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Asmund Kempibane — Romund Greipsson — Ragnar Lodbrok and His Sons — Hjorleif and Half — Fridthjof

Asmund Kempibane

In Sweden ruled a mighty king named Budli. Before him once came two men who gave their names as Olius and Alius; they boasted of their superior skill as smiths, and the king therefore bade them forge for him one sword each, swords that would cut anything they touched. The sword made by Alius met all tests imposed by the king; but the edge of Olius's sword bent a little under trial. Budli accordingly bade Olius forge a better one; the smith did so, but against his will, and foretold when he had finished that the sword should be the death of the two sons of the king's daughter. The king in anger struck at him with the sword, but in a twinkling the two smiths had disappeared. Budli, intent on bringing the prophecy to nothing, caused the swords to be sunk in Lake Mälaren near Agnafit.

King Hildebrand in Hunaland had a warlike son named Helgi, who paid court to Budli's daughter Hild. Budli looked with favor on his suit and later found in Helgi a staff for his old age in times when it was hard for him to defend his realm. Helgi and Hild got a son who was named Hildebrand; the boy, put under the fostering charge of his father's father, gave early promise of becoming a great warrior. Once while Helgi was absent at the wars in which he lost his life, [240} Budli's land suffered an inroad by enemies; the Danish king Alf with a large army entered Sweden and slew the old king. The king's daughter Hild was bestowed on Alf's bravest warrior, Aki, as a reward for his valor; they had a son, Asmund by name, who even in early youth became known as a famous Viking. Asmund's half brother Hildebrand had by that time fared far and wide and by mighty deeds had earned the name of Hun-Champion. Having learned of the death of his mother's father Budli, he set out for Denmark to wreak vengeance on Alf. Aki and Asmund chanced to be off on a Viking foray just when the king most needed their aid; for no one could resist the doughty Hildebrand. In Berserk rage he broke the ranks of Alf. The king himself fell in battle, leaving a daughter named Æsa. When Aki and Asmund returned, Hildebrand had already departed. All was now quiet for a time.

Asmund soon paid court to Æsa but found a powerful rival in Eyvind Skinnhall, a rich and mighty man. Æsa promised to wed that one who the next autumn should be able to show her the fairest hands. Eyvind during the summer took his ease and never removed his gloves from his hands; but Asmund spent the time in Viking raids that brought him both honour and booty. In the autumn they both presented themselves before Æsa for the purpose of showing her their hands. Eyvind's were white and fair: Asmund's, on the contrary, were filled with scars and gashes, but his arms were adorned with rings up to the very shoulders. Æsa decreed that Asmund had the fairer hands and [241} promised to wed him if he would avenge her father's death on Hildebrand Hun-Champion. To do so, she said, he must find the sword that had been sunk in the waters at Agnafit, for this weapon alone would prevail against Hildebrand's. Asmund set forth on his quest; at Agnafit he met an aged peasant who still remembered the spot where the sword had been submerged, and with the old man's help he fetched it up from the deep.

In the meantime Hildebrand had brought the counts of Saxony to a sorry pass. Each year he bade his Berserks challenge the counts' men to combat, the penalty being a landed estate each time the Saxons were worsted. In this way they were losing both their men and their lands; at last they had but twelve estates left. In the nick of time Asmund came to their aid, promising to take up the battle against Hildebrand. When the day set for the combat drew near, Hildebrand sent one of his Berserks out against Asmund; but Asmund promptly shore him through the middle. The next day Hildebrand sent two Berserks out against him, but they met the same fate. Hildebrand gradually raised the number to eight, but Asmund continued to carry away the victory. In a fury of rage Hildebrand despatched against him the remaining eleven Berserks all at once; these too Asmund succeeded in cutting down. When this news reached Hildebrand, his Berserk madness came over him, so that he even slew his own son. Afterward he advanced up along the banks of the Rhine to meet Asmund himself, bearing on his shield the tally of all [242} the men he had killed during his whole life. Asmund came out to the onslaught, and a long and fierce combat ensued. At last Hildebrand's sword was shattered on Asmund's helmet. Hildebrand himself, stricken with many wounds, then chanted a lay revealing to Asmund that they two were brothers, born of one and the same mother. Praying that he might be buried in Asmund's clothing, Hildebrand died. Little joy did Asmund take in what he had done. He at once returned to Denmark and there found that Æsa had a new suitor. She was glad to see him; and when he had laid his rival low, he took her to wife. In the course of time he added still more to his renown.

On Asmund Kempibane

Page 242, line 13 — The legend is related here as told in Asmundar Saga Kappabana (ca. 1300). It has several somewhat less original features that bear witness of the influence of other legends; the fateful' sword is reminiscent of Tyrfing, and king Budli's testing the swords brings to mind Sigurd Fafnirsbane's similar test. Attention must also be called to the names Alius and Olius, which have a late, non-Northern tinge. Finally, it is worth noticing that there are contradictions within the saga itself Olius foretells that the sword is to cause the death of two sons of the king's daughter, but in the event it appears that the prophecy strikes Hildebrand alone. The kernel of the saga must nevertheless be ancient; not only is the legend found in a closely related traditional Danish form in Saxo, but the central motive may be recognized in the ancient South-Germanic literature dealing with Hildebrand, one of the retainers of Dietrich of Bern.

In Saxo the legend takes the following shape: A Swede, the warlike Gunnar, made an incursion into Norway in the course of which he pillaged Jæren in a fearful manner. The Norwegian king Regnald placed his daughter Drota in hiding in a subterranean cavern, where he also concealed certain precious swords, while he himself sallied forth against the Vikings. The king was slain, and Gunnar discovered Drota's hiding place and carried her away; but he failed to find the swords. They got a son, who was named Hildiger and who at an early age developed such violent traits of character that his father at last was compelled to send him into exile. The Danish champion Borkar killed Gunnar and thus avenged the death of Regnald; he took Drota to wife and with her had a son named Halfdan, who came to be a very brave man. Borkar fell in battle, and Halfdan on the same occasion received a gash across the mouth that never quite healed and that left his features badly disfigured. Nevertheless he paid court to a princess named Guritha; and when she turned him away, he vowed to do such mighty deeds that she would no more think of his appearance. Having received from his mother the splendid swords Lysing and Hviting, he took service as a warrior among the "Ruthenians" (Russians), who at the [355} time were engaged in warfare with king Alf (Alverus) in Sweden. Hildiger was one of the combatants in the Swedish army. He had slain many men of the enemy and had challenged many more. Halfdan now stepped forward; but Hildiger recognized his brother, and without making himself known refused to fight against him. Halfdan then challenged another of the Swedes and laid him low; the next day he despatched two men, and continued in his course until on the eighth day he slew eleven. Hildiger could no longer refuse to go out against him. but Hildiger too received a mortal stroke. Yet before he died he revealed their kinship through the singing of a lay; he declared also that all his deeds of prowess would be found depicted on his shield, but in the center of the target was the image of his only son, whom he had slain with his own hand. Thus he ended his life, and Halfdan returned to Denmark. In the meantime a rumor had spread abroad that Halfdan was dead, and Guritha was about to be wedded to a Saxon noble named Sigvard. Halfdan, however, came home in such good season that he was able to kill the Saxon and wed Guritha himself. Their son was the famous Harold Hilditonn.

