2. Heroic Legends
According to views common during the Romantic period, the heroic legends were at once mythical and historical, and thus closely allied to the myths of the gods. More recent scholarship, which reckons only to a slight degree with domestic legendary traditions dating from a remote antiquity, has formed quite a different opinion. At the present time the heroic legends are studied not only according to their contents, according to their motives; considered as a complete whole, the heroic legend exists merely in and by means of the literary form it has assumed; consequently, for the proper investigation of the heroic legend a peculiar literary-historical method must be adopted, differing from the method used in the study of mythology, in that the literary forms dealing with the gods must be correlated with the fixed, distinctly local ceremonies having to do with the worship of the gods.
The heroic literature has for its subject human destinies which by their elevation above the commonplace have made a strong appeal to the poet. In their most compact form, where the chief interest gathers about strong-willed personalities moulded by the great moments of life, we come across the heroic legends in brief epic lays which can be traced back to the period of the national migrations and which in pre-Christian times ran their course among all of the Germanic tribes. Heroic lays of this type, in their more uncontaminated [124} ancient forms or in literary adaptations of Norse origin (dialogue verse without direct narration) provide the bulk of the heroic poetry of the Poetic Edda. During historic times in Norway and Iceland, this heroic poetry had a continued existence in the so-called "sagas of antiquity" (fornaldarsogur), saga-like stories which drew their themes from antiquity, from a prehistoric, pagan era. The legendary materials in these sagas frequently have their roots in prose adaptations of ancient heroic lays;  yet newer materials make their appearance during the Viking Age, and popular taste takes another direction.  These heroic sagas, which lack the firm outlines of the ancient heroic lays, are subjected to influences from all sorts of vagabond themes, for instance folk-tale themes, and at length we find an entire group of sagas of antiquity which must be regarded as nothing more than independent compositions dealing with arbitrarily invented personages whose lifetime is laid in the era of the petty kings anterior to the unification of Norway. 
Of the heroic legends as a whole it is to be said in general that, contrary to the practice of historians of a generation ago, they are not to be treated as historical sources. The poetic elements have gained the ascendancy over the historical elements and created [125} combinations of a kind that bids defiance to history and chronology alike. What may be authentic history in such poetic versions of the legends we can not discover so long as we have to rely solely on the legends themselves; we must seek the aid of veracious historical documents and the testimony of trustworthy foreign historians to get at the residuum of truth, as, for example, in the case of the legends dealing with Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons. As a rule the outcome of such a procedure is that the legends disclose no historical facts not already known through these foreign sources. In a number of the legends even this expedient is denied us, since history fails to confirm the events recited in the legends; this holds true, for instance, with the Helgi legends, for which reason it is difficult if not impossible to ascertain their origins. Other legends have made their way to the Northern nations from neighboring countries, for example, the legends of the Volsungs and the Gjukungs; but these also have suffered many changes in form in the fresh soil to which they were transplanted.
Among the heroic legends there are several that show a closer mutual relationship, and therefore are designated as a legendary cycle; still others are isolated, showing no connection with anything else. It has been further demonstrated that the legendary process tends in the course of time to draw together various originally distinct legends and thus to create new cycles. Among the great cycles, those of the Volsungs, the Niflungs, and the Gjukungs are most prominent. Among the independent legends, those dealing with [126} Wayland Smith, with Frodi and his handmaidens, and with the Battle of the Hjadnings emerge above the rest.
