion for delight
  When a man stumbles as he goes to fight;
  For guileful spirits dog him on his way
  With mischief-bearing looks throughout the fray

  A man of wisdom, as each day goes past,
  Washes, and combs his hair, and breaks his fast.
  He knows not where by evening he may be.--
  Stumbling is bad luck, boding ill to thee.

And after that we sailed southwards along the coast of Holstein and to
the east of Friesland, and there we landed. The sons of Hunding heard
at once of our expedition and gathered an army; and they soon had a
larger force than we had, and when we encountered them there was a
great battle. Lyngvi was the most valiant of the brothers in every
onset, though they all fought bravely. Sigurth's attack was so
fierce that everyone shrank before him, when they saw that they were
threatened by the sword Gram. There was no need to reproach Sigurth
with lack of courage. And when he and Lyngvi met, they exchanged many
blows and fought with the greatest valour. Then there was a lull in
the battle, for people turned to watch the single combat. For a long
time neither of them was able to inflict a wound on the other, so
skilled in arms were they.

Then Lyngvi's brothers made a fierce attack and slew many of our men,
while others took to flight. Then Hamund, Sigurth's brother, rushed to
meet them, and I joined him, and then there was another encounter.

The end of the affair between Sigurth and Lyngvi was that Sigurth made
him prisoner and had him fettered. And when Sigurth joined us, matters
very soon changed. Then the sons of Hunding fell and all their
host; but then night was coming on. And when day dawned, Hnikar had
vanished, and he was never seen again. We came to the conclusion that
it must in reality have been Othin.

A discussion then took place as to what death Lyngvi should suffer;
Regin counselled that the 'blood eagle' should be carved on his back.
Then I handed to Regin his sword and with it he carved Lyngvi's back
till he had severed the ribs from the spine; and then he drew out the
lungs. Thus died Lyngvi with great courage.

Then Regin said:

  Full seldom has a bolder warrior
  Reddened the earth than Sigmund's murderer.
  Hugin he feasted. Now with biting sword
  The 'bloody eagle' on his back is scored.

Great spoil was taken there. Sigurth's sailors got the whole of it
because he would not take any himself. The clothes and weapons taken
were worth much gold.

Afterwards Sigurth slew Fafnir, and Regin also, because Regin had
intended to deal treacherously with him. Sigurth took Fafnir's gold
and rode away with it, and from that time on he was called Fafnisbani.

After that he rode up to Hindarheith where he found Brynhild. What
passed between them is told in the story of Sigurth Fafnisbani.

VII. Later on Sigurth married Guthrun the daughter of King Gjuki and
then stayed for a while with his brothers-in-law, the sons of Gjuki. I
returned to the North with Sigurth and was with him in Denmark, and
I was also with him when Sigurth Hring sent his brothers-in-law, the
sons of Gandalf, to Gunnar and Högni, the sons of Gjuki, and demanded
that they should pay him tribute, threatening them with invasion in
case they refused. But they decided to defend their country. Thereupon
Gandalf's sons challenged the sons of Gjuki to a pitched battle on the
frontier, and then returned home; but the sons of Gjuki asked Sigurth
Fafnisbani to go to battle with them, and he agreed to do so. I was
still with Sigurth at that time. Then we sailed again northwards along
the coast of Holstein and landed at a place called Jarnamotha. Not far
from the landing place hazel-wood poles had been set up to mark where
the fight was to take place.

Then we saw many ships sailing from the north under the command of
the sons of Gandalf. Then the two hosts charged one another fiercely.
Sigurth Hring was not there, because he had to defend his own land,
Sweden, against the inroads of the Kurir and Kvænir. Sigurth was a
very old man at that time. Then the forces came into collision, and
there was a great battle and much slaughter. The sons of Gandalf
fought bravely, for they were exceptionally big and strong.

In that host there appeared a big strong man who made such slaughter
of men and horses that no-one could withstand him, for he was more
like a giant than a man. Gunnar bade Sigurth go and attack the
scoundrel, adding that as things were, there would be no success. So
Sigurth made ready to encounter the mighty man, and some others went
with him, but most of them were far from eager.

We quickly came upon the mighty man, and Sigurth asked him his name
and whence he came. He said that he was Starkath, the son of Storverk,
and that he came from the North, from Fenhring in Norway. Sigurth said
that he had heard reports of him and generally little to his credit,
adding that no mercy ought to be shown towards such people.

Starkath said: "Who is this man who casts insults in my teeth?"

Sigurth told him who he was.

Starkath said: "Are you called Fafnisbani?"

Sigurth said he was.

Then Starkath sought to escape, but Sigurth pursued him and swung
aloft the sword Gram and struck him on the jaw with the hilt so hard
that two molars fell out of his mouth; it was a stunning blow.

Then Sigurth bade the cur take himself off, and Starkath went away,
and I picked up one of the teeth and carried it off with me. It is now
used on a bell-rope at Lund in Denmark and weighs seven ounces; and
people go and look at it there as a curiosity.

As soon as Starkath had run away, the sons of Gandalf took to flight,
and we captured great booty; and after that Sigurth went home to his
realm and remained there for a while.

VIII. A short time after, we heard that Starkath had committed a foul
murder, slaying King Ali in his bath.

It chanced one day that as Sigurth Fafnisbani was riding to some
gathering or other, he rode into a muddy pool, and his horse Grani
leapt up so wildly that his saddle-girth burst asunder and the buckle
fell to the ground. And when I saw where it lay shining in the mud, I
picked it up and handed it to Sigurth; but he said that I might keep
it. It was that very piece of gold that you were looking at a short
time ago. Then Sigurth got down from his horse, and I rubbed it down
and washed the mud off it; and I pulled a lock of hair out of its tail
as a proof of its great size."

Then Guest showed the lock and it was seven ells long.

King Olaf said: "I think your stories are very entertaining."

Everybody praised his stories and his talent.

Then the King wanted him to tell them much more about the adventures
he had met with on his travels. So Guest told them many amusing
stories till late in the evening. It was then time to go to bed; but
next morning the King sent for Guest, and wanted to talk to him still

The King said: "I can't quite make out your age and how you can be
old enough to have been present when these events took place. You will
have to tell another story so as to make us better acquainted with
things of this kind."

Guest replied: "I suspected before that you would want to hear another
of my stories, if I told you what had happened about the gold."

"You must certainly tell me some more," replied the King.

IX. "I must tell you then," Guest began, "that I went north to Denmark
and there settled down on my estate, for my father had died a short
time before; and a little later I heard of the death of Sigurth and
the sons of Gjuki, and I felt that that was news indeed."

"What was the cause of Sigurth's death?" asked the King.

Guest replied: "It is generally believed that Guthorm the son of Gjuki
ran a sword through him while he was asleep in bed with Guthrun. On
the other hand, Germans say that Sigurth was slain out in the forest.
In the _Guthrúnar-rætha_ again it is stated that Sigurth and the sons
of Gjuki had ridden to a gathering and that they slew him then. But
one thing is agreed by all--that they set on him when he was down and
off his guard, and that they were guilty of gross treachery towards

Then one of the retinue asked:

"How did Brynhild behave then?"

Guest answered: "Brynhild then slew seven of her slaves and five
handmaidens, and ran herself through with a sword, commanding that she
should be taken to the pyre along with these people and burned beside
Sigurth. This was done, one pile being made for Sigurth and another
for Brynhild, and he was burned first, and then Brynhild. She was
taken in a chariot with a canopy of velvet and silk which was all
ablaze with gold, and thus was she burnt."

Then Guest was asked if Brynhild had chanted a lay after she was dead.
He replied that she had, and they asked him to recite it if he could.

Then Guest said: "As Brynhild was being driven to the pyre on the way
to Hell, she was brought near some cliffs where an ogress dwelt. The
ogress was standing outside the doors of her cave and wore a skin
kirtle and was of a blackish hue. She carried a long faggot in her
hand and cried:

'This will I contribute to your burning, Brynhild. It would have been
better if you had been burned while you were still alive, before
you were guilty of getting such a splendid man as Sigurth Fafnisbani
slain. I was always friendly to him and therefore I shall attack you
in a reproachful song which will make you hated by everybody who hears
what you have done.'

After that Brynhild and the ogress chanted to one another.

The ogress sang as follows:

  Thou shalt not be suffered to pass through my courts
    With their pillars of stone in my mansion drear,--
  Better far wert thou busied at home with thy needle!
    Not thine is the husband thou followest here.

  Inconstant soul, why comest thou hither?
    From the land of the Romans why visit'st thou me?
  Full many a wolf hast thou made be partaker
    Of the life-blood of men who were butchered by thee!

Then cried Brynhild:

  Upbraid me no more from thy rock bound dwelling
    For battles I fought in the days of old.--
  Thou wilt not be deemed to be nobler of nature
    Than I, wheresoever our story is told!

The Ogress:

  In an evil hour, O Buthli's daughter,
    In an evil hour wert thou brought to birth.--
  The Sons of Gjuki thou gavest to slaughter,
    Their noble dwellings thou rased'st to earth.


  A true account, if thou carest to hearken,
    O thou lying soul, will I tell to thee;--
  How empty of love and o'ershadowed by falsehood
    The life that the Gjukings had destined for me!

  Atli's daughter was I, yet the monarch bold-hearted
    Assigned me a home neath the shade of the oak.
  But twelve summers old, if thou carest to hearken,
    Was this maid when her vows to the hero she spoke.

  Hjalmgunnar the Old, of the Gothic nation,
    Great chief, on the pathway to Hell did I speed;
  And victory granted to Auth's young brother;
    Then Othin's dread fury was roused at my deed.

  Then a phalanx of bucklers did Othin set round me
    On Skatalund's heights, shields crimson and white,--
  Bade only that prince break the slumber that bound me
    Who knew naught of terror, nor shrank from the fight.

  And flames high towering and fiercely raging
  Round my Southern hall did he set in a ring:
  None other was destined to pass through in safety
    Save the hero who treasure of Fafnir should bring.

  The generous hero with treasure a-gleaming,
    The Danish viking on Grani rode,--
  Foremost champion in deeds of valour--
    Where my foster-father had his abode.

  As brother with sister we slept together;
    Eight nights' space he lay at my side.
  There were we happy and slumbered idly,
    Nor loving caresses did ever betide.

  Yet Guthrun the daughter of Gjuki reviled me,
    That I in the arms of her lover had slept.
  O then was I 'ware of the thing I desired not--
    The truth of my marriage from me had they kept.

  All too long against storms of adversity struggling
    Both women and men seek their fortunes to right;
  But I with my Sigurth shall end my life's battle
    At last. Now depart from me, daughter of Night!

Then the ogress gave a horrible shriek and leapt into the cliff."

Then the King's followers cried: "That's fine! Go on and tell us some

But the King said: "You need not tell us any more about things of that
kind." Then he continued: "Were you ever with the sons of Lothbrok?"

Guest replied: "I was only with them for a short time; I joined them
when they were making an expedition to the south in the neighbourhood
of the Alps, and when they destroyed Vifilsborg. Panic spread
everywhere at their approach, for they were victorious wherever they
went. They were intending at the time to go to Rome. It chanced one
day that a certain man came up to King Björn Ironside and saluted him.
The King received him in a friendly way and asked him whence he came.
He said that he had come from the south, from Rome.

The King asked him: 'How long is the journey there?'

He replied: 'You can see here, O King, the shoes which I am wearing.'

Then he took iron-bound shoes from his feet, and the tops of them were
very thick, but underneath they were all torn.

'You can see now how severely my shoes have suffered,' said he, 'and
tell by that what a long way it is from here to Rome.'

'It must be a very long way,' said the King; 'I shall turn back and
give up the idea of attacking the territories of Rome.'

And the result was that they went no further on their way; and
everyone thought it extraordinary that they should change their minds
so suddenly at the word of one man, when they had all their plans
laid. So after this the sons of Lothbrok went back to their homes in
the north, and made no further raids in the south."

The King said: "It is clear that the saints in Rome would not allow
them to make their way there. The man you spoke of must have been a
Spirit sent from God to make them change their minds so quickly, so
as not to bring destruction on Rome, the most holy place of Jesus

X. Then the King asked Guest: "Amongst the kings whom you have
visited, whose was the court that you liked best?"

Guest replied: "I enjoyed most being with Sigurth and the sons of
Gjuki; but the sons of Lothbrok were those who allowed most freedom
to their followers to live as they liked. Then again the richest place
was that of Eric at Upsala; but King Harold the Fairhaired was more
exacting than any of the kings I have mentioned in the duties that he
imposed on his followers. I was with King Hlöthver too in the land of
the Saxons, and there I was prime-signed; for it was not possible
to remain with him otherwise, because the Christian religion was
carefully observed there. That was the place I liked best on the

The King said: "You can give us a great deal of information whatever
question we ask you."

The King then asked Guest many further questions, and Guest told him
everything clearly, and finally he said:

"Now I must tell you why I am called Norna-gest."

The King said he would like to hear.

XI. Guest began: "I was brought up at my father's home at a place
called Groening. My father was a wealthy man and kept house in great
style. At that time wise women used to go about the country. They
were called 'spae-wives,' and they foretold people's futures. For
this reason people used to invite them to their houses and gave them
hospitality and bestowed gifts on them at parting.

My father did the same, and they came to him with a great following to
foretell my fate. I was lying in my cradle when the time came for them
to prophesy about me, and two candles were burning above me. Then they
foretold that I should be a favourite of Fortune, and a greater man
than any of my kindred or forbears--greater even than the sons of the
chief men in the land; and they said that all would come to pass
just as it has done. But the youngest Norn thought that she was not
receiving enough attention compared with the other two, since
they were held in high account yet did not consult her about these
prophecies. There was also a great crowd of roughs present, who pushed
her off her seat, so that she fell to the ground. She was much vexed
at this and called out loudly and angrily, telling them to stop
prophesying such good things about me:

'For I ordain that the boy shall live no longer than that candle burns
which is alight beside him.'

Then the eldest spae-wife took the candle and extinguished it and bade
my mother take charge of it and not light it until the last day of
my life. After that the spae-wives went away, and my father gave them
good gifts at parting. When I was full-grown, my mother gave me the
candle to take charge of: I have it with me now."

The King said: "Why have you come here to me now?"

Guest replied: "The idea that came into my mind was this: I expected
that I should get good luck from you, because I have heard you highly
praised by good and wise men."

The King said: "Will you receive holy baptism now?"

Guest replied: "Yes, I will, since you advise it."

So it came to pass; and the King took him into his favour and made
him one of his retinue. Guest became a very good Christian and loyally
followed the King's rules of life. He was also popular with everybody.

XII. It happened one day that the King asked Guest: "How much longer
would you live if you could choose?"

Guest replied: "Only a short time, please God!"

The King said: "What will happen if you take your candle now?"

Thereupon Guest took his candle out of the frame of his harp. The King
ordered it to be lighted, and this was done. And when the candle was
lighted it soon began to burn away.

Then the King said to Guest: "How old are you?"

And Guest replied: "I am now three hundred years old."

"You are an old man," observed the King.

Then Guest laid himself down and asked them to anoint him with oil.
The King ordered it to be done, and when it was finished there was
very little of the candle left unburnt. Then it became clear that
Guest was drawing near to his end, and his spirit passed just as the
torch flickered out; and they all marvelled at his passing. The King
also set great store by his stories and held that the account which he
had given of his life was perfectly true.


This story, like the last, is taken from the long _Saga of Olaf
Tryggvason_ contained in the _Flateyjarbók_, Vol. I, pp. 275-283. Its
connection, however, with the story of that King is of the slightest.
According to the opinion of Finnur Jónsson[1] the story in its present
form dates from the first half of the fourteenth century.

This story, like the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, shows evidence of a
definite structural plan and falls into three distinct parts. In the
first two chapters the scene is laid among the gods, and the story is
set in motion by the forging of a necklace for the goddess Freyja by
some dwarfs. This is stolen by Loki and given to Othin, who refuses
to restore it to Freyja till she promises to bring about a perpetual
battle between two mighty kings.

Then in chs. III and IV we have an account of the adventures of a
Viking prince named Sörli, from whom the story takes its (somewhat
inappropriate) title[2]. Sörli comes into contact (first as an enemy,
later as a friend) with another prince called Högni, and this leads up
to the main theme--the friendship and subsequent quarrel of Hethin
and Högni, in whose tragic fate Freyja's promise is fulfilled. The
perpetual battle between these two heroes is finally ended by one of
Olaf Tryggvason's men, and it is through this that the story comes to
be introduced into his Saga.

The story of Hethin and Högni was a favourite one in the North. It
is told in _Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 49 and in Saxo Grammaticus' _Danish
History_, Book V (Elton, pp. 195-198). The earliest Norse reference to
it is to be found in Bragi's _Ragnarsdrápa_, str. 3-7. The story must
also have been well known in the Orkneys, since we find the following
verses in the _Háttalykill_ by Jarl Rögnvald (1136-58) and an
Icelandic skald Hall who flourished 1140-48[3].

  Who planned to carry off Hild?
  Who fight all day long?
  Who will be reconciled at last?
  Who incited the kings?
  Hethin planned to carry off Hild;
  The Hjathningar are always fighting;
  They will be reconciled at last;
  Hild incited the host.

  Who reddens the keen blades?
  Who chops meat for the wolf?
  Who makes showers of helmets?
  Who stirred up strife?
  Harold reddened the keen blades;
  The host chops meat for the wolf;
  Högni makes the shower of helmets;
  Hjarrandi stirred up strife!

In the Shetlands the story survived down to modern times in the form
of a ballad known as _Hildina_, which was taken down by George Low[4]
from the recitation of an old man on the Isle of Foula in 1774. The
Norwegian dialect (Norn) in which it is composed is so obscure as
we have it in Low's script as to be almost untranslatable, though a
serious attempt at its interpretation has been made by Dr M. Hægstad
in _Skrifter udgivne af Videnskabsselskabet i Christiania_, 1900
(_Historisk-Filosofisk Klasse_, II), with a very full discussion of
all the linguistic difficulties involved[5]. According to Low "The
subject is a strife between a King of Norway and an Earl of Orkney, on
account of the hasty marriage of the Earl with the King's daughter
in her father's absence." Further on[6] he gives the substance of the
ballad at greater length:

    An Earl of Orkney, in some of his rambles on the coast of
    Norway, saw and fell in love with the King's daughter of the
    country. As their passion happened to be reciprocal he carried
    her off in her father's absence, who was engaged in war with
    some of his distant neighbours. On his return, he followed the
    fugitives to Orkney, accompanied by his army, to revenge
    on the Earl the rape of his daughter. On his arrival there,
    Hildina (which was her name) first spied him, and advised her
    now husband to go and attempt to pacify the King. He did so,
    and by his appearance and promises brought the King so over as
    to be satisfied with the match.

After this, with the introduction of a courtier Hiluge the story
proceeds in a form totally different from anything found in the
_tháttr_, though an attempt has been made to connect it with the
second part of the German poem _Kudrun_.

The story of Hethin and Högni however was not confined to Norway and
its colonies; indeed it seems to have been popular throughout the
whole Teutonic world. It forms the subject of the first part of the
mediaeval German poem _Kudrun_, and characters from the story are
mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon poems _Widsith_, l. 21, and _Deor_, l. 36

For a treatment of the different versions of the story as it was known
to men of old, the reader may be referred to Miss Clarke's _Sidelights
on Teutonic History during the Migration Period_ (Cambridge, 1911),
p. 190 ff., and to Chambers' _Widsith_, p. 100 ff. It may be mentioned
here that in the main points of the story--the carrying off of Hild
and the subsequent pursuit by the father--all the versions are agreed.
The German version, however, differs in many respects from those of
the North (except that of the _Hildina_)--especially in the fact that
the combatants become reconciled. The various Scandinavian versions of
the story also differ somewhat in detail among themselves. The story
translated below is the only one which mentions the slaying by Hethin
of Högni's wife, and it is only here that Hethin is described as being
of foreign origin. Moreover this is the only version in which the
goddess Freyja is made responsible for the Unending Battle. Indeed
the supernatural element, and especially the influence of charms and
spells, is more prominent in this version than in any of the others.
It is only here, too, that we find the story of Göndul and the "potion
of forgetfulness." On the other hand our version contains no reference
to the statement made in _Skáldskaparmál_ and Saxo that it was Hild
who by her magic spells restored the dead to life each night.

In our version of the story the character of Hild is left wholly
undeveloped. Indeed the writers of the Romantic Sagas are always
so much more interested in incident than in character that highly
individualised personality is rare. Even when as in the case of
Hervör[7], the very nature of the story presents an interesting and
somewhat unusual personality, we are sometimes left with a feeling of
dissatisfaction and a conviction that the writer did not realise the
full merits and possibilities of his material. Högni is the usual type
of hot-headed implacable sea-rover. The character of Hethin, however,
presents some interesting features and strikes us as more modern in
conception. Naturally gentle of disposition, he had been forced
by malignant powers into a situation foreign to his nature. Hardly
characteristic of a viking chief are his genuine regret for the harm
he had done and his anxiety that the men of Högni and himself
should not be called upon to forfeit their lives for his "crimes and
misdeeds." The conventional viking, clear-eyed and purely material
in his view of life, would have stayed to brave out the consequences.
Hethin only wished "to go away somewhere a long way off, where he
would not each day have his wicked deeds cast in his teeth." His
remorse had broken him down.--"You will find it an easy matter to slay
me when I am left alive last of all!"

The motif of the Everlasting Battle is not confined the story of
Hethin and Högni. Parallels can be found in many literatures, both
ancient and modern[8].

This _tháttr_ has been translated into English under the title of
_The Tale of Hogni and Hedinn_ in _Three Northern Love Stories_ by W.
Morris and Eiríkr Magnússon, London, 1875.

For a full bibliography of MSS., translations, and the general
literature dealing with this saga, cf. _Islandica_, Vol. v, pp. 41,

    [Footnote 1: _Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie_,
    Vol. II, p. 837.]

    [Footnote 2: The life of this prince is told at length in
    another saga--_Sörla Saga Sterka_ which is published in Vol.
    III of Ásmundarson's edition of the _Fornaldarsögur_.]

    [Footnote 3: Cf. Finnur Jónsson, _op. cit._, Vol. II, pp. 34,

    [Footnote 4: Cf. _A Tour through the Islands of Orkney and
    Schetland_, by George Low, edited by J. A. Anderson (Kirkwall,
    1879), p. 108 ff.]

    [Footnote 5: On p. 217 ff. below I have attempted a
    translation of the first twelve stanzas from Hægstad's
    corrected text.]

    [Footnote 6: _Op. cit._, p. 113.]

    [Footnote 7: Cf. The _Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_ translated
    below, p. 87 ff.]

    [Footnote 8: Cf. Panzer, _Hilde-Gudrun_ (Halle, 1901),
    _passim_; Frazer, _Pausanias's Description of Greece_ (London,
    1898), Vol. II, p. 443 ff.; etc.]


I. To the East of Vanakvisl in Asia was a country called Asialand or
Asiaheim. Its inhabitants were called Æsir and the chief city they
called Asgarth. Othin was the name of their King, and it was a great
place for heathen sacrifices. Othin appointed Njörth and Frey as
priests. Njörth had a daughter called Freyja who accompanied Othin and
was his mistress. There were four men in Asia called Alfregg, Dvalin,
Berling and Grer, who dwelt not far from the King's hall, and who were
so clever that they could turn their hands to anything. Men of this
kind were called dwarfs. They dwelt in a rock, but at that time they
mixed more with men than they do now. Othin loved Freyja very much,
and she was the fairest of all women in her day. She had a bower of
her own which was beautiful and strong, and it was said that if the
door was closed and bolted, no-one could enter the bower against her

It chanced one day that Freyja went to the rock and found it open, and
the dwarfs were forging a gold necklace, which was almost finished.
Freyja was charmed with the necklace, and the dwarfs with Freyja.
She asked them to sell it, offering gold and silver and other costly
treasures in exchange for it. The dwarfs replied that they were not
in need of money, but each one said that he would give up his share
in the necklace.... And at the end of four nights they handed it to
Freyja. She went home to her bower and kept silence about it as if
nothing had happened.

II. There was a man called Farbauti who was a peasant and had a
wife called Laufey. She was thin and meagre, and so she was called
'Needle.' They had no children except a son who was called Loki. He
was not a big man, but he early developed a caustic tongue and was
alert in trickery and unequalled in that kind of cleverness which is
called cunning. He was very full of guile even in his youth, and for
this reason he was called Loki the Sly. He set off to Othin's home
in Asgarth and became his man. Othin always had a good word for him
whatever he did, and often laid heavy tasks upon him, all of which he
performed better than could have been expected. He also knew almost
everything that happened, and he told Othin whatever he knew.

Now it is said that Loki got to know that Freyja had received the
necklace ... and this he told to Othin. And when Othin heard of it he
told Loki to fetch him the necklace. Loki said that there was not much
hope of that, because no-one could get into Freyja's bower against her
will. Othin told him to go, and not come back without the necklace.
So Loki went off howling, and everyone was glad that he had got into

He went to Freyja's bower, but it was locked. He tried to get in but
could not. The weather outside was very cold and he became thoroughly
chilled. Then he turned himself into a fly, and flew around all the
bolts and along the whole of the woodwork, but nowhere could he find
a hole big enough to enter by, right up to the gable. He found only a
hole no bigger than would allow of the insertion of a needle. Through
this hole he crept. And when he got inside he stared around, wondering
if anyone was awake. But he found that the room was all wrapped in

Then he went in and up to Freyja's bed and found that she was wearing
the necklace and that the clasp was underneath her. Loki thereupon
turned himself into a flea and settled on Freyja's cheek and stung
her, till she awoke and turned over and went to sleep again. Then he
laid aside his flea-form, drew the necklace from her gently, opened
the door and departed, carrying the necklace to Othin.

When Freyja awoke in the morning she found that the door was open,
though it had not been forced, and that her lovely necklace was gone.
She had a shrewd idea of the trick that had been played on her, and
when she was dressed she went into the hall to King Othin, and told
him that he had done ill to rob her of her trinket, and begged him to
return it.

Othin replied that considering how she had come by it she should never
get it back:

"--Unless you bring about a quarrel between two kings, each of whom
has twenty kings subject to him; so that they shall fight under the
influence of such spells and charms that as fast as they fall they
shall start up again and fight on--unless there be some Christian man
so brave and so much favoured by the great good fortune of his liege
lord that he shall dare to take arms and enter among the combatants
and slay them. Then and not till then shall the labours of those
princes be brought to an end--whoever may be the chief who is destined
to free them from the oppression and toil of their disastrous lot."

Freyja agreed to this and recovered the necklace.

III. Four and twenty years after the death of Frithfrothi a King
called Erling ruled over the Highlands of Norway. He had a wife and
two sons, of whom the elder was called Sörli the Strong, and the
younger Erlend. They were promising young men. Sörli was the stronger
of the two. As soon as they were old enough they took to raiding, and
fought against the viking Sindri, the son of Sveigir, the son of Haki,
a sea-king in the Skerries of the Elf. There fell Sindri the viking,
and with him all his host; and Erlend the son of Erling also fell
in that battle. After that Sörli sailed into the Baltic and harried
there, and performed so many great deeds that it would take too long
to recount them all.

IV. There was a King called Halfdan who ruled Denmark; and his capital
was at Roskilde. He married Hvethna the elder, and their sons were
Högni and Haakon. They were distinguished for their stature, strength
and ability. As soon as they were old enough they took to piracy.

Now we must return to Sörli and relate how one autumn he set sail
for Denmark. King Halfdan had been intending to go to a gathering
of kings. He was far advanced in years at the time when the events
related here took place. He had such a fine warship that for strength
and excellence of every kind it had no equal in all the countries of
the North. It was riding at anchor in the harbour, but King Halfdan
had gone ashore to give orders for a carousal before starting on his
voyage. And when Sörli saw the warship his heart was consumed with a
burning desire to possess it at all possible hazards. And indeed it is
generally agreed that there never was a greater treasure of a warship
than this in all the countries of the North, except the warships
Ellithi and Gnöth and the Long Serpent.

So he ordered his men to prepare themselves for battle--

"For we must slay King Halfdan and seize his warship."

A man called Sævar, his fo'c'sle-man and marshal, made answer:

"That is not advisable, Sire, for Halfdan is a great chief and a
famous man. Moreover he has two sons who will be certain to avenge
him, for they are both very famous men already."

"Though they be superior to the very gods," said Sörli, "yet we shall
fight just as we have done before."

They prepared for battle, and the news reached King Halfdan. He
started up and went with all his men to his ships, and they prepared
them for battle at once. Some of Halfdan's men protested to him that
it was not advisable to fight, and suggested that he should take to
flight as the odds were too heavy against them. The King replied that
they would all fall dead one on the top of another before he would

Both sides now prepared to give battle, and closed forthwith in a
fierce combat, the result of which was that King Halfdan fell with all
his host; and Sörli took possession of the warship and everything on
it that was of value.

Then Sörli learned that Högni had returned from a raiding expedition
and was lying off Odinsø. Sörli set off thither with his ships, and
when they met, he told him of the death of Halfdan, his father, and
made him an offer of reconciliation on his own terms, suggesting also
that they should become foster-brothers; but Högni declined all his
offers. Then they joined battle, as is told in the poem dealing
with Sörli. Haakon fought very boldly and slew Sævar, Sörli's
standard-bearer and fo'c'sle-man. Then Sörli slew Haakon, but Högni
slew King Erling, Sörli's father. After that Högni and Sörli fought
together, and Sörli went down before Högni from weariness and wounds.
And Högni afterwards caused him to be healed of his wounds, and they
swore foster-brotherhood to one another, and both remained true to
their oaths as long as they lived. Sörli was the first to die. He fell
in the Baltic at the hands of vikings, as is told in the poem of which
he is the subject.

And when Högni heard of Sörli's death, he went raiding in the Baltic
the same summer, and was victorious everywhere. He became king over
those regions; and it is said that twenty kings were vassals to King
Högni and paid him tribute. Högni became so famous on account of his
great deeds and his raiding expeditions that his name was as well
known in the north of Finland as away in Paris, and everywhere in

V. There was a King called Hjarrandi who ruled over Serkland. He had
a wife and a son called Hethin, who quickly grew into a man remarkable
for his strength, stature and ability. While still a youth he went on
raiding expeditions and became a sea-king, harrying all round Spain
and Greece and all the neighbouring kingdoms; so that he made twenty
kings pay him tribute, holding their land and revenue as his vassals.
In winter time Hethin used to stay at home in Serkland. It is said
that on one occasion he went into a forest with his retinue. He left
his men and found himself alone in a glade where he saw a woman, tall
and fair, sitting on a throne. She spoke to him courteously, and when
he asked her her name she said she was called Göndul. Then they talked
together. She questioned him about his mighty deeds and he told her
everything frankly and asked her whether she knew of any king to match
himself in valour and hardihood, renown and prowess. She replied that
she knew of one who did not fall short of him--one who had twenty
kings subject to him just as Hethin had; and she added that his name
was Högni and that he lived in the North, in Denmark.

"I know one thing," said Hethin; "we have got to prove which of us is
the more valiant."

"It is high time for you to return to your men," said she; "they will
be looking for you."

Then they parted. He returned to his men, and she remained sitting

At the very beginning of spring, Hethin prepared to set out. He had
a warship, and three hundred and sixty men in it, and he made for
the northern part of the world. He sailed all that summer and the
following winter, and at the beginning of spring he reached Denmark.

VI. King Högni was at home at that time; and when he heard that a
famous king had come to his shores, he invited him to a magnificent
banquet, and Hethin accepted the invitation. And as they sat drinking,
Högni asked what motive brought Hethin so far north.

Hethin replied that his object was to compete with him in contests
which would make trial of their courage and daring and all their
prowess and skill.

Högni said he was ready for this; and early next morning they went
swimming and shooting together. They rode a-tilt, and performed feats
of arms and of skill of all kinds. And in all their exploits they were
so equal that no-one could distinguish which was the better of the
two. After that they swore foster-brotherhood to one another, and
bound themselves to share everything equally.

Hethin was young and unmarried, but Högni was somewhat older. He had
married Hervör, the daughter of Hjörvarth, the son of Heithrek Ulfham.
Högni had a daughter who was called Hild, and who excelled all other
women in beauty and understanding. He loved his daughter exceedingly.
He had no other children.

VII. It is said that a little later Högni went on a raiding expedition
while Hethin stayed behind to look after his kingdom. It chanced one
day that Hethin went into a forest to pass the time. The weather
was mild. He again wandered away from his men. He came upon a forest
glade, and there he saw sitting on a throne the same woman whom he
had seen before in Serkland--only now he thought her even fairer than
before. She was again the first to speak and chattered to him gaily.
She was holding a horn with a lid to it. The King fell in love with
her. She offered him a drink and he felt thirsty, as he had grown
warm; so he took the horn and drank; and when he had drunk, a very
wonderful change came over him, for he remembered nothing that had
happened to him previously. He then sat down and talked to her.

She asked him if what she had said to him before of the skill and
courage of Högni had proved true and Hethin replied that it was true
enough--"for he did not come short of me in any feat that we tried,
and so we declared ourselves a match."

"Yet you two are not equal," said she.

"And why not?" asked Hethin.

"For this reason," replied she: "Högni has married a wife of high
birth, whereas you have no wife."

He replied: "Högni will marry me to Hild his daughter as soon as I
like to ask him, and then I shall be as well married as he."

"Your honour will be impaired," said she, "if you ask Högni for a
marriage alliance. If, as you profess, you lack neither courage nor
valour, you would do better to carry off Hild by force, and put the
Queen to death by taking her and laying her down in front of the prow
of your warship, and letting it cut her in two when it is launched."

The wickedness and forgetfulness contained in the ale which Hethin had
drunk had so got the better of him that there seemed to him to be no
alternative, and he had not the slightest recollection that he and
Högni were 'foster-brothers.'

Presently they parted, and Hethin went back to his men. This took
place in the late summer.

Then Hethin ordered his men to get ready the warship, saying that he
intended to go home to Serkland. Then he went into the ladies' bower
and took the Queen and Hild by either hand and led them out. Hild's
clothes and jewels were also taken. There was no-one in the kingdom
who had the courage to do anything; for they were afraid of Hethin and
his men--he glowered so fiercely.

Hild asked Hethin what his intention was, and he told her. She
besought him to think better of it, adding:

"My father will marry me to you if you ask him for me."

"Ask for you?" echoed Hethin; "I will never do that."

"And," she continued, "if you really must carry me off, even so my
father will make it up with you. But if you do anything so wicked and
unmanly as to put my mother to death, my father will never make it up
with you. I have had a warning in dreams that you two will fight and
slay one another. Yet I am afraid that there must be something still
more terrible in store. It will be a great sorrow to me if I have to
be the means of exposing my father to the ruinous effects of magic
spells; nor shall I have any joy in seeing you in difficulties and

Hethin replied that he cared not at all for the consequences, and that
he would do as he had threatened.

"You cannot mend it now," said Hild, "because in this case you are not
your own master."

Then Hethin went down to the sea-shore, and now was the warship
launched. He thrust the Queen down in front of the prow, so that
she perished. Hethin stepped into the warship. And when it was quite
ready, he took it into his head to land alone, leaving his men behind;
and he went into the same forest where he had gone before. And when
he came into the glade, there he saw Göndul seated on her throne. They
greeted one another cordially. Hethin told her what he had done and
she expressed her approval.

She had with her the horn which she had carried before, and she
offered him a drink from it. He took it and drank; and when he had
drunk, sleep fell upon him, and he let his head sink into her lap.
And when he had fallen asleep, she slipped away from under his head,

"Now I devote both you and Högni and all your followers, and lay you
under all the spells imposed by Othin."

Then Hethin awoke and saw the fleeting shadow of Göndul, but she
appeared to him now to be big and black; and he recalled everything
and realised how much mischief he had done. He decided now to go away
somewhere a long way off, where he would not each day have his wicked
deeds cast in his teeth. So he went to his ship, and made haste to
free her from her moorings. A fair breeze was blowing off the land,
and so he sailed away with Hild.

VIII. When Högni returned home, he learnt that Hethin had sailed away
with Hild and the warship Halfdanarnaut, leaving the dead body of the
Queen in his tracks. Högni was furious and bade his men start up on
the spot and sail in pursuit of Hethin. This they did, and a fair
breeze sprang up. Every evening they reached the harbour from which
Hethin had sailed away in the morning.

It happened one day that as Högni was making for a harbour, Hethin's
sails were sighted out at sea; so Högni and his men gave chase. As a
matter of fact, it is said that at this point Hethin got a head wind
against him, whereas Högni had the luck to have a fair wind as before.
Hethin then lay to off an island called Hoy, and there he rode at
anchor. Högni quickly came alongside, and when they met, Hethin
greeted him courteously.

"I must tell you, foster-brother," said Hethin, "that so great a
misfortune has come upon me that no-one save you can remedy it. I
have carried off your daughter and your warship, and put your wife
to death, yet from no personal wickedness of my own, but rather from
promptings of evil spirits and wicked spells. My wish now is that you
shall have your own way entirely in this matter between yourself and
me. I also offer to give up to you both Hild and the warship, and all
the men and money contained in it, and to go to such distant lands
that I can never return to the North nor into your sight as long as I

Högni replied: "Had you asked me for Hild I would have married her
to you; and even in spite of your having carried her off by force
we might have made up our quarrel. Now, however, since you have been
guilty of such an outrage as to put the Queen to death in a most
shameful manner, I certainly will not make terms with you. We will try
here, on the spot, which of us is the more valiant fighter."

Hethin replied: "It would be best, if nothing less than fighting will
satisfy you, that we two should measure our strength alone; for you
have no quarrel with any man here save with me. There is no use in
making innocent men pay for my crimes and evil deeds."

Their followers all swore with one accord that they would rather fall
dead in heaps than that they two should exchange blows alone. And when
Hethin saw that nothing would satisfy Högni, save that they should
fight, he ordered his men to land, saying:

"I will no longer hold back from Högni, nor make excuses to avoid
fighting. Let every man bear himself bravely!"

They thereupon landed and fell to fighting. Högni was full of fury,
but Hethin was both dexterous with his weapons and mighty in his
stroke. It is told for fact that so potent was the evil charm in
the spell that even when they had cloven one another to the very
shoulders, yet they started up as before and went on fighting. Hild
sat in a grove and watched the battle.

This harrowing torment continued to oppress them from the time when
they began to fight until Olaf Tryggvason became King of Norway. It
is said to have gone on for a hundred and forty-three years, until it
fell to the lot of this famous man that one of his retinue released
them from their grievous calamities and tragic doom.

