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The Danish History, Books I-IX* by Saxo Grammaticus ("Saxo the Learned")

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of beast and bird speech (as Finn's broiled fish and Sigfred's
broiled dragon-heart do).

"Poison" like these hell-broths are part of the Witch or Obi
stock-in-trade, and Frode uses powdered gold as an antidote.

"Omens" are observed; tripping as one lands is lucky (as with our
William the Norman). Portents, such as a sudden reddening of the
sea where the hero is drowned, are noticed and interpreted.

"Dreams" (cf. Eddic Lays of Attila, and the Border ballads) are
prophetic (as nine-tenths of Europeans firmly believe still);
thus the visionary flame-spouting dragon is interpreted exactly
as Hogne's and Attila's dreams. The dreams of the three first
bridals nights (which were kept hallowed by a curious
superstition, either because the dreams would then bold good, or
as is more likely, for fear of some Asmodeus) were fateful.
Animals and birds in dreams are read as persons, as nowadays.

A "curse" is powerful unless it can be turned back, when it will
harm its utterer, for harm someone it must. The "curse" of a
dying man on his slayer, and its lack of effect, is noted.

Sometimes "magic messengers" are sent, like the swans that bore a
token and uttered warning songs to the hero.

"Witches and wizards" (as belonging to the older layer of archaic
beliefs) are hateful to the gods, and Woden casts them out as
accursed, though he himself was the mightiest of wizards.
Heathen Teutonic life was a long terror by reason of witchcraft,
as is the heathen African life to-day, continual precautions
being needful to escape the magic of enemies. The Icelandic
Sagas, such as Gretter's, are full of magic and witchcraft. It
is by witchcraft that Gretter is first lamed and finally slain;
one can see that Glam's curse, the Beowulf motif, was not really
in the original Gretter story.

"Folk-medicine" is really a branch of magic in old days, even to
such pioneers of science as Paracelsus.

Saxo's traditions note drinking of a lion's blood that eats men
as a means of gaining might and strength; the drinking of bear's
blood is also declared to give great bodily power.

The tests for "madness" are of a primitive character, such as
those applied to Odusseus, who, however, was not able, like
Hamlet, to evade them.

The test for death is the red-hot iron or hot brand (used by the
Abyssinians of to-day, as it was supposed in the thirteenth
century to have been used by Grimhild. "And now Grimhild goes
and takes a great brand, where the house had burnt, and goes to
Gernot her brother, and thrusts the burning brand in his mouth,
and will know whether he is dead or living. But Gernot was
clearly dead. And now she goes to Gislher and thrusts the
firebrand in his mouth. He was not dead before, but Gislher died
of that. Now King Thidrec of Bern saw what Grimhild is doing,
and speaks to King Attila. `See how that devil Grimhild, thy
wife, is killing her brothers, the good warriors, and how many
men have lost their lives for her sake, and how many good men she
has destroyed, Huns and Amalungs and Niflungs; and in the same
way would she bring thee and me to hell, if she could do it?'
Then spake King Attila, `Surely she is a devil, and slay thou
her, and that were a good work if thou had done it seven nights
ago! Then many a gallant fellow were whole that is now dead.'
Now King Thidrec springs at Grimhild and swings up his sword
Eckisax, and hews her asunder at the middle").

It was believed (as in Polynesia, where "Captain Cook's path" was
shown in the grass) that the heat of the hero's body might blast
the grass; so Starcad's entrails withered the grass.

It was believed that a severed head might bite the ground in
rage, and there were certainly plenty of opportunities for
observation of such cases.

It was believed that a "dumb man" might be so wrought on by
passion that he would speak, and wholly acquire speech-power.

Little is told of "surgery", but in one case of intestines
protruding owing to wounds, withies were employed to bind round
the trunk and keep the bowels from risk till the patient could be
taken to a house and his wounds examined and dressed. It was
considered heroic to pay little heed to wounds that were not
dangerous, but just to leave them to nature.

Personal "cleanliness" was not higher than among savages now. A
lover is loused by his lady after the mediaeval fashion.

CHRISTIANITY -- In the first nine books of Saxo, which are
devoted to heathendom, there is not much save the author's own
Christian point of view that smacks of the New Faith. The
apostleships of Ansgarius in Denmark, the conversion of King
Eric, the Christianity of several later Danish Kings, one of whom
was (like Olaf Tryggwason) baptised in Britain are also noticed.

Of "Christian legends" and beliefs, besides the euhemerist
theory, widely held, of the heathen gods there are few hints,
save the idea that Christ was born in the reign of Frode, Frode
having been somehow synchronised with Augustus, in whose reign
also there was a world-peace.

Of course the christening of Scandinavia is history, and the
mythic books are little concerned with it. The episode in Adam
of Bremen, where the king offers the people, if they want a new
god, to deify Eric, one of their hero-kings, is eminently
characteristic and true.


There might be a classification of Saxo's stories akin to that of
the Irish poets, Battles, Sieges, Voyages, Rapes, Cattle Forays,
etc.; and quite apart from the historic element, however faint
and legendary, there are a set of stories ascribed by him, or
rather his authorities, to definite persons, which had, even in
his day, probably long been the property of Tis, their original
owners not being known owing to lapse of time and the wear of
memory, and the natural and accidental catastrophies that impair
the human record. Such are the "Dragon-Slayer" stories. In one
type of these the hero (Frithlaf) is cast on a desolate island,
and warned by a dream to attack and slay a dragon guarding
treasure. He wakes, sees the dragon arise out of the waves,
apparently, to come ashore and go back to the cavern or mound
wherein the treasure lay. His scales are too hard to pierce; he
is terribly strong, lashing trees down with his tail, and wearing
a deep path through the wood and over the stones with his huge
and perpetual bulk; but the hero, covered with hide-wrapped
shield against the poison, gets down into the hollow path, and
pierces the monster from below, afterward rifling its underground
store and carrying off its treasure.

Again the story is repeated; the hero (Frode Haddingsson) is
warned by a countryman of the island-dragon and its hoard, is
told to cover his shield and body with bulls' hides against the
poison, and smite the monster's belly. The dragon goes to drink,
and, as it is coming back, it is attacked, slain, and its
treasure lifted precisely as before. The analogies with the
Beowulf and Sigfred stories are evident; but no great poet has
arisen to weave the dragon-slaying intimately into the lives of
Frode and Frithlaf as they have been woven into the tragedy of
Sigfred the wooer of Brunhild and, if Dr. Vigffisson be right the
conqueror of Varus, or into the story of Beowulf, whose real
engagements were with sea-monsters, not fiery dragons.

Another type is that of the "Loathly Worm". A king out hunting
(Herod or Herraud, King of Sweden), for some unexplained reason
brings home two small snakes as presents for his daughter. They
wax wonderfully, have to be fed a whole ox a day, and proceed to
poison and waste the countryside. The wretched king is forced to
offer his daughter (Thora) to anyone who will slay them. The
hero (Ragnar) devises a dress of a peculiar kind (by help of his
nurse, apparently), in this case, woolly mantle and hairy
breeches all frozen and ice-covered to resist the venom, then
strapping his spear to his hand, he encounters them boldly alone.
The courtiers hide "like frightened little girls", and the king
betakes him to a "narrow shelter", an euphemism evidently of
Saxo's, for the scene is comic. The king comes forth when the
hero is victorious, and laughing at his hairy legs, nick-names
him Shaggy-breech, and bids him to the feast. Ragnar fetches up
his comrades, and apparently seeks out the frightened courtiers
(no doubt with appropriate quip, omitted by Saxo, who hurries
on), feasts, marries the king's daughter, and begets on her two
fine sons.

Of somewhat similar type is the proud "Maiden guarded" by Beasts.
Here the scene is laid in Gaulardale in Norway. The lady is
Ladgerda, the hero Ragnar. Enamoured of the maiden by seeing her
prowess in war, he accepts no rebuffs, but leaving his followers,
enters the house, slays the guardian Bear and Dog, thrusting one
through with a spear and throttling the other with his hand. The
lady is won and wed, and two daughters and a son (Frithlaf) duly
begotten. The story of Alf and Alfhild combines several types.
There are the tame snakes, the baffled suitors' heads staked to
terrify other suitors, and the hero using red-hot iron and spear
to slay the two reptiles.

The "Proud Lady", (cf. Kudrun and the Niebelungen, and Are's
story of the queen that burnt her suitors) appears in
Hermintrude, Queen of Scotland, who battles and slays her lovers,
but is out-witted by the hero (Hamlet), and, abating her
arrogance, agrees to wed him. This seems an obvious accretion in
the original Hamlet story, and probably owing not to Saxo, but to
his authority.

The "Beggar that stole the Lady" (told of Snio Siwaldson and the
daughter of the King of the Goths), with its brisk dialogue, must
have been one of the most artful of the folk-tales worked on by
Saxo or his informants; but it is only half told, unfortunately.

The "Crafty Soaker" is another excellent comic folk-tale. A
terrible famine made the king (Snio) forbid brewing to save the
barley for bread, and abolished all needless toping. The Soaker
baffled the king by sipping, never taking a full draught.
Rebuked, be declared that he never drank, but only sucked a drop.
This was forbidden him for the future, so he sopped his bread in
ale, and in that inconvenient manner continued to get drunk,
excusing himself with the plea that though it was forbidden to
drink or sip beer, it was not forbidden to eat it. When this was
in turn prohibited, the Soaker gave up any pretence, and brewed
and drank unabashed, telling the angry king that he was
celebrating his approaching funeral with due respect, which
excuse led to the repeal of the obnoxious decree. A good
Rabelaisian tale, that must not have been wide-spread among the
Danish topers, whose powers both Saxo and Shakespeare have
celebrated, from actual experience no doubt.

The "Magician's tricks to elude pursuit", so common an incident
in our fairy tales, e.g., Michael Scot's flight, is ascribed here
to the wonder-working and uncanny Finns, who, when pursued, cast
behind them successively three pebbles, which become to their
enemies' eyes mountains, then snow, which appeared like a roaring
torrent. But they could not cast the glamour on Arngrim a third
time, and were forced to submit. The glamour here and in the
case of the breaking of Balder's barrow is akin to that which the
Druid puts on the sons of Uisnach.

The tale of the king who shuts up his daughter in an "earth-
house" or underground chamber with treasures (weapons and gold
and silver), in fear of invasion, looks like a bit of folk-tale,
such as the "Hind in the Wood", but it may have a traditional
base of some kind here.

A folk-tale, very imperfectly narrated, is the "Clever King's
Daughter", who evidently in the original story had to choose her
suitor by his feet (as the giantess in the prose Edda chooses her
husband), and was able to do so by the device she had practised
of sewing up her ring in his leg sometime before, so that when
she touched the flesh she could feel the hardness of the ring
beneath the scar.

Bits of folk-tales are the "Device for escaping threatened death
by putting a log in one's bed" (as in our Jack the Giant-Killer).
The device, as old as David's wife, of dressing up a dummy (here
a basket with a dog inside, covered outside with clothes), while
the hero escapes, is told of Eormenric, the mighty Gothic King of
Kings, who, like Walter of Aquitaine, Theodoric of Varona,
Ecgherht, and Arminius, was an exile in his youth. This
traditional escape of the two lads from the Scyths should be
compared with the true story in Paul the Deacon of his little
ancestor's captivity and bold and successful stroke for freedom.