The legend of Wayland runs as follows: Once on a time there were three brothers, named Slagfinn, Egil, and Wayland; their father was king of the Finns. It so befell that they went out on their skis to hunt and came to a place called Wolf Dales, lying near a body of water called Wolf Lake; there they built themselves a house. One morning they chanced to see three beautiful women sitting on the shore weaving linen; beside them lay their swan cloaks, by which token the brothers knew them to be Valkyries. They carried the three women home and wedded them. Slagfinn took to wife Ladgunn Swanwhite; Wayland took Hervor Allwise; and Egil took Olrun. The first two were the daughters of king Lodvi, and the third a daughter of king Kiar of Valland. When they had lived together seven years, a longing for battle came over the Valkyries, and in the absence of the brothers they flew away. Egil and Slagfinn at once set out in search of their wives; Wayland remained alone at home in the Wolf Dales, busying himself in his smithy with the forging of objects of price. While he awaited the return of his wife, he sped the time in fixing precious stones in settings of gold and in fashioning magnificent rings. The fame of his handiwork reached the hearing of Nidud, the evil and greedy king of the Njarir. One night, in the waning of the moon, he [127} marched forth with an armed band and reached the house in the Wolf Dales while Wayland was away hunting. By this time Wayland had finished seven hundred rings, which he had left hanging all together on one rope; Nidud lifted one of them off, and lay in wait for the homecoming of Wayland. Wayland returned, sat down before the fire to roast bear's meat, and in the meantime counted his rings. Missing one of them, he thought that his wife must surely have come home; but while he sat pondering the matter, he fell asleep Awakened by the weight of heavy fetters on his hands and feet, he asked who had laid shackles on him. Nidud called out to learn how Wayland had dared to seize his treasures in the Wolf Dales, to which Wayland answered that all of his possessions were his by right. Nidud now carried Wayland off to his own court, took from him even his splendid sword, and gave the ring to his own daughter Bodvild. But Nidud's queen, fearing the vengeance of Wayland, spoke words of warning to her husband. "His eyes glitter like those of a serpent every time he sees the sword and catches sight of Bodvild's ring," she said; "sever his sinews and expose him on the island of Sævarstead." They did her bidding; having severed Wayland's sinews at the knees, they placed him on the island, where he was employed in forging for the king all manner of precious things, and where none but the king was permitted to visit him. Many a time Wayland bemoaned his fate; without sleeping a wink he plied his task at the smithy and never ceased to meditate on means of repaying Nidud for his treachery. [128}
At last fortune favored his designs. One day Nidud's two sons came out to the island and asked leave to look at his treasures. Opening a chest, he showed them many magnificent things; on the next day they were to return in secret, and he would give them all that he possessed. They came as they had promised, and no one in the palace knew of their coming. Wayland once more opened the chest; and while they stood looking down into it, he let the heavy lid fall in such a way as to cut off their heads. The bodies he hid beneath the floor, but the skulls he silvered over and sent them to Nidud for drinking vessels; the eyeballs he employed as jewels in ornaments for the queen; and from the teeth he fashioned brooches for Bodvild. Now after a time it so happened that Bodvild was unfortunate enough to crack the ring Nidud had given her. Not daring to let her father find out about her misadventure, she secretly sought out Wayland to have him mend it for her. He promised to do so. Since he treated her with great kindness, she suspected no evil when he offered her something to drink; the liquid being strong, she grew giddy and drowsy and so fell an easy prey to his purposes. Now Wayland donned a feather cloak and in this guise flew into Nidud's courtyard, where he settled to rest on the palings. He found Nidud sitting sleepless, brooding over the fate of his sons; divining that Wayland had caused their death, the king questioned him about them. Wayland then told how it all had come about, how the king's sons had been killed, how gems had been framed from their skulls, their eyes, and their [129} teeth, and how Bodvild had been dishonored. Wayland flew away laughing, and Nidud had to stand in helpless rage watching him escape. He called Bodvild to him and asked if it was true that she and Wayland had sat together on the island. "Yes, it is true," replied Bodvild; "we sat together one whole fearful hour I had no power to resist him."
The legend of the Battle of the Hjadnings is recounted as follows in the Prose Edda: King Hogni had a daughter named Hild. Once on a time, when Hogni had gone to a meeting of kings, she was taken captive by king Hedin Hjarrandason. As soon as Hogni learned that his realm had been sacked and his daughter carried off, he set out at the head of his soldiery in pursuit of Hedin. He got news that Hedin had taken flight toward the north; but when Hogni reached Norway, he was told that Hedin had shaped his course over the western seas. Hogni set sail in the wake of his enemy and at length touched the Orkney Islands, where he encountered Hedin off the island of Haey. Hild went to her father and offered him terms of peace in Hedin's name; or, in case he refused, an alternative struggle for life or death. Hogni would not accept the proffer of conciliation. The two kings thereupon landed on the island and marshaled their warriors for battle. Once again Hedin made overtures of peace; calling out to his kinsman, he offered him by way of recompense a heap of gold. But Hogni answered: [130}
"It is too late; I have already drawn the sword Dainsleif, forged in the smithy of the Dwarfs; each time it is bared some man must lose his life; its stroke can never be arrested; and the wounds it makes are never healed."
"You boast of your sword," said Hedin; "but that does not mean that you shall boast of the victory; that sword is the best which does not fail its master at his need." Then they began the battle, to be known ever afterward as the Battle of the Hjadnings. During the whole day they fought on, and at night the kings went aboard their ships. In the course of the night Hild went out on the field of battle and by means of her magic roused into life all of the fallen warriors. The next day the kings marched up on land and began the struggle anew, and with them all those who had been slain the day before. Thus they continued their warfare day after day. All who fell and all weapons and shields that were left on the field turned to stone; but as each new morning broke, the slain rose up armed and ready for the fray. In this way the Battle of the Hjadnings is to go forward till the coming of the Twilight of the Gods.