IX. In the first year of King Olaf's reign, it is said that he came
one evening to the island of Hoy and anchored there. It was a
regular occurrence in the neighbourhood of this island that watchmen
disappeared every night, and no-one knew what had become of them. On
this particular night it was Ivar the Gleam who kept guard. And
when all the men on the ships were asleep, Ivar took the sword that
Jarnskjöld had had and that Thorstein his son had given him, and all
his armour, and went up on to the island. And when he had landed
on the island he saw a man coming towards him. He was very tall and
covered with blood, and his face was full of sorrow. Ivar asked
him his name, and he replied that he was called Hethin, the son of
Hjarrandi, and that he had come of a stock in far Serkland, adding:

"I am telling you the truth when I say that the vanishing of the
watchmen must be laid to the charge of me and Högni, the son of
Halfdan. For we and our men have been laid under such powerful and
destructive spells that we go on fighting night and day; and this has
continued for many generations, while Hild, the daughter of Högni,
sits and looks on. It is Othin who has laid this spell upon us; and
our only hope of redemption is that a Christian man should give battle
to us.--When that occurs, he whom the Christian slays shall not stand
up again; and so will each one be freed from his distress. Now I would
pray you that you will come to fight with us, because I know that you
are a good Christian, and also that the King whom you serve is very
lucky. I have a feeling too that we shall get some good from him and
his men."

Ivar agreed to go with him.

Hethin was glad at that and said:

"You must take care not to encounter Högni face to face, and also not
to slay me before you slay him; because no mortal man can encounter
Högni face to face and slay him if I die before him, for the glance
of his eye strikes terror and spares none. Therefore this is the only
way: I will attack him in front and engage him in battle, while you go
behind and give him his death stroke. You will find it an easy matter
to slay me, when I am left alive last of all."

Then they went into the battle, and Ivar saw that all that Hethin had
told him was quite true. He went behind Högni and struck him on the
head, and clove his skull down to the shoulders, whereupon Högni fell
down dead and never rose up again. After that he slew all the men
who were fighting, and last of all he slew Hethin, which was no great

When he returned to the ships the day was dawning. He went to the King
and told him what he had done. The King was very well pleased with
his work and told him that he had had great good luck. Next day they
landed and made their way to the spot where the battle had taken
place; but they saw no sign of what had happened there. Yet the
bloodstains on Ivar's sword were visible proofs; and never again did
watchmen disappear on that coast.

After that the King went home to his realm.


In the _Saga of Thorgils and Haflithi_, ch. 10 (published in
_Sturlunga Saga_, ed. by G. Vigfusson, Vol. I, p. 19), we are told
that at a wedding held at Reykjaholar in Iceland in 1119, "There was
fun and merriment and great festivity and all kinds of amusements,
such as dancing and wrestling and story-telling.... Although it is a
matter of no great importance, some record has been preserved of the
entertainment which was provided, and who were the people who provided
it. Stories were told which many people now reject, and of which they
disclaim any knowledge; for it seems that many people do not know
what is true, but think some things to be true which are really pure
invention and other things to be fictitious which are really true.
Hralf of Skalmarnes told a story about Hröngvith the Viking and Olaf
'the Sailors' King,' and about the rifling of the barrow of Thrain the
berserk, and about Hromund Gripsson, and included many verses in
his story. King Sverrir used to be entertained with this story and
declared that fictitious stories like this were the most entertaining
of any. Yet there are men who can trace their ancestry to Hromund
Gripsson. Hrolf himself had composed this story."

Among those whose ancestry was traced to Hromund Greipsson were Ingolf
and Leif, the first Norwegian colonists of Iceland. According
to _Landnámabók_, 1, ch. 3, they were second cousins, and their
grandfathers, who had come from Thelamörk in the south-west of Norway,
were sons of Hromund. Olaf 'The Sailors' King' is mentioned also
in the _Saga of Grím Lothinkinni_, ch. 3; and members of his family
figure prominently in several other sagas.

These persons may actually be historical. But the fictitious element
is obvious enough in many places as, for instance, in Hromund's voyage
to the west. Thrain himself is vividly presented to us as "black and
huge, with talons like bird's claws, all clad in glittering gold,
seated on a throne, roaring loudly and blowing a fire!" This chapter
is indeed a tale of

  Ghaisties and ghoulies,
  And lang-leggity beasties,
  And things that gae bump in the nicht.

The most curious features of the saga, however, are the blurred and
perhaps confused reminiscences of stories and characters which form
the subject of some of the Edda poems. The brothers Bild and Voli can
hardly be other than corruptions of the god Balder and his
avenger Váli. The name of Hromund's sword 'Mistletoe' too may be a
reminiscence of the same story, though a sword of the same name is
found in _Hervarar Saga_ (ch. 2). Again, the account of Hromund's
sojourn with Hagal, disguised as a grinding-maid, and the search
made by Blind (ch. 8) are certainly reminiscences of the Edda poem
_Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II_ (sometimes called _Völsungakvitha_),
where the same adventures are recorded in connection with the same
names, except that Helgi here takes the place Hromund.

But the most interesting case, however, is the story of Hromund's
opponent Helgi the Bold and Kara (ch. 7). In this story, Helgi is said
to be in the service of two kings called Hadding, and there can
be little doubt that Helgi and Kara are identical with Helgi
Haddingjaskati and Kara, whose adventures formed the subject of a lost
poem called _Káruljóth_. This poem is referred to in the prose at the
end of _Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II_, where it is stated that they
were reincarnations of Helgi Hundingsbani and Sigrún--just as the two
latter were themselves reincarnations of Helgi the son of Hjörvarth
and Sváva--"but that is now said to be an old wives' tale."

Chapter 4 also has a special interest of its own. Breaking into
barrows was a favourite exploit of the Norsemen, no doubt for the sake
of the gold which they often contained. References to the practice are
very common in the sagas, e.g. _Grettissaga_, ch. 18; _Hartharsaga_,
ch. 15; cf. also Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, p. 200 ff., etc. The
ruthlessness with which the Norsemen plundered the Irish barrows is
mentioned with great indignation in the Irish Chronicles. In the
_War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill_, cap. XXV, we read that certain
Norsemen plundered in Ireland "until they reached Kerry, and they left
not a cave there under ground that they did not explore." In the same
work cap. LXIX, we are told that--

    Never was there a fortress, or a fastness, or a mound, or a
    church, or a sacred place, or a sanctuary, when it was taken
    by that howling, furious, loathsome crew, which was not
    plundered by the collectors and accumulators of that wealth.
    Neither was there in concealment under ground in Erin, nor the
    various solitudes belonging to Fians or to Fairies,
    anything that was not discovered by these foreign, wonderful
    Denmarkians, through paganism and idol worship.

Finally in the _Annals of Ulster_ we read (sub anno 862) that

    The cave of Achadh-Aldai (i.e. probably New Grange, near
    Dublin) and [the cave] of Knowth, and the cave of Fert-Boadan
    over Dowth, and the cave of the smith's wife were searched by
    the foreigners (i.e. Norsemen, etc.) which had not been done

And in England as late as 1344 Thomas of Walsingham records the
slaying of the dragon that guarded a barrow, and the recovery of a
great treasure of gold by the retainers of the Earl of Warrenne.

Popular imagination believed that barrows were occupied by a ghostly
inhabitant 'haugbui,' who guarded the treasure. This was sometimes a
dragon, as in _Beowulf_, or a reanimated corpse, as in our saga; but
whatever he was, he inspired the outside world with such fear that
the breaking into a grave-mound came to be regarded as a deed of the
greatest courage and prowess. The 'hogboy' (_haugbui_) of Maeshowe, a
barrow in the Orkneys, is still a living reality in the imaginations
of the country people[1].

Unfortunately _The Saga of Hromund Greipsson_ is preserved only
in late paper MSS., of which none apparently are earlier than the
seventeenth century. None of the verses of which the notice in the
_Saga of Thorgils and Haflithi_ speaks (cf. p. 58 above) have been
preserved. There is, however, a rhymed version of the saga known as
_Gríplur_, dating apparently from about the year 1400 and evidently
taken from a better text than any of those which have come down to us.
A short extract from these rhymed verses will be found on pp. 173-75.
For a full discussion of the relationship of the _Gríplur_ to the
extant texts of the saga and to the later ballads, the reader is
referred to Kölbing, _Beiträge zur Vergleichenden Geschichte der
Romantischen Poesie und Prosa des Mittelalters_ (Breslau, 1876), pp.
181-83, and to Andrews, _Studies in the Fornaldarsögur Northrlanda_[2]
in _Modern Philology_, 1911, 1912.

A full bibliography of texts, translations and literature relating to
this saga will be found in _Islandica_, Vol. v, p. 30.

    [Footnote 1: Cf. Joseph Anderson, _Scotland in Pagan Times:
    The Bronze and Stone Ages_, pp. 278-279 (publ. by Douglas,
    Edinburgh, 1886).]

    [Footnote 2: It is pointed out by Andrews, p. 2, that the form
    Lara (which appears in Rafn's and Ásmundarson's editions, ch.
    7) is due to a misreading. The MSS. have Cara.]


I. There was a King called Olaf, the son of Gnothar-Asmund, and he
ruled over Garthar in Denmark, and was very famous. Two brothers, Kari
and Örnulf, both mighty warriors, were entrusted with the defence of
his territories. In that district there was a wealthy landowner called
Greip, who had a wife called Gunnlöth, the daughter of Hrok the Black.
They had nine sons whose names were as follows: Hrolf, Haki, Gaut,
Thröst, Angantyr, Logi, Hromund, Helgi, Hrok. They were all promising
fellows, though Hromund was the finest of them. He did not know what
fear was. He was blue-eyed and fair-haired; he was broad-shouldered,
tall and strong, and resembled his mother's father. The King had two
men called Bild and Voli. They were wicked and deceitful, but the King
valued them highly.

On one occasion King Olaf was sailing eastwards with his fleet along
the coast of Norway. They put in at Ulfasker, and lying to off one of
the islands they began to plunder. The King bade Kari and Örnulf go up
on the island and look if they could see any warships. They went up on
land and saw six warships under some cliffs, one of them being a most
gorgeous 'Dragon.' Kari called to the men and asked whose ships they
were. One of the scoundrels on the 'Dragon' stood up and declared his
name to be Hröngvith, adding:

"But what may your name be?"

Kari told him his own name and the name of his brother and added:

"You are the worst man I know and I am going to chop you into

Hröngvith replied: "For thirty-three years I have harried both summer
and winter. I have fought sixty battles and been victorious every
time with my sword Brynthvari, which has never grown blunt. Come here
to-morrow, Kari, and I will sheathe it in your breast."

Kari said he would not fail to appear.

Hröngvith had it in his power to choose every day who was to perish by
the point of his sword.

II. The brothers went back to the King and told him the news. The King
gave orders to prepare for battle, and his men set to work. The hosts
met and a stiff fight took place. The brothers fought bravely, Kari
slaying eight or twelve men with every blow. When Hröngvith saw that,
he leapt up on the King's ship, attacked Kari and thrust him through
with his sword. As soon as Kari was wounded he called to the King:

"Farewell, Sire. I am going to be Othin's guest!"

Hröngvith spitted Örnulf on his spear, and when both the brothers had
fallen, Hröngvith called out to the rest to surrender. Then a
murmur of discontent arose in the King's host. No blade would wound
Hröngvith. Now it is told that Hromund Greipsson was in the King's
retinue. He took a club in his hand, fastened a long grey goat's beard
on his face, drew a hood over his head, and then rushed to the fight,
where he found the two brothers lying dead. He rescued the King's
standard, and began to deal death among the scoundrels with his club.

Hröngvith asked who he was and if he were the father of that wretched

Hromund told him his name and said he was going to avenge the

"Though Kari was no relative of mine, I will slay you all the same."

And thereupon he dealt Hröngvith such a blow with his club that his
head was all awry afterwards.

Hröngvith said: "I have been in many battles, but I never got such a

Hromund struck another blow at Hröngvith and broke his skull. At the
third stroke he died. After that all the survivors surrendered to the
King, and so the battle ended.

III. Then Hromund proceeded to ransack the ship, and came upon a man
prepared to offer resistance in the prow. He asked the man's name; and
he replied that he was called Helgi the Bold, a brother of Hröngvith,
and added: "I have no mind to sue for peace." Hromund gave orders that
the wounds of Helgi the Bold should be attended to. Then he sailed
away to Sweden and was entrusted with the defence of part of the

After that King Olaf sailed away to the British Isles with his host,
as far as the Hebrides, where they landed and made a raid. There was
a man dwelling hard by whose cattle had been taken and driven away by
the King's men, and he was bewailing his loss piteously. Hromund went
and asked him who he was.

The man replied that his name was Mani and that his home was a
very little way off; and he said that they would win more honour by
breaking into barrows and plundering the treasures of ghosts.

Hromund asked him to tell him if he knew anything about places of this

Mani replied that he certainly did:--

"There was a berserk called Thrain, a big, strong man who was deeply
versed in sorcery. He conquered Valland and was King there. He was put
into a barrow with a sword, armour and great treasure; but no-one is
in a hurry to go there."

Hromund asked in which direction they should sail in order to reach
it, and he replied that they could reach it by sailing due south for
six days. Hromund thanked the man for his information, gave him money,
and restored his cattle to him. Then they sailed away in the direction
indicated by the man, and at the end of six days they saw the barrow
straight in front of their ship.

IV. They went from the British Isles to Valland, and found the barrow
and immediately set to work to break it open. And when six days had
elapsed they came upon a trap-door in the barrow. There they beheld a
big fiend, black and huge, all clad in glittering gold, and seated on
a throne. He was roaring loudly and blowing a fire.

Hromund asked: "Now who will enter the barrow? Whoever does so shall
have his choice of three treasures."

Voli replied: "No-one will be anxious to forfeit his life for them.
There are sixty men here, and that troll will be the death of them

Hromund said: "Kari would have ventured on it, had he been alive,"
and he added--what was true enough--that even if he were let down by
a rope, it would not be so bad to struggle against eight others as
against Thrain.

Then Hromund climbed down by a rope.--It was during the night; and
when he had got down, he gathered up a great amount of treasure and
bound it to the end of the rope.

Thrain had been King of Valland in bygone days and had won all his
victories by magic. He had wrought great evil; and when he was so old
that he could fight no longer, he had got himself shut up alive in the
barrow, and much treasure along with him.

Now Hromund saw a sword hanging up on a pillar. He took it down,
girded it on, and marched up to the throne, saying:

"It is time for me to leave the barrow since there is no-one to stop
me. But what ails you, old fellow? Have you not seen me gathering up
your money while you sit quietly by, you hateful cur? Were you not
ashamed to look on while I took your sword and necklace and ever so
many more of your treasures?"

Thrain said that he cared for nothing if only he would let him sit
quietly on his throne: "Formerly," he continued, "I used to be the
first to fight. I must have become a great coward if I let you rob me
of my wealth single handed; but I'm going to prevent your taking my
treasures; you had better beware of me, dead though I am."

Then said Hromund: "Hoist yourself up on your legs, coward and
weakling, and take back your sword from me if you dare."

The ghost replied: "There is no glory in attacking me with a sword
when I am unarmed. I would rather try my strength in wrestling with

Then Hromund flung down the sword and trusted to his strength. When
Thrain saw that, he took down his cauldron which he kept above him.
He was by no means pleasant to watch as he blew up his fire, ready to
make a meal from the cauldron. The body of the cauldron was full,
and there was a big flame beneath its feet. Thrain was wearing a
gold-wrought mantle. Both his hands were crooked and his finger nails
were like talons.

Hromund said: "Get down off your throne, vile wretch, now that you
have been robbed of all wealth."

Then said the ghost: "To be sure, it is high time to get on my legs,
since you taunt me with lack of courage."

Day departed, and evening drew on, and it became dark in the barrow.
Then the ghost began wrestling with Hromund and threw down his
cauldron. Hromund put forth all his strength, and they fought so hard
that rubble and stones were torn up. Then the ghost sank down on one
knee, saying:

"You press me hard: you are indeed a brave fellow."

Hromund replied: "Stand up on your feet again without support. You are
much weaker than Mani the peasant said."

Then Thrain turned himself into a troll, and the barrow was filled
with a horrible stench: and he stuck his claws into the back of
Hromund's neck, tearing the flesh from his bones down to his loins,

"You need not complain if the game is rough and your body sore, for I
am going to tear you limb from limb."

"I cannot imagine," cried Hromund, "how such a cat has got into this

The ghost replied: "You must have been brought up by Gunnlöth. There
are not many like you."

"It will go ill with you," said Hromund, "if you go on scratching me

They wrestled hard and long till everything round them shook. At last
Hromund tripped him and brought him down. It had become very dark by
this time.

Then said the ghost: "By guile you have overcome me and taken my
sword. It was that that brought our struggle to this issue. I have
lived in my barrow for a long time, brooding over my riches; but it is
not wise to trust too much to one's treasures, however good they may
seem. Never would I have thought that you, Mistletoe, my good sword,
would do me a hurt."

Hromund then freed himself and seized the sword, and said:

"Now tell me how many men you have slain in single combat with

"A hundred and forty four," said the ghost, "and I never got a
scratch. I tried my skill with King Seming who was in Sweden, and he
was of the opinion that it would take a long time to vanquish me."

Hromund said: "You have been a curse on men for a long time, and it
will be a good deed to kill you at once."

Then he cut off the ghost's head, and burned him to ashes on the fire;
and then he went out of the barrow. They asked him on what terms he
and Thrain had parted, and he replied that matters had gone according
to his wishes:--"For I cut off his head."

Hromund kept for himself the three treasures which he had won in the
barrow--the ring, the necklace and Mistletoe; but everyone received a
share of the money.

Then King Olaf sailed away to his kingdom in the north, and settled
down peacefully in his own country.

V. After that Hromund grew very famous. He was generous and popular.
One day he gave to a man called Hrok a ring of solid gold which
weighed an ounce. Voli got to know about that and slew Hrok by night
and stole the ring. And when the King heard of it he said he would be
even with Voli some day for such a piece of villainy.

The King had two sisters, one called Dagny and the other Svanhvit.
Svanhvit was better than her sister in every way, and had no equal
between Sweden and Halogaland.

Hromund Greipsson was at home at this time and became friendly with
Svanhvit; but he took no precautions against either Voli or Bild. On
one occasion she told Hromund that Voli and Bild were busy slandering
him to the King.

He said: "I am not afraid of any low wretch, and I shall talk to you
as long as you give me the chance."

This slander became so serious that Hromund and his brother had to
leave the King's retinue and go home to their father.

A short time after, Svanhvit was talking to King Olaf and said:

"Hromund, who brought us the greatest glory, has now been banished
from the royal retinue; and in his place you retain two men who care
for neither honour nor virtue."

The King replied: "A rumour reached me that he intended to betray you;
and the sword shall part your love."

"You have very soon forgotten," said she, "the time when he went alone
into the barrow; and no-one else dared.--Voli and Bild will be hanged

And having said this, she departed hastily.

VI. Some time after this, two kings, both called Hadding, came
from Sweden, and Helgi the brother of Hröngvith was with them. They
challenged King Olaf to battle with them on the frozen surface of Lake
Vener in the western part of the land. He preferred fighting them to
abandoning his country, so he summoned Hromund and his brothers to
follow him. Hromund, however, declined to go, saying that Bild and
Voli were mighty fine fellows and always fought for the King.

The King departed with his host. Svanhvit was grieved at what had
happened, and went to Hromund's home. Hromund welcomed her.

"Hearken now to my prayer," said she, "more favourably than you did to
my brother's request, and help the King. I will give you a shield with
a strap attached. Nothing can harm you while you wear this strap."

Hromund thanked her for the gift and she was comforted; so he and his
eight brothers made ready to set out.

In the meantime the King and his host reached the frozen Vener, where
the Swedish army was waiting for them. And in the morning, as soon as
it was light enough to fight, they armed themselves on the ice, and
the Swedes made a fierce onslaught. Bild was slain as soon as the
battle began, but Voli was nowhere to be seen. King Olaf and King
Hadding were wounded.

Hromund had pitched his tent near the side of the lake. His brothers
armed themselves early in the morning; but Hromund said:

"I had a bad dream in the night; some misfortune is in store for us,
and I am not going into the battle today."

His brothers replied that it was disgraceful not to have the courage
to support the King's army, when he had come for that very purpose.

They went into the battle and fought bravely and all those of the army
of the Haddings who came against them fell in heaps. A witch had
come among them in the likeness of a swan. She sang and worked
such powerful spells that none of Olaf's men took heed to defend
themselves. Then she flew over the sons of Greip, singing loudly.
Her name was Kara. At that same moment Helgi the Bold encountered the
eight brothers and slew every one of them.

VII. At this point Hromund entered the battle. Helgi the Bold caught
sight of him and cried:

"Here comes the man who slew my brother Hröngvith. Now you must beware
of that sword of his which he got in the barrow.--You held aloof while
I slew your brothers."

"You need not question my courage, Helgi," replied Hromund, "for one
or other of us must fall now."

Helgi said: "Mistletoe is such a heavy weapon that you cannot use it.
I will lend you another that you can manage."

"You need not taunt me with faint-heartedness," cried Hromund.
"Remember the blow which I dealt Hröngvith, when I shattered his skull
to atoms!"

Helgi said: "You have bound a girl's garter round your hand, Hromund.
Lay aside the shield which you are carrying. It will be impossible to
wound you so long as you carry that: I am sure that you are dependent
on that girl."

Hromund could not endure these galling words, and flung down his
shield. Helgi the Bold had always been victorious, and it was by
means of magic that he had gained his success. His mistress' name was
Kara--she who was present in the form of a swan. Helgi brandished his
sword so high over his head that it chopped off the swan's leg. He
drove the sword down into the ground as far as the hilt, and said:

"My luck has fled now; and it was a bad business when I missed you."

Hromund replied: "You were very unlucky, Helgi, to be the slayer of
your own mistress, and you will have no more happiness."

Kara dropped down dead. And with the stroke that Helgi made at
Hromund, when the sword was buried up to the hilt, the point of
the sword caught Hromund's belly and ripped it open, and Helgi fell
forward with the force of his own stroke. Hromund was not behindhand
then: he struck Helgi on the head with Mistletoe, cleaving helmet and
skull down to the shoulders, and breaking a piece out of the sword.
Then Hromund took his belt-knife and thrust it into his belly where
there was a gaping wound, and forced back the paunch fat which was
hanging out. At the same time he stitched up the edges of his belly
with a cord, bound his clothes firmly over it, and so continued
fighting valiantly. Men fell dead in heaps before him, and he fought
on till midnight. Then the survivors of the army of the Haddings fled,
and thereupon the battle came to an end.

Then Hromund saw a man standing before him on the ice, and he felt
convinced that he must have made the ice on the lake by spells. He
perceived that it was Voli. He remarked that it was not unfitting
that he should give him his deserts, and rushed at him, brandishing
Mistletoe and intending to strike him. Voli blew the sword out of his
hand, and it happened to light on a hole in the ice, and sank to the

Then Voli laughed and said: "You are doomed now that you have lost
hold of Mistletoe."

Hromund replied: "You will die before me."

Then he leapt upon Voli and caught him up and dashed him down against
the ice, so that his neck-bone was broken. There lay the great
sorcerer dead! But Hromund sat him down on the ice, saying:

"I did not take the girl's advice, so now I have got fourteen wounds;
and in addition to that my eight brothers lie slain, and my good blade
Mistletoe has fallen into the lake, and nothing will ever make up to
me for the loss of my sword."

Then he went back to his tent and got some rest.

VIII. Now the King's sisters were sent for. Svanhvit examined
Hromund's wound, and stitched his stomach together and tried to bring
him round. She got him taken to a man called Hagal to be cured. This
man's wife was very skilful, and they made him welcome and nursed him
back to health. Hromund discovered that the couple were skilled in

The man was a fisherman, and one day when he was fishing, he caught a
pike, and on going home and cutting it open he found Hromund's sword
Mistletoe in its maw, and gave it to him. Hromund was glad to get it
and kissed the sword-hilt and rewarded the peasant richly.

In King Hadding's army was a man called Blind the Evil. He told the
King that Hromund was alive and was being nursed secretly in the home
of the peasant couple. The King refused to believe it, declaring that
they would not dare to conceal him; but he ordered a search to be
made. Blind and some other men went to the dwelling of Hagal and his
wife and asked if Hromund was under their care. The woman said he
would not be found there. Blind searched thoroughly, but did not find
Hromund because the woman had hidden him under her cauldron. Blind and
his companions went away, and when they had gone some distance Blind

"Our quest has not been fruitful. We must go back again."

They did so. They went back and found the woman. Blind told her that
she was a crafty one and had hidden Hromund under her cauldron.

"Look there then and see if you can find him," said she. This she
said because, when she saw them returning, she had dressed Hromund in
woman's clothes and set him to grind and turn the handmill. The men
now made search in the house and when they came upon the girl turning
the handmill they sniffed all round the place, but she cast an
unfriendly look on the King's men, and they went away again without
finding anything.

And when they had gone away, Blind said that the peasant's wife
had made things look different from what they were, and he had his
suspicions that it must have been Hromund who was turning the mill,
dressed as a woman.--"And I see we have been deceived. We shall do no
good struggling with the woman for she is more cunning than we."

They cursed her and went back home to the King, leaving matters as
they stood.

IX. In the following winter Blind saw many things in a dream, and on
one occasion he told his dream to the King, saying:

"I dreamed that a wolf came running from the east, and bit you and
wounded you, O King."

The King said he would interpret his dream as follows:

"A King will come here from some other land, and his coming will be
terrible at first; yet afterwards peace will be brought about."

And Blind said that he dreamed he saw many hawks perched on a
house--"And there I espied your falcon, Sire. He was all bare and
stripped of his feathers."

The King said: "A wind will come from the clouds and shake our

Blind related a third dream as follows.

"I saw a herd of swine running from the south towards the King's hall
and rooting up the earth with their snouts."

The King said: "That signifies the flood-tide, wet weather, and grass
springing from moisture, when the sun shines on the heath."

Blind related a fourth dream:

"I thought I saw a terrible giant come hither from the east; he gave
you a great wound with his teeth."

The King said: "Messengers from some King will come into my hall. They
will provoke enmity and I shall be angered thereby."

"Here is a fifth dream," said Blind; "I dreamed that a terrible
serpent lay coiled round Sweden."

"A splendid warship will land here, loaded with jewels," said the

"I had a sixth dream," said Blind; "I dreamed that dark clouds came
over the land with claws and wings, and flew away with thee, O King;
and I dreamed moreover that there was a serpent in the house of Hagal
the peasant. He attacked people in a terrible manner. He devoured both
you and me and all the men belonging to the court. Now what can that

The King said: "I have heard that there is a bear lurking not far from
Hagal's dwelling. I will go and attack the bear, and it will be in a
great rage."

"Next I dreamed that a dragon's form had been drawn round the King's
hall, and Hromund's belt was hanging from it."

The King said: "You know that Hromund lost his sword and belt in the
lake; and are you afraid of Hromund after that?"

Blind dreamed yet more dreams which he told to the King; and the King
interpreted them all to his liking, and none of them according to
their real significance.

But now Blind related one more dream--this time one which concerned

"I dreamed that an iron ring was fixed round my neck."

The King said: "The meaning of this dream is that you are going to be
hanged; and that will be the end of both of us."

X. After that King Olaf gathered together an army and went to Sweden.
Hromund accompanied him, and they took the hall of King Hadding by
surprise. He was in bed in an outer chamber, and was not aware of
their presence till they smashed in the door of his room. Hadding
shouted to his men and asked who was disturbing the peace of the
night. Hromund told him who they were.

The King said: "You are anxious to avenge your brothers."

Hromund said that he had not come to waste words about the death of
his brothers, adding--"Now you will have to pay for it and perish on
the spot."

Then one of King Hadding's champions, as big as a giant, leapt up; but
Hromund slew him. King Hadding covered himself up in bed and got no
wound, because every time Hromund cut down at him, the sword turned
and came down flat on him. Then Hromund took a club and beat King
Hadding to death.

Then said Hromund: "Here I have laid low King Hadding, the most famous
man I have ever seen."

The man Blind, who was also called Bavis, was bound and then hanged;
and so his dream was fulfilled.

They got a quantity of gold and other booty there, and then went
home. King Olaf married Svanhvit to Hromund. They were devoted to one
another, and had a family of sons and daughters; they were people of
great distinction in every respect. Kings and great champions sprang
from their stock.

Here ends the Saga of Hromund Greipsson.


The _Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_ is found in two vellums, the
_Hauksbók_ (A.M. 544), dating from c. 1325, which for convenience
is usually called _H_; and MS. 2845[1] in the Royal Library at
Copenhagen, dating from the fifteenth century, and generally called
_R_. Besides these there are a number of paper MSS. (h) dating
from the seventeenth century. According to Bugge[2], these have no
independent value and can contribute nothing to our knowledge of the
text up to the point at which the vellums break off. They are useful
however as continuing the Saga beyond this point. _H_ comes to an end
with Gestumblindi's second riddle, while _R_ breaks off just before
the close of ch. 12. Beyond this point we are entirely dependent on
the paper MSS. One of these (A.M. 345 written in 1694) was adopted by
Rafn[3] as the text for his edition of the Saga, though he gives _H_
in full as an Appendix.

The MSS. differ considerably among themselves. For instance _R_ omits
the first chapter of the Saga, but contains _Hjalmar's Death Song_.
Here, too, many of the riddles are wanting, and the order of the
rest is quite different from that of _h_. Finnur Jónsson[4] is of the
opinion that _R_ is the best text throughout; but Heusler[5], like
Valdimar Ásmundarson, keeps the order of the riddles as in _h_.
Petersen[6] regards _H_ as the best text and follows it so far as
it goes; but when it breaks off he follows _R_ mainly, although he
considers the latter MS. to be defective in many places, "at the
beginning, middle and end." He has supplied the lacunae in it from
Arn. Magn. 192, the paper MS. which comes nearest to it, and also
from others but with greater reservation. Valdimar Ásmundarson,
like Petersen, and no doubt influenced by him, has followed _H_ very
closely in his edition of the Saga[7] till it breaks off, and after
that the paper MSS. (_h_) most closely related to it. He does not
appear to have used _R_, and therefore omits the details of the fight
on Samsø and _Hjalmar's Death Song_. Ásmundarson's version has been
followed closely in the translation given below, but one or two
interesting passages omitted by _H_ have been translated separately
(see Appendix on pp. 144-150) from the text printed from _R_ in
Wimmer's _Oldnordisk Læsebog_[8] and from some short excerpts from _h_
printed at the close of Petersen's edition of the Saga.

For a full bibliography of the texts, translations, and literature
dealing with this saga the reader is referred to _Islandica_, Vol. V,
pp. 22-26.

In this saga we have what appears to be the history of a certain
family for more than four generations. From the point of view of
construction, the story can hardly be regarded as a success. Yet it
contains scenes at least equal to any others which can be found among
sagas of this kind. It also embodies a considerable amount of poetry
which is not found elsewhere. Some of this is of high merit, and one
piece, dealing with the battle between the Huns and the Goths, is
evidently of great antiquity.

The Saga opens in a purely mythical milieu--with Guthmund in
Glasisvellir, to whom we have already had reference in the story
of Nornagest. Next we have a typical story of the Viking Age--the
adventures of the sons of Arngrim and their fight on Samsø. This
story is known to us from other sources, the earliest being the poem
_Hyndluljóth_ (str. 24), which according to Finnur Jónsson[9] cannot
be later in date than the latter part of the tenth century, though
Mogk[10] is inclined to doubt this. Other references occur in the
_Saga of Örvar-Odd_, Saxo's _Danish History_, the later ballads
translated below, etc.

We then pass on to the account of Hervör, the daughter of Angantyr
(which is only found here and in the ballads), and the striking poem
in which she is represented as visiting her father's grave-mound to
obtain his sword.

The next and longest section contains the life of Hervör's son
Heithrek, which is peculiar to this saga and which in its earlier
part likewise seems to be a story of the Viking Age. Towards the end,
however, it gradually dawns upon us that there has been an unconscious
change of scene, and that Heithrek instead of being a Viking prince
of the Northern coasts, is now represented as a King of the Goths,
somewhere in the East of Europe--apparently in the neighbourhood
of the Dnieper. In the last section of the story, dealing with the
adventures of Angantyr and Hlöth, the sons of Heithrek, there is no
longer any reminiscence of the Viking Age or the North of Europe. Here
we are away back among the Goths and Huns in the fifth or the latter
part of the fourth century.

Throughout this strange concatenation of scenes a connecting link
is afforded by the magic flaming sword, which is handed on from
generation to generation, and which can never be sheathed without
having dealt a death wound.

It is abundantly clear that the latter part of the story is of a
totally different origin from the first part, and in reality many
centuries earlier. The prose here is for the most part little more
than a paraphrase of the poem, which probably has its roots in poetry
of the Gothic period. But how this story came to be joined on to a
narrative of the Viking Age is far from clear.

It is also interesting to note that some of the characters in the
saga are repetitions of one another. At all events what is said about
Hervör the daughter of Heithrek in the latter part of the story bears
a strong resemblance to the description of the more prominent Hervör,
the daughter of Angantyr, in the first part.

Three poems of considerable length are preserved in the story. The
Riddles of Gestumblindi, though somewhat tedious as a whole, afford
a better specimen of this type of composition than is to be found
elsewhere in early Norse literature. They cannot fail to be of
considerable interest to anyone who studies the Anglo-Saxon Riddles,
though unlike the latter they are wholly Teutonic in spirit and form.
Direct Latin influence appears to be entirely absent.

Gestumblindi's Riddles, while they belong essentially to popular
literature, yet contain many arresting phrases which show a minute
observation of nature. They illustrate the condensed, proverbial type
of wisdom that prevails in a primitive state of society, as well as
its keen interest and delight in the little things of life. They can
hardly be called literature as we understand the term; they are rather
the stuff of which literature is made. But though it is a far cry from
these little nature verses to the more beautiful and more ambitious
nature poems of Burns and Tennyson, yet Gestumblindi's loving interest
in "every creature of earth" surprised even King Heithrek into
comment. The keen and whimsical observation that noted that even a
spider is a "marvel" and that it "carries its knees higher than its
body" is the same spirit that inspired a poem to the

  Wee sleekit, cowrin', tim'rous beastie.

The poet who noticed that water falling as hail on rock looks _white_
by contrast, yet forms little _black_ circles when it falls into the
sand as rain, had much in common with one who noticed that rock and
sand yield opposite sounds when struck by the same object--

  Low on the sand and loud on the stone
  The last wheel echoed away.

But though these things are pleasing in themselves, they are, of
course, slight. Gestumblindi cannot rise to the heights of true poetry
reached by Burns or Tennyson.

Besides the Riddles, this saga has preserved for us two far finer
poems--in fact two of the finest Norse poems that we possess--the
dialogue between Hervör and Angantyr at the Barrows of Samsø, and
the narrative of the great battle between the Goths and the Huns, the
_Chevy Chase_ of the North. The ruthlessness and barbaric splendour of
the Hunnish leaders, the cruelty and the poetry of warfare a thousand
years ago, are here vividly depicted in Norse verse at its simplest
and best.

We may notice too the little vignettes that appear from time to time
both in the poetry itself and in the prose narrative, some of which is
evidently derived from lost verses.--Hervör standing at sunrise on the
summit of the tower and looking southward towards the forest; Angantyr
marshalling his men for battle and remarking drily that there used to
be more of them when mead drinking was in question; great clouds of
dust rolling over the plain, through which glittered white corslet and
golden helmet, as the Hunnish host came riding on.

The dialogue between Hervör and Angantyr, despite a certain
melodramatic element in the setting, is treated with great delicacy
and poetic feeling, and an atmosphere of terror and mystery pervades
the whole poem. The midnight scene in the eerie and deserted
burial-ground, the lurid flickering of the grave fires along the
lonely beach, the tombs opening one by one as the corpses start to
life--all these work on the imagination and create an atmosphere
of dread. The poet understood the technique of presenting the
supernatural, and he is deliberately vague and suggestive. Much more
is implied than is stated, and much is left to the imagination.

The greatest charm of the poem, however, lies in the sympathetic
treatment of Hervör. The Hervör of the prose narrative is perfectly
consistent with the Hervör of the poem, but at the same time the
poem--which is probably more than a century older than the saga--would
lead us to conclude that her character was not correctly understood by
the writer of the saga. Obviously unsympathetic, he denounces her with
an indignation which would have made the writer of the poem smile.

"She grew up to be a beautiful girl ... but as soon as she could do
anything it was oftener harm than good; and when she had been checked
she escaped to the woods.... And when the Earl heard of it he had her
caught and brought home."

The picture which the poem presents to us is that of a high-spirited
girl, headstrong and impulsive, not unlike Brynhild in the Völsung
story. When she goes to the barrows, every nerve is strung up to gain
the treasure that has fired her imagination:

  What care I though the death-fires blaze,
  They sink and tremble before my gaze,
        They quiver out and die!

But a reaction comes when she holds the sword in her hands at last:

  Surely in terror I drew my breath
  Between the worlds of life and death
        When the grave fires girt me round.

Surveying the saga as a whole, perhaps the most striking feature is
its extraordinary diversity of interest. It would be difficult to find
elsewhere in Norse literature--or indeed perhaps in any literature--so
great a variety of subjects and of literary forms brought together
within such narrow limits.

Of the poems contained in the saga, the first is romantic, the second
gnomic, the third heroic--and the prose narrative itself is not less
varied in character. The conclusion of the saga appears to be purely
historical; indeed it is generally regarded as one of the most
important authorities for early Swedish history. Elsewhere also
historical elements are probably not wanting, but they are interwoven
in a network of romance and folklore. Thus whoever King Heithrek may
have been, the part which he has come to play in the saga is chiefly
that of linking together a number of folk-tales and illustrating
popular saws. As regards chronology, the war described in ch. 12-15
must belong to a period nearly seven centuries before the incidents
related at the close of the saga. Still more strange is the fact that
the victor in this war, the younger Angantyr, would seem to have lived
some four or five centuries before his great grandfather and namesake
who perished at Samsø--if indeed the latter story rests on any genuine
tradition. In spite of these and similar inconsistencies, however,
the saga is on the whole perhaps the most attractive of all the

    [Footnote 1: This MS. is identical with the one referred to as
    _A_ in the Introduction to the _Tháttr of Nornagest_ (cf. p.
    11 above).]

    [Footnote 2: Quoted by Heusler, _Eddica Minora_ (Dortmund,
    1903), p. vii.]