In Saxo, as it thus appears, Regnald corresponds to Budli of the saga, Drota to Hild, Gunnar to Helgi, Hildiger to Hildebrand, Borkar to Aki, Halfdan to Asmund, and Guritha to Æsa; the last named princess has in each of the sources a father named Alf. Yough the names differ, there is much to indicate that we have to do with one and the same legend. The combat of the brothers is presented in the same way in both passages; the number of the Berserks who fall on the last day, for example, is eleven. The verses quoted by Saxo agree in part verbally with those cited in the saga; Hildebrand's shield is mentioned in both poems, and likewise the slaying of the son, in spite of the fact that Saxo in his narrative makes no mention of this detail. One remarkable point of identity between Saxo and the verses of the saga (but not of the prose narrative of the saga) is that the verse has the name Drott instead of Hild. Here Saxo's account is more primitive than that of the saga. One important name, meanwhile, the saga has preserved the more faithfully, that of Hildebrand.

Hildebrand must be the German hero of the same name who is well known from the Nibelungenlied (see p. 196). He was Dietrich of Bern's armorer and dwelt with his overlord at the court of Etzel, king of the Huns. In the extant fragment of the remarkable [356} ancient German poem, the Hildebrandslied (dating from the eighth century), Hildebrand's story runs as follows: Having been granted a furlough by Dietrich for the purpose of visiting his home, he met on the journey his own son Hadubrand, whom he had last seen as a small boy. Each gave the other his name; but Hadubrand, thinking that the old man was twitting him in claiming to be his father, engaged in combat with him. Since the poem is not extant in its entirety, the outcome of the duel can only be surmised. According to Dietrich's Saga; which rests on late German narratives, Hildebrand worsted his son (who is here called Alebrand) but did not kill him, and the two journeyed home together. Both Saxo and the saga mentioned above, on the other hand, declare that Hildebrand killed his only son; so it seems likely that the original legend (and the Hildebrandslied probably as well) gave a more tragic ending to the combat. No straggle between Hildebrand and a half brother of his is known to German legend, and this story therefore seems to have originated in the North in a period when the memory of the true circumstances had grown faint; this situation would also account for the difference as to the outcome of the combat. Some dim recollection of Hildebrand's having killed his only son nevertheless continued to survive; it is recorded in Saxo without connection with the rest of the narrative, while the saga bears witness to a most unfortunate attempt at motivation of the deed in question.

Romund Greipsson

A certain wealthy husbandman named Greip and his wife Gunnlod, a daughter of Rok the Black, had nine stalwart sons, of whom the most stalwart bore the name Romund. Once on a time they all went out on a Viking expedition with king Olaf of Garder. Near the Wolf Skerries they encountered six warships under the command of a redoubtable Viking named Rongvid. A furious battle followed. The king's men were on the point of losing courage; but when Romund at length succeeded in felling Rongvid, the enemy was compelled to give in. Rongvid's brother, Helgi the Brave, accepted quarter from Romund and healing for his wounds; Helgi then went to Sweden and there joined the forces defending the land. After the victory king Olaf sailed westward to the Southern Isles, where [243} his men landed and took booty. An old man, whose cattle they had seized, ridiculed their action as cowardly and mean, and directed them to riches that were really worth taking. He told them that a powerful Berserk named Thrain, who once was king of Valland, lay buried in a mound in the midst of a vast treasure; he was brooding over his wealth in the shape of a Sprite, but they might nevertheless be able to gain possession of it. Romund, having thanked him for his counsel and besought his guidance for the journey, sailed away for Valland. They found the cairn easily enough, but Romund alone had the courage to enter it. After a furious struggle with the Sprite, he emerged victorious from the cairn with untold treasure and with Thrain's sword Misteltein. Having won renown through this exploit, after his return home he cast his eyes on the king's sister Swanwhite. But his enemies spread such evil rumors about him that he and his brothers were finally forced to leave the king's bodyguard and seek safety in flight.

Not long afterward king Olaf was challenged to a combat on the ice of Lake Vänaren by a Swedish king named Hadding, one of whose retainers at the time was Helgi the Brave. Swanwhite, mistrusting her brother's success in the struggle, sought out Romund in secret and begged him to come without delay to the aid of the king. Romund promised to do as she bade him. He and his eight brothers set forth at once. Over the heads of the Swedish hosts there flew a Troll woman named Kara in the likeness of a swan, who by her magic spells brought great harm to king Olaf's men; [244} she was Helgi's beloved. Helgi had the good fortune to slay all of Romund's brothers. At last Romund and Helgi met face to face; as Helgi lifted his sword, he happened to strike the swan on the foot so that it fell to earth dead. "Now your luck is at an end, Helgi!" Romund shouted, and therewith clove his enemy's head with Misteltein. Romund himself had suffered fourteen wounds; notwithstanding he continued the battle till his foes fled. Swanwhite sewed up his gashes and sent him to a husbandman named Hagal, whose wife, as it chanced, had skill in sundry arts and crafts. In their house he was healed of his wounds.

King Hadding had a counselor named Blind the Bad. Blind having learned that Romund was in hiding in Hagal's house, told the news to the king, who at once gave commands to seize the dangerous enemy. Blind made a search of Hagal's house, but his wife had hidden Romund under a huge kettle, so that Blind saw nothing of him. As the messengers were on their homeward way, it occurred to Blind that he had forgotten to look beneath the kettle, and so he promptly retraced his steps. But Hagal's wife, having foreseen something of the sort, had dressed Romund in the clothing of a woman and had set him to work grinding at the mill. Although Romund cast sharp glances at them while they searched for him, a spell was on them so that they failed to recognize him. Not before they were homeward bound once more did Blind realize who the handmaiden was; but he understood as well that he could not cope with the craft of the old woman and so returned home with his errand unfulfilled. The [245} next year king Olaf again mustered an army to invade Hadding's realm, and Romund followed in his train. They surprised Hadding as he lay abed. Hadding was slain by Romund. Blind was hanged. Romund took Swanwhite to wife. From them famous families count their descent.