"Disguise" plays a great part in the folk-tales used by Saxo.
Woden disguises himself in a cowl on his earthly travels, and
heroes do the same; a king disguises himself as a slave at his
rival's court, to try and find occasion of slaying him; a hero
wraps himself up in skins, like Alleleirah.

"Escaped recognition" is accordingly a feature in many of these
simple but artistic plots. A son is not known by his mother in
the story of Hrolf.

Other "Devices" are exemplified, such as the "booby-trap" loaded
with a millstone, which slays a hateful and despised tyrant,
imposed by a foreign conqueror; evasion by secret passages, and
concealment in underground vaults or earth-houses. The feigning
of madness to escape death occurs, as well as in the better-known
Hamlet story. These stratagems are universal in folk-history.

To Eric, the clever and quick of speech, is ascribed an excellent
sailor's smuggling trick to hide slaughtered cattle, by sinking
them till the search is over.

The "Hero's Mighty Childhood" (like David's) of course occurs
when he binds a bear with his girdle. Sciold is full grown at
fifteen, and Hadding is full grown in extreme youth. The hero in
his boyhood slays a full-grown man and champion. The cinder-
biting, lazy stage of a mighty youth is exemplified.

The "fierce eyes" of the hero or heroine, which can daunt an
assassin as could the piercing glance of Marius, are the "falcon
eyes" of the Eddic Lays.

The shining, effulgent, "illuminating hair" of the hero, which
gives light in the darkness, is noticed here, as it obtains in
Cuaran's thirteenth century English legend.

The wide-spread tale of the "City founded on a site marked out by
a hide cut into finest thongs", occurs, told of Hella and Iwarus
exactly as our Kentishmen told it of Hengist, and as it is also
told of Dido.

The incidents of the "hero sleeping by a rill", of the guarded
king's daughter, with her thirty attendants, the king's son
keeping sheep, are part of the regular stock incidents in
European folk-tales. So are the Nausicaa incident of the "king's
daughter going a washing", the hero disguising himself as a woman
and winding wool (like a second Heracles).

There are a certain number of stories, which only occur in Saxo
and in our other Northern sources with attributions, though they
are of course legendary; such are:

The "Everlasting Battle" between Hedhin and Hogne, a legend
connected with the great Brisinga-men story, and paralleled by
the Cordelia-tale among the Britons.

The story of the "Children preserved" is not very clearly told,
and Saxo seems to have euhemerized. It is evidently of the same
type as the Lionel-Lancelot story in the Arthurian cycle. Two
children, ordered to be killed, are saved by the slaying of other
children in their place; and afterwards by their being kept and
named as dogs; they come to their own and avenge their wrongs.

The "Journey to Hell" story is told of Eric, who goes to a far
land to fetch a princess back, and is successful. It is
apparently an adventure of Swipdag, if everyone had their rights.
It is also told of Thorkill, whose adventures are rather of the
"True Thomas" type.

The "Test of Endurance" by sitting between fires, and the relief
of the tortured and patient hero by a kindly trick, is a variant
of the famous Eddic Lays concerning Agnar.

The "Robbers of the Island", evidently comes from an Icelandic
source (cf. The historic "Holmveria Saga" and Icelandic folk-
tales of later date), the incident of the hero slaying his slave,
that the body might be mistaken for his, is archaic in tone; the
powerful horse recalls Grani, Bayard, and even Sleipner; the dog
which had once belonged to Unfoot (Ofote), the giant shepherd
(cf. its analogues in old Welsh tales), is not quite assimilated
or properly used in this story. It seems (as Dr. Rydberg
suspects) a mythical story coloured by the Icelandic relater with
memory full of the robber-hands of his own land.

The stratagem of "Starcad", who tried even in death to slay his
slayer, seems an integral part of the Starcad story; as much as
the doom of three crimes which are to be the price for the
threefold life that a triple man or giant should enjoy. The
noose story in Starcad (cf. that told of Bicce in the Eormenric
story), is also integral.


No one has commented upon Saxo's mythology with such brilliancy,
such minute consideration, and such success as the Swedish
scholar, Victor Rydberg. More than occasionally he is over-
ingenious and over-anxious to reduce chaos to order; sometimes he
almost loses his faithful reader in the maze he treads so easily
and confidently, and sometimes he stumbles badly. But he has
placed the whole subject on a fresh footing, and much that is to
follow will be drawn from his "Teutonic Mythology" (cited here
from the English version by Rasmus B. Anderson, London, 1889, as

Let us take first some of the incontestable results of his
investigations that affect Saxo.

SCIOLD is the father of Gram in Saxo, and the son of Sceaf in
other older authorities. Dr. Rydberg (97-101) forms the
following equations for the Sciolding patriarchs: --

a. Scef -- Heimdal -- Rig.
b. Sciold -- Borgar -- Jarl.
c. Gram -- Halfdan -- Koming.

Chief among the mythic tales that concern Saxo are the various
portions of the Swipdag-Myth, which Dr. Rydberg has been able to
complete with much success. They may be resumed briefly as
follows: --

Swipdag, helped by the incantations of his dead mother, whom he
had raised from the dead to teach him spells of protection, sets
forth on his quests. He is the Odusseus of the Teutonic
mythology. He desires to avenge his father on Halfdan that slew
him. To this end he must have a weapon of might against
Halfdan's club. The Moon-god tells him of the blade Thiasse
has forged. It has been stolen by Mimer, who has gone out into
the cold wilderness on the rim of the world. Swipdag achieves
the sword, and defeats and slays Halfdan. He now buys a wife,
Menglad, of her kinsmen the gods by the gift of the sword, which
thus passes into Frey's hands.

How he established a claim upon Frey, and who Menglad was, is
explained in Saxo's story of Eric, where the characters may be
identified thus: --

Swipdag -- Eric
Freya -- Gunwara
Frey -- Frode III
Niord -- Fridlaf
Wuldor -- Roller
Thor -- Brac
Giants -- The Greps
Giants -- Coller.

Frey and Freya had been carried off by the giants, and Swipdag
and his faithful friend resolve to get them back for the Anses,
who bewail their absence. They journey to Monster-land, win back
the lady, who ultimately is to become the hero's wife, and return
her to her kindred; but her brother can only be rescued by his
father Niord. It is by wit rather than by force that Swipdag is
successful here.

The third journey of Swipdag is undertaken on Frey's behalf; he
goes under the name of Scirner to woo giant Gymer's daughter
Gerth for his brother-in-law, buying her with the sword that he
himself had paid to Frey as his sister's bride-price. So the
sword gets back to the giants again.

Swipdag's dead foe Halfdan left two young "avengers", Hadding and
Guthorm, whom he seeks to slay. But Thor-Brache gives them in
charge of two giant brothers. Wainhead took care of Hadding,
Hafle of Guthorm. Swipdag made peace with Guthorm, in a way not
fully explained to us, but Hadding took up the blood-feud as soon
as he was old enough.

Hadding was befriended by a woman, who took him to the Underworld
-- the story is only half told in Saxo, unluckily -- and by
Woden, who took him over-sea wrapt in his mantle as they rode
Sleipner over the waves; but here again Saxo either had not the
whole story before him, or he wished to abridge it for some
reason or prejudice, and the only result of this astonishing
pilgrimage is that Woden gives the young hero some useful
counsels. He falls into captivity, entrapped by Loke (for what
reason again we are left to guess), and is exposed to wild
beasts, but he slays the wolf that attacks him, and eating its
heart as Woden had bidden him, he gains wisdom and foresight.

Prepared by these adventures, he gets Guthorm to join him (how or
why the peace between him and Swipdag was broken, we know not),
and they attack their father's slayer, but are defeated, though
Woden sunk Asmund Swipdag's son's ship, Grio, at Hlessey, and
Wainhead and Hardgrip his daughter fought for Hadding.

Hadding wanders off to the East with his foster-sister and
mistress and Hardgrip, who is slain protecting him against an
angry ghost raised from the Underworld by her spells. However,
helped by Heimdal and Woden (who at this time was an exile),
Hadding's ultimate success is assured.

When Woden came back to power, Swipdag, whose violence and pride
grew horribly upon him, was exiled, possibly by some device of
his foes, and took upon him, whether by will or doom, a sea-
monster's shape. His faithful wife follows him over land and
sea, but is not able to save him. He is met by Hadding and,
after a fierce fight, slain. Swipdag's wife cursed the
conqueror, and he was obliged to institute an annual sacrifice to
Frey (her brother) at Upsale, who annuls the curse. Loke, in
seal's guise, tried to steal the necklace of Freya at the Reef of
Treasures, where Swipdag was slain, but Haimdal, also in seal-
skin, fought him, and recovered it for the gods.

Other myths having reference to the goddesses appear in Saxo.
There is the story of "Heimdall and Sol", which Dr. Rydberg has
recognised in the tale of Alf and Alfhild. The same tale of how
the god won the sun for his wife appears in the mediaeval German
King Ruther (in which title Dr. Ryuberg sees Hrutr, a name of the
ram-headed god).

The story of "Othar" (Od) and "Syritha" (Sigrid) is obviously
of Freya and her lover. She has been stolen by the giants, owing
to the wiles of her waiting-maid, Loke's helper, the evil witch
Angrbode. Od seeks her, finds her, slays the evil giant who
keeps her in the cave; but she is still bewitched, her hair
knotted into a hard, horny mass, her eyes void of brightness.
Unable to gain recognition he lets her go, and she is made by a
giantess to herd her flocks. Again found by Od, and again
refusing to recognise him, she is let go again. But this time
she flies to the world of men, and takes service with Od's mother
and father. Here, after a trial of her love, she and Od are
reconciled. Sywald (Sigwald), her father, weds Od's sister.

The tale of the vengeance of Balder is more clearly given by the
Dane, and with a comic force that recalls the Aristophanic fun of
Loka-senna. It appears that the story had a sequel which only
Saxo gives. Woden had the giantess Angrbode, who stole Freya,
punished. Frey, whose mother-in-law she was, took up her
quarrel, and accusing Woden of sorcery and dressing up like a
woman to betray Wrind, got him banished. While in exile Wuldor
takes Woden's place and name, and Woden lives on earth, part of
the time at least, with Scathe Thiasse's daughter, who had parted
from Niord.

The giants now resolved to attack Ansegard; and Woden, under the
name of Yggr, warned the gods, who recall him after ten years'

But for Saxo this part of the story of the wars of the gods would
be very fragmentary.

The "Hildiger story", where a father slays his son unwittingly,
and then falls at his brother's hand, a tale combining the Rustam
and the Balin-Balan types, is one of the Hilding tragedies, and
curiously preserved in the late "Saga of Asmund the Champions'
bane". It is an antithesis, as Dr. Rydberg remarks, to the
Hildebrand and Hadubrand story, where father and son must fight
and are reconciled.