    [Footnote 3: _Fornaldarsögur Northrlanda_ (Copenhagen, 1829),
    Vol. I; _Antiquités russes_ etc. (Copenhagen, 1850-2), Vol.

    [Footnote 4: _Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie_,
    Vol. II, p. 839 f.]

    [Footnote 5: _Eddica Minora_, pp. 106-120.]

    [Footnote 6: Cf. _Forord_ to N. M. Petersen's edition of
    _Hervarar Saga ok Heithreks Konungs_ (published by the
    'Nordiske Literatur-Samfund,' Copenhagen, 1847).]

    [Footnote 7: See _Fornaldarsögur Northrlanda_ (Reykjavík,
    1891), Vol. I, pp. 309-360.]

    [Footnote 8: Copenhagen, 4th edition, 1889.]

    [Footnote 9: _Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie_,
    Vol. I, p. 201.]

    [Footnote 10: _Geschichte der Norwegisch-Isländischen
    Literatur_ (Strassburg, 1904), p. 605.]


Here begins the Saga of King Heithrek the Wise.

I. It is said that in the days of old the northern part of Finnmark
was called Jötunheimar, and that there was a country called Ymisland
to the south between it and Halogaland. These lands were then the home
of many giants and half-giants; for there was a great intermixture
of races at that time, because the giants took wives from among the
people of Ymisland.

There was a king in Jötunheimar called Guthmund. He was a mighty man
among the heathen. He dwelt at a place called Grund in the region of
Glasisvellir. He was wise and mighty. He and his men lived for
many generations, and so heathen men believed that the fields of
immortality lay in his realm; and whoever went there cast off sickness
or old age and became immortal.

After Guthmund's death, people worshipped him and called him their
god. His son's name was Höfund. He had second sight and was wise of
understanding, and was judge of all suits throughout the neighbouring
kingdoms. He never gave an unjust judgment, and no-one dared violate
his decision.

There was a man called Hergrim who was a giant dwelling in the rocks.
He carried off from Ymisland Ama the daughter of Ymir, and afterwards
married her. Their son Thorgrim Halftroll took from Jötunheimar Ögn
Alfasprengi, and afterwards married her. Their son was called Grim.
She had been betrothed to Starkath Aludreng, who had eight hands; but
she was carried off while he was away to the north of Elivagar. When
he came home he slew Hergrim in single combat; but Ögn ran herself
through with a sword rather than marry Starkath. After that Starkath
carried off Alfhild the daughter of King Alf from Alfheimar, but he
was afterwards slain by Thor.

Then Alfhild went to her kinsfolk, and Grim was with her there till
he went raiding and became a great warrior. He married Bauggerth the
daughter of Starkath Aludreng and set up his dwelling on an island
off Halogaland called Bolm. He was called Ey-grim Bolm. His son by
Bauggerth was called Arngrim the Berserk, who afterwards lived in Bolm
and was a very famous man.

II. There was a King called Sigrlami who was said to be a son of
Othin. His son Svafrlami succeeded to the kingdom after his father and
was a very great warrior. One day as the King rode a-hunting he got
separated from his men, and at sunset he came upon a big stone and
two dwarfs beside it. The King banned them with his graven sword from
entering the stone. The dwarfs begged him to spare their lives.

The King said: "What are your names?"

One of them said his name was Dvalin and the other Dulin.

The King said: "As you are the most cunning of all dwarfs you must
make me a sword, the best you can. The hilt and the grip must be of
gold, and it must cut iron as easily as if it were cloth and never
rust; and it must bring victory to whoever uses it in battle and
single combat."

They agreed to this, and the King rode away home.

And when the appointed day came, the King rode to the stone. The
dwarfs were outside, and they handed to the King a sword which was
very beautiful.

But as Dvalin was standing in the doorway of the stone he said:

"Your sword, Svafrlami, will be the death of a man every time it
is drawn; and moreover it will be the instrument of three pieces of
villainy; and to you yourself also it shall bring death."

Then the King struck at the dwarfs with the sword. But they sprang
into the stone, and the sword came down on it--sinking so deep that
both the ridges of the blade were hidden; for the door into the stone
closed as they disappeared. The King called the sword 'Tyrfing,' and
ever afterwards he carried it in battle and single combat, and was
always victorious.

The King had a daughter who was called Eyfura, an exceedingly
beautiful and clever girl.

At that time Arngrim was raiding among the Perms in the Baltic. He
raided the Kingdom of King Svafrlami and fought against him. They met
face to face, and King Svafrlami struck at Arngrim who parried the
blow with his shield; but the lower part of the shield was cut away
and the sword plunged into the earth. Then Arngrim struck off the
King's hand, so that he had to let Tyrfing fall. Arngrim caught up
Tyrfing and cut down first the King, and then many others. He took
great booty there, and carried off Eyfura, the King's daughter and
took her to his home in Bolm.

By her he had twelve sons. The eldest was Angantyr, then Hervarth,
then Hjörvarth, Sæming and Hrani, Brami, Barri, Reifnir, Tind and Bui,
and the two Haddings who only did one man's work between them, because
they were twins and the youngest of the family; whereas Angantyr, who
was a head taller than other men, did the work of two. They were all
berserks, and were unequalled in strength and courage. Even when they
went marauding there were never more than just the twelve brothers on
one ship. They raided far and wide in many lands, and had much success
and won great renown. Angantyr had Tyrfing, and Sæming Mistletoe,
Hervarth had Hrotti, and each of the others possessed a sword famous
in single combat. And it was their custom when they had only their own
men with them, to land when they felt the berserks' fury coming upon
them, and wrestle with trees or great rocks; for they had been known
to slay their own men and disable their ship. Great tales were told
about them and they became very famous.

III. One Yule Eve at Bolm, Angantyr made a vow over the pledge cup, as
the custom then was, that he would wed Ingibjörg the daughter of King
Yngvi of Upsala--the cleverest and most beautiful maiden in all the
Northlands--or perish in the attempt and marry no-one else. No more of
their vows are recorded.

Tyrfing had this characteristic, that whenever it was unsheathed it
shone like a sunbeam, even in the dark, and could only be sheathed
with human blood still warm upon it. Never did he whose blood was shed
by Tyrfing live to see another day. It is very famous in all stories
of the olden days.

Next summer the brothers went to Upsala in Sweden, and when they had
entered the hall, Angantyr told the King his vow and that he intended
to wed his daughter.

Everybody in the hall listened. Angantyr asked the King to declare
what was to be the result of their errand, whereupon Hjalmar the
stout-hearted rose from the table, and addressed the King:

"Call to mind, Sire, how much honour I have won for you since I came
into your kingdom, and how many times I have risked my life for you.
In return for these my services I beg that you will give me your
daughter in marriage. And moreover I consider myself more deserving a
favourable answer than these berserks, who do harm to everyone."

The King pondered over the matter, and found it difficult to decide
the question in such a way as to give rise to as little trouble as
possible; and he answered at last:

"My wish is that Ingibjörg should choose for herself the husband she

She replied: "If you want to marry me to anyone, then I would rather
have a man whose good qualities I know already than one of whom I have
only known by hearsay, and nothing but evil at that."

Angantyr said: "I will not bandy words with you; for I can see that
you love Hjalmar. But as for you, Hjalmar, come south to Samsø and
meet me in single combat. If you do not appear next midsummer you will
be a coward in the eyes of all men."

Hjalmar said that he would not fail to come and fight, and the sons of
Arngrim went home to their father and told him what had happened. He
replied that this was the first time he had ever felt any anxiety on
their behalf.

They spent the winter at home, and in the spring made ready to start,
going first to Earl Bjartmar, where a feast was made for them.
And during the evening Angantyr asked the Earl for the hand of his
daughter and in this as in the rest they got their wish. The wedding
took place, and afterwards the sons of Arngrim prepared to set out.
But the night before they left, Angantyr had a dream which he related
to the Earl:

"I dreamed that I and my brothers were in Samsø. We found many birds
there and killed all that we saw. Then I dreamed that as we were
setting out again upon the island, two eagles flew towards us. I went
against one and we had a stiff encounter; and at last we sank down and
had no strength left in us. But the other eagle fought with my eleven
brothers and overcame them all."

The Earl said: "The death of mighty men has been revealed to you in
this dream."

Then Angantyr and his brothers went away and came to Samsø, and went
ashore to look for Hjalmar; and the story of their adventures there
is related in the _Saga of Örvar-Odd_. First they came to Munarvagar,
where they slew all the men from the two ships of Hjalmar and Odd; and
afterwards they went ashore and encountered Hjalmar and Odd themselves
on the island. Odd slew Angantyr's eleven brothers, and Hjalmar slew
Angantyr, and afterwards died there himself of his wounds.

Then Odd had all the rest of them placed in great barrows with all
their weapons; but Hjalmar's body he took home to Sweden. And when
Ingibjörg the King's daughter saw Hjalmar's body, she fell down dead
and they were both laid together in one barrow at Upsala.

IV. The story goes on to say that a girl was born to the daughter of
Earl Bjartmar. Everyone advised exposing the child, saying that if
she resembled her father's kinsmen she would not have a womanly
disposition. The Earl, however, had her sprinkled with water; and
he brought her up, and called her Hervör, saying that the line of
Arngrim's sons would not be extinguished if she were left alive.

She grew up to be a beautiful girl. She was tall and strong, and
trained herself in the use of bow, shield and sword. But as soon as
she could do anything it was oftener harm than good; and when she had
been checked she ran away to the woods and killed people to provide
herself with money. And when the Earl heard of it, he had her caught
and brought home, where she remained for a time.

One day she went to the Earl and said: "I want to go away because I am
not happy here."

A little while after she departed alone, dressed and armed like a
man, and joined some vikings and stayed with them for a time, calling
herself Hervarth. Shortly afterwards the chief of the vikings died,
and Hervarth took command of the band.

One day when they sailed to Samsø, Hervarth landed; but her men would
not follow her, saying that it was not safe for anyone to be out of
doors there by night. Hervarth declared that there was likely to be
much treasure in the barrows. She landed on the island towards sunset,
but they lay off in Munarvagar. She met a shepherd boy and asked him
for information.

He said: "You are a stranger to the island; but come home with me, for
it is unsafe for anyone to be out of doors here after sunset; and I am
in a hurry to get home."

Hervarth replied: "Tell me where are 'Hjörvarth's Barrows,' as they
are called."

"You must surely be mad," replied the boy, "if you want to explore by
night what no-one dare visit at mid-day. Burning flame plays over them
as soon as the sun has set."

But Hervarth insisted that she would visit the barrows--whereupon the
shepherd said:

"I see that you are a brave man though not a wise one, so I will give
you my necklace if you will come home with me."

But Hervarth replied: "Even if you give me all you have you will not
hold me back."

And when the sun had set, loud rumblings were heard all over the
island, and flames leapt out of the barrows. Then the shepherd grew
frightened and took to his heels and ran to the wood as fast as he
could, without once looking back. Here is a poem giving an account of
his talk with Hervör:

  Driving his flocks at the fall of day,
  In Munarvagar along the bay,
            A shepherd met a maid.--
  "Who comes to our island here alone?
  Haste to seek shelter, the day is done,
            The light will quickly fade."

  "I will not seek for a resting place:
  A stranger am I to the island race.--
            But tell me quick I pray,
  Ere thou goest hence, if I may descry
  Where the tombs of the children of Arngrim lie:
            O tell me, where are they?"

  "Forbear from such questions utterly!
  Foolish and rash must thou surely be,
            And in a desperate plight!
  Let us haste from these horrors as fast as we can,
  For abroad it is ghastly for children of men
            To wander about in the night."

  "My necklace of gold is the price I intend
  To pay for thy guidance; for I am the friend
            Of vikings, and will not be stayed."
  "No treasures so costly, nor rings of red gold
  Shall take me their thrall, or my footsteps withhold,
            That thereby my flight be gainsaid.

  "Foolish is he who comes here alone
  In the fearsome dark when the sun has gone
            And the flames are mounting high;--
  When earth and fen are alike ablaze,
  And tombs burst open before thy gaze:
            O faster let us hie!"

  "Let us never heed for the snorting blaze,
  Nor fear, though over the island ways
            Dart tongues of living light.
  Let us not lightly give way to fear
  Of the noble warriors buried here,
            But talk with them tonight."

  But the shepherd lad fled fast away,
  Nor stayed to hear what the youth would say,
            But into the forest sped;
  While in Hervör's breast rose proud and high
  Her hard-knit heart, as she saw near by
            The dwellings of the dead.

She could now see the fires of the barrows and the ghosts standing
outside; and she approached the barrows fearlessly and passed through
the fires as if they had been merely smoke, until she reached the
barrow of the berserks. Then she cried:

  V. Awaken, Angantyr, hearken to me!
  The only daughter of Tofa and thee
            Is here and bids thee awake!
  Give me from out the barrow's shade
  The keen-edged sword which the dwarfs once made
            For Svafrlami's sake.

  Hervarth, Hjörvarth, Angantyr,
  And Hrani, under the tree-roots here,
            I bid you now appear;--
  Clad in harness and coat of mail,
  With shield and broadsword of biting steel,
            Helmet and reddened spear!

  The sons of Arngrim are changed indeed
  To heaps of dust, and Eyfura's seed
            Has crumbled into mould.--
  In Munarvagar will no one speak
  To her who has come thus far to seek
            Discourse with the men of old?

  Hervarth, Hjörvarth, Angantyr
  And Hrani, great be your torment here
            If ye will not hear my words.
  Give me the blade that Dvalin made;
  It is ill becoming the ghostly dead
            To keep such costly swords!

  In your tortured ribs shall my curses bring
  A maddening itch and a frenzied sting,
            Till ye writhe in agonies,
  As if ye were laid to your final rest
  Where the ants are swarming within their nest,
            And revelling in your thighs!

Then answered Angantyr:

  O Hervör, daughter, why dost thou call
  Words full of cursing upon us all?
            Thou goest to meet thy doom!
  Mad art thou grown, and thy wits are fled;
  Thy mind is astray, that thou wak'st the dead
            --The dwellers in the tomb.

  No father buried me where I lie,
  Nor other kinsman[1] ...
  The only two who remained unslain
  Laid hold on Tyrfing, but now again
            One only possesses the sword.

She answered:

  Nought save the truth shalt thou tell to me!
  May the ancient gods deal ill with thee
            If thou harbour Tyrfing there!
  Thine only daughter am I, and yet
  Unwilling thou art that I should get
            That which belongs to thine heir!

It now seemed as if the barrows, which had opened, were surrounded
with an unbroken ring of flame. Then Angantyr cried:

  The barrows are opening! Before thy gaze
  The round of the island is all ablaze,
            And the gate of Hell stands wide.
  There are spectres abroad that are ghastly to see.
  Return, little maiden, right hastily
            To thy ship that waits on the tide.

She replied:

  No funeral fire that burns by night
  Can make me tremble with affright,
            Or fear of awful doom.
  Thy daughter's heart can know no fear,
  Though a ghost before her should appear
            In the doorway of the tomb.


  O Hervör, Hervör, hearken to me!
  Nought save the truth will I tell to thee
            That will surely come about!
  Believe me, maiden, Tyrfing will be
  A curse upon all thy progeny
            Till thy race be blotted out.

  A son shalt thou bear, as I prophesy,
  Who shall fight with Tyrfing mightily,
            And trust to Tyrfing's might.
  I tell thee Heithrek shall be his name,
  The noblest man and of greatest fame
            Of all under Heaven's light.


  On all you dead this curse I cry:--
  Mouldering and rotting shall ye lie
            With the spirits in the tomb!
  Out of the barrow, Angantyr,
  Give me the keen-edged Tyrfing here,
            The sword called 'Hjalmar's Doom'!


  Surely unlike to a mortal thou
  To wander about from howe to howe,
            And stand in the doorway here!
  In the horror of night-time, my little maid,
  Thou comest with helmet and byrnie and blade,
            And shakest thy graven spear!


  A mortal maiden is she who comes,
  Arousing the corpses within their tombs,
            And will not be denied:--
  Give me from out the barrow's shade
  The keen-edged sword that the dwarf-folk made,
            Which it ill becomes thee to hide!


  The sword that the death-stroke to Hjalmar gave
  Lies under my shoulders within the grave,
            And wrapped about with flame.
  But that maiden lives not in any land
  Who dare grasp the weapon within her hand
            For any hope of fame.


  There lives, O Angantyr, a maid
  Who yearns to handle the keen-edged blade,
            And such a maid am I!
  And what care I though the tomb fires blaze!
  They sink and tremble before my gaze,
            They quiver out and die!


  O Hervör, 'tis folly and madness dire
  To rush wide-eyed through the flaming fire
            With courage undismayed.
  Rather by far will I give to thee
  The accursed sword, though unwillingly,
            My little, tender maid.


  O son of the vikings, well hast thou done
  In giving me Tyrfing from out the tomb;
            And happier am I today
  That I now grasp Tyrfing within my hands
  Than if I were queen of the broad Northlands,
            And conqueror of Noroway.


  Vain is thy rapture, my luckless maid!
  Thy hopes are false. All too soon will fade
            The flush of joy from thy face.
  Try, child, to listen; I am warning thee!--
  This sword is the sword of destiny,
            The destroyer of all thy race!


  Away, away to my 'ocean-steed'!
  The daughter of princes is glad indeed,
            O glad at heart today!
  And what care I for the destiny
  Of children as yet undreamed by me?--
            Let them quarrel as they may!


  Thou shalt have and enjoy without sorrow or pain
  The blade which proved to be Hjalmar's bane,
            If thou draw it not from its sheath.
  Worse than a plague is this cursed thing.
  Touch not its edges, for poisons cling
            Above it and beneath.

  Farewell, yet fain would I give to thee
  The life that has passed from my brothers and me,
            O daughter, 'tis truth I say!
  --The strength and vigour and hardihood,
  --All that we had that was great and good,
            That has vanished and passed away!


  Farewell, farewell to all you dead!
  Farewell! I would that I were sped!
            Farewell all you in the mound!...
  Surely in terror I drew my breath
  Between the Worlds of Life and Death
            When the grave fires girt me round!

    [Footnote 1: Two lines are missing from the MS. at this

Then she returned towards her ships; but when dawn came, she saw that
they had departed. The vikings had been scared by the rumblings
and the flames on the island. She got a ship to carry her away;
but nothing is told of her voyage till she came to Guthmund in
Glasisvellir, where she remained all through the winter, still calling
herself Hervarth.

VI. One day Guthmund was playing chess, and when the game was almost
up, he asked if anyone could advise him as to his moves. So Hervarth
went up to him and began to direct his moves; and it was not long
before Guthmund began to win. Then somebody took up Tyrfing and drew
it. When Hervarth saw this, he snatched the sword out of his hands,
and slew him, and then left the room. They wanted to rush out in
pursuit, but Guthmund said:

"Don't stir--you will not be avenged on the man so easily as you
think, for you don't know who he is. This woman-man will cost you dear
before you take his life."

After that Hervör spent a long time in piracy and had great success.
And when she grew tired of that she went home to the Earl, her
mother's father. There she behaved like other girls, working at her
embroidery and fine needlework.

Höfund, the son of Guthmund, heard of this and went and asked for the
hand of Hervör, and was accepted; and he took her home.

Höfund was a very wise man and so just in his judgments that he never
swerved from giving a correct decision, whether the persons involved
were natives or foreigners. And it is from him that the 'höfund' or
judge of law-suits takes his name in every realm.

He and Hervör had two sons. One was called Angantyr, the other
Heithrek. They were both big strong men--sensible and handsome.
Angantyr resembled his father in character and was kindly disposed
towards everyone. Höfund loved him very much, as indeed did everybody.
But however much good he did, Heithrek did still more evil. He was
Hervör's favourite. His foster-father was called Gizur.

One day Höfund held a feast and invited all the chief men in his
kingdom except Heithrek. This greatly displeased him, but he put in
an appearance all the same, declaring that he would do them some
mischief. And when he entered the hall, Angantyr rose and went to meet
him and invited him to sit beside him. Heithrek was not cheerful, but
he sat till late in the evening after Angantyr had gone; and then he
turned to the men who sat on either side of him and worked upon them
by his conversation in such a way that they became infuriated with
each other. But when Angantyr came back he told them to be quiet. And
when Angantyr went out a second time, Heithrek reminded them of his
words, and worked upon them to such an extent that one of them struck
the other. Then Angantyr returned and persuaded them to keep the peace
till morning. And the third time Angantyr went away, Heithrek asked
the man who had been struck why he had not the courage to avenge
himself. And so effective did his persuasion prove that he who had
been struck sprang up and slew his companion. When Angantyr returned,
he was displeased at what had taken place. And when Höfund heard of
it, he told Heithrek that he must either leave his kingdom or forfeit
his life.

So Heithrek went out, and his brother with him. Then his mother came
up and gave him Tyrfing. And Heithrek said to her:

"I don't know when I shall be able to show as much difference in my
treatment of my father and mother as they do in their treatment of me.
My father proclaims me an outlaw while my mother has given me Tyrfing,
which is of more account to me than a great territory. But I shall do
that very thing that will most distress my father."

He then drew the sword, which gleamed and flashed brilliantly, and
then he got into a great rage and showed the berserk's fury coming
upon him. The two brothers were alone. Now since Tyrfing had to be the
death of a man every time it was drawn, Heithrek dealt his brother his
death-blow. Höfund was told of it, and Heithrek escaped at once to the
woods. Höfund had a funeral feast made for his son Angantyr, and he
was lamented by everybody.

Heithrek got little joy of his deed and lived in the woods for a long
time, shooting deer and bears for food. And when he came to think over
his position, he reflected that there would be but a poor tale to tell
if no-one was to know what had become of him; and it occurred to him
that he could even yet become a man famous for deeds of prowess like
his ancestors before him. So he went home and sought out his mother
and begged her to ask his father to give him some sound advice before
they parted. She went to Höfund and asked him to give their son sound
advice. Höfund replied that he would give him a little, but added that
it would turn out to his disadvantage nevertheless; he said however
that he would not ignore his request:

"In the first place he must not aid a man who has slain his liege
lord. Secondly, he must not protect a man who has slain one of his
comrades. Thirdly, his wife ought not to be always leaving home to
visit her relatives. Fourthly, he ought not to stay out late with his
sweetheart. Fifthly, he should not ride his best horse when he is in
a hurry. Sixthly, he ought not to bring up the child of a man in a
better position than himself. Seventhly, let him always be cheerful
towards one who comes for hospitality. Eighthly, he should never lay
Tyrfing on the ground.--Yet he will not get any benefit from this

His mother repeated these maxims to him.

Heithrek replied: "This advice must have been given me in a spiteful
spirit. It will not be of any use to me."

His mother gave him a mark of gold at parting, and bade him always
bear in mind how sharp his sword was, and how great renown had been
won by everyone who had borne it--what great protection its sharp
edges afforded to him who wielded it in battle or single combat, and
what great success it always had.--Then they parted.

He went on his way; and when he had gone a short distance he came upon
some men who were leading a man in bonds. Heithrek asked what the man
had done, and they replied that he had betrayed his liege lord. He
asked if they would accept money as his ransom, and they said that
they were willing to do so. He ransomed the man for half his gold

The man then offered to serve him, but Heithrek replied:

"You would not be faithful to a stranger like me, seeing that you
betrayed your liege lord to whom you owed many benefits."

Shortly after he again came upon some men, of whom one was in bonds.
He asked what this man had done, and they replied that he had murdered
one of his comrades. He freed him with the other half of his gold
mark. This man also offered to serve him, but Heithrek declined.

After that he went on his way till he came to Reithgotaland, where he
went to the King who ruled there. His name was Harold, and he was an
old man at the time. Heithrek remained for a time with the King, who
gave him a cordial welcome.

VII. There were two Earls who had plundered the kingdom of King Harold
and made it subject to them, and because he was old he paid them
tribute every year. Heithrek grew intimate with the King, and
eventually it came about that he became the commander of his army
and betook himself to raiding, and soon made himself famous for his
victories. He proceeded to make war on the Earls who had subdued King
Harold's kingdom, and a stiff fight took place between them. Heithrek
fought with Tyrfing and, as in the past, no-one could withstand it,
for it cut through steel as easily as cloth; and the result was that
he slew both the Earls and put all their army to flight. He then
went throughout the kingdom and brought it under King Harold and took
hostages, and then returned home. And as a mark of great honour, King
Harold went himself to meet him, and he acquired great fame from this.
The King gave him his daughter Helga in marriage and with her half his
kingdom. Heithrek had the defence of the whole realm in his hands; and
this arrangement lasted for a time.

King Harold had a son in his old age. Heithrek also had a son, who
was called Angantyr. Presently a great famine began in Reithgotaland
(which is now called Jutland) and it threatened to destroy all the
inhabitants. So they tried divination, and the answer was that there
would be no plenty in Reithgotaland until the noblest boy in the land
had been sacrificed. Heithrek said that that was King Harold's son,
but the King declared that Heithrek's son was the noblest; and there
was no escape from this dilemma save by referring it to Höfund, whose
decisions were always just.

Thereupon Heithrek went to visit his father, who made him welcome.
He asked his father's decision about this question. Höfund pronounced
Heithrek's son to be the noblest in that land.

"What compensation do you adjudge to me for my loss?" asked Heithrek.

"You shall claim for yourself in compensation every second man in
the retinue of King Harold. Beyond that there is no need to give you
advice, considering your character and the army that you have under

Then Heithrek went back and summoned a meeting, and told them his
father's opinion:

"He decided that it was my son who must be sacrificed; and as
compensation to me he adjudged to me every second man of those who are
with King Harold, and I want you to swear an oath that this shall be

And they did so. Then the people demanded that he should give up his
son and get them a better harvest. Heithrek then talked with his
men after the force had been divided, and demanded fresh oaths of
allegiance from them. These they gave, swearing to follow him whether
at home or abroad, for whatever purpose he wished.

Then said he: "It appears to me that Othin will have been well
compensated for one boy if he gets in place of him King Harold and his
son and all his host!"

He then bade his men raise his standard and make an attack on King
Harold and slay him and all his host, declaring that he was giving
this host to Othin instead of his own son. He caused the altars to be
reddened with the blood of King Harold and his son Halfdan, while the
Queen took her own life in the temple of the Dís.

Heithrek was now accepted as King throughout the realm. He made love
to Sifka the daughter of Humli, a prince from the land of the Huns.
Their son was called Hlöth. He was brought up with his mother's

VIII. King Heithrek went out raiding and marched against the land of
the Saxons with a great host. The King of the Saxons sent men to
meet him and they made peace with one another, and the King invited
Heithrek to a banquet. Heithrek accepted the invitation. The result of
this banquet was that Heithrek sought the hand of the King's daughter
and married her, receiving much property and land as her dowry; and
with that King Heithrek went home to his kingdom. She often used to
ask to go to visit her father, and Heithrek was indulgent to her in
this matter. Her stepson Angantyr used to go with her.

On one occasion when Heithrek was returning from a raid, he lay in
hiding off the land of the Saxons. He landed during the night and
entered the building in which his wife was sleeping. He had only one
companion with him. All the sentries were asleep. He found a handsome
man asleep beside his wife. He took his son Angantyr and carried him
away with him, and returned to his ship, having first cut off a lock
of the man's hair.

Next morning he lay to in the King's berth, and all the people went to
greet him; and a feast was prepared in his honour. A little later he
had a meeting called and asked if anything was known of his son. The
Queen alleged that he had died suddenly. He asked her to guide him to
his tomb, and when she said that that would only increase his grief,
he replied that he did not mind that. A search was made accordingly,
and a dog was found wrapped in a shroud. Heithrek remarked that his
son had not changed for the better. Then the King caused the man
whom he had found asleep to be brought forward, and he proved to be a
bondman. Thereupon Heithrek put away his wife, and then went home to
his kingdom.

One summer as Heithrek was away raiding, he went into the land of the
Huns and harried there, and Humli his father-in-law fled before him.
Heithrek there captured great booty and also Sifka, the daughter
of King Humli, and then returned home to his kingdom. Their son was
called Hlöth, as we said before. He sent her home shortly after. He
also captured another woman called Sifka from Finland. She was the
loveliest woman ever seen.

One summer he sent men east to Holmgarth to offer to bring up the
child of King Hrollaug, the most powerful king of the time. This he
did because he was anxious to act exactly contrary to the whole of his
father's advice. Messengers came to Holmgarth and told their errand to
the King, who had a young son called Horlaug.

The King replied: "Is it likely that I shall send him my son to bring
up, when he has betrayed King Harold his father-in-law and his other
relatives and friends?"

But the Queen urged: "Do not be so hasty in refusing this, for if you
do not accept his offer the result will certainly be war. I expect it
will fare with you as with many another, and war with him will be no
trifle. Moreover he has a sword which nothing can withstand, and the
man who wields it will always be victorious."

So the King resolved to send his son to Heithrek; and Heithrek was
pleased with him and brought him up and loved him much.

Heithrek's father had also counselled him not to tell secrets to his

IX. Every summer King Heithrek went raiding; he always went into the
Baltic where he had King Hrollaug's friendly country at hand. On one
occasion King Hrollaug invited him to a feast, and Heithrek consulted
his friends as to whether he should accept the invitation. They all
tried to dissuade him, bidding him bear in mind his father's maxims.

"All his maxims will I disregard," he replied, and sent word to the
King that he would be present at the feast.

He divided his host into three parts. One he ordered to guard the
ships, the second accompanied him, while the third he ordered to go
on shore and conceal themselves in a wood near the house in which the
feast was to be held, and to be on the look out in case he should need
help. Heithrek went to the feast, and the next day, when the Kings
were seated, Heithrek asked where the King's son, his foster-child,
was. A search was made for him, but he could not be found. Heithrek
was greatly distressed and retired to bed early; and when Sifka joined
him she asked why he was distressed.

"That is a difficult matter to talk about," replied he, "because my
life is at stake if it becomes known."

She promised to keep the secret, adding:

"Tell me for the sake of the love that is between us."

So Heithrek began:

"As I was riding to the forest yesterday looking for sport, I caught
sight of a wild boar and made a thrust at him with my spear; but I
missed my aim and the shaft snapped. Then I leapt down from my horse
and drew Tyrfing, which was effective as usual, and I slew the boar.
But when I looked round there was no-one by except the King's son.
But it is a peculiarity of Tyrfing that it must be sheathed with human
blood still warm upon it, so I slew the lad. Now this will be the end
of me if King Hrollaug hears of it, because we have only a small force

Next morning when Sifka came to the Queen, the Queen asked her why
Heithrek had been depressed. She said that she did not dare to tell.
But the Queen persuaded her to change her mind, so she told the Queen
all that Heithrek had told her.

"These are terrible tidings," cried the Queen, and went off in deep
grief and told the King; but she added:

"Yet Heithrek has done this against his will."

"Your advice has turned out as I expected," said the King as he left
the hall to give orders to his men to arm.

Heithrek had a shrewd notion as to what Sifka had said, and ordered
his men to arm themselves secretly, and then to go out in small
detachments and try to find out what was happening.

A little later King Hrollaug came in and asked Heithrek to come and
have a private talk with him. And when they entered a garden, some men
sprang at Heithrek and seized him and cast him into fetters and bound
him securely; and he recognised the two men who bound him most tightly
as the men whose lives he had saved. The King ordered him to be taken
to the forest and hanged. There were two hundred and forty of them all
told, and when they entered the forest, King Heithrek's men sprang out
at them with his weapons and standard and a trumpet which they blew
as they attacked their foes. Their companions concealed in the woods
heard the noise and came out to meet King Heithrek's men. And when the
natives saw that, they all took to their heels; but most of them were
slain. The Goths took their King and released him. Heithrek went to
his ships after that, taking with him the King's son whom he had left
with the men concealed in the wood.

King Hrollaug now summoned a very large force, and King Heithrek
raided in his kingdom wherever he went.

Then said King Hrollaug to the Queen:

"Your advice has turned out badly for me. I find that our son is with
Heithrek, and in his present state of anger he will think nothing
of making an end of him in his criminal way, just as he slew his own
innocent brother."

"We have been far too easily convinced," replied the Queen. "You saw
how popular he was, when no-one would fetter him except two bad men;
and our son is taken good care of. This has been a trick of his to
make trial of you, and you offered him a poor return for bringing up
your child. Send men to him now, and offer to make it up with him,
and to give him so much of your territories as you may agree upon with
him; and offer him your daughter too, if we can recover our son. That
will be better than that you should part from him in enmity. And even
if he already has wide territory, he has not a wife as beautiful as

"I had not intended to offer her to anyone," replied the King; "but as
you are so wise, you shall decide."

Messengers were sent accordingly to King Heithrek to bring about a
reconciliation. A council was held and a reconciliation effected by
Heithrek's marrying Hergerth, the daughter of King Hrollaug; and she
brought him as her dowry Wendland, the province which lies nearest to

On one occasion the King was riding his best horse as he was
conducting Sifka home. It was late in the evening, and when the King
came to a river his horse fell dead. Shortly afterwards, when Sifka
attempted to embrace him, he threw her down and broke her leg.
Afterwards King Heithrek settled down in his own kingdom and became a
great sage.

X. They had a daughter called Hervör who was brought up by a man
called Ormar. She was a most beautiful girl, but as tall and strong as
a man, and trained herself in the use of bow and arrows.

There was a great man in Reithgotaland called Gestumblindi, who was
not on good terms with King Heithrek.

In the King's retinue there were seven men whose duty it was to decide
all the disputes that arose in that country.

King Heithrek worshipped Frey, and he used to give Frey the biggest
boar he could find. They regarded it as so sacred that in all
important cases they used to take the oath on its bristles. It was the
custom to sacrifice this boar at the 'sacrifice of the herd.' On Yule
Eve the 'boar of the herd' was led into the hall before the King.
Then men laid their hands on his bristles and made solemn vows. King
Heithrek himself made a vow that however deeply a man should have
wronged him, if he came into his power he should not be deprived of
the chance of receiving a trial by the King's judges; but he should
get off scot free if he could propound riddles which the King could
not answer. But when people tried to ask the King riddles, not one was
put to him which he could not solve.

The King sent a message to Gestumblindi bidding him come to him on
an appointed day; otherwise the King said that he would send to fetch
him. Neither alternative pleased Gestumblindi, because he knew himself
to be no match for the King in a contest of words; neither did he
think he had much to hope from a trial before the judges, for his
offences were many. On the other hand, he knew that if the King had to
send men to bring him it would cost him his life. Then he proceeded to
sacrifice to Othin and to ask his help, promising him great offerings.

One evening a stranger visited Gestumblindi, and said that he also
was called Gestumblindi. They were so much alike that neither could
be distinguished from the other. They exchanged clothes, and the
landowner went into hiding, and everyone thought the stranger was the
landowner himself.

This man went to visit the King and greeted him. The King looked at
him and was silent.

Gestumblindi said: "I am come, Sire, to make my peace with you."

"Will you stand trial by the judges?" asked the King.

"Are there no other means of escape?" asked Gestumblindi.

"If," replied the King, "you can ask me riddles which I cannot answer,
you shall go free."

"I am not likely to be able to do that," replied Gestumblindi; "yet
the alternative is severe."

"Do you prefer the trial?" asked the King.

"Nay," said he, "I would rather ask riddles."

"That is quite in order," said the King, "and much depends on the
issue. If you can get the better of me you shall marry my daughter and
none shall gainsay you. Yet I don't imagine you are very clever, and
it has never yet happened that I have been unable to solve the riddles
that have been put to me."

Then a chair was placed for Gestumblindi, and the people began to
listen eagerly to the words of wisdom.

Gestumblindi began as follows:

    XI. I would that I had that which I had yesterday. Guess O
    King, what that was:--Exhauster of men, retarder of words, yet
    originator of speech. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed
    it.--Give him some ale. That is what confounds many people's
    reason. Some are made garrulous by it, but some become
    confused in their speech.

Gestumblindi said:

    I went from home, I made my way from home, I looked upon a
    road of roads. A road was beneath me, a road above and a road
    on every side. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed
    it. You went over a bridge, and the course of the river was
    beneath it, and birds were flying over your head and on either
    side of you; that was their road; you saw a salmon in the
    river, and that was his road.

Gestumblindi said:

    What was the drink that I had yesterday? It was neither wine
    nor water, mead nor ale, nor any kind of food; and yet I went
    away with my thirst quenched. King Heithrek, read me this

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    You lay in the shade and cooled your lips in dew. But if
    you are the Gestumblindi I took you for, you are a more
    intelligent man than I expected; for I had heard that your
    conversation showed no brains, yet now you are setting to work

Gestumblindi said:

    I expect that I shall soon come to grief; yet I should like
    you to listen a while longer.

Then he continued:

    Who is that clanging one who traverses hard paths which he has
    trod before? He kisses very rapidly, has two mouths and walks
    on gold alone. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is the goldsmith's hammer, with which gold is forged.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is that huge one that passes over the earth, swallowing
    lakes and pools? He fears the wind, but he fears not man, and
    carries on hostilities against the sun. King Heithrek, read me
    this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is fog. One cannot see the sea because of it. Yet as soon
    as the wind blows, the fog lifts; but men can do nothing to
    it. Fog kills the sunshine. You have a cunning way of asking
    riddles and conundrums, whoever you are.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is that huge one that controls many things and of which
    half faces towards Hell? It saves people's lives and grapples
    with the earth, if it has a trusty friend. King Heithrek, read
    me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is an anchor with its thick strong cable. It controls
    many a ship, and grips the earth with one of its flukes which
    is pointing towards Hell. It is a means of safety to many
    people. Greatly do I marvel at your readiness of speech and

Gestumblindi said:

    Ah, but I am now almost at the end of my riddles; yet everyone
    is eager to save his life.--What lives in high mountains? What
    falls in deep valleys? What lives without breathing? What is
    never silent? King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    A raven always lives in high mountains, and dew falls in
    deep valleys, a fish lives without breathing, and the booming
    waterfall is never silent.

    Things are now becoming serious, said Gestumblindi, and I do
    not know what is going to happen.--What is the marvel which
    I have seen outside Delling's doorway? It points its head
    towards Hell and turns its feet to the sun. King Heithrek,
    read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is a leek. Its head grows down into the ground, and its
    blades upward into the air.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's
    doorway?--Two restless, lifeless things boiling a wound-leek.
    King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is the smith's bellows which have breath, yet not life.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's
    doorway?--White fliers smiting the rock, and black fliers
    burying themselves in sand! King Heithrek, read me this

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    But now your riddles are growing trivial. That is hail and
    rain; for hail beats upon the street; whereas rain-drops fall
    into the sand and sink into the earth.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's
    doorway? I saw a black hog wallowing in mud, yet no bristles
    were standing up on his back. King Heithrek, read me this

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed
    it. That is a dung-beetle. But we have talked too long when
    dung-beetles come to exercise the wits of great men.