Another sword, a match for Dainsleif, bore the name Tyrfing. It was forged under durance by the Dwarfs Dulin and Dvalin for Svafrlami, the brave grandson of Odin. Svafrlami had surprised them outside of their rock and had made haste to cast spells over them to prevent their getting back into the stone. He then [131} threatened to take their lives unless they promised to forge for him a sword with hilt and handle of gold, a sword which would never rust, which would always bring victory, and which would cut iron as if it were so much cloth. The Dwarfs gave unwilling assent and finished the sword within the designated time; but when Dvalin had given it into the king's hand, and while he was still standing at the door opening into the rock, he said: "Your sword will take the life of a man each time it is unsheathed, and with it three dastard's deeds will be done; it will also bring death on yourself." Svafrlami struck at the Dwarf with the sword, but failed to touch him. After that day he kept the sword in his possession a long time and with it won many a victory in battle and in single combat.
On the island of Bolm dwelt a great Berserk named Arngrim, who fared fair and wide as a Viking. It so happened that in harrying the domains of Svafrlami he came face to face with Svafrlami himself. Svafrlami aimed a blow at Arngrim with Tyrfing, but succeeded only in striking his shield, from which he cut off a portion, while Tyrfing buried its point in the earth. In a moment Arngrim severed Svafrlami's hand from his body, laid hold of Tyrfing, and cleft Svafrlami's body in twain from head to foot. Thus a part of the prophecy of the Dwarf came to be fulfilled. Arngrim now took Svafrlami's fair daughter Eyfura captive, carried her off to Bolm, and made her his wife. They had twelve sons, all of them tall men, strong and warlike, who from their earliest years sped [132} the time in Viking forays, to their own increasing renown. The eldest, named Angantyr, was a head taller than his brothers and as strong as any two of them; the others bore the names Hervard, Hjorvard, Saeming, Rani, Brami, Barri, Reifnir, Tind, Bui, and the two named Hadding, who were twins. Angantyr fell heir to Tyrfing, Hervard had the sword Rotti, Sæming had Mistiltein. Now and again the Berserk rage came over them, and during such periods it chanced a time or two that they killed some of their own men; in order to prevent happenings of this sort, when they felt the Berserk rage taking hold of them they went ashore out of their ships and fought with boulders or with the timbers of the forest. No king ever crossed their purposes, to such a degree were they held in awe for their wildness and cruelty.
One evening at Yuletide the champions of Bolm sat making vows over their flowing bowls. Angantyr avowed his intention of possessing the fair Ingeborg, daughter of king Yngvi of Uppsala. The following summer the brothers journeyed to the court of Yngvi and at once marched into the hall; Angantyr recounted his vow and demanded an immediate answer. On hearing what was said, Hjalmar the Haughty promptly came forward. For a long while he had spent his winters in the retinue of Yngvi and had rendered him most important services. Reminding the king of all his services, he asked Yngvi rather to bestow Ingeborg on himself than on so evil a Berserk as Angantyr. Yngvi declared that Ingeborg herself must make the decision, and she chose Hjalmar; whereupon Angantyr [133} challenged him to single combat on the island of Samsey. Hjalmar promised to appear at the designated place the next summer, and so the brothers returned home. In the spring the sons of Arngrim first paid a visit to Earl Bjartmar, where Angantyr wedded Svava, the earl's daughter. At the time agreed on, both Hjalmar and the sons of Arngrim set sail for Samsey; in Hjalmar's company went his brother in arms, the mighty and famous Norseman Orvar-Odd (Arrow-Odd). Hjalmar elected to fight against Angantyr, and Orvar-Odd against the eleven other brothers. The combat now began, and Odd was fortunate enough to slay all of the eleven; but when he came to see what had befalled Hjalmar, he saw Angantyr lying dead at his enemy's feet, while Hjalmar himself was sitting on a hummock, pale as death. Odd asked how the battle had gone with him, to which he answered: "I have sixteen wounds, my byrnie is worn with the fray, and Tyrfing has pierced me beneath the heart; draw this ring from my finger and carry it to Ingeborg in token of my love." Thus his life ended. Odd laid all the Berserks fully armed in barrows, but Hjalmar's body he bore with him to Sweden. Ingeborg died of a broken heart and was buried in the same mound with Hjalmar.