The "story of Orwandel" (the analogue of Orion the Hunter) must
be gathered chiefly from the prose Edda. He was a huntsman, big
enough and brave enough to cope with giants. He was the friend
of Thor, the husband of Groa, the father of Swipdag, the enemy of
giant Coller and the monster Sela. The story of his birth, and
of his being blinded, are lost apparently in the Teutonic
stories, unless we may suppose that the bleeding of Robin Hood
till he could not see by the traitorous prioress is the last
remains of the story of the great archer's death.

Great part of the troubles which befell the gods arose from the
antagonism of the sons of Iwalde and the brethren Sindre and
Brokk (Cinder and Brank), rival artist families; and it was owing
to the retirement of their artist foster-parents that Frey and
Freya were left among the giants. The Hniflung hoard is also
supposed to have consisted of the treasures of one band of
primaeval artists, the Iwaldings.

Whether we have here the phenomenon of mythological doublets
belonging to different tribes, or whether we have already among
these early names that descent of story which has led to an
adventure of Moses being attributed to Garibaldi, given to
Theodoric the king the adventures of Theodoric the god, taken
Arthur to Rome, and Charles the Great to Constantinople, it is
hard to say.

The skeleton-key of identification, used even as ably as Dr.
Rydberg uses it, will not pick every mythologic lock, though it
undoubtedly has opened many hitherto closed. The truth is that
man is a finite animal; that he has a limited number of types of
legend; that these legends, as long as they live and exist, are
excessively prehensile; that, like the opossum, they can swing
from tree to tree without falling; as one tree dies out of memory
they pass on to another. When they are scared away by what is
called exact intelligence from the tall forest of great
personalities, they contrive to live humbly clinging to such bare
plain stocks and poles (Tis and Jack and Cinderella) as enable
them to find a precarious perch.

To drop similitudes, we must be prepared, in unravelling our
tangled mythology, to go through several processes. We must, of
course, note the parallelisms and get back to the earliest
attribution-names we can find. But all system is of late
creation, it does not begin till a certain political stage, a
stage where the myths of coalescing clans come into contact, and
an official settlement is attempted by some school of poets or
priests. Moreover, systematization is never so complete that it
effaces all the earlier state of things. Behind the official
systems of Homer and Hesiod lies the actual chaos of local faiths
preserved for us by Pausanias and other mythographers. The
common factors in the various local faiths are much the majority
among the factors they each possess; and many of these common
factors are exceedingly primitive, and resolve themselves into
answers to the questions that children still ask, still receiving
no answer but myth -- that is, poetic and subjective hypothesis,
containing as much truth as they can receive or their inventors
can grasp.

Who were our forbears? How did day and night, sun and moon,
earth and water, and fire come? How did the animals come? Why
has the bear no tail? Why are fishes dumb, the swallow cleft-
tail? How did evil come? Why did men begin to quarrel? How did
death arise? What will the end be? Why do dead persons come
back? What do the dead do? What is the earth shaped like? Who
invented tools and weapons, and musical instruments, and how?
When did kings and chiefs first come?

From accepted answers to such questions most of the huge mass of
mythology arises. Man makes his gods in his own image, and the
doctrines of omen, coincidence, and correspondence helped by
incessant and imperfect observation and logic, bring about a
system of religious observance, of magic and ritual, and all the
masses of folly and cruelty, hope and faith, and even charity,
that group about their inventions, and seem to be the necessary
steps in the onward path of progressive races.

When to these we add the true and exaggerated memories of actual
heroes, the material before the student is pretty completely
comprised. Though he must be prepared to meet the difficulties
caused in the contact of races, of civilisations, by the
conversion of persons holding one set of mythical ideas to belief
in another set of different, more attractive, and often more
advanced stage.

The task of arriving at the scientific, speculative ethic, and
the actual practice of our remote ancestry (for to that end is
the student of mythology and folk-lore aiming) is not therefore
easy. Nor is the record perfect, though it is not so poor in
most cases as was once believed. The Brothers Grimm, patriarchs
alike as mythologists and folk-lorists, the Castor and Pollox of
our studies, have proved this as regards the Teutonic nations,
just as they showed us, by many a striking example, that in great
part folk-lore was the mythology of to-day, and mythology the
folk-lore of yesterday.

In many cases we are helped by quite modern material to make out
some puzzle that an old tale presents, and there is little doubt
but that the present activity in the field of folklore will not
only result in fresh matter but in fresh methods freshly applied.

The Scandinavian material, at all events, is particularly rich:
there is the extensive Icelandic written literature touching the
ninth and tenth and eleventh centuries; the noble, if fragmentary
remains of Old Northern poetry of the Wickingtide; and lastly,
the mass of tradition which, surviving in oral form, and changing
in colour from generation to generation, was first recorded in
part in the seventeenth, and again in part, in the present
century; and all these yield a plentiful field for research. But
their evidence gains immensely by the existence of Saxo's nine
books of traditional and mythic lore, collected and written down
in an age when much that was antique and heathen was passing away
forever. The gratitude due to the Welshman of the twelfth
century, whose garnered hoard has enriched so many poets and
romances from his day to now, is no less due to the twelfth-
century Dane, whose faithful and eloquent enthusiasm has swept
much dust from antique time, and saved us such a story as
Shakespeare has not disdained to consecrate to highest use. Not
only Celtic and Teutonic lore are the richer for these two men,
but the whole Western world of thought and speech. In the
history of modern literature, it is but right that by the side of
Geoffrey an honourable place should be maintained for Saxo, and

"awake remembrance of these mighty dead."

-- Oliver Elton

(1) A horn and a tusk of great size are described as things of
price, and great uroch's horns are mentioned in Thorkill's
Second Journey. Horns were used for feast as well as fray.
(2) Such bird-beaked, bird-legged figures occur on the Cross at
Papil, Burra Island, Shetland. Cf. Abbey Morne Cross, and
an Onchan Cross, Isle of Man.



Forasmuch as all other nations are wont to vaunt the glory of
their achievements, and reap joy from the remembrance of their
forefathers: Absalon, Chief Pontiff of the Danes, whose zeal ever
burned high for the glorification of our land, and who would not
suffer it to be defrauded of like renown and record, cast upon
me, the least of his followers -- since all the rest refused the
task -- the work of compiling into a chronicle the history of
Denmark, and by the authority of his constant admonition spurred
my weak faculty to enter on a labour too heavy for its strength.
For who could write a record of the deeds of Denmark? It had but
lately been admitted to the common faith: it still languished as
strange to Latin as to religion. But now that the holy ritual
brought also the command of the Latin tongue, men were as
slothful now as they were unskilled before, and their
sluggishness proved as faultful as that former neediness. Thus
it came about that my lowliness, though perceiving itself too
feeble for the aforesaid burden, yet chose rather to strain
beyond its strength than to resist his bidding; fearing that
while our neighbours rejoiced and transmitted records of their
deeds, the repute of our own people might appear not to possess
any written chronicle, but rather to be sunk in oblivion and
antiquity. Thus I, forced to put my shoulder, which was unused
to the task, to a burden unfamiliar to all authors of preceding
time, and dreading to slight his command, have obeyed more boldly
than effectually, borrowing from the greatness of my admonisher
that good heart which the weakness of my own wit denied me.

And since, ere my enterprise reached its goal, his death outran
it; I entreat thee chiefly, Andrew, who wast chosen by a most
wholesome and accordant vote to be successor in the same office
and to headship of spiritual things, to direct and inspire my
theme; that I may baulk by the defence of so great an advocate
that spiteful detraction which ever reviles what is most
conspicuous. For thy breast, very fruitful in knowledge, and
covered with great store of worshipful doctrines, is to be deemed
a kind of shrine of heavenly treasures. Thou who hast searched
through Gaul and Italy and Britain also in order to gather
knowledge of letters and amass them abundantly, didst after thy
long wandering obtain a most illustrious post in a foreign
school, and proved such a pillar thereof, that thou seemedst to
confer more grace on thy degree than it did on thee. Then being
made, on account of the height of thy honours and the desert of
thy virtues, Secretary to the King, thou didst adorn that
employment, in itself bounded and insignificant, with such works
of wisdom as to leave it a piece of promotion for men of greatest
rank to covet afterwards, when thou wert transferred to that
office which now thou holdest. Wherefore Skaane has been found
to leap for joy that she has borrowed a Pontiff from her
neighbours rather than chosen one from her own people; inasmuch
as she both elected nobly and deserved joy of her election.
Being a shining light, therefore, in lineage, in letters, and in
parts, and guiding the people with the most fruitful labours of
thy teaching, thou hast won the deepest love of thy flock, and by
thy boldness in thy famous administration hast conducted the
service thou hast undertaken unto the summit of renown. And lest
thou shouldst seem to acquire ownership on the strength of
prescription, thou hast, by a pious and bountiful will, made over
a very rich inheritance to Holy Church; choosing rather
honourably to reject riches (which are covered with the rust of
cares) than to be shackled with the greed of them and with their
burden. Likewise thou hast set about an amazing work upon the
reverend tenets of the faith; and in thy zeal to set the service
of public religion before thy private concerns, hast, by the
lesson of thy wholesome admonitions, driven those men who refused
payment of the dues belonging to religion to do to holy things
the homage that they ought; and by thy pious gift of treasure
hast atoned for the ancient neglect of sacred buildings.
Further, those who pursued a wanton life, and yielded to the
stress of incontinence above measure, thou hast redeemed from
nerveless sloth to a more upright state of mind, partly by
continuing instant in wholesome reproof, and partly by the noble
example of simple living; leaving it in doubt whether thou hast
edified them more by word or deed. Thus thou, by mere counsels
of wisdom, hast achieved what it was not granted to any of thy
forerunners to obtain.

And I would not have it forgotten that the more ancient of the
Danes, when any notable deeds of mettle had been done, were
filled with emulation of glory, and imitated the Roman style; not
only by relating in a choice kind of composition, which might be
called a poetical work, the roll of their lordly deeds; but also
by having graven upon rocks and cliffs, in the characters of
their own language, the works of their forefathers, which were
commonly known in poems in the mother tongue. In the footsteps
of these poems, being as it were classic books of antiquity, I
have trod; and keeping true step with them as I translated, in
the endeavour to preserve their drift, I have taken care to
render verses by verses; so that the chronicle of what I shall
have to write, being founded upon these, may thus be known, not
for a modern fabrication, but for the utterance of antiquity;
since this present work promises not a trumpery dazzle of
language, but faithful information concerning times past.

Moreover, how many histories must we suppose that men of such
genius would have written, could they have had skill in Latin and
so slaked their thirst for writing! Men who though they lacked
acquaintance with, the speech of Rome, were yet seized with such
a passion for bequeathing some record of their history, that they
encompassed huge boulders instead of scrolls, borrowing rocks for
the usage of books.