Gestumblindi said:

    "It is best to put off misfortune"; and though there are some
    who overlook this truth, many will want to go on trying. I
    myself too see now that I shall have to look out for every
    possible way of escape. What is the marvel that I have seen
    outside Delling's doorway? This creature has ten tongues,
    twenty eyes, forty feet, and walks with difficulty. King
    Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That was a sow with nine little pigs.

Then the King had the sow killed and they found they had killed with
her nine little pigs, as Gestumblindi had said.

Then the King said:

    I am beginning to suspect that I have to deal with a cleverer
    man than myself in this business; but I don't know who you can

Gestumblindi said:

    I am such as you can see; and I am very anxious to save my
    life and be quit of this task.

    You must go on asking riddles, replied the King, till you have
    exhausted your stock, or else till I fail to solve them.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's
    doorway? It flies high, with a whistling sound like the
    whirring of an eagle. Hard it is to clutch, O King. King
    Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is an arrow, said the King.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's
    doorway? It has eight feet and four eyes, and carries its
    knees higher than its body. King Heithrek, read me this

Heithrek replied:

    I notice firstly that you have a long hood; and secondly that
    you look downwards more than most people, since you observe
    every creature of the earth.--That is a spider.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's
    doorway? It shines upon men in every land; and yet wolves are
    always struggling for it. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    It is the sun. It gives light to every land and shines down on
    all men. But the wolves are called Skalli and Hatti. Those are
    the wolves who accompany the sun, one in front and one behind.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's
    doorway? It was harder than horn, blacker than the raven,
    whiter than the membrane of an egg, straighter than a shaft.
    King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    You saw an agate, and a sunbeam penetrated the house and shone
    upon it. But since you seem to be a learned man, can you not
    propound your riddles without always beginning them in the
    same way?

Then said Gestumblindi:

    Two bond-women, fair-haired brides, were carrying ale to the
    store-room. The cask was not turned by hands, nor clinched
    by hammers; and he who made it strutted about outside the
    islands. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    These are eider duck laying their eggs. The eggs are not made
    with hammer or hands, and the hand-maidens put the ale into
    the egg-shell.

Gestumblindi said:

    He who has got but a little sword and is very short of
    learning has to look out for help. I would like to talk still
    further.--Who are those ladies of the lofty mountain? A woman
    begets by a woman; a maid has a son by a maid; and these
    good-wives have no husbands. King Heithrek, read me this

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    They are two Angelicas joined together, and a young angelica
    shoot is growing between them.

Gestumblindi said:

    Who are the girls who fight without weapons around their lord?
    The dark red ones always protect him, and the fair ones seek
    to destroy him. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is a game of chess. The pieces smite one another without
    weapons around the king, and the red assist him.

Gestumblindi said:

    Who are the merry-maids who glide over the land for their
    father's pleasure? They bear a white shield in winter and a
    black one in summer. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    Those are ptarmigan.

Gestumblindi said:

    Who are the damsels who go sorrowing for their father's
    pleasure? These white-hooded ladies have shining hair, and are
    very wide awake in a gale. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    Those are the billows, which are called Ægir's maidens.

Gestumblindi said:

    Who are the maidens who go about many together for their
    father's pleasure? They have brought trouble to many; and
    these good-wives have no husbands. King Heithrek, read me this

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    Those are billows like the last.

Gestumblindi said:

    Who are the brides who go about the reefs and trail along the
    firths? These white-hooded ladies have a hard bed and do not
    play much when the weather is calm. King Heithrek read me this

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    Those again are Ægir's maidens; but your pleading has now
    become so weak that you will have to stand trial by the

Gestumblindi said:

    I am loath to do so; and yet I fear that it will very soon
    come to that. I saw a barrow-dweller pass by, a corpse
    sitting on a corpse, the blind riding on the blind towards
    the ocean-path. Lifeless was the steed. King Heithrek, read me
    this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    It is that you came to a river; and an ice-floe was floating
    along the stream, and on it a dead horse was lying, and on the
    horse was a dead snake; and thus the blind was carrying the
    blind when they were all three together.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is that beast which slays people's flocks and is girt
    around with iron? It has eight horns, yet no head, and it runs
    when it can. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is the _Hunn_ in chess. It has the same name as a bear.
    It runs as soon as it is thrown.

Gestumblindi said:

    What is that beast which protects the Danes? Its back is
    bloody, but it shields men, encounters spears and saves men's
    lives. Man fits his hand to its body. King Heithrek, read me
    this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is a shield. It protects many people and often has a
    bloody back.

Gestumblindi said:

    A 'nose-goose' (i.e. duck) in former days had grown very
    big when eager for young. She gathered together her building
    timber: 'biters of straw' sheltered her, and 'drink's echoing
    cavern' was above her. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    There a duck was sitting on her eggs between the jaws of an
    ox, which you call 'biters of straw.' The 'echoing cavern' is
    the skull, and the 'building timber,' the nest.

Gestumblindi said:

    Four walking, four hanging, two pointing the way, two warding
    off the dogs, one, generally dirty, dangling behind! King
    Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is a cow. She has four feet and four udders, two horns
    and two eyes, and the tail dangles behind.

Gestumblindi said:

    Who is that solitary one who sleeps in the grey ash and is
    made from stone only? This greedy one has neither father nor
    mother. There will he spend his life. King Heithrek, read me
    this riddle.

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is a spark struck by a flint and hidden in the hearth.

Gestumblindi said:

    I saw a horse standing....

Then the King said:

    My retinue shall read this riddle.

They made many guesses, but not particularly good ones. And when the
King saw that they could do nothing he said:

    What you call a 'horse' is a piece of linen, and his 'mare' is
    the weaver's rod; and the linen is shaken up and down.

Gestumblindi said:

    Who are the thanes who ride to the meeting, sixteen of them
    together? They send their men far and wide to make homes of
    their own. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    That is 'King Itrek's game.'

Gestumblindi said:

    In summer time at sunset I saw the King's body-guard awake and
    very joyful. The nobles were drinking their ale in silence,
    but the ale-butts stood screaming. King Heithrek, read me this

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed
    it. That is a sow with her litter. When the little pigs are
    feeding, she squeals and they are silent.--But I can't imagine
    who you are who can compose such things so deftly out of such
    unpromising materials!

The King then silently made a sign that the door of the hall was to be

Gestumblindi said:

    I saw maidens like dust. Rocks were their beds. They were
    black and swarthy in the sunshine, but the darker it grew, the
    fairer they appeared. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    They are pale embers on the hearth.

Gestumblindi said:

    I sat on a sail, and saw dead men carrying a channel of blood
    in the bark of a tree. King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it.
    You sat on a wall, and watched a hawk flying and carrying an
    eider duck in its claws.

Gestumblindi said:

    Who are those two who have ten feet, three eyes and one tail?
    King Heithrek, read me this riddle!

Heithrek replied:

    You are hard up when you have to turn back to things of long
    ago to bring forward against me. That is Othin riding his
    horse Sleipnir. It had eight feet and Othin two, and they had
    three eyes--Sleipnir two and Othin one.

Gestumblindi said:

    Tell me lastly, Heithrek, if you are wiser than any other
    prince, what did Othin whisper in Balder's ear, before he was
    placed upon the pyre?

The King replied:

    I am sure it was something scandalous and cowardly and
    thoroughly contemptible. You are the only person who knows the
    words which you spoke, you evil and wretched creature.

Then the King drew Tyrfing, and struck at Gestumblindi; but he changed
himself into a falcon and flew out through the window of the hall. And
the sword struck the tail of the falcon; and that is why it has had
a short tail ever since, according to heathen superstition. But Othin
had now become wroth with the King for striking at him; and that night
he was slain.

XII. It is said that King Heithrek had some slaves, nine in all, whom
he had taken in a freebooting expedition in the West. They came of
noble families, and chafed against their captivity. One night, when
King Heithrek lay in bed, attended by only a handful of men, the
slaves armed themselves and went to the building in which he lay.
They first slew the sentries, and then went and broke into the King's
chamber, and slew the King and all who were within. They took the
sword Tyrfing, and all the treasure that they found there, and carried
everything off with them.

For a while, no one knew who had done the deed or how vengeance was to
be taken. Then Angantyr the son of King Heithrek had a meeting called,
and by that assembly he was proclaimed King over all the territories
that King Heithrek had held. And at the same meeting he swore a solemn
oath that he would never sit on his father's throne until he had
avenged him.

Shortly after the meeting, Angantyr went away by himself and travelled
far and wide searching for these men. One evening he was walking down
to the sea along a river called Graf. There he saw three men in a
fishing-boat, and presently he saw one of the men catch a fish, and
heard him call to one of his companions to hand him a bait-knife to
cut off the fish's head. The man replied that he could not spare it.
Then the first man said:

"Take down the sword from over there by the rudder, and hand it to

And he took it and unsheathed it, and cut off the fish's head, and
then spoke a verse:

  This pike at the mouth of the river
    Has paid the penalty
  For the slaughter inflicted on Heithrek,
    'Neath the Mountains of Harvathi.

Angantyr immediately perceived that it was Tyrfing, and went off at
once to the wood and waited there till it was dark. And the fishermen
rowed to the land, and went to a tent which they had, and lay down and
went to sleep. And when it was close on midnight, Angantyr went up to
them and pulled down the tent on top of the slaves and slew all nine
of them, and carried off the sword Tyrfing as a sign that he had
avenged his father. He then went home and had a great funeral feast
held to his father's memory on the banks of the Dnieper, at a place
called Arheimar. The kings who ruled at that time were as follows:
Humli ruled the Huns, Gizur the Gautar, Angantyr the Goths, Valdar the
Danes, Kjar the Gauls; Alrek the Bold ruled the English people.

Hlöth the son of King Heithrek was brought up at the court of King
Humli, his grandfather. He was a very handsome and valiant man. There
was an old saying at that time that a man was "born with weapons or
horses." And the explanation is that it referred to the weapons which
were being forged at the time when the man was born; also to any
sheep, beasts, oxen and horses that were born about the same time.
These were all given to high-born men as an honour to them, as is here
related about Hlöth the son of Heithrek:

  In the land of the Huns was Hölth born
    In a holy forest glade,
  With ring-bedizened helmet,
    With dagger and keen-edged blade,
  With byrnie and with broadsword,
    And noble prancing steed.

Then Hlöth learnt of the death of his father, and also that his
brother Angantyr had been made King over all the territory which their
father had held. Then King Humli and Hlöth resolved that Hlöth should
go and request his brother Angantyr to allow him a share of his
father's property, and that he should try first by fair words--as is
said here:

  Hlöth, the heir of Heithrek,
    Came riding from the East,
  To where Angantyr was holding
    King Heithrek's funeral feast.
  He came to his court in Arheimar
    Where the Gothic people dwell,
  Demanding his share of the heritage left
    By the King when he journeyed to Hell.

Hlöth now arrived in Arheimar with a great host as it says here:

  He found a warrior hastening
    Towards the lofty hall;
  And unto this late traveller
    Did Hlöth his greeting call:
  O man, make haste to enter
    This hall that towers so high!
      Bid Angantyr speed,
      For great is the need
    We hold a colloquy.

The men entered and went up to Angantyr's table and saluted the King,

  Hlöth, thy warlike brother,
    King Heithrek's valiant heir,
  Has sent me hither to thee,
    And bidden me declare
  That he wishes to hold converse;
    And though he be young indeed,
  Yet he looks a mighty champion,
    Seated high upon his steed.

And when the King heard that, he flung down his knife upon the table
and arose from the feast; and he put on his corslet and took a white
shield in one hand and the sword Tyrfing in the other. Then a great
din arose in the hall, as is said in the poem:

  Then a murmur arose from the warriors,
    And all in the hall drew near,
  As the warder reported the message of Hlöth:
    --Everyone lent an ear;
  And the men all awaited with quivering breath
    The message of Angantyr.

Then Angantyr said: "Hail, brother! You are welcome! Come in and drink
with us, and let us first drink mead in memory of our father, to the
honour and glory of us all with full ceremony."

Hlöth said: "We are come hither for a different purpose than to fill
our stomachs."

Then Hlöth cried:

  Of all the possessions of Heithrek
    The half do I now demand;
  --His spear and blade and treasures,
    His cattle and his land,
  His handmaids and his bondmen,
    And the children to them born,
  And the murmuring mill that the bondwomen turn
    As they wearily grind the corn.

  And half of the far-famed Myrkvith,
    And half of the holy grave
  Far off mid the Gothic peoples,--
    These also will I have.--
  Half of the noble pillar
    That stands on Danaper's shore;
  And of Heithrek's castles, land and folk,
    And half of his golden store!

Cried Angantyr:

  The white-shining shield shall be cloven, brother,
    And spear on spear shall ring;
  And many a helmet be lowered, brother,
    In battle for this thing,
  Ere I give thee half my heritage,
    Or half of the sword Tyrfing.

But Angantyr added:

  I will offer thee wealth in plenty,
    And all thy heart's desire
  In store of costly treasure,
    And rings of golden fire;
  Twelve hundred squires will I give thee,
    Twelve hundred prancing steeds;
      Twelve hundred men
      To attend on them
    And arm them for mighty deeds.

  And every man whom I give thee
    Shall receive a richer store
  Of rings and costly treasures
    Than ever he had before.--
  To every man a maiden!
    To every maid a ring!
  I will clasp a necklace round her throat,
    A necklace fit for a king!

  I will case thee all in silver
    As thou sittest on thy throne;
  And a third of the Gothic peoples
    Shall be thine to rule alone;
  With gold shalt thou be covered
    As thou farest through the land.--
      Thou shalt dazzle the sight
      As thou walk'st in the light
    Like the flame of a fiery brand.

XIII. Gizur, a liegeman from the Grytingar, King Heithrek's
foster-father, was with King Angantyr. He was a very old man at that
time. And when he heard King Angantyr's suggestion, he thought that he
was offering too much and said:

  King Angantyr is generous,
    And royal his offering!
  For thy mother was merely a bondmaid
    Though thou hadst for thy father a King.
  And though thou art only an outcast,
    Yet a seat of honour was thine,
  When the Prince was dividing his treasure and land,
    And his portion to each did assign.

Hlöth grew very angry at being called an outcast and the child of a
bondwoman, if he accepted his brother's offer; so he departed at once
with all his men and returned home to King Humli, his mother's father,
in the land of the Huns. And he told Humli that Angantyr his brother
had not granted him an equal share. King Humli enquired as to all that
had passed between them, and was very angry that Hlöth, the son of his
daughter, should be called the son of a bondmaid, and he cried:

  We will stay in our homes for the winter,
    And as princes are wont when they dine,
  We will hold high converse together,
    Quaffing the costly wine.
  We will call on the Hunnish people
    To arm them with spear and with shield.--
      They shall march to the fight
      Right royally dight,
    And conquer their foes in the field.

Then he added:

  We will summon a mighty host, Hlöth,
    And shield on shield will clang,
  As the warriors arm them from twelve years old,
    And the wild colts gallop along.
      And the Huns shall mass
      Ere the winter pass,
    And assemble a countless throng.

That winter, King Humli and Hlöth remained quiet, but the following
spring they collected such a large army that the land of the Huns was
swept bare of fighting men. All those of twelve years old and upwards,
who were fit for military service and could carry arms, joined the
army, and all the horses of two years old and upwards. The host was
now so big that thousands and nothing less than thousands could be
counted in the legions. And a commander was set over every 'thousand,'
and a standard was set up over every legion. And there were five
'thousand' in each legion, each 'thousand' containing thirteen
'hundreds,' and each 'hundred' four times forty men; and these legions
were thirty three in number.

When these troops had assembled, they rode through the forest which
was called Myrkvith, and which separated the land of the Huns from
that of the Goths. And when they emerged from the forest, they came
upon a thickly inhabited country with level fields; and on these
plains there was a fine fortress. It was under the command of Hervör,
the sister of Angantyr and Hlöth, and Ormar, her foster-father was
with her. They had been appointed to defend the land against the
Hunnish host, and they had a large army there.

XIV. It happened one morning at sunrise that as Hervör was standing
on the summit of a tower over the gate of the fortress, she looked
southwards towards the forest, and saw clouds of dust arising from a
great body of horse, by which the sun was hidden for a long time. Next
she saw a gleam beneath the dust, as though she were gazing on a mass
of gold--fair shields overlaid with gold, gilded helmets and white
corslets. Then she perceived that it was the Hunnish host coming on in
vast numbers. She descended hastily and called her trumpeter, and bade
him sound the assembly.

Then said Hervör: "Take your weapons and arm for battle; and do thou,
Ormar, ride against the Huns and offer them battle before the Southern

Ormar replied: "I will certainly take my shield and ride with the
companies of the Goths. I will challenge the Huns and offer them
battle before the Southern Gate."

Then Ormar rode out of the fortress against the Huns. He called loudly
bidding them ride up to the fort, saying:

"Outside the gate of the fortress, in the plains to the south--there
will I offer you battle. Let those who arrive first await their foes!"

Then Ormar rode back to the fortress, and found Hervör and all her
host armed and ready. They rode forthwith out of the fort with all
their host against the Huns, and a great battle began between them.
But the Hunnish host was far superior in numbers, so that Hervör's
troops began to suffer heavy losses; and in the end Hervör fell, and
a great part of her army round about her. And when Ormar saw her fall,
he fled with all those who still survived. Ormar rode day and night as
fast as he could to King Angantyr in Arheimar. The Huns then proceeded
to ravage and burn throughout the land.

And when Ormar came into the presence of King Angantyr, he cried:

  From the south have I journeyed hither
    To bear these tidings to thee:--
  The whole of the forest of Myrkvith
    Is burnt up utterly;
  And the land of the Goths is drenched with blood
    As our warriors fall and die.

Then he continued:

  All of thy noblest warriors
    On the field are lying dead.
  King Heithrek's daughter fell by the sword;
    She drooped and bowed her head.
  Thy sister Hervör is now no more.--
    By the Huns was her life-blood shed.
  O prouder and lighter the maiden's step
    As she wielded spear and sword
  Than if she were sped to her trysting place,
    Or her seat at the bridal-board!

When King Angantyr heard that, he drew back his lips, and it was some
time before he spoke. Then he said:

"In no brotherly wise hast thou been treated, my noble sister!"

Then he surveyed his retinue, and his band of men was but small; then
he cried:

  The Gothic warriors were many,
    As they sat and drank the mead;
  But now when many are called for,
    The array is poor indeed!
  Not a man in the host will adventure--
    Though I offer a rich reward--
      To take his shield,
      And ride to the field,
    To seek out the Hunnish horde.

Then Gizur the Old cried:

  I will crave no single farthing,
    Nor ringing coin of gold;
      I will take my shield
      And ride to the field
    To the Huns with their myriads untold.
  And the message of war that you send to the host
    Will I carry, and there unfold.

It was a rule with King Heithrek that if his army was invading a land,
and the King of that land had set up hazel stakes to mark the spot
on which the battle was to take place, then the vikings should not go
raiding till the battle had been fought.

Gizur armed himself with good weapons and leapt on his horse as if he
had been a young man. Then he cried to the King:

"Where shall I challenge the host of the Huns to battle?"

King Angantyr replied: "Challenge them to battle at Dylgia and on
Dunheith, and upon all the heights of Jösur, where the Goths have
often won renown by glorious victories!"

Then Gizur rode away until he came to the host of the Huns. He rode
just within earshot, and then called loudly, crying:

  Your host is panic stricken,
    And your prince is doomed to fall;
  Though your banners are waving high in the air,
    Yet Othin is wroth with you all.
  Come forth to the Jösur Mountains,
    On Dylgia and Dunheith come fight;
      For I make a sure boast,
      In the heart of your host
    The javelin of Othin will light!

When Hlöth heard Gizur's words, he cried:

"Lay hold upon Gizur of the Grytingar, Angantyr's man, who has come
from Arheimar!"

King Humli said: "We must not injure heralds who travel about

Gizur cried: "You Hunnish dogs are not going to overcome us with

Then Gizur struck spurs into his horse and rode back to King Angantyr,
and went up to him and saluted him. The King asked him if he had
parleyed with the Huns.

Gizur replied: "I spoke with them and I challenged them to meet us on
the battle-field of Dunheith and in the valleys of Dylgia."

Angantyr asked how big the army of the Huns was.

"Their host is very numerous," replied Gizur. "There are six legions
in all, and five 'thousands' in every legion, and each 'thousand'
contains thirteen 'hundreds,' and in every 'hundred' there are a
hundred and sixty men."

Angantyr asked further questions about the host of the Huns.

He then sent men in all directions to summon every man who was willing
to support him and could bear weapons. He then marched to Dunheith
with his army, and it was a very great host. There the host of the
Huns came against him with an army half as big again as his own.

XV. Next day they began their battle, and they fought together the
whole day, and at evening they went to their quarters. They continued
fighting for eight days, but the princes were then still all
unwounded, though none could count the number of the slain. But both
day and night troops came thronging round Angantyr's banner from all
quarters; and so it came about that his army never grew less.

The battle now became fiercer than ever. The Huns were desperate, for
they now saw that their only chance of escaping annihilation lay in
victory, and that sorry would be their lot if they had to ask for
quarter from the Goths. The Goths on the other hand were defending
their freedom and their native land against the Huns; so they stood
fast and encouraged one another to fight on. Then towards the close of
the day the Goths made so fierce an attack that the line of the Huns
recoiled before it. And when Angantyr saw that, he pressed forward
from behind the rampart of shields into the forefront of the battle
and grasping Tyrfing in his hand, mowed down both men and horses.
Then the ranks fell apart in front of the Kings of the Huns, and Hlöth
exchanged blows with his brother. There fell Hlöth and King Humli, and
then the Huns took to flight. The Goths cut them down and made such
a great slaughter that the rivers were dammed with the bodies and
diverted from their courses, and the valleys were full of dead men and
horses. Angantyr then went to search among the slain, and found his
brother Hlöth. Then he cried:

  I offered thee wealth unstinted, brother,
    And treasures manifold,--
  Riches of cattle and land, brother,
    Riches of glittering gold;
  But now thou hast wagered and lost in the battle
    Thy desires and glories untold.

  A curse has fallen upon us, brother,
    I have dealt destruction to thee;
  And ne'er shall the deed be forgotten, brother;
    Full ill is the norns' decree!

XVI. Angantyr ruled Reithgotaland as King for a long time. He was
powerful and generous and a great warrior, and lines of kings are
sprung from him.

He had a son called Heithrek Wolfskin who ruled after him for a long
time in Reithgotaland. Heithrek had a daughter called Hild, who was
the mother of Halfdan the Valiant, the father of Ivar Vithfathmi. Ivar
Vithfathmi went with his army into the Swedish kingdom, as is told in
the Sagas of the Kings. And King Ingjald the Wicked was panic-stricken
at the approach of his army, and burned the roof over himself and all
his retinue at a place called Ræning. Ivar Vithfathmi then conquered
all Sweden. He also subdued Denmark and Courland and the land of the
Saxons and Esthonia, and all the eastern realms as far as Russia. He
also ruled the land of the Saxons in the West and conquered the part
of England which was called Northumbria.

Then he conquered all Denmark and set over it King Valdar, to whom
he married his daughter Alfhild. Their sons were Harold Hilditönn
and Randver who afterwards fell in England. And when Valdar died in
Denmark, Randver got possession of the Danish kingdom and made himself
King over it. And King Harold Hilditönn got himself proclaimed King
of Gautland, and he afterwards conquered all the kingdoms already
mentioned, which King Ivar Vithfathmi had held.

King Randver married Asa, the daughter of King Harold of the Red
Moustache from Norway. Their son was Sigurth Hring. King Randver died
suddenly, and Sigurth Hring succeeded to the Kingdom of Denmark. He
fought against King Harold Hilditönn at the Battle of Bravöll in East
Gautland, and there King Harold fell, and a great multitude of his
army with him. This battle and the one which Angantyr and his brother
Hlöth fought at Dunheith are the battles which have been most famous
in stories of old. Never were any greater slaughters made.

King Sigurth Hring ruled the Kingdom of the Danes till the day of his
death; and his son Ragnar Lothbrok succeeded him.

Harold Hilditönn had a son called Eystein the Wicked, who succeeded to
the Swedish Realm after his father, and ruled it until he was slain
by the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, as is related in the Saga of Ragnar
Lothbrok. The sons of Ragnar Lothbrok conquered all the Swedish
Kingdom; and after the death of King Ragnar, his son, Björn Ironside,
inherited Sweden, and Sigurth Denmark, Hvitserk the Eastern Realm, and
Ivar the Boneless England.

The sons of Björn Ironside were Eric and Refil. The latter was a
warrior-prince and sea-king. King Eric ruled the Swedish Realm after
his father, and lived but a short time. Then Eric the son of Refil
succeeded to the Kingdom. He was a great warrior and a very powerful
King. The sons of Eric Björnsson were Önund of Upsala and King Björn.
Then the Swedish Realm again came to be divided between brothers. They
succeeded to the Kingdom on the death of Eric Refilsson. King Björn
built a house called 'Barrow,' and he himself was called Björn of the
Barrow. Bragi the poet was with him. King Önund had a son called Eric,
and he succeeded to the throne at Upsala after his father. He was a
mighty King. In his days Harold the Fair-haired made himself King of
Norway. He was the first to unite the whole of that country under his

Eric at Upsala had a son called Björn, who came to the throne after
his father and ruled for a long time. The sons of Björn, Eric the
Victorious, and Olaf succeeded to the kingdom after their father. Olaf
was the father of Styrbjörn the Strong. In their days King Harold
the Fair-haired died. Styrbjörn fought against King Eric his father's
brother at Fyrisvellir, and there Styrbjörn fell. Then Eric ruled
Sweden till the day of his death. He married Sigrith the Ambitious.
They had a son called Olaf who was accepted as King in Sweden after
King Eric. He was only a child at the time and the Swedes carried him
about with them, and for this reason they called him 'Skirt-King,'
and then, later, Olaf the Swede. He ruled for a long time and was a
powerful King. He was the first king of Sweden to be converted, and in
his days, Sweden was nominally Christian.

King Olaf the Swede had a son called Önund who succeeded him. He died
in his bed. In his day fell King Olaf the Saint at Stiklestad. Olaf
the Swede had another son called Eymund, who came to the throne after
his brother. In his day the Swedes neglected the Christian religion,
but he was King for only a short time.

There was a great man of noble family in Sweden called Steinkel. His
mother's name was Astrith, the daughter of Njal the son of Fin the
Squinter, from Halogaland; and his father was Rögnvald the Old.
Steinkel was an Earl in Sweden at first, and then after the death of
Eymund, the Swedes elected him their King. Then the throne passed
out of the line of the ancient kings of Sweden. Steinkel was a mighty
prince. He married the daughter of King Eymund. He died in his bed in
Sweden about the time that King Harold fell in England.

Steinkel had a son called Ingi, who became King of Sweden after
Haakon. Ingi was King of Sweden for a long time, and was popular and a
good Christian. He tried to put an end to heathen sacrifices in Sweden
and commanded all the people to accept Christianity; yet the Swedes
held to their ancient faith. King Ingi married a woman called Mær
who had a brother called Svein. King Ingi liked Svein better than any
other man, and Svein became thereby the greatest man in Sweden. The
Swedes considered that King Ingi was violating the ancient law of the
land when he took exception to many things which Steinkel his father
had permitted, and at an assembly held between the Swedes and King
Ingi, they offered him two alternatives, either to follow the old
order, or else to abdicate. Then King Ingi spoke up and said that he
would not abandon the true faith; whereupon the Swedes raised a shout
and pelted him with stones, and drove him from the assembly.

Svein, the King's brother-in-law, remained behind in the assembly, and
offered the Swedes to do sacrifices on their behalf if they would give
him the Kingdom. They all agreed to accept Svein's offer, and he was
then recognised as King over all Sweden. A horse was then brought to
the assembly and hewn in pieces and cut up for eating, and the
sacred tree was smeared with blood. Then all the Swedes abandoned
Christianity, and sacrifices were started again. They drove King Ingi
away; and he went into Vestergötland. Svein the Sacrificer was King of
Sweden for three years.

King Ingi set off with his retinue and some of his followers, though
it was but a small force. He then rode eastwards by Småland and into
Östergötland and then into Sweden. He rode both day and night, and
came upon Svein suddenly in the early morning. They caught him in his
house and set it on fire and burned the band of men who were within.

There was a baron called Thjof who was burnt inside. He had been
previously in the retinue of Svein the Sacrificer. Svein himself left
the house, but was slain immediately.

Thus Ingi once more received the Kingdom of Sweden; and he
reestablished Christianity and ruled the Kingdom till the end of his
life, when he died in his bed.

King Steinkel had, besides Ingi, another son Hallstein who reigned
along with his brother. Hallstein's sons were Philip and Ingi, and
they succeeded to the Kingdom of Sweden after King Ingi the elder.
Philip married Ingigerth, the daughter of King Harold the son of
Sigurth. He reigned for only a short time.



The following passage is taken from an early text of the _Saga of
Hervör and Heithrek_ (MS. 2845 in the Royal Library at Copenhagen)
where it occurs immediately after the earl's speech ("The death of
mighty men" etc.) on p. 92[1].

When the brothers came home they made ready to go to the combat, and
their father accompanied them to the ship and gave the sword Tyrfing
to Angantyr, saying:

"I think that you will have need of good weapons now."

He then bade them farewell, and so they parted.

And when the brothers came to Samsø they saw two ships lying in a
harbour which was called Munarvag. The ships were of the kind called
'Ash.' The brothers concluded that these must be the ships of Hjalmar
and Odd the Far-travelling, who was called Örvar-Odd. The sons of
Arngrim then drew their swords and gnawed the rims of their shields
and worked themselves up into the berserks' fury. Then they sallied
forth, six against each 'Ash,' but so brave were the men whom they
encountered on board that they all drew their weapons, and not one
fled from his post, and not one spoke a word of fear. And the berserks
made their way up one side of the ship and down the other and slew
them all. Then they landed and began to howl.

Hjalmar and Odd had landed on the Island to find out if the berserks
had come. And as they made their way from the forest to join their
ships, the berserks were leaving the ships with bloody weapons and
drawn swords. But by this time the berserk fury had passed away from
them, and at such times their strength is reduced like that of people
who are recovering from illness of some kind.

Then said Odd:

  I never knew aught of terror
    Till today when the berserks came.
  They have sailed to this isle in their ashen ships,
    All twelve devoid of shame,
  And landed with many a whoop and yell,
    Those wretches of evil fame.

Then said Hjalmar to Odd: "Do you see that all our men are fallen? It
is my belief that we shall all be Othin's guests tonight in Valhalla."

--And it is said that that was the only word of fear ever uttered by

Odd replied: "My advice would be that we should make off to the wood;
for we shall never be able to put up a fight, being only two against
twelve--and twelve too who have slain the twelve bravest men in

Then said Hjalmar: "We will never flee from our foes. Rather will we
suffer the worst that their weapons can inflict. I am going to fight
against the berserks."

"Not so," replied Odd; "I have no mind to visit Othin tonight. It is
all these berserks who must perish before evening comes; but you and I
will be left alive."

An account of their dialogue is found in these verses which Hjalmar

  Twelve berserks hasten onward,
    Inglorious warriors;--
  Leaving their warships on they come;
    And when night's shadow lowers
  We two shall feast in Othin's hall,
    Leaving them conquerors.

But Odd replied:

  This is the answer I give thee:--
    In Othin's hall tonight,
      Twelve berserks shall feast,
      Every one as a guest,
  While we shall live on in the light.

Hjalmar and Odd saw that Angantyr had Tyrfing in his hand, for it
flashed like a sunbeam.

Hjalmar said: "Will you fight against Angantyr alone, or against all
his eleven brothers?"

"I will fight against Angantyr," replied Odd; "He will give mighty
strokes with Tyrfing; but I have more faith in the protection of my
shirt than in that of your mail-coat."

Then cried Hjalmar: "When did you and I ever go to battle and you took
the lead of me? You want to fight Angantyr because you hold that to be
the deed of greater prowess. I am the leader in this combat, however,
and far other was the vow I made to the daughter of the King of the
Swedes than to let you or anybody else come before me in the fight. It
is I who am going to fight Angantyr."

And with that he drew his sword and stepped forth to meet Angantyr and
they commended one another to Valhalla[2]. Hjalmar and Angantyr then
made ready for the combat, and mighty strokes fell thick and fast
between them.

Odd called to the berserks, saying:

  Man to man should a warrior fight
    Who would win a well-fought day,--
  Unless it be that his courage fail,
    Or his valour has ebbed away.

Then Hjörvarth advanced, and he and Odd had a stiff encounter; but
Odd's silken shirt was so strong that no weapon could pierce it. And
so good was his sword that it cut through iron as easily as cloth; and
few strokes had he dealt ere Hjörvarth fell dead.

Then Hervarth came on and the same thing happened;--then Hrani, then
each of the others in turn. And with such force did Odd encounter them
all that he slew every one of the eleven brothers. As for the combat
between Hjalmar and Angantyr, the upshot was that Hjalmar was wounded
in sixteen places, and then Angantyr fell dead.

Then Odd went over to where Hjalmar lay and cried:

  O Hjalmar! Why has thy face grown pale
    As the face of men who die?
  Wide gape the rents in byrnie and helm,
    And I fear that the end draws nigh;
  And the strength of manhood has gone from thine arm,
    And the light of life from thine eye.

Hjalmar made answer[3]:

  With sixteen wounds is my mailcoat rent,
    And the world is fading fast.
  Blindly I tread in the gathering gloom,
    Pierced to the heart at the last
  By Angantyr's sword with its pitiless point
    And its edges in poison cast.

  *I have given no cause to Ingibjörg
    To hold my prowess light;
  It shall never be said by our maidens at home
    That I gave one thought to flight.
  They shall hear how the battle was fought and won.--
    How I wielded my sword in the fight.

  Five manors were mine, all nobly appointed,
    Where I might have tarried and made good cheer.
  Yet my heart was stirred by a restless longing
    That urged me onward to Samsø here,
  Where, pierced by the sword, with my life blood out pouring,
    I shall linger and die on this island so drear.

  In my mind I can see the henchmen
    Drinking mead in my father's hall.--
  A circle of gold is round every throat,
    And joy is among them all.
  My merry companions are drinking their ale,
    Till thought and care are no more,
  While I, torn with wounds from a murderous sword,
    Perish here on this island shore.

  *The lofty halls of Sigtun,
    I see them from far away;
  And the maidens who sought to withhold us
    As we hastened forth on our way.
  I shall never again see those maidens,
    Or talk with the warriors bold,
  Or drink fair ale in the King's high hall,
    As I did in the days of old.

  In my heart a voice still lingers,
    The voice of a maiden fair,
  Who rode with me forth to Agni's meads,
    And bade farewell to me there.
  And true, too true, were the words she spake
    From the depths of her despair,
  That never again should I touch her lips,
    Or tangle her golden hair.

  In my ear a song is ringing,
    An echo from out the East,--
  I heard it from Soti's cliffs on the night
    When I left my friends at the feast.
  How could I know that never again
    Should I hear the maidens' lay,
  As I hastened forth with my heart aflame,
    And my good ship sailed away?

  *In token of what has befallen,
    My helmet and corslet take,
  And bear them forth to the King's high hall.--
    'Tis the last request I make.
  The prince's daughter, fair Ingibjörg,
    Will be stricken with grief and pain
  When she looks on my good shield hacked and rent,
    And knows that her love was vain.

  Draw from my arm this token,
    This ring of gleaming gold:
  And bear it to Ingibjörg the fair,
    Lest she deem my love grown cold.
  Young is the maid to bear the sorrow
    Her heart must then endure,
  When I ride not home to greet her,
    When I keep not my tryst as of yore

  *I left the youthful Ingibjörg
    Upon that fateful day,
  When rashly we placed our fortunes
    In the hands of Destiny.
  O heavy will be the maiden's grief,
    The sorrow she must endure
  When she knows I have fallen in battle,
    And will enter her hall no more.

  From the tree tops away to the Eastward
    There gather a loathly brood:--
  Raven and eagle are swooping
    To wet their bills in my blood.
  Full many a feast has the eagle had
    Of carrion slain by me:
      I have fought my last fight,
        And I pass to the night;
      And now he shall feast on me.

Then Hjalmar died[4]. Odd brought the tidings to Sweden; and the
King's daughter could not bear to live after Hjalmar, so she took her
own life. Angantyr and his brothers were laid in a barrow in Samsø
with all their weapons.

    [Footnote 1: Printed in Wimmer's _Oldnordisk Læsebog_ (4th
    ed.) p. 29 ff. The poetry is also found, though with
    many divergent readings, in _Örvar-Odds Saga_, ch. 14
    _(Fornaldarsögur_, Vol. II, p. 217 ff.).]

    [Footnote 2: In late (paper) MSS. the following passage is
    here added.--"Angantyr said: 'It is my wish that if any of
    us escapes from here we should not rob one another of our
    weapons. If I die, I wish to have Tyrfing in the barrow
    with me. Odd likewise shall have his shirt and Hjalmar his
    weapons!' And they agreed that those who were left alive were
    to raise a barrow for the others."

    Then follows a long description of the fighting.]

    [Footnote 3: This poem is given more fully in _Örvar-Odds
    Saga_ than in _Hervarar Saga_. The strophes which occur only
    in the former are marked with an asterisk. I have re-arranged
    the order of the stanzas, in regard to which there is
    considerable variation between the two texts.]

    [Footnote 4: In paper MSS. the following passage occurs here:

    "Odd remained there all night. In the morning he brought
    together the bodies of all the berserks and then set about
    building barrows. The islanders built chambers of great oaks
    as Odd directed them, and then piled up stones and sand on
    the top. They were strongly constructed, and it was a great
    achievement. Odd was busy at this work for a fortnight. Then
    he placed the berserks in with their weapons and closed the
    barrows. After this Odd took Hjalmar's body and carried it to
    a ship and conveyed it to Sweden."]





I. The ballads of the Faroe Islands aroused the interest of Ole Worm
as early as 1639; but the five ballads which he took down are no
longer extant, and we know of them only from a reference by Peder
Syv[1] towards the close of the seventeenth century. In 1673 Lucas
Debes[2] wrote a description of the islands which contained an account
of their dances and songs; but unfortunately he did not transcribe any
of the ballads. Indeed the balladry and songs attracted little general
attention till the close of the eighteenth century, when Jens Kristjan
Svabo devoted himself to a careful study of the language and a
collection of the ballads of his native Islands.

