The Saga of Hervör and Heithrek -- Nora Kershaw tr.



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. 28451 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 Bugge2, 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 Rafn3 as the text for this 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
1 This MS. is identical with the one referred to as A in the Introduction to the Tháttur of Nornagest (cf. p. 11 above).
2 Quoted by Heusler, Eddica Minora (Dortmund, 1903), p. vii.
3 Fornaldarsögur Northrlanda (Copenhagen, 1829), Vol. I; Antiquités russes etc. (Copenhagen, 1850-2), Vol. I.

80       THE SAGAS

is quite different from that of h. Finnu Jónsson1 is of the opinion that R is the best text throughout; but Heusler2, like Valdimar Ásmundarson, keeps the order of the riddles as in h. Petersen3 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 Saga4 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 Lœsebog5 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.
1 Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie, Vol. II, p. 839 f.
2 Eddica Minora, pp. 106-120
3 Cf. Forord to N. M. Petersen's edition of Hervarar Saga ok Heithreks Konungs (published by the 'Nordiske Literatur-Samfund,' Copenhagen, 1847).
4 See Fornaldarsögur Northrlanda (Reykjavík, 1891), Vol. I, pp. 309-360.
5 Copenhagen, 4th edition, 1889.


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 that 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 Hyundluljøth (str. 24), which according to Finnur Jónsson1 cannot be later in date than the latter part of the tenth century, though Mogk2 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 earliest part likewise seems to be
1 Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie, Vol. I, p. 201.
2 Geschichte der Norwegisch-Isländischen Literatur (Strassburg, 1904), p. 605.

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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 a 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

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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 dryly 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 Angangtyr, 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 for 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 wood. . . . 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 Vösung 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!

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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 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


similar inconsistencies, however, the saga is on the whole perhaps the most attractive of all the Fornaldarsögur.




Here begins the Saga of King Heithrek the Wise.


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 the Halogaland. These lands were then the home of many giant and half-giants; for there was a great intermixture of races at the 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 Thorngrim Halftroll took from

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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 till he went raiding and he became a great warrior. He married Bauggerth the daughter of Starkath Aludrenga and set up his dwelling on an island off Halogaland called Bolm. He was called Eygrim Bolm. His son by Bauggerth was called Arngrim the Berserk, who afterwards lived in Bolm and was a very famous man.


There was a King called Sigrlami who was said to be a son of Othin. His son Svafrlami succeeded 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.
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 back on it — striking so deep that 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 he 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.

90       THE SAGAS

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 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.


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 Uppsala — the cleverest and most beautiful maiden in all 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 Uppsala in Sweden, and when they had entered the hall, Angantyr told the King of 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 honor 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 service 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 prefers."
She replied: "If you want to marry me to anyone, that I would rather have a man whose good qualities I know already than one whom I have 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 mid-summer 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

92       THE SAGAS

ather and told him what happened. He replied that this was the first time he ever felt 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 befoe 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 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 brother went away and came to Samsø, and went ashore to look fore 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 on his wounds.
Then Odd had all the rest of them placed in great

* Here insert the "Appendix 1: The Combat at Samsø and Hjarlmar's Death Song".



barrows with all the 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 Uppsala.


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 at 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 Viking s 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

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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 'Hjörarth's Barrows,' as they are called."
"You mus t 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 this 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 toms of the children of Arngrim lie:
      O tell me, where are they?"

"Forebear 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 Herv&oul;r's breast rose proud and high
Her hard-knit heart, as she saw near by
      The dwellings of the dead.

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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:


Awaken, Anganatyr, 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 reveling 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 astraty, that thou wak'st the dead
      —The dwellers in the tomb.

No father buried me where I lie,
Nor other kinsman1. . .
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 specters 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.

1 Two lines are missing from the MS. at this point.

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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 yo 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 tombs firs 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!

100       THE SAGAS

Away, away to my 'ocean-steed' !
The daughter of princes is glad indeed,
      O gald 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 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!
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.



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 Anganatyr, the other Heithrek. They were both big strong men—sensible and handsome. Agantyr resembeled his father in character and was kindly disposed towards everyone. Höfund loved him very much, as indeed did everybody. But however much

102       THE SAGAS

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 an d 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. But 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 Anganatyr 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 albe 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 and outlaw while my mother has given me Tyrfing , which is 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 this brother his death-blow. H&oumulfund 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

104       THE SAGAS

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 advice."
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 they were willing to do so. He ransomed the man for half his gold mark.
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.


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. Heihthrek 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

106       THE SAGAS

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 hand 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 you."
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 on oath that this shall be done."
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 b3een well compensated for one boy if he gets in place of him King Harold and his son 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 Dis.
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 father.


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

108       THE SAGAS

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 bedside 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 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 t oHolmgarth 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 counseled him not to tell secretes to his sweetheart.


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.

110       THE SAGAS

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 here."
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 recognized 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.

112       THE SAGAS

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 and 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 hi; 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 she. "
"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 Reithgotaland.
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.



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 bows and arrows.
There was a great man in Reithgotaland called Gestublindi, 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 cased 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 to him on an appointed day; otherwise the King said that he would send to fetch him. Neither

114       THE SAGAS

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:


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 riddle!

116       THE SAGAS

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 cleverly.
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 goldmith'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 the 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! 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 wisdom.
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. It 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.

112       THE SAGAS

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 riddle!
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 riddle!
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 which 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 be.
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 riddle!
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!

120       THE SAGAS

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. 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 beginning them in the same way?
Gestumblindi said:
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 ducks 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 riddle! King Heithrek, read me this riddle!


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 the 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 riddle!

122       THE SAGAS

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 riddle!
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 judges.
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 together.
Gestumblindi said:
What is the 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 the bear. It runs as soon as it is thrown.


Gestumblindi said:
What is the 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. a 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!

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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 riddle!
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 closed.
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?

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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.


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 traveled 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 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 me."
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 them 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 the 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

128       THE SAGAS

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 athe son of Heithrek:
In the land of the Huns was Hlöth 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 this 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, saying:
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 Tyrfinng 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.

130       THE SAGAS

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.


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

132       THE SAGAS

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.
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 thorough 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.


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 Gate."
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."

134       THE SAGAS

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.

136       THE SAGAS

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:
Yur 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 unattended."
Gizur cried: "You Hunnish dogs are not going to overcome us with guile."
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.


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

138       THE SAGAS

close of the day the Goths made so fierce and 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 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 the wealth unstinted, brother,
And treasures mainifold,—
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!


Angantyr ruled Rethgotaland 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 Hilditönnn 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 Hl&oum;th fought at Dunheith are the battles which have been most famous in stories of old. Never were any greater slaughters made.

140       THE SAGAS

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 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 conqurered 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 Refilssson. 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 sway.
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 as 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 the n 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

142       THE SAGAS

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 recognized 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 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, thought it was but as 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.
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