Nor may the pains of the men of Thule be blotted in oblivion; for
though they lack all that can foster luxury (so naturally barren
is the soil), yet they make up for their neediness by their wit,
by keeping continually every observance of soberness, and
devoting every instant of their lives to perfecting our knowledge
of the deeds of foreigners. Indeed, they account it a delight to
learn and to consign to remembrance the history of all nations,
deeming it as great a glory to set forth the excellences of
others as to display their own. Their stores, which are stocked
with attestations of historical events, I have examined somewhat
closely, and have woven together no small portion of the present
work by following their narrative, not despising the judgment of
men whom I know to be so well versed in the knowledge of
antiquity. And I have taken equal care to follow the statements
of Absalon, and with obedient mind and pen to include both his
own doings and other men's doings of which he learnt; treasuring
the witness of his August narrative as though it were some
teaching from the skies.

Wherefore, Waldemar, (1) healthful Prince and Father of us all,
shining light of thy land, whose lineage, most glorious from
times of old, I am to relate, I beseech thee let thy grace attend
the faltering course of this work; for I am fettered under the
weight of my purpose, and dread that I may rather expose my
unskillfulness and the feebleness of my parts, than portray thy
descent as I duly should. For, not to speak of thy rich
inheritance from thy fathers, thou hast nobly increased thy realm
by conquering thy neighbours, and in the toil of spreading thy
sovereignty hast encompassed the ebbing and flowing waves of
Elbe, thus adding to thy crowded roll of honours no mean portion
of fame. And after outstripping the renown and repute of thy
forerunners by the greatness of thy deeds, thou didst not forbear
to make armed, assault even upon part of the Roman empire. And
though thou art deemed to be well endowed with courage and
generosity, thou hast left it in doubt whether thou dost more
terrify to thy foes in warfare or melt thy people by thy
mildness. Also thy most illustrious grandsire, who was
sanctioned with the honours of public worship, and earned the
glory of immortality by an unmerited death, now dazzles by the
refulgence of his holiness those whom living he annexed in his
conquests. And from his most holy wounds more virtue than blood
hath flowed.

Moreover I, bound by an old and inherited duty of obedience, have
set my heart on fighting for thee, if it be only with all the
forces of my mind; my father and grandfather being known to have
served thy illustrious sire in camp with loyal endurance of the
toils of war. Relying therefore on thy guidance and regard, I
have resolved to begin with the position and configuration of our
own country; for I shall relate all things as they come more
vividly, if the course of this history first traverse the
places to which the events belong, and take their situation as
the starting-point for its narrative.

The extremes, then, of this country are partly bounded by a
frontier of another land, and partly enclosed by the waters of
the adjacent sea. The interior is washed and encompassed by the
ocean; and this, through the circuitous winds of the interstices,
now straitens into the narrows of a firth, now advances into
ampler bays, forming a number of islands. Hence Denmark is cut
in pieces by the intervening waves of ocean, and has but few
portions of firm and continuous territory; these being divided by
the mass of waters that break them up, in ways varying with the
different angle of the bend of the sea. Of all these, Jutland,
being the largest and first settled, holds the chief place in the
Danish kingdom. It both lies fore-most and stretches furthest,
reaching to the frontiers of Teutonland, from contact with which
it is severed by the bed of the river Eyder. Northwards it
swells somewhat in breadth, and runs out to the shore of the
Noric Channel (Skagerrak). In this part is to be found the fjord
called Liim, which is so full of fish that it seems to yield the
natives as much food as the whole soil.

Close by this fjord also lies Lesser (North) Friesland, which
curves in from the promontory of Jutland in a cove of sinking
plains and shelving lap, and by the favour of the flooding ocean
yields immense crops of grain. But whether this violent
inundation bring the inhabitants more profit or peril, remains a
vexed question. For when the (dykes of the) estuaries, whereby
the waves of the sea are commonly checked among that people, are
broken through by the greatness of the storm, such a mass of
waters is wont to overrun the fields that it sometimes overwhelms
not only the tilled lands, but people and their dwellings

Eastwards, after Jutland, comes the Isle of Funen, cut off from
the mainland by a very narrow sound of sea. This faces Jutland
on the west, and on the east Zealand, which is famed for its
remarkable richness in the necessaries of life. This latter
island, being by far the most delightful of all the provinces of
our country, is held to occupy the heart of Denmark, being
divided by equal distances from the extreme frontier; on its
eastern side the sea breaks through and cuts off the western side
of Skaane; and this sea commonly yields each year an abundant
haul to the nets of the fishers. Indeed, the whole sound is apt
to be so thronged with fish that any craft which strikes on them
is with difficulty got off by hard rowing, and the prize is
captured no longer by tackle, but by simple use of the hands.

Moreover, Halland and Bleking, shooting forth from the mass of
the Skaane like two branches from a parent trunk, are linked to
Gothland and to Norway, though with wide deviations of course,
and with various gaps consisting of fjords. Now in Bleking is to
be seen a rock which travellers can visit, dotted with letters in
a strange character. For there stretches from the southern sea
into the desert of Vaarnsland a road of rock, contained between
two lines a little way apart and very prolonged, between which is
visible in the midst a level space, graven all over with
characters made to be read. And though this lies so unevenly as
sometimes to break through the tops of the hills, sometimes to
pass along the valley bottoms, yet it can be discerned to
preserve continuous traces of the characters. Now Waldemar,
well-starred son of holy Canute, marvelled at these, and desired
to know their purport, and sent men to go along the rock and
gather with close search the series of the characters that were
to be seen there; they were then to denote them with certain
marks, using letters of similar shape. These men could not
gather any sort of interpretation of them, because owing to the
hollow space of the graving being partly smeared up with mud and
partly worn by the feet of travellers in the trampling of the
road, the long line that had been drawn became blurred. Hence it
is plain that crevices, even in the solid rock, if long drenched
with wet, become choked either by the solid washings of dirt or
the moistening drip of showers.

But since this country, by its closeness of language as much as
of position, includes Sweden and Norway, I will record their
divisions and their climates also as I have those of Denmark.
These territories, lying under the northern pole, and facing
Bootes and the Great Bear, reach with their utmost outlying parts
the latitude of the freezing zone; and beyond these the
extraordinary sharpness of the cold suffers not human habitation.
Of these two, Norway has been allotted by the choice of nature a
forbidding rocky site. Craggy and barren, it is beset all around
by cliffs, and the huge desolate boulders give it the aspect of a
rugged and a gloomy land; in its furthest part the day-star is
not hidden even by night; so that the sun, scorning the
vicissitudes of day and night, ministers in unbroken presence an
equal share of his radiance to either season.

On the west of Norway comes the island called Iceland, with the
mighty ocean washing round it: a land very squalid to dwell in,
but noteworthy for marvels, both strange occurrences and objects
that pass belief. A spring is there which, by the malignant reek
of its water, destroys the original nature of anything
whatsoever. Indeed, all that is sprinkled with the breath of its
vapour is changed into the hardness of stone. It remains a doubt
whether it be more marvellous or more perilous, that soft and
flowing water should be invested with such a stiffness, as by a
sudden change to transmute into the nature of stone whatsoever is
put to it and drenched with its reeking fume, nought but the
shape surviving. Here also are said to be other springs, which
now are fed with floods of rising water, and, overflowing in full
channels, cast a mass of spray upwards; and now again their
bubbling flags, and they can scarce be seen below at the bottom,
and are swallowed into deep hiding far under ground. Hence, when
they are gushing over, they bespatter everything about them with
the white spume, but when they are spent the sharpest eye cannot
discern them. In this island there is likewise a mountain, whose
floods of incessant fire make it look like a glowing rock, and
which, by belching out flames, keeps its crest in an everlasting
blaze. This thing awakens our wonder as much as those aforesaid;
namely, when a land lying close to the extreme of cold can have
such abundance of matter to keep up the heat, as to furnish
eternal fires with unseen fuel, and supply an endless provocative
to feed the burning. To this isle also, at fixed and appointed
seasons, there drifts a boundless mass of ice, and when it
approaches and begins to dash upon the rugged reefs, then, just
as if the cliffs rang reply, there is heard from the deep a roar
of voices and a changing din of extraordinary clamour. Whence it
is supposed that spirits, doomed to torture for the iniquity of
their guilty life, do here pay, by that bitter cold, the penalty
of their sins. And so any portion of this mass that is cut off
when the aforesaid ice breaks away from the land, soon slips its
bonds and bars, though it be made fast with ever so great joins
and knots. The mind stands dazed in wonder, that a thing which
is covered with bolts past picking, and shut in by manifold and
intricate barriers, should so depart after that mass whereof it
was a portion, as by its enforced and inevitable flight to baffle
the wariest watching. There also, set among the ridges and crags
of the mountains, is another kind of ice which is known
periodically to change and in a way reverse its position, the
upper parts sinking to the bottom, and the lower again returning
to the top. For proof of this story it is told that certain men,
while they chanced to be running over the level of ice, rolled
into the abyss before them, and into the depths of the yawning
crevasses, and were a little later picked up dead without the
smallest chink of ice above them. Hence it is common for many to
imagine that the urn of the sling of ice first swallows them, and
then a little after turns upside down and restores them. Here
also, is reported to bubble up the water of a pestilent flood,
which if a man taste, he falls struck as though by poison. Also
there are other springs, whose gushing waters are said to
resemble the quality of the bowl of Ceres. There are also fires,
which, though they cannot consume linen, yet devour so fluent a
thing as water. Also there is a rock, which flies over mountain-
steeps, not from any outward impulse, but of its innate and
proper motion.

And now to unfold somewhat more thoroughly our delineation of
Norway. It should be known that on the east it is conterminous
with Sweden and Gothland, and is bounded on both sides by the
waters of the neighbouring ocean. Also on the north it faces a
region whose position and name are unknown, and which lacks all
civilisation, but teems with peoples of monstrous strangeness;
and a vast interspace of flowing sea severs it from the portion
of Norway opposite. This sea is found hazardous for navigation,
and suffers few that venture thereon to return in peace.

Moreover, the upper bend of the ocean, which cuts through Denmark
and flows past it, washes the southern side of Gothland with a
gulf of some width; while its lower channel, passing the northern
sides of Gothland and Norway, turns eastwards, widening much in
breadth, and is bounded by a curve of firm land. This limit of
the sea the elders of our race called Grandvik. Thus between
Grandvik and the Southern Sea there lies a short span of
mainland, facing the seas that wash on either shore; and but that
nature had set this as a boundary where the billows almost meet,
the tides of the two seas would have flowed into one, and cut off
Sweden and Norway into an island. The regions on the east of
these lands are inhabited by the Skric-Finns. This people is
used to an extraordinary kind of carriage, and in its passion for
the chase strives to climb untrodden mountains, and attains the
coveted ground at the cost of a slippery circuit. For no crag
juts out so high, but they can reach its crest by fetching a
cunning. compass. For when they first leave the deep valleys,
they glide twisting and circling among the bases of the rocks,
thus making the route very roundabout by dint of continually
swerving aside, until, passing along the winding curves of the
tracks, they conquer the appointed summit. This same people is
wont to use the skins of certain beasts for merchandise with its

Now Sweden faces Denmark and Norway on the west, but on the south
and on much of its eastern side it is skirted by the ocean. Past
this eastward is to be found a vast accumulation of motley

That the country of Denmark was once cultivated and worked by
giants, is attested by the enormous stones attached to the
barrows and caves of the ancients. Should any man question that
this is accomplished by superhuman force, let him look up at the
tops of certain mountains and say, if he knows how, what man hath
carried such immense boulders up to their crests. For anyone
considering this marvel will mark that it is inconceivable how a
mass, hardly at all or but with difficulty movable upon a level,
could have been raised to so mighty a peak of so lofty a mountain
by mere human effort, or by the ordinary exertion of human
strength. But as to whether, after the Deluge went forth, there
existed giants who could do such deeds, or men endowed beyond
others with bodily force, there is scant tradition to tell us.