In 1781-2, during a visit to the Faroes, Svabo turned his attention
especially to Faroese folk-songs and made a ms. collection of
fifty-two ballads, which were purchased by the Crown Prince and
presented to the Royal Library at Copenhagen. It is interesting to
note that Svabo, like his contemporary Bishop Percy[3], thought it
necessary to apologise in his preface for making the collection, and
humbly claims for it an interest merely antiquarian. It is clear,
however from his tone throughout the Preface, that Svabo had a far
more scholarly appreciation of the value of his material than had
Percy. Indeed it would be difficult to overestimate the debt which all
succeeding students of Faroese ballads owe to him. Disappointed in his
hopes of public recognition of his work done for the Civil Service,
he retired to the Islands, where, in solitude and poverty, he devoted
himself, till his death in 1829, to the collection and transcription
of ballad material. His personal help and example inspired other
Faroe-islanders to make collections for themselves, some of which,
notably Klemmentsen's _Sandoyjarbók_, are among our best authorities
for the ballads today. His own ballad collection, still in ms. in the
Royal Library at Copenhagen, has never been published; but Schrøter,
Lyngbye and Hammershaimb all owed their incentive and inspiration to
his work. To study the history of Faroese ballad collections without
realising the force of Svabo's personality is to leave Hamlet out of
the play.

In 1817 the Danish botanist, Hans Kristjan Lyngbye visited the Faroes,
where he became acquainted with "the learned Svabo" as he calls him,
and also with Johan Henrik Schrøter, a clergyman on Suderø, himself
a keenly interested ballad collector, and, incidentally, the first to
make a collection of Faroese folk-tales in prose. Partly from these
men, and partly from oral recitations and material supplied by Provost
Hentze, Lyngbye was able to gather together a considerable body of
Faroese ballads which, with the support and encouragement of Bishop
P. E. Müller, he published at Copenhagen in 1822, under the title of
_Færöiske Kvæder om Sigurd Fofnersbane og hans Æt_.

Unfortunately Lyngbye knew no Icelandic and very little Faroese, and
his work necessarily suffers in consequence. Still more unfortunate
was his unscientific handling of material and lack of literary
conscience, which permitted his cutting out, adding and transposing
stanzas--and again we are reminded of the _Reliques_--till the
original form of a ballad is sometimes entirely lost. Fortunately,
however, most of the material that he had at his command is still
preserved. It is to be noted that the qualities which go to make an
ideal _collector_ of ballads do not always imply an ideal editor of
the material collected. The great collector of Jutland ballads and
folk-lore, Evald Tang Kristensen, has started a new and sounder
tradition by a reverent in-gathering of all that formed part of the
common stock of peasant lore in his day[4]. The sifting of material
is wisely left to the trained scholar, and, one hopes, to a later and
less intrepid generation[5].

The tradition started by Svabo and Lyngbye was carried on by V. U.
Hammershaimb, himself a native of the Islands and a great lover of
Faroese folk-lore. During the years 1847-8, and again in 1853, he
visited the Faroes expressly to study the dialects, and to collect
the native ballads and folklore, which he published under the title
of _Færöiske_ _Kvæder_ in the _Nordiske Literatur-Samfund_, the
_Antiquarisk Tidsskrift_, etc.

Like Svabo, Hammershaimb eventually returned and settled on the
Faroes; but unfortunately, owing to the pressure of his administrative
duties, he was never able to spare time for a final revision of his
collection, though urged repeatedly to the work by his friend Svend
Grundtvig. Ultimately, however, when Grundtvig himself undertook to
make an exhaustive critical edition of the Faroese ballads in all
their variant forms, Hammershaimb placed all his material in his

Svend Grundtvig and his colleague J. Bloch, of the Royal Library
staff, completed in 1876 their great fifteen vol. MS. collection
of Faroese ballads with all their known variants, _Føroyja
Kvæði_--_Corpus Carminum Faeroensium_--_Færøernes Gamle Folkeviser_.
This was afterwards increased by Bloch to sixteen volumes by the
addition of much new material, some of which was collected by Jakobsen
in his journey to the Faroes in 1887[6]. Before beginning the work
Grundtvig had every available version, whether in public or private
hands, at his disposal, so that he had a magnificent apparatus
criticus. Unfortunately the work has never been published, so that
owing to the difficulties of communication with Denmark (which have
proved to be insuperable) it has been impossible for me to consult
it. The first three volumes, however, which include all the Faroese
ballads translated below, are based on Hammershaimb's collections of
1851-1855. Hammershaimb was himself a genuine scholar with a sensitive
literary conscience and a thorough knowledge of all the Faroese
dialects, and his work is spoken of in the highest terms by Grundtvig
in his article on the _Corpus Carminum Faroensium_[7]. Moreover
Hammershaimb had consulted all the other available versions of
these ballads before printing; so that it is improbable that when a
comparison of the texts can be made much alteration will be required.

II. The Faroe Islands are probably the only place to be found in
Western Europe where ballads are still sung to the accompaniment of
the dance. The dance and song, it must be confessed, are gradually
losing their original character, while the ballads are often long and
unwieldy, sometimes, as in the Ballad of Ívint Herintsson, running to
five divisions (_Tættir_) and over three hundred and fifty verses. The
verses are frequently chanted in a solemn recitative, while the ballad
tunes tend to be confined chiefly to the refrains. The method of
supplying the melody, however, is subject to almost endless variation.
Sometimes old native folk tunes are attached to special ballads, e.g.
in the case of _Vi hugged mid kaarde_; sometimes native ballads are
sung to Danish folk melodies and refrains as, e.g. _Grindevisen_, sung
to the tune of the Danish _Burmand holder i Fjældet ut_. Sometimes in
the Faroese repertoire, Norse ballads are found complete with their
own melodies, e.g. _Sømandsviserne_, or sung to Danish folk-tunes,
e.g. _Zinklars Vise_. Most curious of all is the method not
infrequently resorted to in modern times of singing native ballads,
often of modern origin, to the tunes of the Protestant Psalmody--a
custom which may have had its origin in the common practice of singing
both ballads and psalms on all momentous occasions, such as on the
night of a wedding, or before starting on a big fishing expedition.
The Islanders have little idea of tone or melody and do not sing well;
and eye-witnesses of some of the ballad dances at Thorshaven aver
that the tunes sound less like dance music than melancholy dirges.
In _Folkesangen paa Færøerne_ (_Færøske Kvadmelodier_), pp. 85-140,
Thuren has published a large number of original ballad tunes. The
characteristic motifs of folk tunes are traceable throughout, as well
as their elusive qualities. Thus we find, side by side with airs based
on the ordinary major and minor scales, others which, like mediaeval
church music, are based on a 'modal' or 'gapped' tonal system.
Indeed traces of the pentatonic scale are not infrequently met with,
especially in the tunes attached to the earlier ballads. The majority
of Faroese melodies, however, have only one gap and have more in
common with the system of notation found in Gregorian music than with
the pentatonic scale of many Hebridean lays. A further characteristic
of folk music which appears in most Faroese airs is the curious form
of close which rarely occurs on the tonic. Not infrequently the theme
ends on the leading note or supertonic which strikes the ear with a
perpetual surprise, the cadence leading one to anticipate a repetition
rather than a conclusion of the air. The reason is that these tunes,
like many folk songs from Somerset, the Appalachians and the Hebrides,
were 'circular,' that is, formed for continuous repetition to suit the
lengthy nature of the songs and ballads.

The ballad however is not a mere historical relic on the Faroes, but
a living literary form. The simplicity of the life, and the absence of
class distinction[8], still constitute an atmosphere in some respects
not unlike that of Mediaeval Denmark, and the ballad is the favourite
form of artistic expression. A whale-hunt, a shipwreck, or the
adventures of fishermen in the far north are still made the subject
of a new ballad, composed by one or more of the community; and if the
result finds general favour it is added to the ballad repertoire along
with the ballads of Sir Tristram or Childe Sigurth[9].

In his description of his travels on the Faroes 1847-8, V. U.
Hammershaimb[10] says that he took down the greater number of his
ballads at Sumbø on Suderø, the most southerly village in the Islands.
He describes the ballad dance as follows:

    It is the custom here that the same ballad should not be sung
    more than once a year[11] in the 'dancing-chamber,' so that
    the repertoire is obviously extensive, seeing that they dance
    at wedding feasts, generally for three days and nights without
    cessation. In the special dancing season from Yule till Lent,
    the ballads are danced not only on Sundays but also on the
    so-called 'Feast Days.' (They do not dance again from the
    beginning of Lent till the day after Christmas.) The dance at
    Sumbø has characteristics of its own which differ from those
    of the rest of the Faroes. The people here generally sing
    well and know how to put expression into the actual dance.
    Elsewhere on the Islands this is now for the most part reduced
    to a uniform stamp with the feet, marking the melody of the
    ballad. Moreover they still continue here in common use both
    the 'Walking Verse' (_stigingar stev_) and the more rapid
    measure 'Tripping Verse' (_trókingar stev_) of the Round
    Dance, in which, as a rule, the dancers hold one another by
    the hand, forming a circle, dancing backwards while the
    verse (_örindi_) is sung, and reversing the movement with
    considerable energy during the singing of the refrain
    (_viðgangur, niðurlág, stev_). This round dance is
    characteristic of Sumbø[12].

For the most part the dance is now performed with the same speed
in both verse and refrain[13], and though little changed since
Hammershaimb wrote, it tends more and more to become a solemn and
joyless function; and there is a curious unanimity today among
eyewitnesses as to the depressing effect it has on them. Hjalmar
Thuren, writing in later times (1908), furnishes some additional
information as to the manner of the ballad dance[14]. The ballads
are danced with special zest on the 29th of July, the day of the
anniversary of the death of Saint Olaf, when all the islanders who
can leave their homes flock to Thorshaven and dance from sunset till
sunrise. Sometimes the ballads are danced in the open air, and it
has been the custom in certain districts from ancient times to hold
assemblies for dancing out in the fields on certain fixed days. On
the 12th Sunday after Trinity people meet in definite places on the
Northern Islands. On the other hand the dance is often the spontaneous
outcome of the desire of the moment, "as much to keep themselves warm
as for the sake of entertainment." Thus after a whale-hunt the men
sometimes dance in their wet, bloody clothes, singing the popular
ballad of the ca'ing whale with the refrain:

  To us bold men great joy it is
  To slay a whale!

The dance is always accompanied by song, but instrumental music has
never been in use on the Faroes. The time and character of the dance
are indicated at the beginning of the ballad by the precentor. This
post of honour was originally much sought after and some precentors
were famous over the islands for their special rendering of certain
ballads, some of which were family possessions in the old days.

When a ballad is concluded, one of those who are taking part
straightway begins on a new one, the dance frequently continuing
uninterrupted, even when the song is ended. The precentor must have
a strong voice and great powers of endurance as the ballads are often
very long. He is generally of a lively disposition with some dramatic
power, so that by imitating his gesticulations the dancers give
character and individuality to the ballad. Thus in the refrain to the
_Death-Song of Ragnar Loðbrók_:

  _We struck with the sword_

the dancers stamp on the floor and clap hands together; but they are
solemn and silent during the singing of a sorrowful ballad such as

  Queen Dagmar lies sick, etc.

With the ballad dances of the Faroes it is interesting to compare the
ballad dances of the Ukraine and also the choral dances of a community
so far removed as the Torres Straits. Of these latter Dr Haddon

    The dancing-ground was an oblong space.... The drummer with
    the singers generally struck up a song, but sometimes the
    dancers sang a refrain or called for a song by name. Each song
    seemed to be associated with its own particular dance and
    to be _accompanied by some story or incident_ which was
    illustrated by the movements of the dancers.

A much closer parallel, however, is furnished by the [Cyrillic:
Khorovod] or choral dance of Little Russia. The [Cyrillic: Khorovod],
according to the account of an eye witness[16], is not only a song
sung to the accompaniment of a dance; but the song is narrative
in form and answers in all respects to the ballad of North Western
Europe. The dancers join hands and dance in a circle from west to
east, in a contrary direction to the sun's movements--_withershins_ as
the Scots peasants have it. Then, because it is considered unlucky to
do anything _withershins_, in the refrain the motion is reversed and
the dancers pass from east to west, to counteract the baleful effects
of the first direction. Here too, however, it is interesting to note,
the dance is sometimes stationary.

III. Into the rise of the ballads on the Faroes and their exact
relation of form and content to the Icelandic _Fornkvæði_[17], and to
the _Viser_ of Norway[18], Sweden[19], and above all of Denmark[20],
it is impossible to enter here. Perhaps the relationship between the
ballads of the various countries of the North will never be fully
understood. The ramifications are too many and too complex, while too
many links in the chain have already been lost in the "scrubby paper
books" such as that with which Bishop Percy found the housemaid
lighting the parlour fire. And those who would too hastily dogmatise
on the 'conveyance', translation, and borrowing of the various
versions receive a wholesome warning from Dr Axel Olrik's analysis[21]
of the ancestry and parallel versions of the Scots, Icelandic,
Swedish, Norwegian and Danish forms of the ballads of Earl Brand (Dan.
_Riboldsvisen_). Moreover it is no easier to generalise about the
sources of the Faroese ballad material than about the Danish. The
motif of the Faroese _Tristrams Táttur_, also found in the Icelandic
ballad of _Tristram_ comes ultimately (through the Tristram's Saga
one would suppose) from a French romance; that of Nornagest, changed
though it is in form, is surely founded on the Icelandic Saga; _Olufu
Kvæði_ comes no doubt from a Spanish story; and the motif of the
Scots ballad of _Binnorie_ is "found also among the people of Ireland,
Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Faroes[22]."

It would be pleasant to develop a theory that the purveyors of ballad
material were the sailors and merchants who plied up and down the
great trade routes in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, or even
earlier. It has been suggested by Professor Ker[23] and others that
Shetland _may_ have been "the chief meeting-place or trading station
between the ballads of Scotland and Norway." The Shetland ballad of
_Sir Orfeo_ actually has a refrain in Norn, the Norse dialect spoken
in Shetland and the small neighbouring islands till the eighteenth
century; while the ballad of _Hildina_ taken down by Low[24] on the
Island of Foula off Shetland (cf. p. 217 below) is entirely composed
in Norn. Indeed we know from Low's account[25] that many ballads and
songs must have perished with the language:

    Nothing remains but a few names of things and two or three
    remnants of songs which one old man can repeat;

and further on he continues:

    Most of the fragments they have are _old historical ballads
    and romances_.... William Henry, a farmer in Guttorm in Foula
    has the most knowledge of any I found; he spoke of three kinds
    of poetry used in Norn, and repeated or sung by the old men;
    the Ballad (or Romance, I suppose); _the Vysie or vyse, now
    commonly sung to dancers_[26]; and the simple song.... Most
    of all their tales are relative to the history of Norway;
    they seem to know little of the rest of Europe but by names;
    Norwegian transactions they have at their fingers' ends.

One would like to have known more about Norn and its 'Vysies,' which
might have formed an interesting and instructive link between some of
the Northern ballads. On the other hand, the Scandinavian colonies in
Ireland, and settlers in English ports such as Bristol, may have done
not a little, through their trade with France and the Mediterranean
countries, to spread the new rhyming four line verse and the romantic
stories of southern and eastern Europe[27].

While this obscurity remains as to the connection between the Faroese
ballads and those of neighbouring countries, notably Denmark, the
questions of the age and origin of many of the Faroese ballads in
their present form are also frought with difficulty. Of the Danish
ballads, which sometimes offer parallels so close as to suggest
translation from one language to the other, the first MS. collection
that can be dated with certainty was written down in 1550. But there
is much evidence, both internal and external, for assigning a much
earlier date to the historical ballads at least. It has been suggested
by Olrik[28], who supports his view by arguments which it would be
extremely difficult to contest, that many of the historical ballads
are practically contemporaneous with the events which they describe,
and some of these took place in the thirteenth century, while others,
e.g. _Riboldsvisen_, are possibly of the twelfth century.

Unfortunately we have fewer data, whether philological or historical,
for assigning dates to the Faroese ballads than we have for the
Danish. There can be little doubt, however, that the ballads
translated below had their origin in the _Fornaldar Sögur_ composed
in Iceland during the thirteenth century or in some fourteenth century
_Rímur_ derived from the sagas. That many of the Faroese ballads were
literary in origin[29], and were based on either Sagas or Rímur, is
conclusively established by the opening lines of many of the ballads
themselves, notably that of the _Olufu Ríma_:

  Ein er ríman ur Íslandi komin,
  Skrívað í bók so breiða.

    ("This story is come from Iceland, written in a book so

And _Tröllini í Hornalandum_:

  Verse 1. Frøðíð er komið frá Íslandí
           Skrívað í bók so víða _etc._

  Verse 2. Frøðið er komið frá Íslandi
           Skrívað í bók so breiða _etc._

  Verse 3. Frøðið er komið frá Íslandi
           Higar ið skald tað tók,
           Havið tær hoyrt um kongin tann,
           Íð skrívaður stendur í bók?

    ("This poem has come from Iceland, brought hither by a
    _skald_. Have you heard of the king about whom this book is

The passages quoted above would seem to point to Rímur rather than
Sagas as the sources of the ballads. Or had more than one "Book
so broad" come from Iceland? One wonders. Heusler notices[30] the
tendency to divide up the longer ballads into sections or _Tættir_,
each whole in itself and yet forming a part of the ballad, and
suggests the Icelandic _Rímur_ as the models for this particular form.
It is even possible that the word _Ríma_ is used advisedly in the
first strophe of _Olufu Kvæði_, instead of the somewhat commoner
_Kvæði_, with some reminiscence of its origin. One of the _Sjurðar
Kvæði_ (_Dvörgamoy_ III) begins:

  Eina veit eg rímuna,
  Íð inni hevir ligið leingi.

    (I know a rhyme (or _Ríma_?) etc.)

and _Rísin í Holmgarð_ also begins:

  Eg veit eina rímuna,
  Íð gjörd er um Virgar sterka.

Many other instances might be quoted.

But it would be perilous to press too far what may, after all, be a
mere verbal coincidence. And whatever gave rise to our poems as they
now stand, it cannot be too strongly emphasised that they, like the
rest of the _Føroyja Kvæði_, are first and last _Ballads_--rightly
ballads. They have a form of their own, like other ballads, and are
not a degenerate form of _Rímur_ or a mere versification of some
old Icelandic legends. Indeed what Professor Ker says of the Danish
ballads[31] may with equal truth be applied to the ballads of the

    The ballads are not rude, rustic travesties of older more
    dignified stories; though some, perhaps many, of the older
    stories may survive among the ballads. They are for Denmark in
    the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries what the older heroic
    lays of the Poetic Edda had been before them in the Northern
    lands. They take the place of earlier heroic poetry.

Whatever the nature of their connection with the ballads of the
surrounding lands, the Faroese ballads are no isolated growth. They
exhibit all the main characteristics of the ballad type, especially of
the Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic ballads. Crude and inartistic they
often are compared with the best of the Danish and even the Scottish
ballads. The _Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr_ has little to recommend
it beyond its simplicity and naïveté, the 'quaintness' of primitive
literature; the _Ballad of Arngrim's Sons_ exhibits a curious lack of
skill in the manipulation of the theme, and perhaps we are justified
in assuming that two earlier ballads or perhaps _tættir_ have been
imperfectly welded. The _Ballad of Nornagest_ is bald to a fault
and lacks inspiration; and all alike show an imperfect artistry in

Yet despite all these blemishes they are ballads as surely as _Sir
Patrick Spens_ or _Ungen Sveidal_ are ballads. Nor is Professor Ker
quite just to the ballads of the Faroes in saying[32] that because of
their length, and "because they were made out of books, nothing but
the lyrical form and the dancing custom kept them from turning into
ordinary romances." Surely no material could be less promising than
King Heithrek's Riddles; yet in virtue of what has been forgotten
and what has been selected--the telescoping of the riddles and the
elaboration of the setting--the ballad spirit has entered in and
shaped from the unwieldy mass an artistic whole.

Indeed whatever their faults one realises in all these ballads the
truth of Sidgwick's epigram[33]: "You never know what a ballad will
say next, though you _do_ know how it is going to say it!" For it is
even less similarity of theme than similarity of form that links
the ballads of the Faroes with those of Denmark and the North. The
invariable accompaniment of the refrain; the fluctuation between
assonance and rhyme, the disregard of alliteration, and the general
verse form; the love of repetition and ballad formulae,--especially
of repetition of whole phrases or verses with the alteration of merely
the words that rhyme, or of repetition with inversion of word order;
the balladist's love of colour, of the material and the concrete, of
glitter and shine; the large element of dialogue; the abrupt dramatic
openings; the condensation and concentration of narrative and the
strict exclusion of the irrelevant or superfluous; the infallible
feeling for a 'situation'; the atmosphere of the tragic or the
critical; the "echo, without comment, of the clash of man and
fate[34]." All these are the elements that make the ballad a form of
literature distinct from other lyric or epic forms; all these are the
elements that go to make the Faroese ballads what they are--part of
what Ker calls the "Platonic Idea, a Ballad in itself, unchangeable
and one, of which the phenomenal multitude of ballads are

    [Footnote 1: Cf. S. Grundtvig, _Meddelelse Angående Færøernes
    Litteratur og sprog_, in _Aarbøger for Nordisk Oldkyndighed_,
    published by the Royal Norse Early Text Society (Copenhagen),
    1882, p. 358.]

    [Footnote 2: _Færoa Reserata_ (Copenhagen, 1673), pp. 251 and
    308 (tr. John Sterpin, London, 1676).]

    [Footnote 3: _Reliques_, Vol. I, _Epistle to the Countess of

    [Footnote 4: Cf. W. A. Craigie, _Evald Tang Kristensen,
    A Danish Folk-lorist_, in _Folklore_, Vol. IX, 1898, pp.

    [Footnote 5: Cf. C. J. Sharp, _English Folk Songs from the
    Southern Appalachians_ (London, 1917), p. xxii.]

    [Footnote 6: Axel Olrik, _Om Svend Grundtvigs og Jörgen
    Blochs Føroyjakvæði og færøske ordbog_, in _Arkiv för Nordisk
    Filologi_ (Lund, 1890), p. 249.]

    [Footnote 7: Sv. Grundtvig, _Færøernes Litteratur og Sprog_,
    in _Aarbøg for Nord. Oldk._, 1882, p. 364.]

    [Footnote 8: Cf. N. Annandale, _The Faroes and Iceland_
    (Oxford, 1905), p. 42.]

    [Footnote 9: For interesting accounts of the composition
    of new ballads, cf. Lyngbye's article in the _Skandinavske
    Litteraturselskabs Skrifter_, 12th and 13th Annual, p. 234
    ff.; also P. E. Müller, Introduction to Lyngbye's _Fær. Kv._,
    pp. 14, 15. The _Trawlaravísur_ and other ballads, besides
    the dances and tunes of the Faroe Islands of today, have been
    investigated by Thuren who published several studies on this
    most interesting subject, e.g. _Dans og Kvaddigtning
    paa Færøerne, med et Musikbilag_, 1901. _Folkesangen paa
    Færøerne_, 1908, etc., (cf. especially _Nyere Danseviser_, pp.
    273-282), etc.]

    [Footnote 10: _Antiq. Tidsk._, 1846-1848, pp. 258-267.]

    [Footnote 11: According to H. Thuren, _Dansen paa Færøerne_
    (Copenhagen, 1908), p. 9, a certain fixed number of songs are
    now sung on Suderø; a great many have been quite forgotten
    since Hammershaimb wrote.]

    [Footnote 12: It is also occasionally danced in Andefjord,
    but only very rarely nowadays (cf. H. Thuren, _Dansen paa
    Færøerne_, p. 8).]

    [Footnote 13: _Ib._ p. 8.]

    [Footnote 14: _Ib._, pp. 4-10.]

    [Footnote 15: _Dances and Dance Paraphernalia_, in _Expedition
    to the Torres Straits_ (Cambridge, 1904), Vol. IV, p. 292.]

    [Footnote 16: Miss Aline Brylinska, who has kindly supplied me
    with this information.]

    [Footnote 17: S. Grundtvig and Jón Sigurðsson, _Islenzk
    Fornkvæði_, in _Nordiske Oldskrifter_ (Copenhagen, 1854-85).]

    [Footnote 18: Landstad, _Norske Folkeviser_ (Christiania,
    1853); S. Bugge, 1858.]

    [Footnote 19: Geijer and Afzelius, 1814-1816, 1880; Arwidsson,

    [Footnote 20: S. Grundtvig, _Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser_,
    1853-1890. S. Grundtvig and A. Olrik, _Danske Ridderviser_,

    [Footnote 21: _Riboldsvisen_ (a review of von der Recke's
    _Nogle Folkeviseredaktioner_) in _Danske Studier_, 1906, p.
    175 ff.]

    [Footnote 22: Landstad, _Norske Folkeviser_, note to _Dei Tvo
    Systar_, p. 867.]

    [Footnote 23: _On the Danish Ballads_ (_Scottish Historical
    Review_, Vol. I, No. 4, July, 1904), p. 362.]

    [Footnote 24: _A Tour through Orkney and Schetland in 1774_,
    Kirkwall, 1879. Cf. also Preface to _Sörla Tháttr_, p. 39 ff.

    [Footnote 25: _Ib._, p. 105 ff.]

    [Footnote 26: The _Vyse_, be it observed, is the Danish
    word most commonly used to denote a ballad. The Faroese use
    _Kvæði_, and less frequently _Ríma_.]

    [Footnote 27: For an account of the Scandinavian settlements
    on the Bristol Channel, cf. A. Bugge, _Contributions to the
    History of the Norsemen in Ireland_, No. III, published in
    _Videnskabsselskabet i Christiania, Historisk-filosofisk
    Klasse_, 11, 1900.]

    [Footnote 28: Axel Olrik, Introduction to _Danske Folkeviser í
    Udvalg_, 3rd ed. (Copenhagen and Christiania, 1913), p. 40 ff.
    Cf. also Steenstrup, _Vore Folkeviser_ (Copenhagen, 1891), ch.

    [Footnote 29: On the literary sources of the Faroese ballads,
    cf. Steenstrup, _op. cit._ Introduction.]

    [Footnote 30: _Lied und Epos_ (Dortmund, 1915), p. 19.]

    [Footnote 31: _On the History of the Ballads, 1100-1500_,
    published in _Proceedings of the British Academy_ for
    1902-1910, p. 202.]

    [Footnote 32: _On the History of the Ballads_, etc., p. 202.]

    [Footnote 33: Frank Sidgwick, _The Ballad_, London (Arts and
    Crafts of Letters Series), p. 61.]

    [Footnote 34: Gummere, _The Popular Ballad_ (London, 1907), p.

    [Footnote 35: _On the History of the Ballads_, etc., p. 204.]


In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Iceland, many of the
Sagas or portions of them were turned into rhyming verse known
as _Rímur_. Sagas of almost every class were subjected to this
treatment--_Íslendinga Sögur_, _Fornaldar Sögur_, _Fornmanna Sögur_
and others. It is supposed that in the first place these rhymed
versions (_Rímur_) were made for the purpose of recitation at social
gatherings. There is ground for believing that the _Rímur_ were
sometimes recited, as an accompaniment of dances in Iceland[1]; but
this is not believed to have been the purpose for which they were
originally composed[2].

According to both Jónsson[3] and Mogk[4], the _Rímur_ and other forms
of rhyming verse in early Norse poetry originated in the Mediaeval
Latin Church Hymns introduced into Iceland in the thirteenth century.
The similarity between the rhyming metres of the Latin and many
(though not all) of the forms of verse used in the _Rímur_ is very
striking. Whether the influence of Latin hymns in Iceland was directly
responsible for the change, however, as Jónsson and Mogk believe, or
whether the Latin hymns only influenced Norse verse indirectly
through the medium of French poetry, is problematical. Perhaps these
compositions owe their origin to the fashion of turning all kinds of
material, likely and unlikely, into rhyming verse--a fashion which
originated in France, and from the latter part of the twelfth century
onwards gradually made its way over most of the West and North of
Europe. The rhyming chronicles of the fourteenth century in England
may be mentioned as one instance of this fashion, and the rhyming
paraphrases of the splendid prose of Iceland are an outcome of the
same movement.

The _Gríplur_, some twenty stanzas of which are given below, represent
this stage in the development of Icelandic literature. It may be
observed that, like other _Rímur_, they are the work of educated
people--a fact which makes the wretched quality of much of the verse
all the more striking, especially when they are contrasted with
the ballads, which are, at least in most cases, the work of the
unlettered. Unattractive however as they appear to the modern mind, it
has been thought advisable to include a short extract from them here
because it seems possible that in some cases the Faroese ballads may
have derived their material from Iceland through the intermediate
stage of the _Rímur_ rather than from the Saga direct.

Reference is made to the exploits of Hromund in other _Rímur_ besides
the _Gríplur_, notably in the _Málsháttakvæði_, the _Skíða-Ríma_[5]
(which is interesting as being based, in all probability, on an
earlier poem than the _Gríplur_) and in the _Klerka-Ríma_[6]. And he
and Thrain the Berserk still live in the popular songs of the North.
He is the _Ungen Ranild_[7] of the Danish ballad; and in the Norwegian
ballad _Ramund den Unge_[8], Ramund (Hromund) and Hölgi (Helgi) appear
as rivals for the hand of Svanhvit (who, however, is not mentioned by
name). Like some of the Faroese ballads on the _Hervarar Saga_, these
later versions are far removed from the story as we know it from early
Icelandic sources[9]. They are of interest only to those who care
for folk song and ballad for their freshness and their naïve

    [Footnote 1: Cf. Finnur Jónsson, _Oldnorske og Oldislandske
    Litteraturs Historie_, Vol. III, p. 35.]

    [Footnote 2: Cf. F. Jónsson, _op. cit._, Vol. III, p. 36; also
    Eugen Mogk, _Geschichte der Norwegisch-Isländischen Literatur_
    (Strasburg, 1904), p. 722.]

    [Footnote 3: _Op. cit._, III, p. 26 ff.]

    [Footnote 4: _Op. cit._, p. 722 ff.]

    [Footnote 5: Ed. by K. Maurer, Munich, 1869; F. Jónsson,
    _Carmina Scaldica_ (Copenhagen, 1913).]

    [Footnote 6: Codex A.M. 604 H.]

    [Footnote 7: S. Grundtvig, _Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser_, Vol.
    I, p. 367 ff.]

    [Footnote 8: M. B. Landstad, _Norske Folkeviser_ (Christiania,
    1853), p. 189 ff.]

    [Footnote 9: Cf. Kölbing, _Beiträge zur Vergleichenden
    Geschichte der Romantischen Poesie und Prosa des
    Mittelalters_, pp. 185-187.]

    [Footnote 10: For further ballads on the story of Hromund
    Greipsson, cf. Andrews, _Studies in the Fornaldarsögur
    Northrlanda_, in _Modern Philology_, 1911, 1912.]


  9. Olaf was a mighty Prince
    Who governed Hörthaland.
  The brave folk dwelling along the coast
    He guarded with his hand.

  10. Gnöthar-Asmund, the Prince's father,
    A peerless man was he;
  By many a battle he reft from Kings
    Their land and territory.

  11. In the stern of the King's ship Kari stood,
    And of heroes many another;
  In strength of limb had he never a peer;
    And Örnulf was his brother.

  12. The King and his warriors reddened their swords
    In the blood of wicked men;
  But no man travelling with merchandise
    Got any hurt from them.

  13. The Prince brought joy to his followers' hearts,
    With Draupnir's beautiful blood.
  A franklin who better were named a burgess
    Beside the princes stood.

  14. Grip was a man who stirred up strife,
    Eager with blade for slaughter.
  This hero's wife was a good woman:
    Of Hrok the Black was she daughter.

  15. Grip and Gunnlöth, his good wife,
    They had nine sons in all:
  (Clever verses are made about them)
    And _Hrök_ did they every one call!

  16. Hromund was a son of Grip,
    Eldest of the brothers was he;
  His heart knew never aught of fear,
    Nor faltered his valiancy.

  17. Hrolf must I add, Högni, Haki and Gaut,
    And Thröst with the other five;
  Angantyr and Helgi whose lot it was
    In the fortunes of war to thrive.

  18. Logi was youngest (a tiny lad)
    Of the sons of the worthy pair;
  Hromund alone sallied forth to fight in battle,
    And the rest stayed at home where they were.

  19. The hero feared neither fire nor sword
    When shields clashed in the fray;
  His shoulders were broad, and shining his hair.
    And kindly and keen was his eye.

  20. He never fled or deserted the host,
    But poured forth darts on the shield;--
  Faithful and true in courage was he
    As a hero should be in the field.

  21. His wicked foe did he slay with might--
    He knew no fear of pain;
  And all his noble courage and valour
    From his kinsman Hrök did he gain.

  22. Two villains were there with the King,
    Deep-versed in magic arts.
  I swear those brothers Bild and Vali
    Both had evil hearts!

  23. The King of Vali council takes,
    And a sad mistake made he;
  A name had he gained for courtesy and valour,
    But he never donned byrnie.

  24. Less trusty warrior in the field
    I never look to find;--
  False he was and treacherous,--
    Full of deceit his mind.

  25. The Prince's troop, the Niflung men,
    Along Norway's coast did sail,
  Until they came to the Skerries of the Elf,--
    Nor did their courage fail.

  26. The troop had prepared for a mighty battle,
    And against a promontory
  Olaf's men in their warships there
    Lay at anchor in the bay.

  27. "Over the Island do ye go,"--
    Thus to Kari spoke he,--
  "To see if ye come on the vikings' ships,
    And if they are like to fight fiercely."

  28. Kari and Ornulf, clothed and armed,
    With shield and polished blade
  Examine the coast, and hastily
    A search through the island made.

  29. Six tall warships soon they see,
    Under the sea-cliffs lay they;
  And a '_Dragon_' carved in wondrous wise
    Beside the warships lay.


The _Ballad of Nornagest_ was published for the first time by Lyngbye
in 1822 in _Færöiske Kvæder om Sigurd Fofnersbane_ etc. In his visit
to the Faroes in 1847-8, Hammershaimb took down the ballad from oral
recitation at Sumbø. He afterwards collated his version carefully
with those of Svabo, Schrøter and Lyngbye, and published the result
in _Færöiske Kvæder_, Vol. I, Copenhagen, 1851. This is the version of
the ballad translated below.

Lyngbye points out that Nornagest has become a well-known character
in modern Faroese legend. We certainly note his popularity in the
ballads, which is no doubt due to his association with Sigurth in the
original story. In some ballads he appears as a companion in arms of
the latter and even as a great warrior himself. He it is who rides
with Sigurth and Virgar to meet the giant in Holmgarth (cf. _Rísin í
Holmgarðum_, v. 33), and in _Ragnarlikkja_ (cf. v. 39 ff.) "the fierce
Nornagest" sails with Sigurth, Brand, and Virgar to slay the King of
Girtland; and so too in other stories.

It will be observed that the framework of the story differs
considerably from that of the Saga, notably in the opening and closing
scenes. The beginning of another story, dealing likewise with an old
man, has been substituted for the original opening. The mention of
the boat in verse 40 is perhaps reminiscent of some folk-tale; and the
story of the leaden casket containing the soul of Nornagest which was
sunk in the lake is an interesting instance of the external soul. I
have no doubt that it is a reference to some folk-tale, but have not
yet been able to identify it. Among many primitive peoples, who can
hardly grasp abstract ideas, the life or soul of a man is regarded
as a concrete thing which can be laid aside, and which, so long as
it remains unharmed, will secure for him immortality. There is, for
example, a Hindoo story of a princess whose soul was believed to be in
her necklace.--One day an astrologer said to her parents: "This is
no common child; the necklace of gold about her neck contains your
daughter's soul; let it therefore be guarded with the utmost care; for
if it were taken off and worn by another person, she would die[1]."

Many similar folk-tales are known from Icelandic and Danish sources as
well as from many parts of Europe and Asia.

The air to which the following ballad is sung will be found on pp.
117, 118 of Thuren's _Folkesangen paa Færøerne_.

    [Footnote 1: For many interesting parallels, cf. Frazer,
    _Golden Bough_ (London, 1911-1915), "Balder the Beautiful,"
    ch. II.]

_Nornagests Rima_

Taken down by A. P. BERGGEEN.

[Illustration: Music]

  Eítt er frøðið um | Nor-na gest, | Lat tær rá-ða |
  rað-gerð í | van-da. | Ti likum góðum | gekk hann næst. |
  Ox-ar tolv voru | leid-dir á torg, | og so fram á |
  fri-ðu borg. | Gra-ni bar | gul-lið af |hei-ði. ||]


  1.  A Ballad there is of Nornagest,
    Refrain:--_Be ready with a plan in trouble!_--
      In manly virtues among the best.
    Refrain:--_Every lad should do so!_

  2.  Twelve oxen were led to the market square,
      And onward thence to a castle fair.

  3.  The King he thought to hew them to earth,
      And with courage and joy did he sally forth.

  4.  The King he struck such a mighty blow
      That the blood from the wounds did swiftly flow.

  5.  All the oxen fell down dead,
      And the axe sank deep that he brandished.

  6.  All men praised his princely blow:
      The blood from the wounds did swiftly flow.

  7.  A man there came with crutches twain:
      With these he steadied himself amain.

  8.  The King to the man full mildly spoke:--
      "O why, and O why, dost thou praise not my stroke?"

  9.  "O Sire, thou struckest full manfully;
      But I saw a finer stroke in days gone by.

  10. "Of Sigurth's deeds hast thou heard the worth,--
      The mightiest champion of men on earth!

  11. "Leaf and grove did tremble and quake
      When Sigurth clove in sunder the snake.

  12. "This may you tell of Sigurth the bold:--
      'He was mightiest of all men in days of old.'

  13. "This can I tell of Sigurth's fame:--
      'I know no hero with eyes so keen.'

  14. "Leaf and grove did tremble and shake
      When Sigurth clove in sunder the snake.

  15. "A noble man was Högni, I ween,
      Full well did I know his ugly mien.

  16. "Rich, brave and gentle was Gunnar enow,
      Wise too, and Gunnhild was like him, I trow.

  17. "Wise too, and Gunnhild was like him, I trow.
      Of heroes like him are there all too few.

  18. "My father he had a homestead fair:
      Herds of cattle were pastured there.

  19. "And horses I tended as I sat in the wood.--
      And blithest my heart when the weather was good!