On Romund Greipsson

Page 245, line 6 — The story of Romund is told in a highly romantic saga (Hrómundar Saga Greipssonar), in which, however, old legends have been incorporated. Helgi the Brave is to be identified with Helgi Haddingjaskati, and the Troll woman Kara is his beloved, the Valkyrie Kara; they were the subject of a lost poem, the Káruljóð (see note to p. 165). Another legendary feature as well, belonging to the Eddic lays, has found its way into this saga. In Helgakviða Hundingsbana Onnur we read that Helgi Hundingsbane was a foster son of Hagal and that he was saved from the designs of king Hunding by his foster father's setting him to work grinding at the mill in woman's clothing. The saga thus seems to be a product in part of ancient legendary motives and in part of stories of adventure of a type that was very popular in later times. The Landnámabók mentions a certain [357} Romund Greipsson as having lived in Telemark; he is said to have been the ancestor of Ingolf and Leif, the first settlers in Iceland.

The Sturlunga Saga (Kålund's edition, I, 22) informs us that Rolf of Skalmarnes, in the course of a festival at Reykjahólar in Iceland (in the year 1119) recited a saga "of Rongvid the Viking and of Olaf, king of warriors, of the robbing of Thrain's mound, and of Romund Greipsson, and in it there were many verses. The same saga was (later) recounted for the amusement of king Sverri, and he said that these lying sagas were the most entertaining. Yet men have been able to trace their origin back to Romund Greipsson. Rolf himself composed this saga." The brief list of contents shows clearly that the saga told by Rolf was the one detailed above. But the saga cannot have been committed to writing so early, and its present shape cannot be the original; proof hereof is to be found in the fact that the saga as we know it contains no verse.

Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons

Herrod, earl of Gautland, had a fair daughter named Thora, with the surname of Borgarhjort. From her father she got as a present a small grass snake, which she kept in a box and under which she laid a bed of gold. As the snake grew, the gold grew too; but the snake at length became so large that it could no longer find room in her bower but curled itself in a circle about the house. It now showed such bad temper that no one dared approach it except the man who gave it food, and he was compelled to bring it an ox for each meal. The earl, thinking that matters were taking an ill turn, promised his daughter to any man who should kill it, and the gold besides by way of dowry; yet no man dared attempt the task.
King Sigurd Ring of Denmark had a son named Ragnar. He was tall and handsome, and distinguished at an early age for his valor and his deeds of prowess. Having learned of the earl's offer, he journeyed with his men to Gautland. Before setting out he equipped himself with a shaggy cloak and shaggy breeches that had been steeped in boiling pitch. Clothed in this raiment he went ashore early one morning and, making [246} his way to the earl's house, thrust his spear through the serpent. Though the serpent spouted venom over him, Ragnar suffered no harm, being protected by his heavy garments. Having thus killed the serpent, he took Thora to wife and with her had two sons, Erik and Agnar. Thora died soon after, and Ragnar mourned her death so deeply that he forsook his kingdom and wandered about, continually engaged in warfare. One summer he came to Spangereid in Norway, and there lay at anchor in the harbor during the night. In the morning he sent his bakers ashore to bake bread. They found a little farm, where two people lived named Aki and Grima — the same two who had killed king Heimir and who now had in their keeping Sigurd Fafnirsbane's daughter Aslaug or, as she was called there, Kraka. [1] The bakers got help in their work from the fair Kraka. She had been out bathing, something that Grima had forbidden her to do, being unwilling that any one should discover the girl's beauty. Kraka had loosened her long hair, which had grown under the tarred hat she was compelled to wear; fine as silk, it reached down to the very ground when she stood upright. The bakers, who were to go about their work with her, lost their senses completely when they beheld her beauty, and so their loaves were burned. Ragnar, in seeking to learn the cause of their mishap, found out how fair a woman Kraka was. He sent his men to summon her into his presence; but wishing to make trial of her wit, he bade her come neither dressed nor nude, neither hungry nor [247} filled, neither alone nor in the company of another. Kraka removed her clothing, wrapped herself in a net, swathed herself in her own hair as in a garment, took a bite from a leek, and brought the husbandman's dog along at her heels. In this manner she met the difficult test, and Ragnar was so taken with her beauty and wisdom that he wanted to carry her away with him without further ado. But she would not go with him till he should have returned from a certain expedition which he was about to undertake; if by that time he had not changed his mind, she would consent to be his wife. Ragnar returned indeed in due season, and Kraka went with him aboard the ship, after telling her stepfather and stepmother that she knew of their evil deed but had no mind to take vengeance on them. They were married in state on Ragnar's returning to his own kingdom, and Kraka bore him sons who were named Ivar Lackbones, Bjorn Ironside, Whitesark, and Ragnvald. The three younger sons were stalwart and brave. Ivar, having cartilage instead of bones, was unable to walk; he had himself carried about in the company of his brothers, and since he surpassed them in shrewdness they always followed his advice. He was also the one among them who first thought of winning honour in Viking forays; he egged the others into making an incursion against Whitby, and they captured the town, but Ragnvald fell in the course of the attack.

In Sweden there ruled a king named Eystein, a man most zealous in offering sacrifices. In preference to all other deities he worshipped a cow, Sibilja, that [248} walked before his army in battle, filling the enemy with fear. King Eystein and Ragnar Lodbrok were the best of friends and paid frequent visits to each other. Once on a time, when Ragnar was feasting at the court of Eystein, Eystein's fair daughter filled the beakers for the kings; Ragnar's retainers persuaded him to make her his bride and to put away the humble peasant's daughter Kraka. King Eystein too favored the match, and so it was agreed that Ragnar was to return later to claim the princess. Ragnar bade his men say nothing about the plan to Kraka; but three birds revealed the secret to the queen, and when he came home she upbraided him with what he purposed doing. Not till that moment had she disclosed to him her true descent and her right name. She was about to give birth to a child, she told him, and it was to be a son who should be marked with the image of a serpent in his eye; this token would prove her to be the daughter of Sigurd Fafnirsbane. It all happened just as she had foretold, and the boy got the name of Sigurd Snake-In-The-Eye. But king Eystein's wrath was kindled because Ragnar had broken his troth with the princess, and from that time Eystein was Ragnar's enemy. Ragnar's eldest sons Erik and Agnar therefore mustered an army to carry the combat within the confines of Sweden, but luck was against them; Agnar fell, and Erik, who would not owe his life to Eystein, chose to die by being thrown on a spear fixed in the earth. One of his men carried his ring to queen Aslaug, who without delay egged her sons on to avenge his death. With an army they sailed for Sweden and [249] slew king Eystein in battle, Ivar Lackbones having succeeded meanwhile in killing Sibilja. After finishing this enterprise, they continued to make war throughout the south, gaining renown on every hand. They destroyed the powerful stronghold of Vivilsborg, captured Luna, and had no thought of halting their course till they should have reached Rome. From an old man who came to them in Luna they sought to learn how long was the road to Rome. He showed them a pair of iron boots on his feet and another pair slung across his back; both pairs, he declared, he had worn out on the journey from Rome to Luna. The sons of Lodbrok now realized that they would have to give up their plan of pushing on against Rome.