But, as our countrymen aver, those who even to-day are said to
dwell in that rugged and inaccessible desert aforesaid, are, by
the mutable nature of their bodies, vouchsafed the power of being
now near, now far, and of appearing and vanishing in turn. The
approach to this desert is beset with perils of a fearful kind,
and has seldom granted to those who attempted it an unscathed
return. Now I will let my pen pass to my theme.

(1) Waldemar the Second (1203-42); Saxo does not reach his


Now Dan and Angul, with whom the stock of the Danes begins, were
begotten of Humble, their father, and were the governors and not
only the founders of our race. (Yet Dudo, the historian of
Normandy, considers that the Danes are sprung and named from the
Danai.) And these two men, though by the wish and favour of
their country they gained the lordship of the realm, and, owing
to the wondrous deserts of their bravery, got the supreme power
by the consenting voice of their countrymen, yet lived without
the name of king: the usage whereof was not then commonly
resorted to by any authority among our people.

Of these two, Angul, the fountain, so runs the tradition, of the
beginnings of the Anglian race, caused his name to be applied to
the district which he ruled. This was an easy kind of memorial
wherewith to immortalise his fame: for his successors a little
later, when they gained possession of Britain, changed the
original name of the island for a fresh title, that of their own
land. This action was much thought of by the ancients: witness
Bede, no mean figure among the writers of the Church, who was a
native of England, and made it his care to embody the doings of
his country in the most hallowed treasury of his pages; deeming
it equally a religious duty to glorify in writing the deeds of
his land, and to chronicle the history of the Church.

From Dan, however, so saith antiquity; the pedigrees of our kings
have flowed in glorious series, like channels from some parent
spring. Grytha, a matron most highly revered among the Teutons,
bore him two sons, HUMBLE and LOTHER.

The ancients, when they were to choose a king, were wont to stand
on stones planted in the ground, and to proclaim their votes, in
order to foreshadow from the steadfastness of the stones that the
deed would be lasting. By this ceremony Humble was elected king
at his father's death, thus winning a novel favour from his
country; but by the malice of ensuing fate he fell from a king
into a common man. For he was taken by Lother in war, and bought
his life by yielding up his crown; such, in truth, were the only
terms of escape offered him in his defeat. Forced, therefore, by
the injustice of a brother to lay down his sovereignty, he
furnished the lesson to mankind, that there is less safety,
though more pomp, in the palace than in the cottage. Also, he
bore his wrong so meekly that he seemed to rejoice at his loss of
title as though it were a blessing; and I think he had a shrewd
sense of the quality of a king's estate. But Lother played the
king as insupportably as he had played the soldier, inaugurating
his reign straightway with arrogance and crime; for he counted it
uprightness to strip all the most eminent of life or goods, and
to clear his country of its loyal citizens, thinking all his
equals in birth his rivals for the crown. He was soon chastised
for his wickedness; for he met his end in an insurrection of his
country; which had once bestowed on him his kingdom, and now
bereft him of his life.

SKIOLD, his son, inherited his natural bent, but not his
behaviour; avoiding his inborn perversity by great discretion in
his tender years, and thus escaping all traces of his father's
taint. So he appropriated what was alike the more excellent and
the earlier share of the family character; for he wisely departed
from his father's sins, and became a happy counterpart of his
grandsire's virtues. This man was famous in his youth among the
huntsmen of his father for his conquest of a monstrous beast: a
marvellous incident, which augured his future prowess. For he
chanced to obtain leave from his guardians, who were rearing him
very carefully, to go and see the hunting. A bear of
extraordinary size met him; he had no spear, but with the girdle
that he commonly wore he contrived to bind it, and gave it to his
escort to kill. More than this, many champions of tried prowess
were at the same time of his life vanquished by him singly; of
these Attal and Skat were renowned and famous. While but fifteen
years of age he was of unusual bodily size and displayed mortal
strength in its perfection, and so mighty were the proofs of his
powers that the rest of the kings of the Danes were called after
him by a common title, the SKIOLDUNG'S. Those who were wont to
live an abandoned and flaccid life, and to sap their selfcontrol
by wantonness, this man vigilantly spurred to the practice of
virtue in an active career. Thus the ripeness of Skiold's spirit
outstripped the fulness of his strength, and he fought battles at
which one of his tender years could scarce look on. And as he
thus waxed in years and valour he beheld the perfect beauty of
Alfhild, daughter of the King of the Saxons, sued for her hand,
and, for her sake, in the sight of the armies of the Teutons and
the Danes, challenged and fought with Skat, governor of
Allemannia, and a suitor for the same maiden; whom he slew,
afterwards crushing the whole nation of the Allemannians, and
forcing them to pay tribute, they being subjugated by the death
of their captain. Skiold was eminent for patriotism as well as
arms. For he annulled unrighteous laws, and most heedfully
executed whatsoever made for the amendment of his country's
condition. Further, he regained by his virtue the realm that his
father's wickedness had lost. He was the first to proclaim the
law abolishing manumissions. A slave, to whom he had chanced to
grant his freedom, had attempted his life by stealthy treachery,
and he exacted a bitter penalty; as though it were just that the
guilt of one freedman should be visited upon all. He paid off
all men's debts from his own treasury, and contended, so to say,
with all other monarchs in courage, bounty, and generous dealing.
The sick he used to foster, and charitably gave medicines to
those sore stricken; bearing witness that he had taken on him the
care of his country and not of himself. He used to enrich his
nobles not only with home taxes, but also with plunder taken in
war; being wont to aver that the prize-money should flow to the
soldiers, and the glory to the general.

Thus delivered of his bitterest rival in wooing, he took as the
prize of combat the maiden, for the love of whom he had fought,
and wedded her in marriage. Soon after, he had by her a son,
GRAM, whose wondrous parts savoured so strongly of his father's
virtues that he was deemed to tread in their very footsteps. The
days of Gram's youth were enriched with surpassing gifts of mind
and body, and he raised them to the crest of renown. Posterity
did such homage to his greatness that in the most ancient poems
of the Danes royal dignity is implied in his very name. He
practiced with the most zealous training whatsoever serves to
sharpen and strengthen the bodily powers. Taught by the fencers,
he trained himself by sedulous practice to parrying and dealing
blows. He took to wife the daughter of his upbringer, Roar, she
being his foster-sister and of his own years, in order the better
to show his gratefulness for his nursing. A little while after
he gave her in marriage to a certain Bess, since he had ofttimes
used his strenuous service. In this partner of his warlike deeds
he put his trust; and he has left it a question whether he has
won more renown by Bess's valour or his own.

Gram, chancing to hear that Groa, daughter of Sigtryg, King of
the Swedes, was plighted to a certain giant, and holding accursed
an union so unworthy of the blood royal, entered on a Swedish
war; being destined to emulate the prowess of Hercules in
resisting the attempts of monsters. He went into Gothland, and,
in order to frighten people out of his path, strode on clad in
goats' skins, swathed in the motley hides of beasts, and grasping
in his right hand a dreadful weapon, thus feigning the attire of
a giant; when he met Groa herself riding with a very small escort
of women on foot, and making her way, as it chanced, to the
forest-pools to bathe, she thought it was her betrothed who had
hastened to meet her, and was scared with feminine alarm at so
strange a garb: so, flinging up the reins, and shaking terribly
all over, she began in the song of her country, thus:

"I see that a giant, hated of the king, has come, and darkens the
highways with his stride. Or my eyes play me false; for it has
oft befallen bold warriors to skulk behind the skin of a beast."

Then began Bess: "Maiden, seated on the shoulders of the steed,
tell me, pouring forth in thy turn words of answer, what is thy
name, and of what line art thou born?"

Groa replied: "Groa is my name; my sire is a king, glorious in
blood, gleaming in armour. Disclose to us, thou also, who thou
art, or whence sprung!"

To whom Bess: "I am Bess, brave in battle, ruthless to foes, a
terror to nations, and oft drenching my right hand in the blood
of foes."

Then said Groa: "Who, prithee, commands your lines? Under what
captain raise ye the war-standards? What prince controls the
battle? Under whose guidance is the war made ready?"

Bess in answer: "Gram, the blest in battle, rules the array:
force nor fear can swerve him; flaming pyre and cruel sword and
ocean billow have never made him afraid. Led by him, maiden, we
raise the golden standards of war."

Groa once more: "Turn your feet and go back hence, lest Sigtryg
vanquish you all with his own array, and fasten you to a cruel
stake, your throats haltered with the cord, and doom your
carcases to the stiff noose, and, glaring evilly, thrust out your
corpses to the hungry raven."

Bess again: "Gram, ere he shall shut his own eyes in death, shall
first make him a ghost, and, smiting him on the crest, shall send
him to Tartarus. We fear no camp of the Swedes. Why threaten us
with ghastly dooms, maiden?"

Groa answered him: "Behold, I will ride thence to see again the
roof of my father which I know, that I may not rashly set eyes on
the array of my brother who is coming. And I pray that your
death-doom may tarry for you who abide."

Bess replied: "Daughter, to thy father go back with good cheer;
nor imprecate swift death upon us, nor let choler shake thy
bosom. For often has a woman, harsh at first and hard to a
wooer, yielded the second time."

Whereupon Gram could brook no longer to be silent, and pitching
his tones gruffly, so as to mimic a gruesome and superhuman
voice, accosted the maiden thus:

"Let not the maiden fear the brother of the fleet giant, nor turn
pale because I am nigh her. For I am sent by Grip, and never
seek the couch and embrace of damsels save when their wish
matches mine."

Groa answered: "Who so mad as to wish to be the leman of giants?
Or what woman could love the bed that genders monsters? Who
could be the wife of demons, and know the seed whose fruit is
monstrous? Or who would fain share her couch with a barbarous
giant? Who caresses thorns with her fingers? Who would mingle
honest kisses with mire? Who would unite shaggy limbs to smooth
ones which correspond not? Full ease of love cannot be taken
when nature cries out against it: nor doth the love customary in
the use of women sort with monsters."

Gram rejoined: "Oft with conquering hand I have tamed the necks
of mighty kings, defeating with stronger arm their insolent
pride. Thence take red-glowing gold, that the troth may be made
firm by the gift, and that the faith to be brought to our wedlock
may stand fast."

Thus speaking, he cast off his disguises, and revealed his
natural comeliness; and by a single sight of him he filled the
damsel with well-nigh as much joy as he had struck her with fear
before at his counterfeit. She was even incited to his embraces
by the splendour of his beauty; nor did he fail to offer her the
gifts of love.