  20. "One and all in their saddles they ride,
      Childe Sigurth, and Högni, and Gunnar beside.

  22. "Over the mire-pit rode all and one.--
      I was a lad, and I looked thereon.

  23. "First sprang Gunnar's horse forthright.
      Gunnar measured his leap aright.

  24. "Högni's horse sprang after then.
      Fast stuck Grani in the fen.

  25. "The last to spring was Sigurth's steed.
      Sigurth had given him so heavy a feed!

  26. "Grani floundered in the fen:
      His saddle girth brake in pieces twain.

  27. "Down from their saddles each did glide,--
      Childe Sigurth, and Högni, and Gunnar beside.

  28. "They dragged at the noble steed amain;
      But Sigurth pulled hardest the bridle rein.

  29. "'Oft have I leapt o'er the pit aright
      By day and eke in the murky night.

  30. "'O Guest, a service of thee I pray:--
      Wash from my courser the mire away.

  31. "'The saddle buckle which broke 'neath me--
      The same, O Guest, will I give to thee.'

  32. "Forth they rode to a river then.
      No-one was there to look to the men.

  33. "I washed his poitrail and breast for him,
      His thigh, his leg, and each long limb.

  34. "The noble courser I made full clean.
      Then Sigurth took me for his horse-swain.

  35. "So rode we forth to Fafnir's lair.
      Like the sun's own beams did the gold shine there.

  36. "From Sigurth's steed did I draw a hair,
      Of wondrous length and beyond compare.

  37. "The hair in the tail of Grani hung,
       --Well-nigh a foot and a fathom long.

  38. "Well-nigh a foot and a fathom in height.
      And it shone and gleamed like silver so bright.

  39. "In days gone by, full far have I strayed,
      Nor found I my candle and span of days."

  40. The King he gave him pole and boat,
      And directed the old man on his road.

  41. "In the Land of the Franks is a lake broad and wide
      Where thy candle and span of days do bide."

  42. Long and long dived the courteous man
      Before he came his candle upon.

  43. Körnar the priest baptised him anon.
      When the candle burnt out his life was done.

  44. When the light in the lanthorn had burnt away,
    Refrain:--_Be ready with a plan in trouble!_--
      Then ended too his own life's day.
    Refrain:--_Every lad should do so!_


The following ballad was taken down by Hammershaimb from oral
recitation in Westmanhavn in 1846, and published at Copenhagen in 1855
in _Færöiske Kvæder_, Vol. II. He took down a second version of the
same ballad, but consisting of only nineteen stanzas, at Sumbø in
1847, which he published in the _Antiquarisk Tidsskrift_, 1849-50.
This second version differs slightly from the one given in our text.
In it Arngrim is said to have twelve sons of whom Angantyr was the
youngest. Hjalmar is not expressly stated to have been a brother of
Angantyr, as he is in our version and in the Danish ballad _Angelfyr
and Helmer the Warrior_ (cf. p. 188 ff.). Moreover Angantyr is the
first to learn of the franklin's daughter, and he forthwith builds
a ship and sails away alone; and it is only later that Hjalmar also
hears of her and sets sail, thus reaching the spot when Angantyr has
already landed. More colour is given to the maiden's choice in the
second version by the additional detail that

  Hjalmar leapt so lightly to land,
  He made no footprint on the sand.

This, however, it is to be noted, is the regular formula by which the
landing of the hero is described in the Faroese ballads. Cf. _Lokka
Táttur_, v. 78.

It is the opinion of Hammershaimb that this ballad was the original
from which the longer ballad of _Arngrim's Sons_ sprang. This would
seem to be supported by Heusler's contention that _The Long Ballad_
of the _Marsk Stig_ Cycle was composed by welding together several
shorter ballads[1]; and certainly the _Ballad of Arngrim's Sons_
suggests that at least two distinct ballads have been run into one,
especially when we compare the two varying versions of Svabo and
Hammershaimb. Against this, however, we have to place the fact that
something of the same invertebrate impression is given by the _Saga
of Hervör and Heithrek_, on which these ballads are ultimately based.
Even if we assume a composite origin for the _Ballad of Arngrim's
Sons_, there is no evidence that any portion of it was based on the
short _Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr_, while the difference of metre
diminishes the probability of a connection.

The air and refrain to this ballad are given on p. 124 of Thuren's
_Folkesangen paa Færøerne_.

    [Footnote 1: _Lied und Epos_ (Dortmund, 1905), p. 41 ff.]

_The Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr_



[Music quarter note=112]

  Bóndin | undir | eikini | býr, || Væl | bornir |
  menn |Eigir hann | ellivu | synir | dýr! || Arngrims
  synir á | Bjarn | londum | ber- | jast við | Sams | oy. ||]


  1.  A man lived up in a high oak-tree,
    Refrain:--    _Ye well-born men!_--
      Eleven warlike sons had he.
    Refrain:--    _Arngrim's Sons from Africa_,
               _They fought, they fought on Samsø._

  2.  He had eleven sons so dear,--
      The champions Hjalmar and Angantyr.

  3.  A ship, a ship did these warriors man,
      And swift 'fore the wind was the course she ran.

  4.  They hoisted their sail to the mast so high:
      They had faith in their strength and their valiancy.

  5.  Their anchor they cast in the white, white sand.
      Hjalmar hastily sprang to the land.

  6.  Their anchor they cast in the white, white sand.
      And Angantyr eagerly sprang on the strand.

  7.  Angantyr eagerly sprang on the strand.
      Up to his knees he sank in the sand.

  8.  "I drew my hose from my legs so bare
     To hide the sand from my lady fair!"

  9.  In the garden they busked them in cloaks of skin,
      And so went up to the franklin sitting there within.

  10. "Here sittest thou, franklin, drinking thy wine:
      I beg that thy daughter so fair may be mine!"

  11. When Hjalmar stood before the board,
      Angantyr straight took up the word.--

  12. "Here sittest thou, franklin, drinking thy wine:
      I beg that thy daughter so fair may be mine!"

  13. In sorry plight was the franklin then,
      For there at the board stood two mighty men.

  14. "No choice so hard will I ever make;
      The maiden herself must choose her mate."

  15. "No choice so hard shall be made by thee:
      The warrior Hjalmar shall wed with me.

  16. "With Hjalmar the Brave would I wedded be,
      Who is so lovely and fair to see."

  17. "O franklin! Lend me a trusty blade,
      We two must fight for the hand of the maid."

  18. "O franklin! Lend me a sharp penknife:
      Each of us surely must lose his life."

  19. They fought their way forth of the hall.
      They bellowed louder than any troll.

  20. Till they reached a river they fought amain,
      Down on their knees and then up again.

  21. Down on their knees and then up again
    Refrain:--    _Ye well-born men!_--
      Till stiff and dead lay those champions twain.
    Refrain:--    _Arngrim's Sons from Africa_,
               _They fought, they fought on Samsø._


Four different versions of the Danish ballad of _Angelfyr and Helmer
the Warrior_ are given by Grundtvig in _Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser_,
Vol. I, number 19 (Copenhagen, 1853). Two of these, closely allied,
are found in a MS. written in the sixteenth century[1]. The version
which Grundtvig has called _A_ is the one adopted for translation

An interesting study in ballad composition is afforded by a comparison
of this Danish ballad with the Faroese ballads of the _Sons of
Arngrim_. According to Axel Olrik[2] the Danish ballad is founded on
the _Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_. That the ultimate source of all the
ballads of the _Sons of Arngrim_ was the Saga there can be no doubt.
But whether the Danish ballad is derived directly from the Saga or
through some intermediate stage, Icelandic, Faroese or Danish, is
problematical. A definite relationship between the Danish and the
Faroese ballads would seem to be shown by several common features of
the story which do not occur in the Saga itself, as well as by some
striking verbal resemblances which have no foundation in the prose

Thus on the one hand both in the Danish and in the Faroese ballads
translated above, Hjalmar and Angantyr are described as brothers[3],
whereas in the Saga they are not related. On the other hand the Danish
and the two Faroese ballads are almost identical in their description
of Angantyr and all his kin as "vile trolls," though Version _A_
given by Grundtvig describes him in accordance with the Saga as a
"half-troll" (i.e. on his mother's side).

Other close verbal parallels, surely indicative of cross-relationship
or of a common source, are afforded by a comparison of certain
passages of the Danish ballad and the Faroese _Ballad of Arngrim's
Sons_. Thus _v. 5_ of the Danish is practically identical with _v. 74_
of the Faroese, and we may compare _v. 9_ of the shorter _Ballad of
Hjalmar and Angantyr_. May we also compare _v. 6_ of the Danish with
_v. 79_ of the longer Faroese ballad; _v. 8_ with _v. 81_; _v. 10_
with _v. 84_; _v. 14_ with _v. 79_? Conventional as many of these
phrases are, the identity can hardly be accidental in all cases.

The precise nature of the relationship between the two versions is not
so clear. We may note, however, some of the features contained in the
Danish version of the story which are not found in the Saga. In the
first place neither Arngrim nor Samsø are mentioned, the names Offue
and Uthiss-kier being substituted for them[4]; secondly, except in
the refrain there is no mention of the sea or a voyage in the Danish
ballad. Helmer bids them "saddle his steed," and both he and Angelfyr
_ride_ to Upsala. Finally after _v. 11_ of our text, the Danish ballad
differs entirely from the Faroese version of the story and also from
that of the _Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_. Offue's revenge is peculiar
to the Danish, and here too no mention is made of Ingibjörg's death.

From all these changes, and especially from the transference of names
and places, it is obvious that the Danish version of the story is
considerably more remote from the Saga than either of the two Faroese
versions. At the same time, the absence of any reference to Samsø
or any other Danish locality renders it highly improbable that its
divergences are due to any (Danish) local tradition independent of the

On the whole it would seem that at an early date (fifteenth or early
sixteenth century?) a ballad had been made from this portion of the
Saga, either directly or through the intermediate stage of a lost
rhymed version; and that it was composed in the Faroes themselves
or in Iceland or some other region--the Orkneys and Shetlands are
a possible suggestion--and acquired by the Danes not very long

    [Footnote 1: Cf. Grundtvig, _Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser_, Vol.
    I, p. 252. Also Axel Olrik, _Danske Folkeviser í Udvalg_, Vol.
    I, p. 263.]

    [Footnote 2: Cf. Olrik, _op. cit._, p. 78. For general
    information on the Danish ballads the reader is referred to
    Steenstrup, _Vore Folkeviser_ (Copenhagen, 1891), translated
    by E. G. Cox (Boston, 1914).]

    [Footnote 3: See, however, the Introduction to the _Ballad of
    Hjalmar and Angantyr_, p. 182 above.]

    [Footnote 4: So MS. _A_; but cf. below _v. 1_ and note.]


  1.  Offue he dwelt in Uthiss-kier,
        Both rich and bold was he;
      And when two sons were born to him,
        He vowed they should warriors be.

  Refrain:  _But the tempest from the North
            Lashes dark and troubled billows
            On the gleaming waste of sand._[1]

  2.  It was Young Helmer the Warrior;
        He bade them saddle his steed:
      "I Ride to Upsala this day,
        The King's daughter to wed."

  3.  Then up and spake Young Angelfyr,
        Where he stood in scarlet so red:
      "O never shalt thou this eventide
        To the lovely maid be wed!"

  4.  Then up and spake Young Angelfyr:
        He bade them saddle his steed:
      "I will gallop today to Upsala,
        Till the earth is rent with my speed."

  5.  Out of doors in the castle-court
        They busked them in cloaks of skin,
      And so went they to the hall gallery,
        Where the King of Upsala sat within.

  6.  In came Young Helmer the Warrior,
        And stood before the board;
      "O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter,--
        I wait thy friendly word."

  7.  In there came Young Angelfyr,
        And gold shone on his hand:
      "O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter
        And quit thee from this thy land."

  8.  Long and long stood the King of Upsala,
        And pondered silently,
      How those heroes who stood before him
        He might answer fittingly.

  9.  It was the King of Upsala,
        And he spake this word theretil:
      "I give my daughter to that man only
        Who has won him her goodwill."

  10. "I give thee thanks, my father dear,
        That the choice thou lay'st on me;
      I give myself to Young Helmer the Warrior,
        For a noble man is he.

  11. "I will not wed me to Angelfyr:
        For he is half a troll;--
      So is his father, and so his mother,
        And so are his kinsfolk all."

  12. Then up and spake Young Angelfyr
        As he stood and pondered there:
      "We both will take us forth to the courtyard,
        And fight for the maiden fair."

  13. It was the King of Upsala,
        And answered he forthright:
      "O the swords they be keen, and the lads they be bold,
        And may measure them well in a fight."

  14. Then up and rose Young Angelfyr
        Where he his sword out drew;
      And up rose Young Helmer the Warrior,
        Whom he to the earth did hew.

  15. Offue he stands in Uthiss-kier
        And far and wide looks he:
      "O somewhere is Helmer suffering pain,
        For I feel such woe in the heart of me."

  16. Offue he stands in Uthiss-kier
        And looks o'er the wide, wide heath:
      "O what can be harming my two sons today,
        And why are they both so wroth?"

  17. It was Offue in Uthiss-kier;
        He sprang on his red-roan steed.
      And so came he to the King's courtyard,
        Ere Helmer was dead indeed.

  18. "O hearken, hearken, Young Helmer,
        Beloved son of mine:
      Thy noble sword from out thy hands
        Why didst thou list to tine?"

  19. "Eight are the mortal wounds I bear,
        They are both deep and sore;
      And had I only one of them
        I could not live an hour."

  20. O it was Offue in Uthiss-kier,
        And he his sword out drew;--
      And O it was Young Angelfyr
        Whom down to the earth he slew.

  21. "Lie thou there, Young Angelfyr
        And bleed till thou art dead;
      So woeful was I in my heart
        When I saw how Helmer bled.

  22. "Lie thou there, Young Angelfyr,
        And lose thy life-blood all.
      So woeful was I in my heart
        When I saw Young Helmer fall."

  Refrain:  _But the tempest from the North
            Lashes dark and troubled billows
            On the gleaming waste of sand._

    [Footnote 1: The translation of the refrain is somewhat free;
    but cf. Olrik, _D. F. í U._, p. 78. Extreme condensation is a
    feature of all Faroese and Danish ballad refrains which makes
    a literal translation into English practically impossible.]

In MS. _B_ of the _Ballad of Angelfyr_ etc., _vv._ 1-11 correspond
pretty closely to MS. _A_; but _vv._ 12-18 are different:

  12. Alff he stood in Odderskier,
        And listened over the field;
      Then could he hear so far away
        Where his sons their swords did wield.

  13. Up then rose Alff in Odderskier;
        He sprang on his red-roan steed;
      And came he so to Upsala
        Ere both the warriors were dead.

  14. "O hearken, hearken, Young Helmer,
        Beloved son of mine:
      Why does the life blood from thy head
        In streams come running down?"

  15. It was Young Helmer the Warrior,
        And his father answered he:
      "My brother Angelfyr could not have the maid,
        And therefore he wrought this ill to me.

  16. "My body is pierced with fifteen wounds,
        All tainted with poison full sore;
      And had I only one of them
        I could not live an hour."

  17. It was Alff in Odderskier,
        And an oak he uprootéd;
      He struck with the oak Young Angelfyr,
        Till he lay on the earth stone dead.

  18. Now both these warriors are lying dead,
        And dead lie they in their grave;
      And the King he is ready to give his daughter
        To the man whom he himself will have.


The _Ballad of Arngrim's Sons_ was first taken down by Svabo towards
the close of the eighteenth century. He never published it, but his
MS. (III. 9) is preserved in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. In 1848
V. U. Hammershaimb took the ballad down again from oral recitation
on Sandø and published it in the _Antiquarisk Tídsskrift_, 1849-1851
(Copenhagen, 1852). He had, however, consulted Svabo's version, for he
says in the prefatory note to the ballad:

    It is entirely confused in Svabo's version in the Royal
    Library. I have therefore kept to the version which I got on
    Sandø, which in the main points agrees with the Saga. Only in
    the conclusion and two other passages have I followed Svabo's

By 1855, however, it would seem that his view had changed. In his
prefatory note to the _Ballad of Arngrim's Sons_, published in
_Nordiske Oldskrifter_, vols. 18-19, Part II (Copenhagen, 1855), he

    The version given by Svabo is at variance with the Saga and
    has many internal discrepancies arising mainly from the fact
    that Hjalmar and Angantyr are here taken to be brothers, as
    in the Danish ballad. In the _Antiquarisk Tídsskrift_ for
    1849-1851 I published another version which I took down
    in Sandø in 1848, and in which I made some use of Svabo's
    version. My version corresponds exactly with the _Harvarar
    Saga_, but it is open to suspicion from the fact that it here
    forms the second part (_tháttr_) of _Hjalmar's Kvæði_, of
    which the first part (_The Tháttr of Örvar-Oddr_) is clearly
    of later origin; as is shown not only by the language,
    but also by the fact that the whole falls in with Suhm's
    story,--"The three friends, Hjalmar, Asbjörn and Örvarodd,"
    etc. Many verses of _Arngrim's Sons_ presuppose a first
    _táttur_ to the ballad, for example that in which the sick
    Asbjörn complains that he cannot follow his companion to the
    fight on Samsø[1]. That the language in the second part is
    purer and older than in the first part is easily explained
    from the fact that the people of Sandø have utilised the
    older Faroese version which was taken down by Svabo. They only
    needed to transpose the verses and to make a very few changes
    to get the whole readjusted according to the Saga or Suhm's
    story. The verses which the Sandø version has in common with
    Svabo's could therefore be used for purposes of comparison.
    There are thus weighty reasons for giving preference to
    Svabo's version, in spite of all its imperfections.

Of the first part of _Hjalmar's Kvæði_ I have unfortunately been
unable to obtain a copy, though it is no doubt accessible at
Copenhagen, as it is mentioned as number 60 ('_Hjalmar's Kvæði_, 2
tættir: _a_, Örvaroddur, _b_, Arngrim's Sinir') in a list of
Faroese ballads taken down in the Faroes by Hammershaimb for the
archaeological archives of the Royal Old Norse Text Society[2].
Hammershaimb says[3], however, that the first part "deals with
Hjalmar's youth, the counsel given him by his father when he leaves
home, how he is taken into the retinue (_hirð_) of the Swedish King,
how he distinguishes himself by his bravery against the vikings, and
how he and Asbjörn and Örvarodd swear to be foster-brothers."

The translation which follows is made from Hammershaimb's second
edition of the ballad, published in _Nordiske Oldskrifter_, vols. 18
and 19, Part II[4]--which is in fact Svabo's text; but the refrain of
his first version has been adopted.

It will be noticed that the ballad differs in many points from the
_Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_. In the first place, according to the
ballad, it is Arngrim and not Angantyr who is buried with the sword
Tyrfing[5]. Secondly, Hervik (the Hervör of the Saga) is described
as a daughter of Arngrim and a sister of Angantyr. Hjalmar also is
a brother of Hervik and of Angantyr according to the ballad, and
actually accompanies Hervik on her quest of the sword Tyrfing, which
according to the ballad took place _before_ the fight on Samsø.
Finally, Arngrim is said to have been killed by Örvarodd, and Hervik
accordingly kills Örvarodd in retaliation. Another 'Young Odd' appears
later as Hjalmar's companion in the true place of Örvarodd.

Thus we see that, as commonly happens in popular poetry, complex
situations have become simplified, and, where simplification has not
taken place, the people and events have become confused[6]. Both
in the shorter Faroese ballad of _Hjalmar and Angantyr_, and in
the Danish ballad of _Angelfyr and Helmer the_ _Warrior_, the
simplification has proceeded even farther, and a still more striking
instance of rigorous simplification is to be found in the _Ballad of

No _Rímur_ dealing with Arngrim's Sons have been published, and I have
not been able to ascertain whether any exist, though a passing mention
is made of them in verse 74 of the satirical poem _Skítharíma_[7],
probably composed in the fifteenth century by Einar or Sigurður
Fóstri. _A priori_ it would seem probable that the ballads are derived
from compositions of this kind rather than from the Saga direct.
But it would be unwise to hazard even a guess as to the balance of
probability without detailed knowledge of the relative circulation,
distribution and popularity of the Sagas and the Rímur respectively.

The air to which the following ballad is sung on the Faroes has been
transcribed and printed by Thuren in _Folkesangen paa Færøerne_, pp.
132, 133.

    [Footnote 1: Cf. also the introduction of Örvar-Odd in v.
    29 of Hammershaimb's version (_Antiq. Tídss._, 1849-51, pp.
    61-74); also vv. 28, 33, 58.]

    [Footnote 2: Cf. _Antiq. Tídss._, 1849-1851, p. 28.]

    [Footnote 3: _Ib._, p. 58.]

    [Footnote 4: Copenhagen, 1855.]

    [Footnote 5: So Svabo's version; the Sandø version of
    Hammershaimb's first edition, however, preserves Angantyr

    [Footnote 6: A still more striking instance of the latter
    development will be found in the _Gátu Ríma_ (see p. 213 f.
    below) especially v. 22.]

    [Footnote 7: _Carmina Scaldica_ (_a selection of Norwegian
    and Icelandic Scaldic poetry_) by Finnur Jónsson, Copenhagen,

_The Ballad of Arngrim's Sons_

[Illustration] [Music: dotted-quarter note = 116 SANDOY.]

  Arngrímur | eigir      | eina  | borg, hon | stendur á | högum
          | fjalli,  :||
  ellivu    | eigir hann | synir | sær   og  | tólvti er | riddarin
          | snjalli.

  Nú | fellur | rí | man | yvir tann]
  breiða | fjörð; | har | liggur ein | bón- | di  |
  deyður í | dökkari | jörd! | Nú | fellur | rí- | man. ||]

_Variations of Refrain of The Ballad of Arngrim's Sons_










    1.  High on a lofty mountain
          Does Arngrim his castle hold;
        He has eleven noble sons,
          And his twelfth is a champion bold.

  Refrain: _Noble men are sailing now from Norway,
              And a fair breeze bears them o'er the wave._

    2.  He has eleven noble sons,
          Each skilled to wield his brand;
        And mightiest of all is Angantyr
          Who comes from Bjarnaland.

    3.  He has eleven noble sons,
          Beneath oak-trees live they;
        And Angantyr lives with them there
          And a warrior bold is he.

    4.  Arngrim and the Earl's lady,
          Children so fine had they--
        Their daughter was named Hervik,
          Who governed land and fee.

    5.  This maiden was named Hervik,
          'Fore all men I declare,
        She tilted in the tourney
          When the lads were playing there.

    6.  She tilted in the tourney
          Among the lads so strong.
        Then blood was up and blood was shed
          Ere she had played her long.

    7.  Down then sat the lads there;
          Angry were they each one.--
        "Better than fighting us so fiercely
          Go 'venge thy father anon!"

    8.  Water she cast on her armour;
          She list no longer to fight,
        But went and stood before her mother,
          With cheeks all red and white.

    9.  "O hearken, hearken my Mother dear,
          The truth from thee would I know.--
        Was my father slain in battle
          Or did he die on straw?"

   10.  "No truer tale can I tell to thee,
          My daughter whom I love:
        He fell before the bold Örvarodd
          To the South in Isan's Grove.

   11.  "I can tell thee no truer, my daughter dear
          Than I tell as here I stand;--
        He fell before the bold Örvarodd
          To the South in Isan's Land."

   12.  She took her quickly to a chest
          Which guarded gold and fee;
        She drew a shirt from out the chest,
          And flung it on Hervik's knee.

   13.  She drew a shirt from out the chest,
          All bloodstained where it had lain.--
        "Here may'st thou see the very same shirt
          In which thy father was slain."

   14.  Up then rose Hervik the Earl's daughter
          And manned ship hastily;
        Its cables were of shining gold,
          All twisted cunningly.

   15.  Up then rose Hervik the Earl's daughter,
          And decked her ship so fine,
        And bade them store within the hold
          Both ale and costly wine.

   16.  Tarred were the masts,
          And black was the ship in hue;
        The masthead was of the red, red gold,
          And the sun shone on it too.

   17.  Tarred were the masts;
          The ship it was quite new;
        The golden weather-cock spun aloft,
          And shone amid Heaven's own blue.

   18.  Tarred were the masts,
          The beams scored wondrously;
        Stem and stern were of red, red gold,
          And so was the sail on high.

   19.  All in the middle of the ship's deck
          The colour shone so fair
        Where Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
          Sat on the platform there.

   20.  She hoists aloft her silken sail,
          Striped gold on a scarlet ground,
        Nor ever once does she strike it again
          Till she comes to Isan's Land.

   21.  She hoists aloft her silken sail,
          (The like will scarce be found)
        Nor ever once does she strike it again
          Till she comes to Isan's ground.

   22.  Forth when Hervik's frigate
          Touched the fair land,
        Cast she forth her anchor
          Into the white, white sand.

   23.  Cast she down her anchor
          Into the white, white sand;
        And the first was Hervik the Earl's daughter
          To spring with her foot to land.

   24.  The first was Hervik the Earl's daughter
          To spring with her foot to land,
        And with her Hjalmar her brother
          Close at her right hand.

   25.  There a huntsman met her;
          He had hunted herd and fee:
        "O why art thou so sorrowful,
          As a troll had been hunting thee?"

   26.  Then up stood Hervik the Earl's daughter,
          Her good sword out she drew,
        And with it she clove the huntsman
          And him in sunder slew.

   27.  Three cross roads are bending,
          And one can she descry;
        Hervik has gone straight forth to the barrow
          Wherein her father doth lie.

   28.  Hervik has gone straight forth to the barrow
          Where her father lies dead and cold.
        Little recks she of fear or favour,
          Though quake now fell and fold.

   29.  Then up and spake the voice of Arngrim,
          And these words first spake he:--
        "O where are my eleven sons gone,
          Since daughters are visiting me?"

   30.  "I pass not for my eleven brothers,
          Or where they share their fee.
        No treasure have I, save only Hjalmar,
          Hither brought with me.

   31.  "O haste thee, haste thee, my noble Father
          The good brand to give me;
        Or shall I set fire here to this barrow,
          And burn it over thee?"

   32.  Full woe was the champion Arngrim
          That she should wreck his grave.
        He seizéd Tyrfing in both his hands
          And to his daughter gave.

   33.  He gave to her the sword then
          Was wonderfully made.--
        The length of it was eighteen ells,
          And poisoned was its blade.

   34.  He gave to her the sword then
          Was wonderfully made.
        No leechcraft could avail the man
          Was wounded by its blade.

   35.  All in the middle of the garden
          She clad her in cloak of skin;
        She busked her in a cloak of fur,
          And entered the high hall within.

   36. She busked her in her cloak of fur
          And entered the high hall belive,
        Where Örvarodd sat before the board
          With a hundred men and five.

   37.  "O welcome, welcome, Hervik,
          Hither now to me
        Mead or wine shalt thou have to drink
          As liefest is to thee."

   38.  "O little to me is thy mead, Örvarodd,
          And little to me thy wine.
        Today I have come to thy high hall,
          And a different errand is mine.

   39.  "O little to me is thy mead, Örvarodd,
          And little to me thy beer;
        For a different errand did I busk me
          When I left my home to come here.

   40.  "I busked me and came from Sweden
          To fight in this thy land.
        Stand up! Stand up! Thou bold Örvarodd,
          Stand up, and arm thy band!"

   41.  It fell full early on a morning tide,
          Before the sun rose high,
        Bold Örvarodd had a hundred men and twelve
          Accoutred royally.

   42.  Bold Örvarodd had a hundred men and twelve
          Accoutred royally.
        Then up rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
         To meet them gallantly.

   43.  Up then rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
          So doughty in the fight.
        She blew a blast on her golden horn,
          And struck to left and right.

   44.  It was Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
          So gallantly she rode;--
        She clove to the shoulders every knight
          Who forth against her strode.

   45.  She clove to the shoulders every knight
          Who forth against her strode,
        Till only Örvarodd and his two companions
          Survivors of the army stood.

   46.  Under the castle gateway
          The King crept fearfully.--
        "Now mercy, mercy, sweet Hervik,
          I pray thou'lt give to me!"

   47. "Just so much is the sweet mercy
          Thou now shalt get of me
        As thou gavest to my noble Father
          When thou slew'st him felonly!"

   48.  "Just so much is the sweet mercy
          Thou now shalt win of me
        As thou gavest to my noble Father
          When thou slew'st him cruelly!"

   49.  That was Hervik, the Earl's daughter,
          To draw her sword was fain.
        She has slain the warrior Örvarodd
          And cut him in pieces twain.

   50.  She has slain the warrior Örvarodd
          And cut him in pieces twain,
        And all his men so brave and true
          She has heaped on his corse amain.

   51.  Up then rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter;
          Through the greenwood gan she ride;
        But hawk or hound made never a cry
          In the greenwood by her side.

   52.  She hoists aloft her silken sail,
          Striped gold on a scarlet ground;
        Nor ever once does she strike it again
          Till she reaches far Uppland.

   53.  Forth when Hervik's frigate
          Touched the fair land,
        Cast she forth her anchor
          Into the white, white sand.

   54.  Cast she forth her anchor
          Into the white, white sand;
       And forthwith her brother Angantyr
          Came riding down the strand.

   55.  She gave to him the sword then
          Was wonderfully made.--
        The length of it was eighteen ells,
          And poisoned was its blade.

   56.  She gave to him the sword then
          Was wonderfully made.--
        No leechcraft could avail the man
          Was wounded by its blade.

   57.  Angantyr sits in his high seat,
          And with his men spake he!--
       "O where will I get a make to myself?
          This thought has been long with me."

   58.  One and all they hung their heads,
          And never a word spake they,
        Save Hjalmar his brother, and better were it
          He had held his peace that day.

   59.  "I can no truer tell thee,
          But and thou list to hear:
        The King of Upsala has a daughter,
          And she is passing fair.

   60.  "The King of Upsala has a daughter
          As lovely as the sun.
        Her cheeks they are as red and white
          As blood on driven snow.

   61.  "The King of Upsala has a daughter:
          Of many is her fame the word.
        Her throne it is of the red, red gold,
          And stands at the King's own board."

   62.  "O gin the maiden be so fair,
          And gin she be so fine,
        I swear an oath, though ill betide,
          To call that maiden mine.

   63.  "O long and long will the journey be
          O'er breaker but and billow;
        But I go forth to Upsala, Hjalmar,
          And thou, my brother, must follow."

   64.  Then up spake Hjalmar the warrior,
          And straightway answered he:
        "The bird feels joy when he spies a corpse,
          And so do I follow thee!"

   65.  Up then rose him Angantyr,
          And manned ship hastily.
        Its cables were of shining gold
          All twisted cunningly.

   66.  Up then rose him Angantyr,
          And decked his ship so fine,
        And bade them store within the hold
          Both ale and costly wine.

   67.  He hoists aloft his silken sail,
          Striped gold on a scarlet ground
        Nor ever once does he strike it again
          Till he comes to Uppsaland.

   68.  Forth then when his frigate
          Touched the fair land,
        Cast he down his anchor
          Into the white, white sand.

   69.  Cast he down his anchor
          Into the white, white sand.
        And Angantyr was the first to light
          With his foot to land.

   70.  Angantyr was the first to light
          With his foot to land,
        And by him Hjalmar his brother,
          Close at his right hand.

   71.  By him Hjalmar his brother
          Close at his right hand;
        Truly is it told to me
          He sank to his knees in sand.

   72.  Up they went from the sea-shore,
          Those men of wealth and worth;
        The rollers brake, and the earth it shook
          As they set their ships in berth.

   73.  Up they went from the sea-shore,
          In their clothes of scarlet so fair;
        Their helmets were of burnished gold,
          And no man did they fear.

   74.  All in the middle of the garden
          They clad them in cloaks of skin;
        They busked them in their cloaks of fur
          And entered the high hall within.

   75.  They busked them in their cloaks of fur
          And entered the high hall belive,
        Where the King of Uppland sat at the board
          With a hundred men and five.

   76.  Hjalmar went into the high hall
          With silk embroidered hood.
        His cheeks were red as lobster's claws,
          His eyes were like the dove.

   77.  Angantyr has do'en him to the high hall,
          'Twas the custom in days gone by;
        And all in a word did he hail the King
          And ask for the maid truly.

   78.  Angantyr stands on the hall floor,
          Offers him greeting there;--
        "Now hail be to thee, bold King of Uppsaland,
          Give me thy daughter fair!"

   79.  Then up and spake the bold Hjalmar,
          Before the broad board he stood:--
        "O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter
          Who is so fair and good."

   80.  Up then rose the bold Hjalmar,
          Before the broad board sat he:--
        "O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter
          Who is so wise and fair to see."

   81.  Long in sorrow sat the King
          And silently pondered.
        What he should answer the two fierce warriors,
          Who stood before the board.

   82.  Up then rose the King of Uppsaland;
          Angry and wroth was he:
        "My lady daughter shall come to the hall
          And for herself reply."

   83.  They have led his daughter to the hall,
          Attended fittingly;
        And Hjalmar's face grew red and pale
          As in the high-seat sat he.

   84.  "Now thanks and thanks to my noble father
          Who gave this choice to me.
        Hjalmar the champion from Uppland,
          He shall my husband be.

   85.  "I will not wed me to Angantyr:
          He is so vile a troll;
        So is his father and so his mother,
          And so are his kinsfolk all."

   86.  "Come forth, come forth, thou bold Hjalmar
          For ne'er so brief a tide.
        To battle on an island make thee bowne;
          She shall not be thy bride."

   87.  Then up and answered Odd the Young:
          "Once more we are fighting here.
        You shall go against Arngrim's Sons,
          And I against Angantyr."

   88.  "We two, Angantyr and I,
          Shall fight with mighty strife;
        I would not that lady Ingibjörg hear
          That I sought to flee for my life.

   89.  "We two, Angantyr and I,
          Shall meet in a mighty gripe,
        And long will lady Ingibjörg wait
          Ere she hear that I shrank for my life."

   90.  Out then spake the Young Odd,
          And pondered heavily;
        "O gin thou go'est against Angantyr,
          Thou choosest thy death truly."

   91.  All the sons of Arngrim
          Rode up the river shore
        A-tightening of their shield-straps
          Till they could tighten them no more.

   92.  All the sons of Arngrim
          Rode through the plain so green;
        A league and a league you could hear on the stones
          The clang of their spears so keen.

   93.  All the sons of Arngrim,
          Angry were they in mood.
        Little recked they for weapons,
          But tore up clubs of stout oakwood.

   94.  All the sons of Arngrim
          Rode up the river strand.
        It is the young Odd will lose his life,
          For Hjalmar is not at hand.

   95.  Odd rode against the Sons of Arngrim,
          His noble weapons proved he so,
        And he slew all the eleven brothers
          Yet never dealt he a second blow.

   96.  Angantyr and the bold Hjalmar
          On the island combated.
        All their followers who manned the ship
          Are lying now stone dead.

   97.  Hjalmar then struck Angantyr,
          So lay he at his feet.
        "O Hjalmar, give me now a drink,
          For it comforts the meanest wight."

   98.  "A drink from out my drinking horn
          I give thee willingly;
        But hearken, Angantyr my brother,
          Today have I surely conquered thee."

   99.  O he held the horn before his lips,
          --He the noble warrior,--
        And O it was the heathen dog
          Who stabbed him under the helmet there.

  100.  It was the warrior Hjalmar,
          He drew his sword amain;
        He has cleft his brother Angantyr
          And cut him in pieces twain.

  101.  Odd came home at eventide
          A-riding on the strand,
        And saw where Hjalmar had sat him there,
          Marred by the poisoned brand.

  102.  Odd came home at eventide,
          Where Hjalmar leant his back on a stone;
        "O why art thou so wondrous pale,
          And what has brought thee to make such moan?"

  103.  "My corslet he has piercéd,
          He has scathed my skin so white;
        The poison smeared upon the blade
          My heart will surely smite."

  104.  "Thou didst put thy faith in thy corslet,
          All made of shining steel;
        But here stand I in my shirt only,
          And yet no wound I feel.

  105.  "Thou didst put thy trust in thy corslet,
          All made of silver bright;
        But here stand I in my shirt only,
          And got no wound in the fight.

  106.  "Thou did'st put thy trust in thy corslet,
          All made of silver white;
        But here stand I in my shirt only
          Which sword could never bite."

  107.  Then up and spake the Warrior Hjalmar.
          The first word he did say
        Was "Hearken and hearken now Young Odd,
          And bear me hence away."

  108.  Then up and answered the Young Odd,
          He gazed on the rocky ravine:
        "This fight, O Hjalmar, if thou list to hear
          Has gone as I had foreseen."

  109.  He drew the gold ring from his arm;
          Speech could he utter still;
        Bade carry it to the lady Ingibjörg,
          And bade him fare him well

  110.  He drew the gold ring from his arm;
          All floating was he in blood.
        He sent it to the lady Ingibjörg,
          That maid so fair and good.

  111.  She died of grief for Hjalmar--
          She the noble maid;
        I swear an oath upon my honour
          There lives none of whom the like can be said.

Refrain: _Noble men are sailing now from Norway,
          And a fair breeze bears them o'er the wave._


The _Gátu Ríma_ was first taken down in Suderø by a clergyman,
Schröter, early in the nineteenth century, and is preserved in the
archives of the Early Text Society in Copenhagen. Unfortunately
Schröter was only able to obtain the Ballad in a fragmentary form,
and he has left us only a Danish translation of what he found. In his
travels on the Faroes in 1847-1848 Hammershaimb made strenuous efforts
to get the entire version, but curiously enough only succeeded
in getting a version (of course in the original Faroese) which
corresponds closely in length and content with Schröter's. He
published this version first in the _Antiquarisk Tídsskrift_,
1849-1851, and later _Færöiske Kvæðer_, vol. II. (Copenhagen, 1855).
The translation given below is taken from the ballad as printed in
_Færöiske Kvæðer_.

That a longer version of this ballad once existed is proved by the
fact that verse 8 of both Schröter's and Hammershaimb's versions
states that Guest the Blind[1] propounds thirty riddles to King
Heithrek--about the same number as are to be found in the Saga, though
only some six riddles and the answers to four others have come down
to us. Hammershaimb attributed the loss of the others to the fact
that the ballad is no longer one of those used in the dance. He was of
opinion that the riddles propounded in the _Ríma_ are not the same as
those found in the Saga; but it is to be noticed that the subjects
of the riddles are in four cases the same, and in the other cases the
subjects have the same characteristics, though the riddles themselves
are not identical. It would therefore seem on the whole that the
subjects of the _Gátu Ríma_ were originally identical with those of
the Saga, but that they have become corrupted and possibly confused in
the popular mind.