In the meantime Ragnar had remained quietly at home. He soon heard of the renown his sons were winning and determined not to be outdone by them. He gave orders for the building of two great merchant vessels, so large that with them he could transport a whole army overseas to England. Aslaug advised him to divide his host among several smaller ships so as to make landing more easy; but Ragnar would not heed her good counsel. She then gave him at his departure a shirt capable of protecting him against all kinds of wounds, and he set forth on his expedition. On the coasts of England, however, his two ships ran aground; although he effected the landing of his men, he was thus cut off from retreat. Ella was king in England at the time. When the news of Ragnar's invasion reached him, he gathered a large army and with it destroyed the enemy by force of numbers. [250} Ragnar himself was taken prisoner and cast by Ella's orders into a den of serpents. But the shirt protected him from their stings; only when it was stripped from his back did he succumb to their venom. Before he died he sang a lay, in which were these words: "The pigs would grunt if they knew what pains the boar suffers."

Ragnar's sons having meanwhile returned to Denmark, Ella sent couriers to acquaint them with the death of their father, with instructions to note carefully how each of them received the tidings. The messengers found Ivar sitting in the high seat, while Whitesark and Sigurd were playing chess, and Bjorn was busied in shaping a spear shaft. As the heralds were delivering their message, Bjorn shook the shaft till it broke in two, Whitesark crushed a chessman in his hands so that the blood sprang from under his nails, while Sigurd, who was paring his nails, cut his finger to the bone without giving the least sign. Ivar alone questioned the messengers closely and spoke quietly with them, the only mark of his agitation being a change of color, from flushed cheeks to paleness. When Ella was told all these things, he said, "Ivar we have to fear, and none other." The brothers now deliberated on taking vengeance for their father; but Ivar lifted his voice against such a course, advising instead that they accept wergild from Ella. The others, incensed at his speech, mustered an army. Although Ivar went with them to England, he led no armed force and took no part in the battle, in which the brothers were defeated. He sought the presence of [251} Ella by himself to demand a small forfeit for his father: only as much land as he might be able to encompass with an ox hide. Ella deemed this a most reasonable demand; but crafty Ivar cut a softened hide in strips, by means of which he encompassed a large plain. There he built a house and a stronghold and gave the place the name of Lundunaborg (London). He had bound himself by an oath not to make war against Ella; but he used his patrimony to entice the mightiest men of the land away from Ella. When he judged that all things fitted his purpose, he sent word to his brothers that they should muster a large army. They did as he bade them and crossed over to England. Ella found himself unable to put a sufficient force in the field because his liege men had forsworn their faith. In a decisive battle he was taken captive, and at Ivar's orders the bloody eagle was carved on his back. Thus he died. Ivar now permitted his brothers to maintain their sway over Ragnar's realm; he took England for himself and ruled there till his death. Whitesark was taken prisoner on an expedition to the shores of the Baltic, and chose as his mode of death to be burned on a pyre of human skulls. Bjorn later ruled in Sweden, and Sigurd Snake-In-The-Eye in Denmark.

  1. See p 190 f.

On Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons

Page 251, line 24 — Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons form the subject of two Icelandic sagas, Saga of Ragnari Konungi Loðbrók ok Sonum Hans, which has connections with the Volsunga Saga, and Þáttr af Ragnars Sonum. The last named is derived, like the Latin excerpt in the Icelander Arngrim Jónsson's Rerum Danicarum Fragmenta (ca. 1600), from a lost saga of the Danish kings, the Skjoldunga Saga. Mention may be made besides of Ragnar's death lay, Krákumál (from the twelfth century). Saxo too has (in Book IX) many and in part divergent accounts of Ragnar. He gives Ragnar no less than ten sons, among them one named Ubbi. The Icelandic sources make especially prominent Ragnar's two marriages and what is connected with these, and also his unfortunate incursion into England; they attribute to his sons the famous deeds. Saxo, on the other hand, presents Ragnar too as a formidable Viking and a great conqueror.

As Axel Olrik has demonstrated, Saxo derives his history of Ragnar in great part from Norse legends. This is the case, for example, with the story of Ragnar's first wife, Lathgertha, in which Saxo follows a local legend from the neighborhood of Trondhjem. It runs, in brief, thus: Free, king of Sweden, to be identified with the god Frey, has slain the Norwegian king Sivard, [358} the father of Ragnar's father, and has carried off women belonging to the royal house. Ragnar takes vengeance, and in the struggle against Frœ receives aid from sundry Norwegian women; at their head marches Lathgertha, a maiden used to warfare, with her hair hanging down about her shoulders. Later he goes alone to her dwelling in "Gœlerdal" (Guldal); a bear and a dog stand bound outside the door; he knocks down the one and splits open the muzzle of the other. Then he enters the house and gets "the maiden herself "as a reward for the dangers he had run."

In connection with the story of Jormunrek reference has been made to the disposition on the part of the makers of legend to connect originally distinct legends into a legendary cycle (see p. 190 and p. 199 f.). Like Jormunrek, Ragnar too has in this way found a place, by means of his marriage, in the great legendary cycle dealing with the Volsungs. Ragnar's death in the serpents' den had so definite a similarity to details in the legends of the Volsungs that it was able to carry over with it the combat with the serpent; Ragnar thus has features in common both with the Gjukung Gunnar and with Sigurd Fafnirsbane.