Having won Groa, Bess proceeded and learnt that the road was
beset by two robbers. These he slew simply by charging them as
they rushed covetously forth to despoil him. This done, loth to
seem to have done any service to the soil of an enemy, he put
timbers under the carcases of the slain, fastened them thereto,
and stretched them so as to counterfeit an upright standing
position; so that in their death they might menace in seeming
those whom their life had harmed in truth; and that, terrible
even after their decease, they might block the road in effigy as
much as they had once in deed. Whence it appears that in slaying
the robbers he took thought for himself and not for Sweden: for
he betokened by so singular an act how great a hatred of Sweden
filled him. Having heard from the diviners that Sigtryg could
only be conquered by gold, he straightway fixed a knob of gold to
a wooden mace, equipped himself therewith in the war wherein he
attacked the king, and obtained his desire. This exploit was
besung by Bess in a most zealous strain of eulogy:

"Gram, the fierce wielder of the prosperous mace, knowing not the
steel, rained blows on the outstretched sword, and with a stock
beat off the lances of the mighty.

"Following the decrees and will of the gods, he brought low the
glory of the powerless Swedes, doing their king to death and
crushing him with the stiff gold.

"For he pondered on the arts of war: he wielded in his clasp the
ruddy-flashing wood, and victoriously with noble stroke made
their fallen captain writhe.

"Shrewdly he conquered with the hardness of gold him whom fate
forbade should be slain by steel; unsworded, waging war with the
worthier metal.

"This treasure, for which its deviser claims glory and the height
of honour, shall abide yet more illustrious hereafter, known far
and wide in ampler fame."

Having now slain Sigtryg, the King of Sweden, Gram desired to
confirm his possession of the empire which he had won in war; and
therefore, suspecting Swarin the governor of Gothland of aspiring
to the crown, he challenged him to combat, and slew him. This
man's brethren, of whom he had seven lawfully born, and nine the
sons of a concubine, sought to avenge their brother's death, but
Gram, in an unequal contest, cut them off.

Gram, for his marvellous prowess, was granted a share in the
sovereignty by his father, who was now in extreme age, and
thought it better and likewise more convenient to give his own
blood a portion of the supremacy of the realm, than now in the
setting of his life to administer it without a partner.
Therefore Ring, a nobly-born Zealander, stirred the greater part
of the Danes with desire for insurrection; fancying that one of
these men was unripe for his rank, and that the other had run the
course of his powers, alleging the weakness in years of both, and
declaring that the wandering wit of an old man made the one, and
that of a boy the other, unfit for royal power. But they fought
and crushed him, making him an example to all men, that no season
of life is to be deemed incompatible with valour.

Many other deeds also King Gram did. He declared war against
Sumble, King of the Finns; but when he set eyes upon the King's
daughter, Signe, he laid down his arms, the foeman turned into
the suitor, and, promising to put away his own wife, he plighted
troth with her. But, while much busied with a war against
Norway, which he had taken up against King Swipdag for debauching
his sister and his daughter, he heard from a messenger that Signe
had, by Sumble's treachery, been promised in marriage to Henry,
King of Saxony. Then, inclining to love the maiden more than his
soldiers, he left his army, privily made his way to Finland, and
came in upon the wedding, which was already begun. Putting on a
garb of the utmost meanness, he lay down at the table in a seat
of no honour. When asked what he brought, he professed skill in
leechcraft. At last, when all were drenched in drunkenness, he
gazed at the maiden, and amid the revels of the riotous banquet,
cursing deep the fickleness of women, and vaunting loud his own
deeds of valour, he poured out the greatness of his wrath in a
song like this:

"Singly against eight at once I drove the darts of death, and
smote nine with a back-swung sword, when I slew Swarin, who
wrongfully assumed his honours and tried to win fame unmerited;
wherefore I have oft dyed in foreign blood my blade red with
death and reeking with slaughter, and have never blenched at the
clash of dagger or the sheen of helmet. Now Signe, the daughter
of Sumble, vilely spurns me, and endures vows not mine, cursing
her ancient troth; and, conceiving an ill-ordered love, commits a
notable act of female lightness; for she entangles, lures, and
bestains princes, rebuffing beyond all others the lordly of
birth; yet remaining firm to none, but ever wavering, and
bringing to birth impulses doubtful and divided."

And as he spoke he leapt up from where he lay, and there he cut
Henry down while at the sacred board and the embraces of his
friends, carried off his bride from amongst the bridesmaids,
felled most of the guests, and bore her off with him in his ship.
Thus the bridal was turned into a funeral; and the Finns might
learn the lesson, that hands should not be laid upon the loves of
other men.

After this SWIPDAG, King of Norway, destroyed Gram, who was
attempting to avenge the outrage on his sister and the attempt on
his daughter's chastity. This battle was notable for the
presence of the Saxon forces, who were incited to help Swipdag,
not so much by love of him, as by desire to avenge Henry.

GUTHORM and HADDING, the son of Gram (Groa being the mother of
the first and Signe of the second), were sent over to Sweden in a
ship by their foster-father, Brage (Swipdag being now master of
Denmark), and put in charge of the giants Wagnhofde and Hafle,
for guard as well as rearing.

As I shall have briefly to relate doings of these folk, and would
fain not seem to fabricate what conflicts with common belief or
outsteps the faithful truth, it is worth the knowing that there
were in old times three kinds of magicians who by diverse
sleights practiced extraordinary marvels. The first of these
were men of monstrous stock, termed by antiquity giants; these by
their exceeding great bodily stature surpassed the size natural
to mankind. Those who came after these were the first who gained
skill in divination from entrails, and attained the Pythonic art.
These surpassed the former in briskness of mental parts as much
as they fell behind them in bodily condition. Constant wars for
the supremacy were waged between these and the giants; till at
last the sorcerers prevailed, subdued the tribe of giants by
arms, and acquired not merely the privilege of ruling, but also
the repute of being divine. Both of these kinds had extreme
skill in deluding the eyesight, knowing how to obscure their own
faces and those of others with divers semblances, and to darken
the true aspects of things with beguiling shapes. But the third
kind of men, springing from the natural union of the first two,
did not answer to the nature of their parents either in bodily
size or in practice of magic arts; yet these gained credit for
divinity with minds that were befooled by their jugglings.

Nor must we marvel if, tempted by the prodigious miracles of
these folk, the barbaric world fell to worshipping a false
religion, when others like unto these, who were mere mortals, but
were reverenced with divine honours, beguiled even the shrewdness
of the Latins. I have touched on these things lest, when I
relate of sleights and marvels, I be checked by the disbelief of
the reader. Now I will leave these matters and return to my

Swipdag, now that he had slain Gram, was enriched with the realms
of Denmark and Sweden; and because of the frequent importunities
of his wife he brought back from banishment her brother Guthorm,
upon his promising tribute, and made him ruler of the Danes. But
Hadding preferred to avenge his father rather than take a boon
from his foe.

This man's nature so waxed and throve that in the early season of
his youth he was granted the prime of manhood. Leaving the
pursuit of pleasure, he was constantly zealous in warlike
exercises; remembering that he was the son of a fighting father,
and was bound to spend his whole span of life in approved deeds
of warfare. Hardgrep, daughter of Wagnhofde, tried to enfeeble
his firm spirit with her lures of love, contending and constantly
averring that he ought to offer the first dues of the marriage
bed in wedlock with her, who had proffered to his childhood most
zealous and careful fostering, and had furnished him with his
first rattle.

Nor was she content with admonishing in plain words, but began a
strain of song as follows:

"Why doth thy life thus waste and wander? Why dost thou pass thy
years unwed, following arms, thirsting for throats? Nor does my
beauty draw thy vows. Carried away by excess of frenzy, thou art
little prone to love. Steeped in blood and slaughter, thou
judgest wars better than the bed, nor refreshest thy soul with
incitements. Thy fierceness finds no leisure; dalliance is far
from thee, and savagery fostered. Nor is thy hand free from
blasphemy while thou loathest the rites of love. Let this
hateful strictness pass away, let that loving warmth approach,
and plight the troth of love to me, who gave thee the first
breasts of milk in childhood, and helped thee, playing a mother's
part, duteous to thy needs."

When he answered that the size of her body was unwieldy for the
embraces of a mortal, since doubtless her nature was framed in
conformity to her giant stock, she said:

"Be not moved by my unwonted look of size. For my substance is
sometimes thinner, sometimes ampler; now meagre, now abundant;
and I alter and change at my pleasure the condition of my body,
which is at one time shrivelled up and at another time expanded:
now my tallness rises to the heavens, and now I settle down into
a human being, under a more bounded shape."

As he still faltered, and was slow to believe her words, she
added the following song:

"Youth, fear not the converse of my bed. I change my bodily
outline in twofold wise, and am wont to enjoin a double law upon
my sinews. For I conform to shapes of different figure in turn,
and am altered at my own sweet will: now my neck is star-high,
and soars nigh to the lofty Thunderer; then it falls and declines
to human strength, and plants again on earth that head which was
near the firmament. Thus I lightly shift my body into diverse
phases, and am beheld in varying wise; for changefully now
cramped stiffness draws in my limbs, now the virtue of my tall
body unfolds them, and suffers them to touch the cloud-tops. Now
I am short and straitened, now stretch out with loosened knee;
and I have mutably changed myself like wax into strange aspects.
He who knows of Proteus should not marvel at me. My shape never
stays the same, and my aspect is twofold: at one time it
contrasts its outstretched limbs, at another shoots them out when
closed; now disentangling the members and now rolling them back
into a coil. I dart out my ingathered limbs, and presently,
while they are strained, I wrinkle them up, dividing my
countenance between shapes twain, and adopting two forms; with
the greater of these I daunt the fierce, while with the shorter I
seek the embraces of men."

By thus averring she obtained the embraces of Hadding; and her
love for the youth burned so high that when she found him
desirous of revisiting his own land, she did not hesitate to
follow him in man's attire, and counted it as joy to share his
hardships and perils. While upon the journey she had undertaken,
she chanced to enter in his company, in order to pass the night,
a dwelling, the funeral of whose dead master was being conducted
with melancholy rites. Here, desiring to pry into the purposes
of heaven by the help of a magical espial, she graved on wood
some very dreadful spells, and caused Hadding to put them under
the dead man's tongue; thus forcing him to utter, with the voice
so given, a strain terrible to hear:

"Perish accursed he who hath dragged me back from those below,
let him be punished for calling a spirit out of bale!

"Whoso hath called me, who am lifeless and dead, back from the
abode below, and hath brought me again into upper air, let him
pay full penalty with his own death in the dreary shades beneath
livid Styx. Behold, counter to my will and purpose, I must
declare some bitter tidings. For as ye go away from this house
ye will come to the narrow path of a grove, and will be a prey to
demons all about. Then she who hath brought our death back from
out of void, and has given us a sight of this light once more, by
her prayers wondrously drawing forth the ghost and casting it
into the bonds of the body, shall bitterly bewail her rash

"Perish accursed he who hath dragged me back from those below,
let him be punished for calling a spirit out of bale!