Some time later Svava, wife of Angantyr, gave birth to a daughter whom they gave the name Hervor and who became the foster child of Bjartmar. She grew up to be tall and well-favored, but even at an early age she showed a vehement and headstrong character; she inclined more to the use of sword and [134} shield than to employments befitting a woman. When she was fully grown, she set out to visit her father's barrow in Samsey, meaning to reclaim Tyrfing from burial. Dressing in men's clothing, she took the name Hervard, joined a band of Vikings, and sailed to the coasts of Samsey. Here she went ashore alone, her companions being afraid of the spectres and evil spirits that were said to harbor there. She did in fact meet with many manifestations of devilry; the barrows appeared to be on fire; not a whit deterred, she strode straight through the flames to the barrows of the Berserks. There she called to Angantyr and his brothers with many incantations, thus compelling her father to answer her summons. Angantyr charged her with madness in rousing dead men in such a way from their repose; he refused to deliver Tyrfing up to her and even maintained that the sword was not in his keeping. Then she demanded it still more vehemently, asserting that the Æsir would grant him no further rest if he denied to his only child her rightful inheritance. "Beware of Tyrfing," Angantyr then answered; "it will destroy all your kindred; it is lying beneath my shoulders, swathed in fire; no maiden I know will dare take it in her hand."
"I fear not your fire," said Hervor. At length Tyrfing flew hurtling into her hand, and she gave many thanks for the gift. "I had rather possess Tyrfing," she continued, "than hold sway over all of Norway." Angantyr notwithstanding reiterated his foreboding prophecy; to which she answered that she cared not what fate might befall her sons. Then he spoke these words: [135}
Long shall you keep
Now she took her departure; but the Vikings had already fled in fear from that haunted place. She was therefore compelled to find other shipping to carry her thence; later she visited king Gudmund of Glæsisvoll, with whom she remained throughout the winter, still in the garb of a man. Gudmund being stricken in years, his son Hofund virtually governed the realm. Once while she was playing chess with Gudmund, and had laid Tyrfing aside, one of the men of the retinue drew it from its scabbard to admire its burnished edge; Hervor at once sprang up and drove the sword through his body, inasmuch as the blade demanded the blood of man once it was unsheathed. Despite this deed Hervor was permitted to depart unmolested; soon falling in with other Vikings, she made common cause with them for a time; when she had tired of their forays, she returned home to her mother's father, where she practised needlework and tapestry like other maidens. The fame of her beauty meanwhile spread far and wide. Hofund paid court to her and won her for his wife. They had two sons, Angantyr and Heidrek. Angantyr was gentle and winsome, and his father loved him most; Heidrek, who was the foster son of the wise champion Gissur, was malicious  of spirit and yet his mother loved him the most; both were tall, strong, and handsome men. Once on a time Hofund gave a great banquet, at which Heidrek and Gissur were not asked to be guests. Heidrek was offended; he nevertheless presented himself at the banquet, where he made such bad blood between two of the guests that one of them killed the other. Hofund, a most upright man, laid the ban of outlawry on Heidrek; whereupon Heidrek, with a mind to causing his father the utmost grief, drew Tyrfing, given him by his mother as a gift, and killed Angantyr. This was the first of the dastard's deeds destined to be done with Tyrfing. As Heidrek was taking his leave, Hofund sped his parting with certain wise counsels, which were to bring him good fortune if he would only follow them. They were as follows:
Heidrek, however, thinking Hofund's counsel to be devised with evil intent, averred that he would give no heed to it. He [137} soon allied himself with a band of Vikings, but not before he had taken occasion to redeem from death two miscreants, one of whom had played false to his overlord and the other of whom had brought about the death of his own sworn brother.