The legends of Ragnar and of the sons of Lodbrok have their basis in great measure in historical events. These events, however, have in the Icelandic saga been embellished with romantic motives of purely literary invention; Ragnar's Saga is thus far from being actual history. The historical foundation must be sought in the works of foreign writers, in French and English chronicles. We read in contemporary Frankish annals that a certain Ragnar in the year 845 sailed up the Seine as far as Paris, which he pillaged, and that another chieftain named Bjorn (called by a later writer Bier ferreae costae, i.e., Bjorn Ironside) by way of the same vein penetrated far into the country and remained in France for the space of several years. In English annals we read that an army under the command of the brothers Halfdan, Ingvar, and Ubbi in 855 made an inroad upon England. In 866 Ingvar and Ubbi came back once more, and in 867 they defeated two Northumbrian kings near York; both kings, of whom the one was named Ella, fell in the battle. The brothers remained in the land several years, and in 870 killed the East-Anglian king Edmund. Ingvar died soon afterward, but the army carried on its warfare in England for some years, until Ubbi was slain. The sources give no indication, however, that the incursion of 866 was due to any desire of the brothers to avenge their father. A certain Sigfred, [359} brother to a Danish king Halfdan, is mentioned in an entry under the year 873. There is no evidence in any of the contemporary sources that these brothers were sons of the Ragnar first mentioned or of any other man whatsoever bearing this name. The Norman historian William of Jumièges (ca. 1070) is the first writer to call the aforesaid Bier ferreae costae a son of "king Lothroc" (he does not call him Ragnar Lodbrok); and English sources of the twelfth century are the first to name Ingvar and Ubbi as the sons of Lodebroch. (From the close of the same century dates a runic inscription in the very ancient burial mound at Maeshowe in the Orkneys, reading as follows: sia houhr uar laþin hœlr loþbrokar synir hœnar þœir uoro huater; that is, "this mound was raised before Lodbrok's; her sons they were bold." According to Sophus Bugge we are not permitted, with Munch and G. Storm, to assume from hœnar that loþbrokar here is a woman's name; hœnar is used because loþbrokar is grammatically feminine; cf., in rustic Norwegian dialects, "ho" as used of "ei kjempa.") The name Ragnar Lodbrok occurs for the first time in Danish sources in a chronicle dating from about the year 1150, and in Icelandic for the first time in Ari Frodi (about 1130). Whether any of the brothers really made expeditions into the Mediterranean and conquered Luna (in Tuscany) is likewise uncertain; this story was originally told of Bjorn Ironside by William of Jumièges; but this writer is most untrustworthy in dealing with the history of the Viking expeditions. Certain it is, at any rate, that they never captured Vivilsborg (i.e., Wiflisburg or Avenches in Switzerland). Nornagests þáttr also has an account of their conquest of these two towns; here the old man who dissuades them from proceeding against Rome is called Sónes; according to S. Bugge, this is an alien name, probably Romance in origin, and the legend dealing with this expedition therefore in all probability found its way from without into the North.

Cf. Johannes Steenstrup, Normannerne I (1876), pp. 81-127; Gustav Storm, Kritiske Bidrag til Vikingetidens Historie (1878), pp. 35-132; Axel Olrik, Kilderne til Sakses oldhistorie II (1894), pp. 102-33, with which see Aarbøger for nordisk oldkyndighed 1894, pp. 94-96, 147 ff. (Arngrim Jónsson); S. Bugge, Bidrag til den œldste Skaldedigtnings Historie (1894). [360}

Hjorleif and Half

Tradition relates that in the time of Vikar, who is mentioned in the legend of Starkad, there lived as ruler of Rogaland a king named Hjorr. His son Hjorleif in his turn held dominion over both Rogaland [252} and Hordaland. Hjorleif, by reason of his many marriages, got the nickname of "woman-lover." First he was wedded to Æsa the Bright of Valdres; some time later, on a voyage to Bjarmiland, he took to wife Hild the Slender from Njardey (now Nærøy) near Namdalen. He became after a season a fast friend to Heri in Kongehelle, a son of Reidar, king of Zealand. Reidar invited Hjorleif to visit his house, and the sojourn ended with a marriage between Hjorleif and the king's daughter Ringja. On the voyage to Norway Ringja fell sick and died; her body, sunk into the sea, drifted back to her father's shipyard. There Heri found the coffin and came to the conclusion that Hjorleif had put her to death. That same autumn two fishermen, having caught a merman, brought him before Hjorleif. The king saw to it that the merman was well treated by the royal retinue, but no one could draw a word from his lips. Once queen Hild had the mischance to spill a horn filled with liquor over Æsa's cloak; when the king struck her, she laid the blame on the dog Floki, that had come in her way, and the king likewise beat the dog. The merman burst into laughter; on the king's asking him why, he answered: "Because you have played the fool; these two shall in good time save your life." The king promised him liberty if he would only make other prophecies of like import; and as they walked down toward the sea, the merman chanted verses foretelling that before long the king of Denmark would make his appearance, bringing bloody battles with him. Hjorleif now sought to gather an army; but Reidar, intent on [253} avenging his daughter, came on Hjorleif by stealth during the night and surrounded the house. Floki began to bark as was his wont when he sensed danger. Hjorleif rushed out and hurled a spear at his enemies which brought Heri to earth. Hjorleif escaped to the forest but had to stand looking on while his estates were burned. Reidar carried off the two queens and much booty. Afterward during the same autumn Hjorleif stole alone into Reidar's house, where he asked his own wife Æsa to help him in taking his revenge; but she, having no love for him, betrayed his design to Reidar, who ordered him to be hung up by his own shoe strings between two fires. In his worst need his other wife Hild came to his aid. She moderated the heat by pouring ale on the flames; and when Reidar had fallen asleep over his cups, she loosed the bands with which Hjorleif was bound. Hjorleif then killed his enemy and hung the body up in the same cords from which he himself had been saved. He now returned home with his two wives. The people assembled in judgment doomed Æsa to a death by drowning in a morass; but Hjorleif contented himself with sending her home with her dowry to Valdres. King Hjorleif lost his life on a Viking foray. His son by Æsa was named Oblaud; by Hild he had two sons, Hjorolf and Half.

Hild later wedded a king named Asmund, under whose tutelage her two sons grew up When Hjorolf had reached thirteen years of age, he was taken with a desire to try his luck as a Viking. He gathered about him as many men as he could find; but he took account [254} of numbers alone and paid no heed to whether his retainers were able men or fitly armed. Soon he met with misfortune and had to return home in disgrace.

The following spring Half reached his twelfth year, and he too determined to seek his fortune as a freebooter. He had but one ship; but it was new and uncommonly well provided, and he was most hard to please in the choosing of his men. No man was to be younger than eighteen years, and to be accepted he had to be able to lift a huge stone that lay in the courtyard; no man was to complain or to move a muscle in case he happened to be wounded. Half's foremost counselor was Stein, a son of earl Alf the Old of Hordaland. This Stein had a brother, twelve years of age, of the same name; but he was too young to be one of the warriors. Stein's cousins, Rok the White and Rok the Black, were among the champions, the number of whom all told was only twenty-three. On the first evening that they lay in harbor, a hard rain was falling, wherefore Stein meant to raise the tents; but the king put him aback with the words, "Are you still going to raise tents, as if you were at home?" Thenceforth Stein bore the nickname of In-Stein. The next day, as they were rounding a headland in a stiff gale, they saw some one standing there making signs that he wanted to be taken aboard ship They granted his wish but, so the king decreed, only on his promising to man the rudder till evening. The stranger looked with favor on the proposal, since in that case he would have his station near the king. It soon appeared that it was the younger brother [255} Stein who had boarded the ship; he was dubbed Out-Stein.