"For when the black pestilence of the blast that engenders
monsters has crushed out the inmost entrails with stern effort,
and when their hand has swept away the living with cruel nail,
tearing off limbs and rending ravished bodies; then Hadding, thy
life shall survive, nor shall the nether realms bear off thy
ghost, nor thy spirit pass heavily to the waters of Styx; but the
woman who hath made the wretched ghost come back hither, crushed
by her own guilt, shall appease our dust; she shall be dust

"Perish accursed he who hath dragged me back from those below,
let him be punished for calling a spirit out of bale!"

So, while they were passing the night in the forest foretold
them, in a shelter framed of twigs, a hand of extraordinary size
was seen to wander over the inside of the dwelling. Terrified at
this portent, Hadding entreated the aid of his nurse. Then
Hardgrep, expanding her limbs and swelling to a mighty bigness,
gripped the hand fast and held it to her foster-child to hew off.
What flowed from the noisesome wounds he dealt was not so much
blood as corrupt matter. But she paid the penalty of this act,
presently being torn in pieces by her kindred of the same stock;
nor did her constitution or her bodily size help her against
feeling the attacks of her foes' claws.

Hadding, thus bereft of his foster-mother, chanced to be made an
ally in a solemn covenant to a rover, Lysir, by a certain man of
great age that had lost an eye, who took pity on his loneliness.
Now the ancients, when about to make a league, were wont to
besprinkle their footsteps with blood of one another, so to
ratify their pledge of friendship by reciprocal barter of blood.
Lysir and Hadding, being bound thus in the strictest league,
declared war against Loker, the tyrant of the Kurlanders. They
were defeated; and the old man aforementioned took Hadding, as he
fled on horseback, to his own house, and there refreshed him with
a certain pleasant draught, telling him that he would find
himself quite brisk and sound in body. This prophetic advice he
confirmed by a song as follows:

"As thou farest hence, a foe, thinking thee a deserter, will
assail thee, that he may keep thee bound and cast thee to be
devoured by the mangling jaws of beasts. But fill thou the ears
of the warders with divers tales, and when they have done the
feast and deep sleep holds them, snap off the fetters upon thee
and the loathly chains. Turn thy feet thence, and when a little
space has fled, with all thy might rise up against a swift lion
who is wont to toss the carcases of the prisoners, and strive
with thy stout arms against his savage shoulders, and with naked
sword search his heart-strings. Straightway put thy throat to
him and drink the steaming blood, and devour with ravenous jaws
the banquet of his body. Then renewed strength will come to thy
limbs, then shall undreamed-of might enter thy sinews, and an
accumulation of stout force shall bespread and nerve thy frame
through~out. I myself will pave the path to thy prayers, and
will subdue the henchmen in sleep, and keep them snoring
throughout the lingering night."

And as he spoke, he took back the young man on his horse, and set
him where he had found him. Hadding cowered trembling under his
mantle; but so extreme was his wonder at the event, that with
keen vision he peered through its holes. And he saw that before
the steps of the horse lay the sea; but was told not to steal a
glimpse of the forbidden thing, and therefore turned aside his
amazed eyes from the dread spectacle of the roads that he
journeyed. Then he was taken by Loker, and found by very sure
experience that every point of the prophecy was fulfilled upon
him. So he assailed Handwan, king of the Hellespont, who was
entrenched behind an impregnable defence of wall in his city
Duna, and withstood him not in the field, but with battlements.
Its summit defying all approach by a besieger, he ordered that
the divers kinds of birds who were wont to nest in that spot
should be caught by skilled fowlers, and he caused wicks which
had been set on fire to be fastened beneath their wings. The
birds sought the shelter of their own nests, and filled the city
with a blaze; all the townsmen flocked to quench it, and left the
gates defenceless. He attacked and captured Handwan, but
suffered him to redeem his life with gold for ransom. Thus, when
he might have cut off his foe, he preferred to grant him the
breath of life; so far did his mercy qualify his rage.

After this he prevailed over a great force of men of the East,
and came back to Sweden. Swipdag met him with a great fleet off
Gottland; but Hadding attacked and destroyed him. And thus he
advanced to a lofty pitch of renown, not only by the fruits of
foreign spoil, but by the trophies of his vengeance for his
brother and his father. And he exchanged exile for royalty, for
he became king of his own land as soon as he regained it.

At this time there was one Odin, who was credited over all Europe
with the honour, which was false, of godhead, but used more
continually to sojourn at Upsala; and in this spot, either from
the sloth of the inhabitants or from its own pleasantness, he
vouchsafed to dwell with somewhat especial constancy. The kings
of the North, desiring more zealously to worship his deity,
embounded his likeness in a golden image; and this statue, which
betokened their homage, they transmitted with much show of
worship to Byzantium, fettering even the effigied arms with a
serried mass of bracelets. Odin was overjoyed at such notoriety,
and greeted warmly the devotion of the senders. But his queen
Frigga, desiring to go forth more beautified, called smiths, and
had the gold stripped from the statue. Odin hanged them, and
mounted the statue upon a pedestal, which by the marvellous skill
of his art he made to speak when a mortal touched it. But still
Frigga preferred the splendour of her own apparel to the divine
honours of her husband, and submitted herself to the embraces of
one of her servants; and it was by this man's device she broke
down the image, and turned to the service of her private
wantonness that gold which had been devoted to public idolatry.
Little thought she of practicing unchastity, that she might the
easier satisfy her greed, this woman so unworthy to be the
consort of a god; but what should I here add, save that such a
godhead was worthy of such a wife? So great was the error that
of old befooled the minds of men. Thus Odin, wounded by the
double trespass of his wife, resented the outrage to his image as
keenly as that to his bed; and, ruffled by these two stinging
dishonours, took to an exile overflowing with noble shame,
imagining so to wipe off the slur of his ignominy.

When he had retired, one Mit-othin, who was famous for his
juggling tricks, was likewise quickened, as though by inspiration
from on high, to seize the opportunity of feigning to be a god;
and, wrapping the minds of the barbarians in fresh darkness, he
led them by the renown of his jugglings to pay holy observance to
his name. He said that the wrath of the gods could never be
appeased nor the outrage to their deity expiated by mixed and
indiscriminate sacrifices, and therefore forbade that prayers for
this end should be put up without distinction, appointing to each
of those above his especial drink-offering. But when Odin was
returning, he cast away all help of jugglings, went to Finland to
hide himself, and was there attacked and slain by the
inhabitants. Even in his death his abominations were made
manifest, for those who came nigh his barrow were cut off by a
kind of sudden death; and after his end, he spread such
pestilence that he seemed almost to leave a filthier record in
his death than in his life: it was as though he would extort from
the guilty a punishment for his slaughter. The inhabitants,
being in this trouble, took the body out of the mound, beheaded
it, and impaled it through the breast with a sharp stake; and
herein that people found relief.

The death of Odin's wife revived the ancient splendour of his
name, and seemed to wipe out the disgrace upon his deity; so,
returning from exile, he forced all those, who had used his
absence to assume the honours of divine rank, to resign them as
usurped; and the gangs of sorcerers that had arisen he scattered
like a darkness before the advancing glory of his godhead. And
he forced them by his power not only to lay down their divinity,
but further to quit the country, deeming that they, who tried to
foist themselves so iniquitously into the skies, ought to be
outcasts from the earth.

Meanwhile Asmund, the son of Swipdag, fought with Hadding to
avenge his father. And when he heard that Henry his son, his
love for whom he set even before his own life, had fallen
fighting valiantly, his soul longed for death, and loathed the
light of day, and made a song in a strain like this:

"What brave hath dared put on my armour? The sheen of the helmet
serves not him who tottereth, nor doth the breastplate fitly
shelter him that is sore spent. Our son is slain, let us riot in
battle; my eager love for him driveth me to my death, that I may
not be left outliving my dear child. In each hand I am fain to
grasp the sword; now without shield let us ply our warfare bare-
breasted, with flashing blades. Let the rumour of our rage
beacon forth: boldly let us grind to powder the column of the
foe; nor let the battle be long and chafe us; nor let our onset
be shattered in rout and be still."

When he had said this, he gripped his hilt with both hands, and,
fearless of peril, swung his shield upon his back and slew many.
Hadding therefore called on the powers with which he was allied
to protect him, and on a sudden Wagnhofde rode up to fight on his
side. And when Asmund saw his crooked sword, he cried out, and
broke into the following strain:

"Why fightest thou with curved sword? The short sword shall
prove thy doom, the javelin shall be flung and bring forth death.
Thou shouldst conquer thy foe by thy hand, but thou trustest
that he can be rent by spells; thou trustest more in words than
rigour, and puttest thy strength in thy great resource. Why dost
thus beat me back with thy shield, threatening with thy bold
lance, when thou art so covered with wretched crimes and spotted
all over? Thus hath the brand of shame bestained thee, rotting
in sin, lubber-lipped."

While he thus clamoured, Hadding, flinging his spear by the
thong, pierced him through. But Asmund lacked not comfort even
for his death; for while his life flickered in the socket he
wounded the foot of his slayer, and by this short instant of
revenge he memorized his fall, punishing the other with an
incurable limp. Thus crippling of a limb befell one of them and
loss of life the other. Asmund's body was buried in solemn state
at Upsala and attended with royal obsequies. His wife Gunnhild,
loth to outlive him, cut off her own life with the sword,
choosing rather to follow her lord in death than to forsake him
by living. Her friends, in consigning her body to burial, laid
her with her husband's dust, thinking her worthy to share the
mound of the man, her love for whom she had set above life. So
there lies Gunnhild, clasping her lord somewhat more beautifully
in the tomb than the had ever done in the bed.

After this Hadding, now triumphant, wasted Sweden. But Asmund's
son, named Uffe, shrinking from a conflict, transported his army
into Denmark, thinking it better to assail the house of his enemy
than to guard his own, and deeming it a timely method of
repelling his wrongs to retaliate upon his foe what he was
suffering at his hands. Thus the Danes had to return and defend
their own, preferring the safety of their land to lordship of a
foreign realm; and Uffe went back to his own country, now rid of
an enemy's arms.

Hadding, on returning from the Swedish war, perceived that his
treasury, wherein he was wont to store the wealth he had gotten
by the spoils of war, had been forced and robbed, and straightway
hanged its keeper Glumer, proclaiming by a crafty device, that,
if any of the culprits brought about the recovery of the stolen
goods, he should have the same post of honour as Glumer had
filled. Upon this promise, one of the guilty men became more
zealous to reap the bounty than to hide his crime, and had the
money brought back to the king. His confederates fancied he had
been received into the king's closest friendship, and believed
that the honours paid him were as real as they were lavish; and
therefore they also, hoping to be as well rewarded, brought back
their moneys and avowed their guilt. Their confession was
received at first with promotion and favours, and soon visited
with punishment, thus bequeathing a signal lesson against being
too confiding. I should judge that men, whose foolish blabbing
brought them to destruction, when wholesome silence could have
ensured their safety, well deserved to atone upon the gallows for
their breach of reticence.