Heidrek before long became a captain of Vikings. Having offered his services to Harold, king of Reidgotaland, he promptly brought defeat on two earls who had been harrying the land. By way of reward he won Harold's fair daughter Helga and one half of the kingdom. Heidrek and Helga had a son, whom they named Angantyr; of equal years with him was a son whom Harold had begotten in old age, and whose name was Halfdan. In course of time a severe famine visited the realm; and when wise men invoked the decree of the gods, they received the answer that they were to offer the most highborn youth of the land in sacrificial atonement. Now each man sought to spare his own son. Harold declared that Angantyr was the nobler of birth, and Heidrek imputed the honor to Halfdan; finally they agreed to leave the decision to the upright Hofund. Heidrek visited his father in person, and Hofund told him that Angantyr held the higher rank, but at the same time taught him an artifice by which the execution of the judgment might be evaded. When Heidrek returned to Reidgotaland he signified his willingness to offer up his son as a sacrifice provided only that every second one of Harold's men would first swear absolute obedience and fealty to himself. They did according to his will, but Heidrek made use of the occasion to create dissension between [138} Harold and Halfdan, further contending that Odin would receive his due if the king, the king's son, and a number of his men were offered up as a sacrifice. No sooner said than done; the battle at once began, and Heidrek slew his own kinsman Halfdan with Tyrfing. That was the second of the dastard's deeds. The blood of Harold and Halfdan was sprinkled on the altar of the gods, and Heidrek dedicated to Odin all who had fallen on the battlefield. But queen Helga, no longer wishing to live, hanged herself in the vale of Disardal.
Heidrek now subjected the whole realm to his own rule and also harried many foreign countries. After gaining a victory over king Humli of the land of the Huns, Heidrek took the king's daughter Sifka captive, kept her by him for a time, and then sent her home to her father's house, where she gave birth to a son, who was called Lod. Not long afterward he took to wife the daughter of the king of Saxland, but soon drove her away because on one of her many visits to her father's court she had played him false. He continued to ponder on ways and means of acting contrary to his father's counsels; accordingly he paid a visit to the mighty king Rollaug of Holmgard in Russia and offered to take the king's son Herlaug under his charge. On Rollaug's giving his consent, Herlaug left the kingdom in Heidrek's company. Some time later, Heidrek paid a visit to Russia and brought with him his mistress Sifka and Herlaug. One day Heidrek went out hunting with Herlaug but returned home alone; under the pledge of secrecy he told Sifka that [139} he had by chance drawn Tyrfing from the scabbard and therefore had come under the necessity of piercing Herlaug's body with the sword. Sifka, unable to keep the secret, revealed it to Herlaug's mother. A great commotion ensued. Heidrek and his men were surprised, he himself was bound with chains, and in this action no one showed more zeal than the two miscreants he had once ransomed. Heidrek was about to be carried out into the forest and hanged, but he was saved by a band of his own men, whom he had had the foresight to place in ambush there. He returned to Reidgotaland, mustered a huge army, and swept with fire and sword through Rollaug's domains; meanwhile the news had come out that Herlaug had not been killed but was safe and sound at Heidrek's court. Rollaug made proffers of peace; Heidrek accepted the terms and later wedded Rollaug's daughter Hergerd, receiving by way of dowry a region called Vindland, contiguous to Reidgotaland. One evening as Heidrek, mounted on his best horse, was bringing Sifka home, who sat with him in the saddle, the horse stumbled just as they reached the banks of a river, and Sifka suffered a broken leg. Heidrek and Hergerd got a daughter, who was given the name of her father's mother Hervor; the child was put under the care of Earl Ormar. Heidrek now forsook his warlike enterprises and devoted himself to establishing law and justice in the land. He forbade all civil conflicts and chose twelve wise men to be judges in all matters of dispute. He offered sacrifice by preference to Frey, in whose honor he reared a boar that grew well-nigh [140} to the size of an ox, and so fair that each hair seemed as if made of gold. Every Yuletide Eve the king and his men swore oaths by the boar, laying one hand on his head and the other on the bristles of his neck. On one occasion the king made the vow that whatsoever a man might do amiss, he should still have the right to lay his cause before the twelve sages for equitable judgment, and he should be privileged to escape his due punishment if he could put riddles that the king would be unable to read.