Half's men, who were called Half's Champions, never numbered more than sixty. They were governed by strict laws. No one of them was to bear a sword of more than two feet in length, since they had orders to close with the enemy at short range. They were forbidden to carry off women or children. No man was to bind up his wounds before a day had passed. They were not to raise their tents aboard ship They were never to reef their sails in a storm; if they were compelled to lay by, they were not to seek harborage but to ride out the storm, even off the most forbidding headlands. With champions such as these Half led his Viking life for eighteen years, always victorious. Once on a time when they encountered a terrific gale, they agreed to cast lots to determine which of them was to leap overboard to lighten the ship; but the lots were never cast, for the men vied with one another in jumping into the sea, with the shout, "There is no straw outside the gunwales" (that is to say, they should not die on beds of straw if they dived over the side). Half then sailed to Hordaland, where his stepfather king Asmund acknowledged him as overlord, swore fealty, and then invited Half and one half of his force home for a festival. In-Stein had no faith in Asmund; having dreamed foreboding dreams, he begged Half to take all of his men with him; but the king, refusing to listen to this prudent counsel, went off with only one half of his band. It was a most splendid feast, and the drink was so strong that [256} Half's Champions fell asleep King Asmund promptly set fire to the hall. One of Half's Champions waked and cried out, "Smoke wreathes the hawks in the king's hall." Then he lay down to sleep again. Another waked and called out, "Wax drips from our swords" (an intimation that the wax used in the setting of the swords was melting with the heat). Finally In-Stein waked and shouted to Half. The king rose and roused all of his men, and they all ran together against the wall with such force that the corner timbers sprang apart, and they made their escape. But Asmund's greater numbers bore them down, and Half himself fell. The men from the ships now rushed into the fray, and In-Stein kept up the battle till nightfall; then he fell, and by that time many of Half's Champions had met a like fate. Out-Stein was wounded, but recovered and fled to Denmark; he and Rok the Black later killed Asmund and thus avenged their liege lord. Half's son Hjorr now became king of Hordaland.

On Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons

Page 251, line 24 — Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons form the subject of two Icelandic sagas, Saga of Ragnari Konungi Loðbrók ok Sonum Hans, which has connections with the Volsunga Saga, and Þáttr af Ragnars Sonum. The last named is derived, like the Latin excerpt in the Icelander Arngrim Jónsson's Rerum Danicarum Fragmenta (ca. 1600), from a lost saga of the Danish kings, the Skjoldunga Saga. Mention may be made besides of Ragnar's death lay, Krákumál (from the twelfth century). Saxo too has (in Book IX) many and in part divergent accounts of Ragnar. He gives Ragnar no less than ten sons, among them one named Ubbi. The Icelandic sources make especially prominent Ragnar's two marriages and what is connected with these, and also his unfortunate incursion into England; they attribute to his sons the famous deeds. Saxo, on the other hand, presents Ragnar too as a formidable Viking and a great conqueror.

As Axel Olrik has demonstrated, Saxo derives his history of Ragnar in great part from Norse legends. This is the case, for example, with the story of Ragnar's first wife, Lathgertha, in which Saxo follows a local legend from the neighborhood of Trondhjem. It runs, in brief, thus: Free, king of Sweden, to be identified with the god Frey, has slain the Norwegian king Sivard, [358} the father of Ragnar's father, and has carried off women belonging to the royal house. Ragnar takes vengeance, and in the struggle against Frœ receives aid from sundry Norwegian women; at their head marches Lathgertha, a maiden used to warfare, with her hair hanging down about her shoulders. Later he goes alone to her dwelling in "Gœlerdal" (Guldal); a bear and a dog stand bound outside the door; he knocks down the one and splits open the muzzle of the other. Then he enters the house and gets "the maiden herself "as a reward for the dangers he had run."

In connection with the story of Jormunrek reference has been made to the disposition on the part of the makers of legend to connect originally distinct legends into a legendary cycle (see p. 190 and p. 199 f.). Like Jormunrek, Ragnar too has in this way found a place, by means of his marriage, in the great legendary cycle dealing with the Volsungs. Ragnar's death in the serpents' den had so definite a similarity to details in the legends of the Volsungs that it was able to carry over with it the combat with the serpent; Ragnar thus has features in common both with the Gjukung Gunnar and with Sigurd Fafnirsbane.

The legends of Ragnar and of the sons of Lodbrok have their basis in great measure in historical events. These events, however, have in the Icelandic saga been embellished with romantic motives of purely literary invention; Ragnar's Saga is thus far from being actual history. The historical foundation must be sought in the works of foreign writers, in French and English chronicles. We read in contemporary Frankish annals that a certain Ragnar in the year 845 sailed up the Seine as far as Paris, which he pillaged, and that another chieftain named Bjorn (called by a later writer Bier ferreae costae, i.e., Bjorn Ironside) by way of the same vein penetrated far into the country and remained in France for the space of several years. In English annals we read that an army under the command of the brothers Halfdan, Ingvar, and Ubbi in 855 made an inroad upon England. In 866 Ingvar and Ubbi came back once more, and in 867 they defeated two Northumbrian kings near York; both kings, of whom the one was named Ella, fell in the battle. The brothers remained in the land several years, and in 870 killed the East-Anglian king Edmund. Ingvar died soon afterward, but the army carried on its warfare in England for some years, until Ubbi was slain. The sources give no indication, however, that the incursion of 866 was due to any desire of the brothers to avenge their father. A certain Sigfred, [359} brother to a Danish king Halfdan, is mentioned in an entry under the year 873. There is no evidence in any of the contemporary sources that these brothers were sons of the Ragnar first mentioned or of any other man whatsoever bearing this name. The Norman historian William of Jumièges (ca. 1070) is the first writer to call the aforesaid Bier ferreae costae a son of "king Lothroc" (he does not call him Ragnar Lodbrok); and English sources of the twelfth century are the first to name Ingvar and Ubbi as the sons of Lodebroch. (From the close of the same century dates a runic inscription in the very ancient burial mound at Maeshowe in the Orkneys, reading as follows: sia houhr uar laþin hœlr loþbrokar synir hœnar þœir uoro huater; that is, "this mound was raised before Lodbrok's; her sons they were bold." According to Sophus Bugge we are not permitted, with Munch and G. Storm, to assume from hœnar that loþbrokar here is a woman's name; hœnar is used because loþbrokar is grammatically feminine; cf., in rustic Norwegian dialects, "ho" as used of "ei kjempa.") The name Ragnar Lodbrok occurs for the first time in Danish sources in a chronicle dating from about the year 1150, and in Icelandic for the first time in Ari Frodi (about 1130). Whether any of the brothers really made expeditions into the Mediterranean and conquered Luna (in Tuscany) is likewise uncertain; this story was originally told of Bjorn Ironside by William of Jumièges; but this writer is most untrustworthy in dealing with the history of the Viking expeditions. Certain it is, at any rate, that they never captured Vivilsborg (i.e., Wiflisburg or Avenches in Switzerland). Nornagests þáttr also has an account of their conquest of these two towns; here the old man who dissuades them from proceeding against Rome is called Sónes; according to S. Bugge, this is an alien name, probably Romance in origin, and the legend dealing with this expedition therefore in all probability found its way from without into the North.