    [Footnote 1: Presumably a corruption of _Gestumblindi_.]


  1.  Guest goes wandering from the hall,
        Silent and blind is he;
      Meets he with an eldern man
        All with hair so grey.

  2.  Meets he with an eldern man,
        All with hair so grey;
      "Why art thou so silent, Guest the Blind,
        And wherefore dost thou stray?"

  3.  "It is not so wonderful
        Though I of speech am slow;
      For riddles have brought me to an evil pass,
        And I lose my head tomorrow.

  4.  "It is not so wonderful
        Though mournful am I and slow;
      For riddles have brought me to an evil pass,
        And I lose my life tomorrow."

  5.  "How much of the red, red gold
        Wilt thou give to me,
      If I go in before King Heithrek
        And ask thy riddles for thee?"

  6.  "Twelve marks of the red, red gold
        Will I give to thee,
      If thou wilt go in before King Heithrek,
        And ransom my head for me."

  7.  "Go thou into thy courtyard
        And look to thy dwelling, thou,
      While I go in before King Heithrek,
        And ask him riddles now."

  8.  "Thirty are the riddles
        And one will I propose ...
          (_Riddles lost._)

  9.  (_First two lines lost._)
      Thunder is the red drum
        Which beats over all the world."

  10. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King,
        Where dost thou know the neighbours,
      Both of whom use the same door,
        And neither one knows the other?"

  11. "My thought and thy thought,
        No neighbour is one to other;
      Both of them use the same door,
        Yet neither knows the other."

  12. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King,
        Where dost thou know the brothers
      Who roll far away on the outer reefs,
        And have neither fathers nor mothers?"

  13. "The Western flow and the Eastern flow,
        Well may they be called brothers;
      They roll far away on the outer reefs
        And have neither fathers nor mothers."

  14. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King,
        And what can this be now?--
      Soft as down and hard as horn,
        And white as glistening snow!"

  15. "Hear thou this now, Guest the Blind;
        This riddle I understand.--
      The sea it is both soft and hard,
        And flings white spray upon the land."

  16. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King,
        Where does the sapling grow,--
      Its root is turned towards high Heaven,
        And its head turned down below?"

  17. "The icicle on the high crags,
        No sapling it is I trow,
      Yet its root is turned towards high heaven,
        And its head turned down below."

  18. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King,
        Where does that forest grow,--
      It is cut on every holy day,
        And yet there is wood enow?"

  19. "The beard which grows on each man's chin,
        No forest is that I trow,
      Though shaved on every holy day,
        And yet there is wood enow."

  20. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King,
        Where dost thou know the brothers,--
      Both of them live in the same hall,
        And have neither fathers nor mothers?"

  21. "Turf clods and brimstones,
        Neither of the twain are brothers.
      Both of them live in the same hall,
        And have neither fathers nor mothers."

  22. "The sow she wanders to her sty,
        She wallows on the green, green earth.
      The boar he grunts and the little pigs squeak,
        And each makes music with his mouth."

  23. "O well do I know thy riddle,
        And well it shall be spoke;
      The hammer is raised in every smithy,
        And falls with even stroke."

  24. "O well do I know thy riddle,
        Though thereof no boast make I.
      It is Othin who rides upon his steed,
        By land and eke by sea.

  25. "O well do I know thy riddle,
        Yet of wisdom I make no display.
      Othin he rides upon his steed
        By night and eke by day."

  26. Othin has turned into a wild fowl,
        And flown out from the hall;
      And therein King Heithrek has been burnt,
        He and his nobles all.

  27. Othin has turned into a wild fowl,
        And has flown far out to sea;
      He has burnt King Heithrek in his hall,
        And all his company.


This ballad has been discussed above, pp. 39 and 164 f. It was taken
down by George Low in the course of a visit made by him to the island
of Foula in the Shetlands in 1774. He was entirely ignorant of the
language, and had apparently no idea as to the meaning of the actual
words, though the general drift of the ballad was explained to him by
the islander, William Henry, from whom he obtained it (cf. p. 164).
As very few remains of the dialect have been preserved, apart from the
ballad, the interpretation presents great difficulties. The following
translation of the first twelve stanzas is made from the corrected
text given by Dr M. Hægstad in his edition of the _Hildina_ contained
in _Skrifter udgivne af Videnskabsselskabet i Christiania_, 1900
(_Historisk-Filosofiske Klasse_, II).


  1.  It was the Earl from Orkney,
        And counsel of his kin sought he,
      Whether he should the maiden
        Free from her misery.

  2.  "If thou free the maid from her gleaming hall,
        O kinsman dear of mine,
      Ever while the world shall last
        Thy glory still shall shine."

  3.  Home came the king,
        Home from the ship's levy
      The lady Hildina she was gone,
        And only her stepmother there found he.

  4.  "Be he in whatever land,
        This will I prove true,
      He shall be hanged from the highest tree
        That ever upward grew."

  5.  "If the Earl but come to Orkney,
        Saint Magnus will be his aid,
      And in Orkney ever he will remain--
        Haste after him with speed."

  6.  The King he stood before his lady,
        And a box on her ear gave he,
      And all adown her lily white cheeks
       The tears did flow truly.

  7.  The Earl he stood before Hildina,
        And a pat on her cheek gave he,--
      "O which of us two wouldst thou have lie dead,
       Thy father dear or me?"

  8.  "I would rather see my father doomed,
        And all his company,
      If so my own true lord and I
        May long rule in Orkney.

  9.  "Now do thou take in hand thy steed,
        And ride thou down to the strand;
      And do thou greet my sire full blithely,
        And gladly will he clasp thy hand."

  10. The King he now made answer--
        So sore displeased was he--
      "In payment for my daughter
        What wilt thou give to me."

  11. "Thirty marks of the red gold,
        This to thee will I give,
      And never shalt thou lack a son
        As long as I may live."

  12. Now long stood the King,
        And long on the Earl gazed he:--
      "O thou art worth a host of sons;
        Thy boon is granted thee."

It will be seen that up to this point, in spite of the loss of the
names, there can be little doubt that the subject of the ballad is the
story of Hethin and Högni. After this however the narrative deviates
from any other known version of this story. It would rather seem
that--as in the German Kudrun--two stories, originally distinct, have
been brought together in one poem.


The numbers refer to chapters (sagas) and strophes (ballads, etc.)


_The Tháttr of Nornagest._ A _tháttr_ is a portion (episode) of a
longer saga, in this case the _Saga of Olaf Tryggvason_ which is found
in the _Flateyjarbók_.

I. _King Olaf Tryggvason_, one of the most famous kings of Norway
(_r._ 995-1000). He compelled the country to accept Christianity. For
accounts of his life and times, see the _Story of Olaf Tryggvison_ in
the _Heimskringla_, vol. I, pp. 221-378; and also the longer _Saga of
King Olaf Tryggwason_, translated by Sephton.

_Trondhjem_, originally the name, not of a town, but of the entire
district round the Trondhjem Fjord.

_A man came to him._ Cf. the _Saga of Olaf Tryggvason_
(_Heimskringla_), ch. 71.

_Guest._ Here a pun is intended, the word _Gestr_ in Icelandic
signifying a 'guest' as well as a 'stranger.'

_The Contentious._ The word in the text, '_þingbítr_,' seems to mean
'sharp in debate,' and to refer to his ready wit and astuteness in

_Guest said that he had been prime-signed._ To 'prime-sign' signified
to make the _prima signatio_ or sign of the Cross over a person,
preliminary to baptism. People so 'prime-signed' were admitted to
certain parts of the Mass and to social intercourse in Christian
communities. See the _Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson_, ch. 50 "King
Athelstan [of England] was a good Christian.... He asked Thorolf and
his brother to let themselves be prime-signed; for this was a common
practice with both merchants and soldiers who took service under
Christians. Men who were prime-signed had free intercourse with both
Christians and heathens, and followed whatever religion they liked
best. Thorolf and Egil did as the King asked them, and both were

_Svein Forkbeard_, King of Denmark from 986 (?) to 1014, and of
England also during the last year of his life.

_The Emperor Otto_, i.e. Otto II, 973-983.

_Dane-work_, i.e. the Danish Wall still partially preserved, which
divided Jutland from the land of the Saxons and stretched from near
the city of Slesvig to the marsh-land along the River Treene.

_King Harold Gormsson_ appears to have reigned for about fifty years
and to have died probably in 986. He was nick-named Harold 'Bluetooth'
(or perhaps 'Blacktooth'). About 974 he fought the Emperor Otto II,
and Earl Haakon of Norway aided him. Both Harold and Haakon were
forced to accept Christianity, but Haakon afterwards renounced it.

_Earl Haakon the Heathen_, i.e. Earl Haakon the Great, or the Bad, who
ruled over Norway, 975-995.

_Guthmund._ Cf. the _Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_, ch. 1. See also
Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, pp. 346-349, where Guthmund is
described as a magician dwelling in the land of the Perms. But see
_Glasisvellir_, below.

_Glasisvellir._ Cf. the _Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_, ch. 1. For
the name of the tree or grove called _Glasir_ beside Othin's abode
in Valhalla, see _Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 34: "Glasir stands with golden
foliage before the halls of the God of Victory." See also _Bjarkamál
in Forna_, str. 3.

II. _Ulf the Red_ was standard-bearer to Olaf Tryggvason at the Battle
of Svöld (cf. the _Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, Heimskringla_, ch. 56),
where he slew great numbers of the enemy.

_The Bay_, i.e. Christiania Fjord and the adjacent coasts.

_King Half._ See _Hálfssaga_, ch. 10; and _Flateyjarbók_, 11, pp. 136,
137. King Half had a chosen band of warriors numbering about sixty,
who were subject to strict discipline and rules which Professor
Craigie (_The Icelandic Sagas_, p. 94) suggests were modelled on those
of the Jómsvíkings. For instance, "It was one of their customs always
to lie off the ends of promontories. Secondly, they made a rule of
never pitching tents on their ships and never clewing up the sail on
account of bad weather." The incident referred to in the text is not
mentioned in the Saga.

_No halls had been built in Norway._ The writer probably means to
contrast the stone halls of his own day with the wooden structures of
earlier times.

_The Harping of Gunnar_, a lost poem. The legend here referred to is
told in _Völsunga Saga_, ch. 37 (and elsewhere), doubtless from an old
lay.--'King Attila had Gunnar cast into a pit full of snakes ... and
his hands were tied. Guthrún sent him a harp, and he was so skilful
in harping that he could play it with his toes; and he harped so well
that hardly anyone had ever heard such skilful playing, even with the
hand. So beautifully did he play that all the snakes were lulled to
sleep except one horrible big adder which crept up to him and stung
him to the heart. Thus he perished with great courage.'

Gunnar, the son of Gjúki, is the central figure both of the Norse
story and of the German _Nibelungenlied_, in which he is called
Gunther. In reality, he was overthrown and killed by the Huns in 437,
after which the Burgundians moved from the Rhine to the district now
known as Burgundy.

_The Ancient Wiles of Guthrún._ It is generally believed that this is
the name of another lost heroic poem. But the title may possibly mean
_The Adventures of Guthrún_, in which case the poem referred to may be
the well-known _Ancient Lay of Guthrún_ (_Guðrúnarkviða hin forna_).
This latter poem is alluded to in ch. 9 below under the title of

IV. _The Land of the Franks_, the Rhineland. As far back as the
fifth century the Franks occupied that region--to the north of the

_Sigurth the son of Sigmund._ The story of Sigurth the Völsung is
related in _Völsunga Saga_.

_Hundingsbani_, i.e. 'Slayer of Hunding.' See _Völsunga Saga_, ch. 9.

V. _It chanced one day that_, etc. Chapters 5 and 6 are mainly taken
from the poem _Reginsmál_ of which strophes 13-26 are quoted in our
text. _Reginsmál_ is the first poem of a trilogy dealing with the
early adventures of Sigurth. The two remaining poems _Fáfnismál_ and
_Sigrdrifumál_ are used only in the last two sentences of ch. 6.

_Yngvi_ is a name of the god Frey, from whom the kings of Norway and
the early kings of Sweden were believed to have sprung.

_Fafnisbani_, i.e. 'Slayer of Fafnir.' Cf. ch. 6 _infra_. See also
_Völsunga Saga_, ch. 18.

_The Imperial Power had not_, etc. This may mean either the refounding
of the Western Empire by Charlemagne, A.D. 800, or possibly the
gaining of the Imperial throne by Otto I, King of the Germans, in 962.

VI. _Sigurth prepared for battle_, etc. An account of this battle is
given in _Völsunga Saga_, ch. 17.

_The sea-king's steed._ The text has _Ræfils hestum_, lit. 'Ræfil's
horses.' Ræfil was a legendary sea-king. The names of such characters
are frequently used in 'kennings' (i.e. poetic circumlocutions) like

_Hnikar_, a name of the god Othin in the _Grímnismál_ (str. 47) and

_The Moon's sister._ The text has _systur Mána_, 'Máni's sister,' i.e.
the sun. _Máni_, the old word for the moon, is preserved in Iceland
only in a mythological sense, the ordinary word in use for moon being
_tungl_. _Máni_ and _Sól_ (the sun) were brother and sister. See
_Vafþrúþnismál_, str. 23; also _Gylfaginning_, ch. 11, 12.

_Order their array_, lit. 'draw up a wedge-shaped column'--a
favourite battle-formation, the origin of which was ascribed to Othin.
_Stumbling is bad luck_, etc. So Wilken (gloss. _s.v. fyrir_, 2.)
Vigfússon and Gering transl. 'It is an ill thing to outrun one's

_Friesland._ In early times the Frisians occupied a much greater
extent of coast than now, reaching from the boundary between Holland
and Belgium on one side to beyond the mouth of the Weser on the
other--apart from the Frisians inhabiting the west coast of Slesvig.

_The 'blood-eagle'_ was a form of vengeance practised by the heathen
Scandinavians in battle when anyone captured the slayer of his father.
The ribs were cut in the shape of an eagle, and the lungs torn out
through the opening. The Northumbrian King Ella (Ælla) is said to have
been put to death in this way by the sons of Ragnar Lothbrók. Cf. the
_Saga of Ragnar Loðbrók and his sons_, ch. 18; also the _Tháttr of
Ragnar's Sons_, ch. 3.

_Hugin and Munin_ were Othin's attendant ravens who gave him
information. See _Grímnismál_, str. 20; _Gylfaginning_, ch. 38;
_Ynglingasaga_ (_Heimskringla_), ch. 7.

_The story of Sigurth Fafnisbani._ The whole story of the loves of
Sigurth and Brynhild is related in the _Völsunga Saga_, ch. 20-32. It
is uncertain whether the reference here is to the _Völsunga Saga_ as
we have it or to an earlier form of the story.

VII. _Gjuki_ is mentioned under the form _Gebica_ in the _Lex
Burgundionum_ (_c._ 500 A.D.). Nothing more is known of him from
historical sources; but he is mentioned in _Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 41,
_Völsunga Saga_ ch. 25, and in the _Edda Poems_, as the father of
Gunnar and Guthrún. His name appears also (as _Gifica_, _Gibicho_,
etc.) in the Anglo-Saxon poem _Widsiþ_, the Latin poem _Waltharius_,
and in several early German poems.

_Sigurth Hring_, a legendary king of Sweden and Denmark, and the
father of Ragnar Loðbrók. His story is related at length in a fragment
of the _Skjöldunga Saga_; and he is probably identical with the
_Sigifridus_ who is mentioned in several Frankish Chronicles under
the year 812 as carrying on hostilities against another Danish King

_The sons of Gandalf_ were in constant hostility with King Harold the
Fairhaired and his father. They owned Alfheimar and Vingulmörk along
the Swedish coast of the Kattegat. Cf. the _Story of Halfdan the
Black_ (_Heimskringla_), ch. 1, 4; also the _Story of Harold the
Fairhaired_ (_Heimskringla_), ch. 1 etc.

_Gunnar and Högni._ The story of the relations of Gunnar and Högni
with Sigurth is told in _Völsunga Saga_, ch. 26 f.

_Jarnamotha._ The locality is unknown. There were large forests in
Holstein in the Middle Ages called 'Iarnawith' and 'Isarnho'; cf.
Müllenhoff, _Deutsche Altertumskunde_, v, p. 122.

_hazlewood poles had been set up_, etc. The verb _hasla_, used in
the sense of 'to challenge (to a pitched battle),' means, lit. 'to
enhazle' a battlefield, i.e. to mark out the space reserved for
a pitched battle with hazel poles. Cf. the _Saga of Egil
Skallagrímsson_, ch. 52.

_The Kurir_ were the people of Courland (perhaps Lithuanians). The
_Kvænir_ were the Finnish inhabitants of the northern portion of what
is now Sweden. King Alfred, in his translation of _Orosius_, inserts
an original account of Norway and the neighbouring regions which was
given to him by a Norwegian called Ohthere. It is there stated that
beyond the mountains which bound the northern part of Norway was 'the
land of the Cwenas.' Cf. also the _Saga of Egil Skallagrímsson_, ch.

_Starkath_, the ideal warrior of old time in the North. Probably
originally a historical figure, he became the centre of much legendary
matter, and, as often happened in such cases, he was even credited
with the composition of many poems, notably that on the Battle of
Brávöll--an event which probably took place long after his time. In
Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, pp. 246-258, he corresponds to the
unnamed "Old Warrior" mentioned in _Beowulf_, l. 2041 ff.

_Fenhring_, in Hörthaland in Norway, not far from Bergen.

_Lund_, the old ecclesiastical capital of Denmark, situated in
Skaane in the extreme south of Sweden. Not only Skaane, but also the
neighbouring provinces (Halland, etc.) belonged in early times to

VIII. _Starkath had committed a foul murder._ For this story see Saxo
Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, p. 314 ff. Saxo says that the rule of
King Ali or Ole was so hateful to the Zealanders that twelve of their
generals resolved to put him to death, bribing Starkath to join them.
Although a personal friend of Ole, Starkath agreed to do so, and
murdered him in his bath. He afterwards repented bitterly, "and to
atone for his crime slew some of those who had inspired him to it."

_Travels._ I have followed the reading _ferða_, 'travels,' adopted by
Wilken, not _frænda_, as in the _Fornaldar Sögur_, ed. by Ásmundarson.
The latter would read: "The King wanted him to tell him much more
about the history of his relatives."

IX. _Germans say_, etc. For the German story of the murder of Sigurth
see the _Nibelungenlied_, str. 985 ff.

_Guthrúnarrætha._ This is no doubt the poem commonly called
_Guðrúnarkviða hin forna_, the opening of which narrates how Sigurth's
horse came home riderless.

_Brynhild and the ogress chanted_, etc. The following lay is found
in the _Edda Poems_ under the title of _Helreið Brynhildar_ ('The
Hell-ride of Brynhild').

_From the Land of the Romans_, lit. 'From Valland'--the 'land of the
Valar,' i.e. the Celts or Romans. Here the reference is doubtless
to the Roman territories on the west bank of the Rhine. In the
_Nibelungenlied_, Gunther (i.e. Gunnar) is represented as reigning at
Worms. Cf. p. 232 below.

_Assigned me a home_, etc. In the _Codex Regius_ of the _Edda Poems_
this passage runs as follows: "The courageous king had my swan-form
and those of my eight sisters carried beneath an oak."

_Hjalmgunnar._ See _Sigrdrifumál_, the prose following str. 4. "She
(i.e. Sigrdrifa) said that two kings were fighting. One was called
Hjalmgunnar. He was old at that time, but a very great warrior, and
Othin had promised him victory; but the other was called Agnar, the
brother of Autha, whom no being would protect. Sigrdrifa (who was a
valkyrie) slew Hjalmgunnar in battle, but Othin pierced her with a
sleep-producing thorn in punishment for this," etc.

_Fafnir_ was the serpent who guarded the gold hoard on Gnítaheið till
Sigurth slew him and carried off the treasure.

_All too long_, etc. In the _Codex Regius_ of the _Edda Poems_ this
passage runs as follows: "For far too long a time (? for ever) will
women and men be born into the world to overwhelming sorrow."

_The Sons of Lothbrok._ Ragnar Lothbrók was a famous king who
flourished about the middle of the ninth century, and who, according
to legend, obtained his name ('Shaggy Breeks') from the shaggy
trowsers which he wore when he went to attack a serpent. His various
exploits are told in the _Saga of Ragnar Lothbrók_, and in the _Tháttr
of the Sons of Ragnar_, and also by Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._,
pp. 368-380, etc. Among his other adventures he is said to have
invaded Northumbria, but he was defeated by King Ella (Ælla) and
thrown into a snake-pit, where he "died laughing," as we are told in
a late poem (_Krakumál_ or the 'Death-song of Ragnar Lothbrók'). His
death was afterwards avenged by his sons who invaded England in 866.
Practically nothing historical is known of Loðbrók himself, though
the achievements of his sons, both in the British Isles and on the
continent, are of great historical importance.

_In the neighbourhood of the Alps._ In 856, Björn Ironside, a son of
Ragnar Lothbrók, with Hástein his chief lieutenant, invaded France,
and during the years 859-862 made expeditions to Spain, Africa, the
south of France, and Italy, capturing Pisa, Luna, etc. There can be
no doubt that in their invasion of Italy in 860 the real objective was
Rome; but for some unknown reason they returned without approaching
it. According to Scandinavian tradition, when they entered Luna they
were under the impression that it was Rome, and returned satisfied
that their aim was accomplished.

_Vifilsborg._ This place is identified by Wilken with the modern
Avenches in the Canton Vaud (Switzerland).

_Make their way there_, lit. 'pass over (the mountains) thither.'

X. _Eric_, a famous King of Sweden in the time of Harold the
Fairhaired, King of Norway, in the latter half of the ninth century.
He is frequently referred to in the Sagas and regarded as the typical
great Swedish King of the past.

_Upsala_, i.e. Old Upsala, the ancient capital of the Swedish kingdom,
a few miles from the modern city.

_King Harold the Fairhaired_, said to have been born _c._ 850 and to
have succeeded as King of Vestfold _c._ 860. His conquest of Norway
was practically completed at the Battle of Hafrsfjörth (_c._ 872). He
is said to have retired in 930 and died _c._ 933.

_King Hlothver_, i.e. Louis I, King of the Franks and Emperor,

_The Saxons_ inhabited a large part of north-west Germany and Holland;
but the name _Saxland_ is often used in a wider sense, i.e. the German
part of the Empire.

_Nornagest_, i.e. 'Gest (or guest) of the Norns.' The Norns were
represented in Scandinavian mythology as women with the power of
shaping human destiny. See _Helgakviða Hundingsbana_, 1, str. 2;
_Gylfaginning_, chs. 15, 16; Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, p. 223;
the _Saga of Burnt Njál_, ch. 156. Similar beliefs occur in Greek
stories about the Fates ([Greek: Klôthes]) e.g. the late Greek legend
of the birth of Meleager. Cf. p. 13 above.

XII. _Three hundred._ I have used round figures here as elsewhere.
Strictly the Norse 100 is 120.


I. _Vanakvisl._ The opening sentence may be compared with
_Ynglingasaga_, ch. 1, in the _Heimskringla_. From this it appears
that Vanakvísl is the River Don, though strictly _kv[vi]sl_ means the
fork (delta) of a river.

_Æsir and Vanir_, two sets of Scandinavian deities; but the references
to the River Don and Asia are due to the learned speculations of
later times, suggested partly by the resemblance of _Asia_ and _Æsir_.
According to _Ynglingasaga_, chs. 1-4, there was war between the Æsir
and the Vanir, which was concluded by an exchange of hostages. The
Vanir gave to the Æsir three of their leading people--Njörth and his
children Frey and Freyja. Othin made Njörth and Frey temple-priests,
and Freyja a temple-priestess. What is said about Freyja here is not
mentioned in _Ynglingasaga_; but from the poems of the _Edda_ it is
clear that she was the Aphrodite of northern mythology.

_Asgarth._ For a description of Asgarth, the home of the Æsir, see
_Gylfaginning_, chs. 2, 9, 14, etc.

_Men in Asia called Alfregg_, etc. For Dvalin, cf. the _Saga of Hervör
and Heithrek_, ch. 2 and note.

_Lived in a rock_; cf. _Völuspá_, str. 48.

_Necklace._ For the _Brísingamen_, Freyja's treasure, see
_Thrymskviða_, str. 12, etc. Cf. also _Beowulf_, l. 1199.

II. _Nal_, i.e. 'Needle.'

_Loki._ See _Gylfaginning_, ch. 33; and the _Edda Poems_, passim.

_So much favoured by the great good fortune of his lord._ Cf. _Laxdæla
Saga_, ch. 40 'Mun konungr [i.e. Olaf Tryggvason] vera giftudrjúgr ok

III. _Frithfrothi_, the mythical peace-king of the Danes. See
_Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 43. He is often split up into two different
characters, as by Saxo Grammaticus. (See especially _Dan. Hist._, Book
v, which gives an account of the great Frothi.)

_Erling and Sörli._ Their story is told in the _Saga of Sörli the
Strong_ (_Fornaldar Sögur_, III.).

_Skerries of the Elf._ Rocky islands near the mouth of the Göta Elv
not far from Göteborg.

IV. _Halfdan_, surnamed Brönufóstri. See the _Saga of Sörli the
Strong_, ch. 11, where he is represented as King of Sweden.

_Roeskilde_, the old capital of Sjælland, now the ecclesiastical
capital of Denmark.

_Ellithi._ See the _Saga of Thorstein Vikingson_ (passim), and the
_Saga of Friðjóf the Bold_ (passim).

_Gnoth._ The ship Gnoth belonged to Ásmund, who was called after it
'Gnoðar-Ásmund.' Cf. the _Saga of Egil and Asmund_, ch. 17; and
the _Saga of Grím Loðinkinni_, ch. 3. See also the _Saga of Hromund
Greipsson_, ch. 1.

_Long Serpent_, i.e. the warship of Olaf Tryggvason.

_As is told in the poem_, etc. The poem is now lost.

_The poem of which he is the subject._ The Saga here quotes a
difficult and obscure stanza which I have omitted.

_Högni ... went raiding in the Baltic_, etc. In _Widsið_ l. 21, Högni
is said to have ruled the _Holmryge_, i.e., no doubt, the Rugii on the
coast of Pomerania.

V. _Hjarrandi_ is the name of Hethin's father in all the Norse forms
of the story; but originally this would seem to have been the name of
Hethin's minstrel--the _Hôrant_ of _Kudrun_, and the _Heorrenda_ of

_Serkland_, i.e. Africa, 'Saracen Land.' It is only in this story
that Hethin is said to come from here. Saxo Grammaticus calls him
a Norwegian. Cf. also _Widsiþ_, l. 21, which gives the name of an
unknown people.

_Göndul_, the name of one of the Valkyries. See _Völuspá_, str. 31;
_Hákonarmál_, passim; _Skáldskaparmál_, chs. 2 and 47.

VI. _Heithrek Ulfham._ For Heithrek Ulfham see the _Saga of Hervör and
Heithrek_, ch. 16.

VII. _She asked him._ I have followed Rafn's text. The Reykjavík ed.
apparently has a misprint here--_hann_ for _hón_.

_He thrust the Queen down in front of the prow_, etc. The murder of
the Queen is peculiar to this saga.

VIII. _This harrowing torment continued_, etc. A good deal has been
written on the subject of the Unending Battle, which many writers
believe to have been of mythological origin. Very often, however, it
appears in local traditions. See Frazer's _Pausanias_, vol. II, p. 443
(the reference to the Battle of Marathon), where a considerable number
of parallels are given. See also Panzer, _Hilde-Gudrun_, p. 328. Cf.
p. 43, note I above.

_Olaf Tryggvason._ See the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 1 and note.

IX. _Jarnskjöld._ Cf. _Fornmanna Sögur_, vol. III, p. 125 ff. (_Saga
of Olaf Tryggvason_).

_Glance of his eye_, etc. Literally, "He has the _ægishjálmr_." This
is a poetical expression for a glance inspiring terror.


I. _Gnothar-Asmund_, i.e. Asmund of the Gnoth, who was so called from
his ship 'Gnoth' (cf. p. 230 above). For an account of him see the
_Saga of Egil and Asmund_ (in _Fornaldar Sögur_, vol. III), especially
ch. 17. He is mentioned also in the _Saga of Grím Loðinkinni_, ch. 2.
A different account of Olaf's family is given in _Göngu-Hrólfs Saga_,
ch. 38.

_Garthar in Denmark._ The geography of the story is by no means clear.
Elsewhere in this saga Olaf's realm would seem to be situated in
Sweden, while references in other works, e.g. _Landnámabók_, I, ch.
3, _Hversu Noregr Bygthist_, ch. 2 (_Fornaldar Sögur_, II, p. 7) etc.,
point to Norway, especially the provinces of Thelamörk and Hörthaland,
as the home of Hromund and his family.

_Hromund._ According to _Landnámabók_, I, ch. 3, Ingolf and Leif,
the first settlers in Iceland (A.D. 874) were the great grandsons of
Hromund Greipsson. This would seem to show that he lived in the
second half of the eighth century. See also the _Saga of Halfdan
Eysteinsson_, ch. 1.

_Bild and Voli._ For these names, see Introduction to this saga, p.
59, and the note to _Mistletoe_ below.

_Ulfasker._ A corruption of _Elfasker_. Cf. _Gríplur_, str. 25, and
note to _Skerries of the Elf_, p. 229 above.

_Dragon_, a common term for a large type of warship in the Viking Age.

_Scoundrels._ The text has _Blámenn_, i.e. lit. 'Black men', negroes.
But in the Romantic Sagas, owing probably to the influence of stories
relating to the Saracens, pirates are described as _Blámenn_, even in
stories relating exclusively to the North. Cf. _The Ballad of Hjálmar
and Angantyr_ (refrain), p. 184, above.

II. _I am going to be Othin's guest_, is a euphemism for 'be slain,'
and is equivalent to 'go to Valhalla,' the abode of slain warriors
which belonged to Othin. See the _Saga of Egil Skallagrímsson_, ch.
81, where Thorgerth, Egil's daughter, says that she will have no
supper till she "sup with Freyja."

_No blade would wound Hröngvith._ It is not uncommon to hear that a
warrior, usually an unsympathetic character, was immune through spells
from wounds inflicted by weapons; cf. _Beowulf_, l. 804, where this is
stated of Grendel.

III. _Hebrides._ The word _Suthreyjar_, here translated Hebrides,
properly means all the islands off the west coast of Scotland. The
modern form of the word is _Sodor_, surviving in the name of the
diocese of 'Sodor and Man.'

_Ghosts._ It will be seen from the context that the word _draugr_ here
translated 'ghost,' is in reality the animated corpse of the dead man.
This is a common feature of Norse stories (e.g. the _Saga of Grettir
the Strong_, ch. 18).

IV. _Valland_, i.e. France, lit. the 'Land of the _Valar_,' i.e.
of the Celts or Romans. In Anglo-Saxon literature the French are
sometimes called _Galwalas_, i.e. the 'Walas (Welsh) of Gaul'. See
also the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 9 and note.

_And he added_, etc. Are we to assume a lacuna here? The composition
of this saga is however far from perfect. In certain passages (e.g. at
the beginning of this chapter) one is inclined to suspect that someone
has tried to combine two different texts of the story.

_Finger nails_, etc. Cf. the physiological fact of the growth of the
finger nails after death, and the legend of Charlemagne according to
which his beard grew through a stone table after his death.

_Gunnlöth._ Other documents appear to make Hromund a Norwegian, and
this is what we should gather from _Landnámabók_ quoted above (p. 231,
note). See _Hversu Noregr Bygðist_, ch. 2.

_Mistletoe_, the name of the sword again connects this story with that
of Balder who is stated in _Völuspá_, str. 32 and _Gylfaginning_, ch.
49 to have been killed by a piece of mistletoe.

V. _Dagny_, the wife of Ingjóld, who was the friend of Grím
Lothinkinni. See the _Saga of Grím Loðinkinni_, ch. 3.

_Hálogaland._ See _Hervarar Saga_, ch. 1 and note; and also the Sagas
of _Ketil Hæng_ and _Grím Loðinkinni_.

_Voli and Bild_, etc. At this point the writer of the saga has omitted
part of the dialogue in which Olaf threatens to hang Hromund. Cf.
_Gríplur_, p. 383, str. 20, 21.

VI. _Helgi_ is known elsewhere as Helgi Haddingjaskati, e.g. in the
short text called _Hversu Noregr Bygðist_, ch. 2 (_Fornaldar
Sögur_, II, p. 7). According to the prose at the end of _Helgakviða
Hundingsbana_ II, Helgi Haddingjaskati and Kara were reincarnations
of Helgi Hundingsbani and Sigrún, the hero and heroine of this poem.
Their story was given in a poem called _Káruljóð_ which is now lost.
See however Vigfússon and Powell, _Corpus Poeticum Boreale_, vol. I,
pp. 129 and 130.

_On the frozen surface of Lake Vener._ This story is perhaps taken
from that of the battle related in _Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 43 and
_Ynglingasaga_, ch. 33. Cf. _Beowulf_, l. 2392 ff.

_Kara._ For the form _Lara_ which appears in the printed editions
see p. 62, note, above. In the prose at the end of _Helgakviða
Hundingsbana_ II, Kara is called a valkyrie.

VIII. _Hagal._ The story of Hagal and Blind is given also at the
beginning of _Helgakviða Hundingsbana_ II; but here the person
disguised as a grinding-maid is Helgi, the hero of the poem.

X. _Who was also called Bavis_; cf. _Helgakv. Hund_. II, str. 2, where
he is called _Blindr enn bölvísi_ ('skilled in harmful doings').


I. _Finnmark_, i.e. the northernmost part of the Scandinavian

_Jötunheimar_, i.e. the homes of the _jötnar_ or giants. This name
occurs frequently in Norse stories, though it is not elsewhere
connected with Finnmark.

_Ymisland_, i.e. the land of _Ýmir_; see below.

_Halogaland_, i.e. the northern part of Norway stretching from about
lat. 65° as far as Finnmark.

_Guthmund._ Cf. the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 1 and note.

_Glasisvellir._ Cf. the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 1, and note.

_Fields of immortality_, i.e. lit. 'Fields of the not dead'
(_ódainsakr_). Cf. the _Saga of Eiríkr Víðförla_, ch. 1, and the
_Saga of Hálfdan Eysteinsson_, ch. 1. See also Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan.
Hist._, p. 129.

_Höfund._ The name means lit. 'Judge.'

_Ymir_, i.e. the old 'Rime-giant,' the first being created out
of Chaos, from whom the giants sprang; cf. _Völuspá_, str. 3;
_Vafþrúþnismál_, str. 21; _Grímnismál_, str. 40; _Hyndluljóð_, str.
33; _Gylfaginning_, chs. 5-8.

_Starkath Aludreng._ See _Gautreks Saga_, ch. 3, according to which
this Starkath is the grandfather of his more famous namesake, for
whom see the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 7 and note. See also Saxo
Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, pp. 224, 225.

_Elivagar._ See _Vafþrúþnismál_, str. 31; _Gylfaginning_, ch. 5;
_Hymiskviða_, str. 5.

_Alfheimar_, a name given to the region between the Gøtaelv and the
River Glommen, in the south-east of Norway (now mainly in Sweden). The
royal family of this region is frequently mentioned in the history
of Harold the Fairhaired and his father, and also in the stories of
Sigurth Hring. See the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 7 and note.

_Ey-grim Bolm_, i.e. 'Grim of the Island of Bolm.'

_Arngrim._ See Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, p. 203 ff.

_Berserk._ See _Ynglingasaga_, ch. 6.

II. _Dwarfs._ Cf. the story of Svegðir in _Ynglingasaga_, ch. 15.

_Dvalin_ is the name of a dwarf in _Völuspá_, str. 11, 14; _Hávamál_,
str. 143, and in other of the _Edda_ poems. It is, in fact, the
typical name for a dwarf. Cf. also _Gylfaginning_, ch. 14, and
_Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 3, 57. _Dulin_ does not occur elsewhere, though
_Durin_ is found in _Völuspá_, str. 10.

_Standing in the doorway of the stone_, etc. Cf. _Völuspá_, str. 48.

_Your sword_, etc. Cf. _Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 49. "Now I have drawn
_Dáinsleif_, which the dwarfs made and which must cause a man's death
every time it is drawn, and never fails in its stroke."

_Tyrfing._ It has been suggested that this name is derived from
_tyrfi_, 'resinous fir-tree,' owing to its flaming like resinous
fir-wood. In early times it was customary for swords to be called by
names ending in _-ing_. Cf. the swords _Hrunting_ in _Beowulf_, l.
1457, etc., _Nagling_, _ibid._, l. 2680, and _Mimming_ in _Waldhere_,
l. 3, etc., etc.

_Perms._ The text has _um Bjarmaland_ 'in the land of the Bjarmar,'
i.e. the _Beormas_ of Ohthere's Voyage in Alfred's translation of
_Orosius_. It is generally reached, not as here, apparently, by the
Baltic, but by voyages round the North Cape. The name is generally
supposed to be connected with _Perm_, and in early times may have
comprehended the Zyrianians, as well as the Permians proper and the
Votiaks. There is some evidence from place-names that this group
of languages was once spoken as far west as the White Sea. Cf.
Abercromby, _The Pre- and Proto-historic Finns_, p. 10 f.

_Svafrlami._ The text (H) followed by the Reykjavik edition here has
Sigrlami--which can hardly be right. Rafn's ed. reads Svafrlami.

_Twelve sons._ For Arngrim's Sons, Cf. _Hyndluljóth_, str. 23, 24;
Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, pp. 203-205; _Saga of Örvar Odd_, ch.

_Twins._ See the _Saga of Harold the Fairhaired_ (_Heimskringla_), ch.
18, where again we find twins both receiving the same name.

_Mistletoe._ A sword of the same name occurs in the _Saga of Hromund
Greipsson_ (see above).

_Hrotti._ Cf. _Hrunting_, the sword of Hunferth in _Beowulf_, l. 1457
etc. See also the note to _Tyrfing_, p. 235.

III. _Yule_, a festival of heathen times, approximately at Christmas,
but rather later.

_Feast_, lit. 'At the Bragi-cup.' The custom of making vows in
connection with these toasts was carried on into Christian times,
an interesting example being found in the _Saga of Olaf Tryggvason_
(_Heimskringla_), ch. 39. See also the _Saga of Haakon the Good_
(_Heimskringla_), ch. 16; and _Helgakviða Hjörvarðssónar_, str. 32.

_Angantyr made a vow._ In the Royal MS. (see p. 79) it is Hjörvarth
who makes the vow and subsequently claims the bride.