In Reidgotaland there lived a mighty man named Gestumblindi. He had the misfortune to incur the displeasure of the king and was therefore summoned before the tribunal of the twelve sages. Fearing the worst of evils, he offered sacrifice to Odin for aid. One evening Odin actually appeared before him and promised to help him by going before Heidrek in his stead. Gestumblindi accordingly hid himself, while Odin assumed his likeness and presented himself before the king. Here he was asked if he would like to try his luck at riddling with the king, but Gestumblindi (Odin) showed no eagerness to make the venture. At length he made up his mind to the attempt, and essayed a multitude of riddles, the greater number having to do with nature and some few with divinity; but Heidrek read them all. The following are examples of his riddles:
Finally Gestumblindi Odin put the same question with which he once stopped the mouth of Vafthrudnir:
Now tell me this only,
With these words he drew Tyrfing and was about to cut Odin down; but Odin took the shape of a falcon, and the sword struck only his tail, from which it shore off a part; this is the reason why the falcon has a stubbed tail. Odin said: "Because you broke your promise and drew your sword against me, the most miserable of your thralls shall be your death." And having spoken, he flew away. [144}
A short time afterward the king was murdered by nine thralls who had been freemen in their own land but had been taken prisoners of war by Heidrek. These thralls during the night broke into the king's bedchamber and slew him with Tyrfing. Thus the sword performed the third dastard's deed, and the curse was lifted from it. Angantyr, son of Heidrek, now became king. He set out at once in pursuit of the thralls and came on them as they sat fishing from a boat in the river Graf. As one of them was cutting off the head of a fish with Tyrfing, Angantyr heard him say jocosely: "The pike in the river of Graf must pay the penalty for the killing of Heidrek at the foot of the mountains of Harfada." That very night Angantyr put them to death and carried away Tyrfing. Having thus avenged the slaying of his father, he gave in honor of his own succession a great banquet in his palace of Danparstad in Arheim.
When his half brother Lod got wind of his father's death, he journeyed to Arheim, where Angantyr still was holding his festival, and sat down among the men who were drinking at the table. Angantyr invited him to a seat with himself, but Lod answered: "We have not come to fill our bellies but to demand our rightful inheritance; I lay claim to one half of all the possessions of Heidrek, one half of all that has a point and all that has an edge, of treasures, of cows and calves, of mills, of serving men, of thralls and their children, of the boundary forest Dark Wood, of the sacred grove in the land of the Goths, of the precious stone in Danparstad, one half of fortresses of [145} war, of lands and people, of gleaming gold rings." Angantyr replied: "Shields shall clash and spears cross each other in flight and many a man shall bite the grass before I divide Tyrfing with you, Humlung,  or give you a half of my inheritance; I will give you gold and fee, twelve hundred men, twelve hundred horses, twelve hundred armor-bearers; each man shall receive rich gifts; to each man will I give a maiden, to each maiden a necklace; I will surround you with silver when you sit down and heap gold about you when you arise, so that rings overflow on all sides; you shall hold sway over one third of the lands of the Goths." Heidrek's old foster father, Gissur Grytingalidi, who was still among the living, heard these words, and said: "The serving man's son might well be content with such gifts as these!" When this taunt fell on the ears of Lod, he was enraged and hastened home to his mother's father Humli; the two together mustered a mighty army against Angantyr. When their forces were ready they marched through the boundary forest Dark Wood to the uttermost plains of Gotaland, where Angantyr's sister and her foster father Ormar were stationed in defence of a frontier stronghold against the Huns. Early one morning Hervor became aware of a great cloud of dust; soon after, she saw the glittering of helmets and knew that it marked the army of the Huns. She chose to fight rather than to flee; defending herself bravely she fell in the ensuing battle, and many men with her. Ormar fled the field and rode day and night till he came to Arheim, [146} where he told Angantyr of the battle with the Huns and of Hervor's death. Angantyr's lips twitched with grief as he spoke the words: "In most unbrotherly wise were you betrayed, glorious sister." Then, looking about among his retainers, he spoke again: "We were once many as we sat about our flowing bowls; now that we should be many we are few; I see no man in my retinue who has the strength of will to ride forth against the Huns to offer them battle, even though I promise him a guerdon of rings." Then old Gissur lifted up his voice and said, "I will ride, nor ask for gold or fee." Donning his weeds of war he leaped into the saddle, brisk as any youth, pausing only to ask:
Where shall I bid
Gissur did according to Angantyr's command, and summoned the Huns to battle on the Heaths of Dun. "Marked for death is your war lord," he said; "may Odin turn the flight of the spear after the bent of my words." Lod wished to take him captive; but Humli opposed such a course, and Gissur said, "We do not fear, Huns, your horn bows." Angantyr with his [147} army came to meet the Huns, who were twice the number of the Goths. Yet by day and by night warriors streamed to Angantyr's banner from all parts of his kingdom, and after a day's battle the Goths had the upper hand. Angantyr strode out from beneath the shelter of the stronghold of shields and with Tyrfing hewed down both men and horses. He exchanged buffets with his brother, and both Lod and Humli fell; so many of the Huns were stricken to earth that rivers were dammed in their course and whole valleys were filled with bodies of the slain. Angantyr came across his own brother lying dead. "I offered you chattels and riches," he said; "now you have nought, neither land nor gleaming rings. A curse rests on our kin; I have brought you down to death. Evil is the doom of the Norns."