Cf. Johannes Steenstrup, Normannerne I (1876), pp. 81-127; Gustav Storm, Kritiske Bidrag til Vikingetidens Historie (1878), pp. 35-132; Axel Olrik, Kilderne til Sakses oldhistorie II (1894), pp. 102-33, with which see Aarbøger for nordisk oldkyndighed 1894, pp. 94-96, 147 ff. (Arngrim Jónsson); S. Bugge, Bidrag til den œldste Skaldedigtnings Historie (1894). [360}

Fridthjof

King Bell in Sogn had three children, two sons named Halfdan and Helgi, and a daughter named Ingeborg. Over against king Beli's castle of Syrstrand lay the farm Framnes, where the king's good friend, the chieftain Thorstein Vikingsson had his abode. Thorstein's son was called Fridthjof; by reason of his skill in all manner of manly pursuits he had won the surname, the Brave. Bell's queen died at an early age, and Ingeborg was accepted as a foster daughter by a [257} mighty farmer of Sogn, named Hilding. Since Fridthjof also was under his tutelage, the two foster children soon became very fond of each other. When Beli had grown old, Thorstein and Fridthjof were his chief support; and as the king noted the approach of death, he urged his inexperienced sons to put their faith in these tried and true friends. Not long afterward Thorstein died, having prayed his son to be governed by the wishes of the princes, for they were above him in lineage. In accordance with his wish he was laid in a barrow just opposite to the burial mound that housed his old friend Beli.

Fridthjof soon won a name for himself by his courage and his amiability; the youthful princes, on the contrary, were not well liked, and therefore bore him no good will. Their ill will grew when they discovered that Ingeborg looked on him with favor; and when Fridthjof in due course asked for her hand, they returned a curt refusal. Fridthjof then declared that they need expect aid from him no more, and they soon found that he was in earnest. Rumors of the increasing disagreement between the kings and their chief retainer came to the ears of the mighty king Ring of Ringerike. He accordingly sent messengers to Sogn demanding that the brothers recognize him as their overlord and pay him tribute. They gave him, to be sure, a defiant answer and armed their forces to meet him in Jæren; but finding themselves deprived of Fridthjof's aid, they quailed before Ring's greater numbers and composed their differences with him rather than risk the issue of battle. They were compelled [258} to bow to Ring's demands and to promise him the hand of Ingeborg in marriage. At Baldershagi, not far from Syrstrand, there was a place of sacrifice where many gods were worshipped, Balder most of all; this temple had the utmost sanctity. The kings, therefore, before they took their departure, placed Ingeborg there to keep her in safety from Fridthjof. Notwithstanding, Fridthjof, holding the love of Ingeborg far above the anger of the gods, rowed across the fjord to visit her. They now repeated their vows to each other; Fridthjof gave Ingeborg a precious ring, an heirloom from his father, and from her he received another ring in return. When the kings came home from Jæren and heard all that had taken place, their wrath was kindled; but they dared not attack him, since he had gathered his men about him. They sought therefore to be rid of him by guile. They sent Hilding to him with the proposal that he should make a voyage to the Orkneys to demand the tribute that earl Angantyr had withheld since the death of Beli; by way of recompense they promised him their pardon. Fridthjof was willing to undertake the mission provided only that his lands and chattels were left unmolested during his absence. But no sooner had he set out on the voyage than the kings burned his estates and seized his goods; moreover, they bought the services of two witches, who were to bring on him such a storm that he could not but perish. In the meantime Fridthjof and his men had sailed out of the Sognefjord on his splendid ship Ellidi, which had the virtue of being able to understand the speech of [259} men. Near the Sulen Islands so violent a storm broke over them that even Fridthjof himself gave up all hope of safety. Presently he caught sight of a whale that had bent itself about the ship in a circle and on the back of which sat two witches. He, now bade his ship sail straight over the whale. Ellidi obeyed his command and broke the back of one of the women; Fridthjof himself killed the other. Therewith the evil spell was broken, the storm was stilled, and they made land in Evjesund in the Orkneys. Earl Angantyr, an old friend of Thorstein Vikingsson, received Fridthjof with great hospitality and promised to give him a sum of money; he might call it tribute if he were so minded. They sojourned at the house of Angantyr during that winter. Meanwhile king Ring, according to arrangement, had come to Sogn and there celebrated his marriage with Ingeborg. When he saw Fridthjof's ring, he forbade her to wear it; so she gave it to Helgi's wife with the request that it be returned to Fridthjof. Ring thereupon carried his wife home and loved her with a great love.

The following spring Fridthjof, on coming home again, found his estates burned to the ground. Learning that the kings were about their sacrifices at Baldershagi, he determined on vengeance. He gave orders to his men to cut holes. in the bottoms of all the ships lying in the harbor, while he went alone into the temple, where he found the kings sitting over their beakers in the company of a small number of their retainers. Men and women were sitting there anointing the images of the gods and drying them with cloths; others were [260} warming the images over the fire. Fridthjof stepped up before king Helgi, and said, "Would you not like to receive your tribute?" With these words he struck the king in the face with the purse so hard that two teeth fell from his mouth. Helgi toppled from his high seat bereft of his senses, and Halfdan had to grasp hold of him to prevent his falling into the fire. As Fridthjof was about to walk out, he caught sight of his ring on the finger of Helgi's wife, who sat warming the image of Balder at the fire. He seized her by the hand so that the image fell into the flames, and dragged her toward the door for the purpose of taking the ring away from her. Halfdan's wife took hold of her on the other side to draw her back; at that the image she was holding likewise fell among the coals. Both of the anointed images began to burn, and the whole house burst into flames. Fridthjof in the meantime had regained his ring and so sailed away; but when the kings set out in pursuit, they found themselves unable to make use of their ships. They now declared Fridthjof an outlaw. Halfdan rebuilt Framnes and made his own abode there; Helgi remained at Syrstrand.