_Yngvi_ is the family name of the early Swedish kings. Collectively
the early Swedish royal family were called _Ynglingar_. Cf.
_Ynglingasaga_, ch. 20.

_Never did he_, etc. Compare what is said of Högni's sword in
_Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 49.

_Samsø._ The fight at Samsø is described in another MS. of this saga
(which is translated in the appendix to Part I, p. 145 ff. above and
which contains also the _Death-song of Hjalmar_), as well as in the
_Saga of Örvar Odd_, ch. 14, and in Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._,
p. 205. The Island of Samsø is situated half way between Jutland and

IV. _Exposing the child_, etc. For the custom of exposing infants,
especially girls, at birth, so as to cause their death, see the _Saga
of Gunnlaug Ormstungu_, ch. 3, the _Saga of Finnbogi Rammi_, etc. A
similar custom prevailed in Ancient Greece. Cf. Plato, _Rep._ v, 461;
Aristophanes, _Clouds_, l. 530 f.

_Sprinkled with water._ Sprinkling a child with water when a name was
given to it appears to have been customary in heathen times. Cf. the
_Saga of Harold the Fairhaired_ (_Heimskringla_), ch. 40; the _Saga of
Haakon the Good_, ch. 12; the _Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson_, ch. 31;
_Völsunga Saga_, ch. 13.

_She grew up_, etc. Cf. the description of the later Hervör in ch. 10.

_Here is a poem_, etc. The poem is probably earlier than the Saga in
its present form. Heusler (_Eddica Minora_, p. xxi) refers it to the
early part of the twelfth century.

_I will give you my necklace_, etc. Note the discrepancy between the
poem and the prose at this point. In the former it would seem to be
Hervör who offers a necklace, and this is what we should expect.

_Foolish is he who comes here alone_, etc. Cf. J. M. Synge, _The Aran
Islands_, III: "We went up on the dun, where Michael said he had
never been before after nightfall, though he lives within a stone's
throw.... These people make no distinction between the natural and the

V. _Ghosts_, i.e. the animated corpses of the people buried there.

_Nor other kinsman._ There is a lacuna in the text of the ms. at this

VI. _Bring up the child_, etc. It was customary for men in high
station to send their children to be brought up and educated in the
houses of relatives and friends.

_Reithgotaland_ is here explained as Jutland; but in ch. 9, Heithrek's
subjects are described as _Gotar_, i.e. Goths; and in the latter part
of the Saga, from ch. 12 onwards, the subject is clearly a war between
the Goths and Huns. The earliest occurrence of the word (in the
Swedish Inscription of Rök; cf. also _Vafþrúþnismál_, str. 12) gives
not _Reithgotaland_, but _Hraithgotaland_, which suggests that the
name may be connected in some way with _Hrethgotan_, a name applied to
the Goths in Anglo-Saxon poetry.

VII. _Divination._ The phrase means literally, 'The casting of bits of
wood at the sacrifice.' Cf. Tacitus, _Germania_, ch. 10.

_Every second man._ _annanhvárn_, apparently for _annanhvern_.

_Hall of the Dís._ It is not clear who the _dís_ was, as the word is
used rather loosely for supernatural female beings. Another reference
to the _Hall of the Dís_ occurs in _Ynglingasaga_, ch. 33. One of the
goddesses (Freyja?) may be meant; or it may be the guardian spirit of
the family.

VIII. _Land of the Saxons._ Cf. the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 10 and

_Sifka and Hlöth._ The names here mentioned, together with _Heithrek_
and _Angantyr_, are believed by some scholars to recur in _Widsiþ_, l.
116, where we find

  _Heaðoric and Sifecan, Hliðe and Incgenðeow_,

mentioned as being among the followers of Eormenric. These names
clearly come from Gothic tradition, but the passage would seem to
suggest that _Sifeca_ was a man, the Sibich of the German poems. Cf.
Chambers, _Widsith_, p. 32. For the name Lotherus in Saxo, see note to
ch. 12, p. 242.

_Holmgarth_, i.e. Novgorod.

IX. _Wendland_, i.e. the 'Land of the Slavs' (Anglo-Saxon
_Weonodland_). After the expansion of the Slavs, from the fifth
century onwards, this term came to denote an enormous expanse of
country, including the coast of Eastern Germany, to which it
is applied in the account of the voyage of Wulfstan in Alfred's
translation of _Orosius_. In earlier times, when the Goths still
occupied Poland and Galicia, the Slavs were restricted to the regions
east of these countries.

_His horse fell dead._ Here the point of the story seems to be missed,
or at least not clearly expressed. According to Höfund's fifth maxim
(see ch. 6), Heithrek was not to ride his best horse when he was in a

X. _They had a daughter._ From our text it would appear that Hervör
was the daughter of Sifka; but the end of ch. 9 is probably a late
addition to the text. In the text printed by Rafn, Hervör is expressly
stated to be a daughter of Hergerth.

_Ormar_ is presumably to be identified with the _Wyrmhere_ mentioned
in _Widsiþ_, l. 119, in connection with the war waged by the Goths
against the Huns in defence of their ancient fatherland, round the
forest of the Vistula.

_Gestumblindi._ For this curious name, cf. the _Gestiblindus Gothorum
rex_ mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, p. 198 ff.

_In the King's retinue there were seven men_, etc. In the text (_a_)
of this saga printed in Rafn's edition (_Fornaldar Sögur_, I, p.
462), there are said to be twelve men here. This is no doubt the right
figure, twelve being the regular number in the judicial councils of
the North, whether historical or legendary. Thus, e.g. in the _Saga of
Olaf the Holy_ (_Heimskringla_), ch. 96 we read of a council of twelve
sages (_spekingar_), whose duty it was to advise the Swedish king,
especially in the administration of justice. Similar councils existed
in the Danish settlements in England. Thus Lincoln and Stamford had
each a council of twelve (cf. Stubbs, _Const. Hist._, I, p. 106,
and n. 4). We may compare the twelve priests who officiated in the
sacrifices at Mæren (cf. the _Saga of Olaf the Holy, Heimskr_. ch.
115), and the story of the twelve gods who were appointed by Othin as
temple priests (_hof-goðar_) to keep up the sacrifices and administer
justice among men; cf. _Ynglingasaga_, ch. 2 (_Hyndluljóð_, str. 30;
_Gautrekssaga_, ch. 7). In the Irish _Lay of Magnus Barelegs_, the
Norwegians are referred to as _Clann an dá [.c]o[.m]airlea[.c]
déag_ ('children or clan of the twelve councillors'). Cf. _Laoi[.d]
Ma[.g]nius Moir_ (_Reliques of Irish Poetry_, by Charlotte Brooke,
Dublin 1789, p. 274).

_King Heithrek worshipped Frey._ One text quoted by Rafn (_Verelius_)
has _Freyja_ for _Frey_. The boar appears in stories relating to both
these deities, e.g. _Gylfaginning_, ch. 49; _Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 35;
_Hyndlulióð_, str. 5, 7.

XI. _I would that I had that_, etc. On these riddles see Heusler,
_Eddica Minora_, p. xc ff.; 'Diealtnordischen Rätsel' in _Zeitschrift
des Vereins für Volkskunde_, XI, p. 117 ff.; Tupper, _Modern Language
Notes_, 18, p. 103; _The Riddles of the Exeter Book_, p. lii, etc. In
the original the riddles are all in verse, while the King's answers,
except the refrain with which they begin ("Your riddle is a good one,"
etc.) are in prose.

_You went over a bridge_, etc. The metrical text given by Rafn
(_Fornaldar Sögur_, I, p. 466), has: "A bird flew above thee, a fish
swam beneath thee, thou did'st go over a bridge." The prose text given
on the same page has: "Thou did'st go over a bridge, and the course of
the river was beneath thee, but birds were flying over thy head and on
both sides of thee, and that was their road."

_Delling's doorway._ Delling (perhaps from an obsolete word _dallr_,
'bright, shining') is mentioned in _Vafþrúþnismál_, str. 25, as
the 'father of Day.' Possibly he may originally have been a
personification of day itself. The expression "before Delling's
doorway" occurs also in _Hávamál_, str. 160, where it has been
thought to mean 'at sunrise.' See also the genealogy in _Hversu
Noregr Bygðist_, ch. I (_Fornaldar Sögur_, II, p. 6), where a certain
Svanhild is said to be the daughter of Day, the son of Delling, and
of Sól (i.e. the sun), the daughter of Mundilfari (cf. _Gylfaginning_,
ch. II).

_Wolves are always struggling for it._ See _Gylfaginning_, ch. 12
(from _Grímnismál_, str. 39).

_He who made it_, etc. I have followed Heusler's reading and read _er_
for _ker_ and _þó_ or _sjá_ for _þá_.

_Laying their eggs._ For _verja_ read _verpa_.

_Have no husbands._ For _eigu_, read _eigut_, as on p. 121.

_Game of chess._ The text has _hneftafl_, i.e. a game having certain
features in common with chess which was played in Iceland till the
introduction of the latter, probably in the thirteenth century.
Game-pieces have been discovered in Iceland which were probably used
for this game. Some are plain and hemispherical in shape, others are
shaped with a man's head or a dog's head. For a full and interesting
description of _hneftafl_ see H. J. R. Murray, _A History of Chess_,
Oxford, 1913, Appendix I, 'Chess in Iceland,' pp. 443-446.

_Ægis meyjar._ Ægir or Hlér, the husband of Rann, is a personification
of the sea; but the kennings 'Ægir's daughters,' 'Ægir's steed,' etc.
for 'billows' are common in poetry. See _Helgakviða Hundingsbana_ II,
str. 29, and _Bragar-ræður_, ch. 55 (included in Brodeur's translation
of the _Prose Edda_ as _Skáldskaparmál_, ch. I).

_Reefs._ For _brimserkum_, read _brimskerjum_.

_Ocean-path._ For _brim-reiðar_, read _brim-leiðar_. The passage is
possibly corrupt.

_That is the hunn._ This stanza is difficult to interpret as we have
no clear information as to the character of the game. It would seem
that like the game of the Welsh _tawlbwrdd_, it was played between
sides composed, the one of sixteen 'fair' (white) men, the other of a
King (called _hnefa_ or _hunn_) and eight 'dark' (black) men. Cf.
note to _Game of Chess_ above. See also Murray, _A History of Chess_,
Oxford 1913, Appendix I, 'Chess in Iceland,' pp. 443-446.

_Four walking_, etc. This riddle is found in a form almost identical
with our text in Jakobsen's _Dialect and Place Names of Shetland_
(Lerwick, 1897), p. 53. The 'sow' is also found in the _Exeter
Book_, while 'the waves,' 'the anchor' and 'hailstones' have certain
affinities with the AS. riddles.

_King Itrek's Game._ The reference here seems to be to a game
something like chess. The text (R) given by Heusler in his edition
of the _Eddica Minora_, p. 118, reads: "That is Itrek and Andath when
they sit at their game."

_Dead men_, etc. In this strophe there seems to be an elaborate play
on words. The phrase 'dead men' (_dauðar menn_) seems to be a disguise
for _val_ which means 'the slain' as well as 'hawk.' So also 'channel
of blood' seems to be a disguise for _æði_ which means 'vein' as well
as 'eider-duck.'

_Sleipnir._ Othin's eight-footed horse. Cf. especially _Gylfaginning_,
ch. 42.

_Tell me lastly_, etc. In _Vafþrúþnismál_, str. 54, Othin makes
himself known to Vafþrúþnir by the same question.

XII. _This pike_, etc. This verse is generally supposed to come from a
lost poem on Heithrek.

_Mountains of Harvathi._ It is thought that _Harvathi_ may be the
early Teutonic name for the Carpathians--a reminiscence of Gothic

_Humli and Hlöth._ These names may be compared with _Humblus_ and
_Lotherus_, two sons of Dan, the first kings mentioned in Saxo
Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, p. 1. For the name _Hlöð_ cf. also note to
ch. 7, p. 238.

_Poem._ For this poem on the battle between the Goths and the Huns,
see Heusler, _Eddica Minora_, p. vii ff., and notes. In part at least
it appears to be very old.

_Myrkvith._ The forest _Myrkvith_ is mentioned also in _Atlakviða_,
str. 3, 5, and 13; and in _Helgakviða Hundingsbana_, I, str. 53.

_Pillar_, lit. 'stone.' I do not know what is meant. Possibly
_Guðrúnarkviða_ III, str. 3 may be compared.

_Danaper's Shore._ _Danpr_ is treated as a personal name in
_Rígsþula_, str. 49, but it is more likely to have been originally
the name of the River Dnieper (mentioned by Jordanes, _The Origins and
Deeds of the Goths_, ch. 5, 52, as _Danaper_), which was within the
territories of the Goths in the fourth century.

XIII. _Gizur._ There appear to be reminiscences of this story in Saxo,
Book V, e.g. in regard to the numbering of the Hunnish forces. _Gizur_
seems to correspond to Eric in Saxo p. 190 f. It has been suggested
that he is Othin in disguise.

_Hazle stakes._ Cf. the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 7 (note).

XIV. _They rode forthwith ... against the Huns._ It has been suggested
by Heinzel that this battle between the Goths and the Huns was the
great battle fought on the Catalaunian Plain in 451 A.D.; but the
passage in _Widsið_ cited on p. 238 points rather to Poland.

_Drew ... lips_, lit. 'drew back his moustache.'

_Dunheith_ and the other place names are unknown.

XV. _The Goths were defending_, etc. Cf. _Widsiþ_, l. 121 ff.

XVI. _Ivar Vithfathmi._ For Ivar Vithfathmi and his family, see
_Ynglingasaga_, chs. 44, 45, and the first fragment of _Skjöldunga
Saga_ (printed in the _Fornaldar Sögur_, I, p. 285 ff.), chs. 1-3.

_Harold Hilditönn._ The fullest account of Harold Hilditönn is that
given by Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, p. 296 ff. See also the
fragments of the _Skjöldunga Saga_, ch. 4 ff.

_Gautland_, i.e. the Land of the _Geatas_ in _Beowulf_, the modern
Götaland (whether Vestergötland or Östergötland or both), comprising
roughly speaking the southern portions of Sweden, exclusive of the
Danish districts (Skaane etc).

_Harold of the Red Moustache._ He was King of Agthir. A daughter of
his, also called Ása, was married to Guthröth, King of Vestfold--the
_Godefridus_ who fought against Charlemagne and died in 810. See
_Ynglingasaga_, ch. 53. Their son was Hálfdan the Black, the father of
Harold the Fairhaired.

_Sigurth Hring._ See the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 7 and note.

_Battle of Brávöll._ The chief accounts of this battle are to be found
in the second fragment of the _Skjöldunga Saga_, ch. 8 f. (see above);
and in Saxo Grammaticus, _Dan. Hist._, pp. 309 ff.

_The Sons of King Ragnar._ For Ragnar Lothbrók and his sons, see the
_Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 9 and note.

_A sea-king._ Cf. the _Saga of Olaf the Holy (Heimskringla)_, ch. 4.

_The Sons of Eric Björnson were Önund and Björn._ These are probably
to be identified with the Swedish kings Bern and Anoundus mentioned
in Rembertus' _Life of St. Ansgar_, chs. 11 and 19, in connection with
the saint's missionary visits to Sweden (_c._ 830).

_Bragi Skald_ was the great grandfather of Arinbjörn the friend of
Egil Skallagrímsson. In the _Saga of Egil Skallagrímsson_, ch. 59,
he is said to have saved his life by composing in one night a poem
in honour of King Björn. Some fragments of his poems have been
preserved--the earliest datable Norse poems which have come down to

_King Harold the Fairhaired._ See the _Tháttr of Nornagest_, ch. 10,
and note.

_Eric the Victorious._ The battle won by Eric the Victorious over
Styrbjörn at Fyrisvellir seems to have taken place between 980
and 985. Several Runic inscriptions contain references to it. The
statement that Harold the Fairhaired died in Eric's time can hardly be
correct; for Harold is believed to have died in 933.

_Fyrisvellir_, on the banks of the Fyriså, close to the site of the
modern town of Upsala.

_Olaf the Swede._ The traditional date of his conversion is 1008.

_Olaf the Saint_, ex-King of Norway, whence he had been expelled in
1028, was killed at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 in an attempt to
recover the throne.

_He tried to put an end to_, etc. An interesting account of the
heathen ceremonies of the Swedes, dating from shortly after the middle
of the eleventh century, is given by Adam of Bremen in his _History of
the Church of Hamburg_, Book IV., ch. 26 f.

_The sacred tree._ The sacrificial tree in question is presumably that
mentioned in schol. 134 to Adam of Bremen as standing beside the great
temple of Upsala.

_Eymund_, _c._ 1050-_c._ 1060.

_Steinkel_, 1060-1066.

_Haakon the Red_, 1066-1079?

_Ingi I_, d. _c._ 1110. He, Hallstein and Blótsvein were all reigning
in 1081.

_Philippus_, d. 1118.

_Ingi II_, d. 1125.


10. _Gnoth-Ásmund_, etc. For notes on people mentioned in the
_Gríplur_, see notes to the _Saga of Hromund Greipsson_, p. 231 ff.

13. _Draupnir's beautiful blood_, a _kenning_ for 'gold rings.'
Draupnir was the name of Othin's ring which was made by the smith
Eitri and sent to Othin by his brother Brokk. Its special value lay in
the fact that every ninth night, eight gold rings dropped from it. Cf.
_Skáldskaparmál_, ch. 35. Cf. also _Völuspá_, str. 15, where Draupnir
is mentioned in the list of dwarfs.


_Refrain._ According to Lyngbye the refrain should be:

  _You dare not give counsel in trouble_, etc.

Others have it

  _Let them have help in trouble._

Schrøter took down the first two verses as follows:

  A ballad there is of Nornagest,--
      _You dare not give counsel in trouble_--
  In manly virtues among the best.--
      _Let every lad do so!_
  Twelve oxen were led to the Market Square,
  And onward thence to a castle fair.--
      _Grani bore gold from the heath._

  The King he thought to hew them to earth,--
      _You dare not give counsel in trouble_--
  With courage and joy does he sally forth,--
      _Let every lad do so!_
  The King he struck such a mighty blow,
  That the blood from the wounds did swiftly flow.
      _Grani bore gold from the heath._

10. _The mightiest champion_, etc. In Lyngbye's version 10 and 11 are
transposed. Hammershaimb's is no doubt the correct order.

15. _Was Högni_, etc. Lyngbye here inserts a stanza:

  Högni was a mighty man:
  Swarthy of hue was he as I ween.

16. _Rich, brave_, etc. The Suderø version of the ballad here
substitutes at the beginning of the line: "They were old and grey."

31. _The saddle-buckle_, etc. In Lyngbye's version of the _Ballad
of Regin the Smith_, v. 131 (omitted by Hammershaimb) the following
stanza is found:

  [Grani] sprang across the pool
    And his saddle-buckle brake.
  And as I ween that saddle-buckle
    Nornagest did take.

In the _Ballad of Regin the Smith_ we are told that the accident to
Grani occurred when Sigurth was on his way home from Gnítaheið after
slaying Fafnir. Grani was heavily laden with treasure and Sigurth
also was mounted on him, so that the accident there appears perfectly

_In days_, etc. So Hammershaimb. Lyngbye has:

  In days gone by full far have I strayed
  In search of my candle and span of days.

_In the land._ Here Lyngbye has:

  In the Land of the Franks is a lake broad and wide:
  O there does my span of life abide.

  O there does my span of life abide:
  And so for long I have wandered far and wide.

But he adds a version corresponding to Hammershaimb's in a footnote
and states that it is frequently sung so.

42. _The courteous man._ According to Lyngbye, by a 'courteous man,'
the Faroese mean a _Scotsman_ and says that the origin of the word
(_kurtis_) is unknown. It is of course the same as the Icelandic
_kurteis_ which is a French loan-word.

According to Lyngbye it was still part of popular Faroese legend in
his day that Nornagest kept his candle in a little leaden casket which
was sunk in a lake. Lyngbye says that Nornagest was regarded as the
'Nestor' of the Faroes, which is quite in accordance both with his
"three hundred years" mentioned in the saga, and with the unusually
long span of life often associated with the External Soul of folklore.


1. _In a high oak-tree._ In the version of this ballad obtained by
Hammershaimb at Sumbø the first line runs 'A man there lived on (lit.
'in') an island high,' whereas in the _Ballad of Arngrim's Sons_,
v. 3, we are told that Arngrim and his sons lived 'under' an oak.
Possibly the first line of our text is a confusion of these two
versions. The error is made more comprehensible by the fact that
there are no trees on the Faroes, and so the phrase must have been a
meaningless jingle of words to the singers.

_Arngrim's sons from Africa._ The text has 'Arngrim's sons from
Bláland,' by which the Faroese ballads and the _Fornaldar Sögur_
generally mean Africa. Here, however, we should more naturally have
expected 'Norway,' and it is very probable that, as Hammershaimb
suggests, we here have the refrain in a corrupt form as so often
happens. Probably 'from Bláland' (_af Blálandum_) should be 'from
Bólmland' (af _Bólmlandi_), i.e. from the Island of Bólm, but the
Faroese may have substituted the more familiar name for that of the
island with which they were unacquainted.

2. _The champions Hjalmar_, etc. The Sumbø version has:

  He has eleven sons so dear;
  The twelfth is the warrior Angantyr,
and also inserts immediately following a verse giving reasons for the

  News then came to Angantyr
  That a man there was had a daughter fair.

4. _They hoisted their sail_, etc. Cf. _Sigmundar Kvæði_, str. 13, 28,

5. _Their anchor they cast_, etc. Cf. _Magna Dans_ (_Icelandic
Fornkvæði_) v. 3, with which this is practically identical.

6. _Angantyr eagerly_, etc. The lit. transl. of the text is 'Angantyr
was the first to step,' etc.; but the following v. has 'Hjalmar was
the first to step!' The Sumbø version, which is undoubtedly better
here, has

  _Angantyr loypur so tungliga á land_
  Angantyr leapt so heavily to land,

instead of

  _Fyrstur steig Angantýr fótum á land_
  Angantyr was the first to step with his feet to land.

10. _Here sittest thou_, etc. In the Sumbø version, Hjalmar's request
is not recorded. The repetition of Angantyr's request in our text, if
it has any significance at all, implies that both Hjalmar and Angantyr
made the proposal.

18. _O franklin, lend me_, etc. The Sumbø version here inserts an
additional verse.

  Angantyr is so vile a troll,
  So are his kinsfolk and followers all.

19. _Forth of the hall._ In the Sumbø version the fight took place
outside the hall, and only Angantyr is credited with the troll-like
bellowing. Indeed one feels throughout the Sumbø version a more
clearly defined hostility to Angantyr on the part of the balladist,
whereas the Westmanhavn version is more detached in its attitude.


1. _Offue he dwelt in Uthiss-kier_, so MS. A. MS. B has "_Alff ...
Odderskier_." MS. C. has "_Ulff ... Oderskier_." MS. D has "_Alff ...
Odderskiær_." Axel Olrik, however, in the version which he prints in
_Danske Folkeviser i Udvalg_, p. 105 f. has "Alf ... Odderskær." He
explains (Introduction, p. 78) Alf to be 'a combination of Arngrim the
father of the berserks and Hjalmar's foster-brother Örvarodd.'

7. _Gold shone on his hand._ The phrase is not quite clear. It may
possibly refer to some personal ornament, but in view of the following
line, would seem more probably to indicate that Angelfyr offered money
to the King of Upsala.

11. _He is half a troll_, So A, which is in accordance with Angelfyr's
ancestry as told in the _Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_, ch. I. B and
D, however, like the Faroese, have 'He is so vile a troll.' A gives
little sense, considering the second half of the verse, and the whole
becomes a meaningless formula in all the versions in which Angantyr
and Hjalmar are described as brothers.

18. _Whom he himself will have._ Possibly _han_, 'he,' is a misprint
for _hón_, 'she,' which is what we should expect. Cf. the _Saga of
Hervör and Heithrek_, ch. 3. One hardly expects a cynical touch like
this in an authentic ballad. But the whole of the latter part of B may
be a later version than the original.


_Refrain._ I have adopted the refrain given in Hammershaimb's version
of the Ballad, taken down on Sandø in 1848 and published in the
_Antiq. Tídss._, 1849-1851, rather than Svabo's version which he
afterwards adopted, but which is very obscure and possibly corrupt.

2. _Bjarnaland_, so sing the Faroese according to both Svabo and
Hammershaimb. By _Bjarnaland_ they mean Norway. Contrast, however,
the _Saga of Hervör and Heithrek_, ch. 2, where we are distinctly told
that Angantyr's mother was Eyfura who had been carried off by Arngrim
from _Bjarmaland_ (i.e. the land of the Perms) where her father was
king. See also the note on this passage. The Faroese have no doubt
confused the unfamiliar name with one more familiar to themselves.

3. _Beneath oak trees live they_--a common ballad formula with no real
significance. It is interesting, however, as a touch indicating the
literary origin of this and other stories told in the Faroese ballads.
As has been remarked (see p. 247 above) there are no trees on the
Faroes. On the other hand farm houses in Scandinavian lands stand
frequently beneath the shadow of a large oak. For a discussion of this
subject, see Chadwick, _Cult of Othin_ (Cambridge, 1899), p. 72 ff.
Compare the Scottish Ballad of _Rose the Red and White Lily_, v. 38:

  Then out and spak' the King again,
    Says, "Bonny boy, tell to me
  Who lives into yon bigly bow'r,
    Stands by yon green oak-tree?"

4. _Arngrim and the Earl's lady_, etc. So Svabo. In Hammershaimb's
version (_Antiq. Tídss._ 1849-1851) she is described as the daughter
of Angantyr.

7. _Better than fighting_, etc. The incident of a _boy_ playing too
roughly with his companions and being told by them to go and avenge
his father instead of maltreating them is very widespread. Prof. Ker
notes its occurrence (_On the History of the Ballads_ 1100-1500,
p. 194) in the Irish Romance of Maelduin, in four Norwegian, five
Faroese, two or three Danish ballads, in a Literary History of the
Arabs and in New Guinea.

8. _Water she cast_, etc. The passage is obscure. It is not clear
if Hervik had actually been fighting with the 'lads,' so that the
cleansing of her armour was an actual necessity; or if she had only
been playing rather roughly. _Leika_ can mean both 'to play' and
'to fight'; and _leikvöllr_ may mean both a 'playground' and a
'battlefield.' If Hervik had only been playing, the throwing of the
water on the armour was possibly a rite performed before undertaking

9. _Die on straw._ To 'die on straw' is the regular idiom in Faroese
and Icelandic for to 'die in one's bed,' of old age or sickness, as
opposed to death by the sword.

10. _Isan's Grove._ Hammershaimb suggests that by _Isan's Land_ here
and in vv. 20 and 21 below the Faroese mean _Samsø_. On the other hand
there was a forest in Holstein in ancient times called _Isarnho_,
and some such name may possibly be preserved here. There was a King
_Isung_ mentioned in the Danish Ballad _De vare syv og syvsindstyve_,
as an opponent of King _Didrik_; but it is improbable that his land is
here indicated.

13. _She drew a shirt from out the chest_, etc.--a common ballad
motif. A verse almost identical with this is to be found in the _Kvæði
of Regin the Smith_, v. 47.

14. _Up then rose Hervik_, etc. vv. 14, 15, 16 and 20 are identical
with vv. 12-16 (inclusive) of _Olufu Kvæði_, the only change being
that 'Hugin the King' takes the place of 'Hervik the Earl's
daughter.' They are practically identical too with the _Kvæði of the
Jómsvíkingar_, vv. 6-8 (inclusive). Cf. also _Sjurðar Kvæði_ (III
_Högna Táttur_, vv. 46-49), and _Ragnarlikkja_, vv. 40-48.

20. _Striped gold on a scarlet ground._ The text has _Gull við reyðan
brand_, which is probably a mishearing of the line _Gull við reyðan
rand_ ('with a gold stripe on a red ground'). Verse 39 of _Brúsajökils
Kvæði_ (which is otherwise identical with the above) gives in the
second line _Gull við ráum brann_ ('gold blazed on the yardarms'). In
Hammershaimb's version of our ballad, vv. 10, 72, the line is _Gulli
vovin við rand_ ('woven with gold in stripes'), as also in v. 22 of
the _Kvæði of Ormar Torolvsson_. The line also occurs in the form
_Gull við vágum rann_ ('the margin of the ship was gold down to where
it touched the waves'). This is no doubt corrupt, but it is difficult
to conjecture as to which of all the variants was the original form of
the line.

23. _Cast she down her anchor_, etc. vv. 23, 24 are the almost
invariable formula for the landing in the Faroese ballads. They are
practically identical with v. 46 of _Olufu Kvæði_ and vv. 24, 25 of
the _Kvæði of Ormar Torolvsson_. Cf. also _Sigmundar Kvæði_, v. 32;
_Brúsajökils Kvæði_, v. 41 and the _Kvæði of Alvur Kongur_, vv. 24-26
and _Sjurðar Kvæði_ (_Högna Táttur_, vv. 71-73).

25. _Herd and fee._ Either the word _jæge_ or the word _fæ_ seems to
have an unusual sense here.

28. _Though quake now fell and fold._ The original (_kyk gekk jörð á
fold_) is not clear. I have merely adopted Grundtvig's translation of
Hammershaimb's early text in the _Antiq. Tídss_. 1849-1851. The 1855
ed. substitutes _hon_ for _jörð_ which is better.

35. _All in the middle_, etc. There is obviously a lacuna or
transference of some kind here. For this and the following verses,
cf. _Olufu Kvæði_, vv. 26, 27, which are identical except the names.
Indeed it is a common formula in the Faroese and Danish Ballads, and
occurs in the _Kvæði of Ormar Torolvsson_, v. 26; and the _Kvæði of
Alvur Kongur_, v. 33.

36. _A hundred men and five_--a stock number in the Faroese ballads.
Cf. the _Kvæði of Ormar Torolvsson_, v. 27, where we are also told
that the King sat at the board 'with a hundred men and five.' Cf. also
_Olufu Kvæði_, v. 27.

37. _Mead or wine_, etc. Cf. _Sjurðar Kvæði_ (III, _Högna Táttur_, v.

52. Perhaps we should here again assume a lacuna or transposition.

_Uppland_ is the old name for the modern province of Upsala in Sweden.

60. _Her cheeks they are as red and white_, etc. Cf. the _Kvæði of
Finnur hin Fríði_, v. 18. Cf. also the old Celtic romance of the _Fate
of the Sons of Usna_: "I should like," said Deirdre, "that he who is
to be my husband should have these three colours: his hair as black
as the raven: his cheeks red as the blood: his skin like the snow"
(Joyce's translation). Cf. also Grimm's story of _Little Snowdrop_.

68. _Forth then when his frigate_, etc. vv. 68-84 are found in almost
identical form in _Olufu Kvæði_, vv. 22-35.

69. _Angantyr was the first to light_, etc. A common ballad formula,
both Faroese and Danish.

88. _I would not that lady Ingibjörg hear_, etc. Lit. "the lady
Ingibjörg will learn that I fled." There is a suppressed condition.
"If I let you fight, the lady Ingibjörg would learn, etc."
Hammershaimb's text (_Antiq. Tídss._) v. 37, has a negative and no
condition: "The lady Ingibjörg shall not learn," etc.

97. _O Hjalmar, give me now a drink._ This incident appears to be
taken from _Gunnlaugs Saga_, ch. 12.


9. _Thunder is the red drum._ Probably _reyða_ ('red') is a printer's
error for _reiða_ ('angry'), though the same form occurs also in the
version of the ballad published in the _Antiquarisk Tídsskrift_. In
v. 16, however, we find _skarið_ whereas in v. 17 the word is written
_skarðið_, the form used in both verses in _Antiq. Tídss._, and the
two words are obviously identical in both verses. Moreover in v. 21
_einir_ ('own,' 'single') which gives little sense, is surely an error
for _eingir_ ('no,' adj.) as in vv. 11, 17, 19. The negative is also
found in v. 21 in the version in the _Antiq. Tídss._, in the form
_ei_, 'they have _not_ fathers or mothers.' Indeed the entire ballad
would seem to be somewhat carelessly printed in _Færöiske Kvæðer_.


5. _St Magnus_, Earl of Orkney, 1108 to 1116. A cathedral was built at
Kirkwall in his honour by one of his successors, Earl Ronald.



    _Fornaldar Sögur Norðrlanda_, ed. by C. C. Rafn, published at
    Copenhagen, 1829.

    _Fornaldar Sögur Norðrlanda_, ed. by Valdimar Ásmundarson,
    published by Sigurður Kristjánsson, Reykjavík, 1891-1911.

    _Die Prosaische Edda im Auszuge nebst Völsungasaga und
    Nornageststháttr_, ed. with introduction and glossary by Ernst
    Wilken, Paderborn, 1877. 2nd ed., 1912.

    _Sagaen om Hervar ok Kong Heiðrek_, ed. by N. N. Petersen
    and published (together with a Danish translation by G.
    Thorarensen), by the Norse Literature Society, Copenhagen,


    _Færöiske Kvæðer henhørende til Hervarar Saga_, published by
    V. U. Hammershaimb in the _Antiquarisk Tídsskrift_, 1849-1851,
    Copenhagen, 1852.

    _Færöiske Kvæðer_, published by V. U. Hammershaimb at
    Copenhagen, Part I, 1851; Part II, 1855.

    _Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser_, Vol. I, collected and edited by
    Svend Grundtvig, 1853.

    _Gríplur_, published in _Rímnasafn_, edited by Finnur Jónsson,
    Copenhagen, 1905-1912, p. 351 ff.


The following is a list of English translations of works referred
to in the notes of the present volume. It is not in the nature of a
bibliography; but for the convenience of English readers, reference
has been given, whenever English translations are accessible, to the
translations in preference to the original work.

    _Corpus Poeticum Boreale_, 'The Poetry of the Old Northern
    Tongue from the earliest times to the Thirteenth Century,' 2
    Vols., Vigfússon and Powell, Oxford, 1883.

    _Five Pieces of Runic Poetry_, including _Hervör and
    Angantyr_, translated into prose by Bishop Percy, 1763.

    _Hickes's Thesaurus_, including _Hervör and Angantyr_,
    translated into prose, Oxford, 1705.

    _The Elder or Poetic Edda_, Part I, _The Mythological Poems_,
    translated and edited by Olive Bray; printed for the Viking
    Club, 1908.

    _The Edda of Sæmund_, translated by B. Thorpe, published by
    Trübner and Co., London, 1866.

    _The Prose Edda_, translated by A. G. Brodeur, New York, 1916.

    Saxo Grammaticus, _Danish History_, Books I-IX, translated
    from the Latin by Professor Elton; published by D. Nutt,
    1894 (the numbers in the notes refer to the pages of the
    translation, and not to the original Latin).

    _The Heimskringla_, translated by W. Morris and E. Magnússon;
    published by B. Quaritch in _The Saga Library_, 1889.

    _The Saga of King Olaf Tryggwason_, translated by J. Sephton
    and published by D. Nutt in _The Northern Library_, London
    1895 (different from _The Story of Olaf Tryggvison_ contained
    in the _Heimskringla_).

    _Islands Landnámabók_--'The Book of the Settlement of
    Iceland,' translated by T. Ellwood and published at Kendal,

    _The Story of Egill Skallagrímsson_, translated by W. C.
    Green, published by Elliot Stock, 1893.

    _Grettissaga--The Story of Grettir the Strong_, translated by
    E. Magnússon and W. Morris, published by Longmans, Green and
    Co. (new edition), 1900. Also translated by G. A. Hight in
    Dent's _Everyman_ Series.

    _Brennu Njálssaga--The Story of Burnt Njal_, translated by G.
    W. Dasent; published by Edmonston and Douglas, Edinburgh 1861;
    republished by Dent in the _Everyman_ Series.

    _Three Northern Love Stories and other tales_, translated by
    E. Magnússon and W. Morris. 2nd ed. 1901.

    _Völsunga Saga--The Story of Sigurth the Völsung_, translated
    by W. Morris and E. Magnússon; published by the 'Walter Scott'
    Publishing Co. Ltd., London and Felling-on-Tyne.

    _The Nibelungenlied--The Lay of the Nibelung Men_, translated
    into verse by Arthur S. Way; published at the Cambridge
    University Press, 1911. Also _The Lay of the Nibelungs_,
    translated into prose by Alice Horton, and edited by Edward
    Bell; published by George Bell and Sons, London, 1898. Also
    _The Fall of the Nibelungs_, translated by M. Armour in Dent's
    _Everyman_ Series.

A further list of English translations of sagas not referred to in
this book will be found in Craigie's _Icelandic Sagas_, ch. VII, p.
110. A list of foreign translations, especially translations into the
various Teutonic languages, will be found in _Islandica_, issued
by the Cornell University Library, Vol. V, compiled by Halldór
Hermansson, 1912, pp. 3-7 (general) and _passim_.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

Throughout this book 'I' (Roman numeral 'one') has been used for '1'
(one). In the case of 'II' and 'III' it is not always clear whether
the Author referred to 2, or 11 (eleven); or 3, or 111 (one hundred
and eleven). (The number keys on some old typewriters only contained
numerals 2 to 9. Capital 'I' was used for '1', and capital 'O' for

Page 239: Irish Gaelic: Original had dots over the letters 'c', 'm',
'd' and 'g'. 'c', 'm', 'd' and 'g', with dots above, are shown as
[.c], [.m], [.d] and [.g].

"In the Irish _Lay of Magnus Barelegs_, the Norwegians are referred to
as _Clann an dá [.c]o[.m]airlea[.c] déag_ ('children or clan of the
twelve councillors'). Cf. _Laoi[.d] Ma[.g]nius Moir_ (_Reliques of
Irish Poetry_, by Charlotte Brooke, Dublin 1789, p. 274)."

Accents on proper names are not necessarily consistent throughout
this Book.


Sundry missing or damaged punctuation has been repaired.

Text corrections:

Page 81: 'Hyndlulj[=ó]th' corrected to 'Hyndluljóth' Other occurence
in this book: 'Hyndluljóth' (no macron); ... elsewhere: [Hyndluljóð]
(Wikipedia). (The 'o' had a macron (line over, indicated as [=o]) as
well as the acute accent).

Page 180: 'bridal' corrected to 'bridle' ... "But Sigurth pulled
hardest the bridle rein."

Page 240: 'wou d' corrected to 'would' - missing letter replaced: "XI.
_I would that I had that_, etc."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories and Ballads of the Far Past - Translated from the Norse (Icelandic and Faroese) with - Introductions and Notes" ***

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