Fridthjof now spent three years as a Viking, gathering much booty. At the end of that time he left his men in Viken and made his way to the Uplands, to the court of king Ring, for the purpose of seeing Ingeborg again. Disguised as an old man, he drew a broad-brimmed hat over his face, and thus apparelled entered the palace and took his station at the lower end of the hall. Ring asked who the old man might be. "Thjof is my name; I dwelt with Wolf last night; I am the [261} foster son of Anger," [1] the stranger answered Ring was surprised at the enigmatic reply, bade the man draw near, and inquired where he made his home. "My wish brought me here, and my home is nowhere," answered the singular guest, adding that he was by calling a cooker of salt. "You have spent the night in the forest," said Ring; "for there is no husbandman in the neighborhood by the name of Wolf. Since you say that you have no home, it may be that your desire to visit us surpasses your longing for home." The queen offered him a seat among the guests, but the king asked him to take a place at his own side. The stranger did so, and in a trice stood before them splendidly dressed, with a sword by his side and a large ring on his finger. On seeing the ring, the queen became red as blood, but said never a word. The king said in merry mood, "You must have cooked salt a long while for a ring like that." Thjof sojourned there during the whole of the winter and gained the good will of all men. The queen seldom addressed him, but the king always spoke with him in friendly fashion.
Once on a time Ring and his queen set forth to lend their presence to a festival, and Fridthjof attended them. Against Fridthjof's counsel they chose to drive across certain dangerous reaches of ice. Presently it broke beneath them; but Fridthjof pulled both horse [262} and sleigh out of the water while the king and the queen still sat in their seats. "You have a strong arm, Thjof!" said Ring; "even Fridthjof the Brave himself could not have taken hold with greater power had he been in your place." Of the banquet itself there is nothing remarkable to tell.

One day the king bade his retinue go with him out into the forest so that he might gladden his heart amidst the beauty of nature. It so befell that king Ring and Fridthjof found themselves alone together. The king said that he was drowsy and wished to lie down for a while to sleep "Turn homeward then, king!" said Fridthjof; "that were more seemly." The king refused, and lay down to rest; soon he gave signs of being fast asleep Thjof, seated near him, drew his sword from the scabbard and hurled it far away. The king presently rose and said: "Is it not true, Fridthjof, that many thoughts even now coursed through your mind, and that you gained mastery over them? You shall henceforth remain with me and enjoy such honors as I can bestow. I knew you the first night, as soon as you stepped into the hall."

"I must take my leave before long," answered Fridthjof. When they returned home, it was promptly noised abroad that it was Fridthjof the Brave who had sojourned there throughout the winter.

Early one morning a knock came at the door of the chamber where the king and queen lay asleep The king asked who was there, and got the answer that it was Fridthjof, who was on the point of taking his departure. He came into the room and thanked them for the kind treatment he had received at their hands; [263} finally, handing his ring to Ingeborg, he asked her to wear it. The king smiled and said: "In that case she gets more thanks than I, though she has shown you no greater friendship." They drank to each other, and then the king said: "It would please me if you were to remain here, Fridthjof; for my sons are small, and I am an old man, little fitted to undertake the defense of the realm if need should arise." Fridthjof regretfully declined. Ring now offered him all that he possessed, and the queen into the bargain; for, he declared, he felt the approach of death. Fridthjof could no longer refuse; he was dubbed an earl and clothed with authority to rule the kingdom till Ring's sons should be grown to man's estate. King Ring lived but a short while thereafter. His death brought great grief to the land. His funeral ale was drunk with the utmost pomp, and at the same time Fridthjof and Ingeborg celebrated their marriage. But king Helgi and king Halfdan were filled with ire to think that the son of a local chieftain should wed their sister. So they mustered a large army against their new kinsman; but he defeated them both and slew Helgi. To Halfdan he made offers of peace provided only that Halfdan would acclaim him as overlord; and Halfdan had no other choice. Fridthjof thus became king of Sogn, where he continued to govern after Ring's sons had taken over the rule in Ringerike. Later he brought Hordaland as well under his sway. Among the children of Fridthjof and Ingeborg mention is made only of the sons Gunnthjof and Hunthjof. Hunthjof had three sons, named Herthjof, Geirthjof, and Fridthjof; but the family is not often referred to in the ancient annals.

  1. A play on words, since the term may mean both "sorrow" and "fjord." It is probably an allusion to a definite fjord region — a region of salt works, from which the people of Ringerike in ancient times were in the habit of securing salt — namely, Sande in Vestfold, where the fjord in an earlier day bore the name of Angr. Cf. M. Olsen in Studier tillägnade Esaias Tegnér (Lund, 1918), pp 214-22.

On Fridthjof

Page 263, line 32 — Friðþjófs Saga is one of the later sagas of antiquity (p. 124), built on a love motive. One of its marked traits is the almost complete freedom from supernatural features, the artistic composition, and the ethical idea that runs like a red thread through the whole. It is Icelandic and probably was composed about the year 1300 (or possibly earlier). The story is no doubt to be regarded as a product of free invention; at any rate, no demonstrable historical basis is to be discovered in it. See Hi. Falk, Arkiv för nordisk filologi VI (1890), p. 60 ff. The very name Friðþjófr, that is, "thief of peace," is proof that [361} the bearer of the name is no historic personage. On the basis of the connected narrative of the saga, the name has been independently compounded after the model of other names in Þjófr (Valþjófr, Geirþjófr, etc.); but in these older names the element Þjófr hardly means "thief"; it is rather an adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon Þēow and the Old German dio ("thrall"), a compounding element in various personal names. See S. Bugge, Arkiv VI, p. 224 ff. Systrand (in old Norwegian sources "Systrond," while the saga, no doubt less correctly, has Syrstrond) is still used as a name for Leikanger parish. — Framnes must be sought at Vangsnes.

The story of Fridthjof's father Thorstein Vikingsson is told in a separate saga, filled with romantic features. It tells of Thorstein's origin (his remote ancestor was king Halogi of Halogaland), of his strife and later friendship with king Beli of Sogn, and of their conquest of the Orkneys and their appointment of a Viking named Angantyr as earl.

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