After this Hadding passed the whole winter season in the utmost
preparation for the renewal of the war. When the frosts had been
melted by the springtime sun, he went back to Sweden and there
spent five years in warfare. By dint of this prolonged
expedition, his soldiers, having consumed all their provision,
were reduced almost to the extremity of emaciation, and began to
assuage their hunger with mushrooms from the wood. At last,
under stress of extreme necessity, they devoured their horses,
and finally satisfied themselves with the carcases of dogs.
Worse still, they did not scruple to feed upon human limbs. So,
when the Danes were brought unto the most desperate straits,
there sounded in the camp, in the first sleep of the night, and
no man uttering it, the following song:

"With foul augury have ye left the abode of your country,
thinking to harry these fields in War. What idle notion mocks
your minds? What blind self-confidence has seized your senses,
that ye think this soil can thus be won. The might of Sweden
cannot yield or quail before the War of the stranger; but the
whole of your column shall melt away when it begins to assault
our people in War. For when flight has broken up the furious
onset, and the straggling part of the fighters wavers, then to
those who prevail in the War is given free scope to slay those
who turn their backs, and they have earned power to smite the
harder when fate drives the renewer of the war headlong. Nor let
him whom cowardice deters aim the spears."

This prophecy was accomplished on the morrow's dawn by a great
slaughter of the Danes. On the next night the warriors of Sweden
heard an utterance like this, none knowing who spake it:

"Why doth Uffe thus defy me with grievous rebellion? He shall
pay the utmost penalty. For he shall he buried and transpierced
under showers of lances, and shall fall lifeless in atonement for
his insolent attempt. Nor shall the guilt of his wanton rancour
be unpunished; and, as I forebode, as soon as he joins battle and
fights, the points shall fasten in his limbs and strike his body
everywhere, and his raw gaping wounds no bandage shall bind up;
nor shall any remedy heal over thy wide gashes."

On that same night the armies fought; when two hairless old men,
of appearance fouler than human, and displaying their horrid
baldness in the twinkling starlight, divided their monstrous
efforts with opposing ardour, one of them being zealous on the
Danish side, and the other as fervent for the Swedes. Hadding
was conquered and fled to Helsingland, where, while washing in
the cold sea-water his body which was scorched with heat, he
attacked and cut down with many blows a beast of unknown kind,
and having killed it had it carried into camp. As he was
exulting in this deed a woman met him and addressed him in these

"Whether thou tread the fields afoot, or spread canvas overseas,
thou shalt suffer the hate of the gods, and through all the world
shalt behold the elements oppose thy purposes. Afield thou shalt
fall, on sea thou shalt be tossed, an eternal tempest shall
attend the steps of thy wandering, nor shall frost-bind ever quit
thy sails; nor shall thy roof-tree roof thee, but if thou seekest
it, it shall fall smitten by the hurricane; thy herd shall perish
of bitter chill. All things shall be tainted, and shall lament
that thy lot is there. Thou shalt be shunned like a pestilent
tetter, nor shall any plague be fouler than thou. Such
chastisement doth the power of heaven mete out to thee, for truly
thy sacrilegious hands have slain one of the dweller's above,
disguised in a shape that was not his: thus here art thou, the
slayer of a benignant god! But when the sea receives thee, the
wrath of the prison of Eolus shall be loosed upon thy head. The
West and the furious North, the South wind shall beat thee down,
shall league and send forth their blasts in rivalry; until with
better prayers thou hast melted the sternness of heaven, and hast
lifted with appeasement the punishment thou hast earned."

So, when Hadding went back, he suffered all things after this one
fashion, and his coming brought disquiet upon all peaceful
places. For when he was at sea a mighty storm arose and
destroyed his fleet in a great tempest: and when, a shipwrecked
man, he sought entertainment, he found a sudden downfall of that
house. Nor was there any cure for his trouble, ere he atoned by
sacrifice for his crime, and was able to return into favour with
heaven. For, in order to appease the deities, he sacrificed
dusky victims to the god Frey. This manner of propitiation by
sacrifice he repeated as an annual feast, and left posterity to
follow. This rite the Swedes call Froblod (the sacrifice or
feast of Frey).

Hadding chanced to hear that a certain giant had taken in troth
Ragnhild, daughter of Hakon, King of the Nitherians; and,
loathing so ignominious a state of affairs, and utterly
abominating the destined union, he forestalled the marriage by
noble daring. For he went to Norway and overcame by arms him
that was so foul, a lover for a princess. For he thought so much
more of valour than of ease, that, though he was free to enjoy
all the pleasures of a king, he accounted it sweeter than any
delight to repel the wrongs done, not only to himself, but to
others. The maiden, not knowing him, ministered with healing
tendance to the man that had done her kindness and was bruised
with many wounds. And in order that lapse of time might not make
her forget him, she shut up a ring in his wound, and thus left a
mark on his leg. Afterwards her father granted her freedom to
choose her own husband; so when the young men were assembled at
banquet, she went along them and felt their bodies carefully,
searching for the tokens she had stored up long ago. All the
rest she rejected, but Hadding she discovered by the sign of the
secret ring; then she embraced him, and gave herself to be the
wife of him who had not suffered a giant to win her in marriage.

While Hadding was sojourning with her a marvellous portent befell
him. While he was at supper, a woman bearing hemlocks was seen
to raise her head beside the brazier, and, stretching out the lap
of her robe, seemed to ask, "in what part of the world such fresh
herbs had grown in winter?" The king desired to know; and,
wrapping him in her mantle, she drew him with her underground,
and vanished. I take it that the nether gods purposed that he
should pay a visit in the flesh to the regions whither he must go
when he died. So they first pierced through a certain dark misty
cloud, and then advancing along a path that was worn away with
long thoroughfaring, they beheld certain men wearing rich robes,
and nobles clad in purple; these passed, they at last approached
sunny regions which produced the herbs the woman had brought
away. Going further, they came on a swift and tumbling river of
leaden waters, whirling down on its rapid current divers sorts of
missiles, and likewise made passable by a bridge. When they had
crossed this, they beheld two armies encountering one another
with might and main. And when Hadding inquired of the woman
about their estate: "These," she said, "are they who, having been
slain by the sword, declare the manner of their death by a
continual rehearsal, and enact the deeds of their past life in a
living spectacle." Then a wall hard to approach and to climb
blocked their further advance. The woman tried to leap it, but
in vain, being unable to do so even with her slender wrinkled
body; then she wrung off the head of a cock which she chanced to
be taking down with her, and flung it beyond the barrier of the
walls; and forthwith the bird came to life again, and testified
by a loud crow to recovery of its breathing. Then Hadding turned
back and began to make homewards with his wife; some rovers bore
down on him, but by swift sailing he baffled their snares; for
though it was almost the same wind that helped both, they were
behind him as he clove the billows, and, as they had only just as
much sail, could not overtake him.

Meantime Uffe, who had a marvellously fair daughter, decreed that
the man who slew Hadding should have her. This sorely tempted
one Thuning, who got together a band of men of Perm (Byarmenses),
being fain so to win the desired advancement. Hadding was going
to fall upon him, but while he was passing Norway in his fleet he
saw upon the beach an old man signing to him, with many wavings
of his mantle, to put into shore. His companions opposed it, and
declared that it would be a ruinous diversion from their journey;
but he took the man on board, and was instructed by him how to
order his army. For this man, in arranging the system of the
columns, used to take special care that the front row consisted
of two, the second of four, while the third increased and was
made up to eight, and likewise each row was double that in front
of it. Also the old man bade the wings of the slingers go back
to the extremity of the line, and put with them the ranks of the
archers. So when the squadrons were arranged in the wedge, he
stood himself behind the warriors, and from the wallet which was
slung round his neck drew an arbalist. This seemed small at
first, but soon projected with more prolonged tip, and
accommodated ten arrows to its string at once, which were shot
all at once at the enemy in a brisk volley, and inflicted as many
wounds. Then the men of Perm, quitting arms for cunning, by
their spells loosed the sky in clouds of rain, and melted the
joyous visage of the air in dismal drenching showers. But the
old man, on the other hand, drove back with a cloud the heavy
mass of storm which had arisen, and checked the dripping rain by
this barrier of mist. Thus Hadding prevailed. But the old man,
when he parted from him, foretold that the death whereby he would
perish would be inflicted, not by the might of an enemy, but by
his own hand. Also he forbade him to prefer obscure wars to such
as were glorious, and border wars to those remote.

Hadding, after leaving him, was bidden by Uffe to Upsala on
pretence of a interview; but lost all his escort by treachery,
and made his escape sheltered by the night. For when the Danes
sought to leave the house into which they had been gathered on
pretext of a banquet, they found one awaiting them, who mowed off
the head of each of them with his sword as it was thrust out of
the door. For this wrongful act Hadding retaliated and slew
Uffe; but put away his hatred and consigned his body to a
sepulchre of notable handiwork, thus avowing the greatness of his
foe by his pains to beautify his tomb, and decking in death with
costly distinctions the man whom he used to pursue in his life
with hot enmity. Then, to win the hearts of the people he had
subdued, he appointed Hunding, the brother of Uffe, over the
realm, that the sovereignty might seem to be maintained in the
house of Asmund, and not to have passed into the hand of a

Thus his enemy was now removed, and he passed several years
without any stirring events and in utter disuse of arms; but at
last he pleaded the long while he had been tilling the earth, and
the immoderate time he had forborne from exploits on the seas;
and seeming to think war a merrier thing than peace, he began to
upbraid himself with slothfulness in a strain like this:

"Why loiter I thus in darksome hiding, in the folds of rugged
hills, nor follow seafaring as of old? The continual howling of
the band of wolves, and the plaintive cry of harmful beasts that
rises to heaven, and the fierce impatient lions, all rob my eyes
of sleep. Dreary are the ridges and the desolation to hearts
that trusted to do wilder work. The stark rocks and the rugged
lie of the ground bar the way to spirits who are wont to love the
sea. It were better service to sound the firths with the oars,
to revel in plundered wares, to pursue the gold of others for my
coffer, to gloat over sea-gotten gains, than to dwell in rough
lands and winding woodlands and barren glades."

Then his wife, loving a life in the country, and weary of the
marin harmony of the sea-birds, declared how great joy she found
in frequenting the woodlands, in the following strain:

"The shrill bird vexes me as I tarry by the shore, and with its
chattering rouses me when I cannot sleep. Wherefore the noisy
sweep of its boisterous rush takes gentle rest from my sleeping
eye, nor doth the loud-chattering sea-mew suffer me to rest in
the night, forcing its wearisome tale into my dainty ears; nor
when I would lie down doth it suffer me to be refreshed,
clamouring with doleful modulation of its ill-boding voice.
Safer and sweeter do I deem the enjoyment of the woods. How are
the fruits of rest plucked less by day or night than by tarrying
tossed on the shifting sea?"

At this time one Toste emerged, from the obscure spot of Jutland
where he was born, into bloody notoriety. For by all manner of
wanton attacks upon the common people he spread wide the fame of
his cruelty, and gained so universal a repute for rancour, that
he was branded with the name of the Wicked. Nor did he even
refrain from wrongdoing to foreigners, but, after foully harrying
his own land, went on to assault Saxony. The Saxon general
Syfrid, when his men were hard put to it in the battle, entreated
peace. Toste declared that he should have what he asked, but
only if he would promise to become his ally in a war against
Hadding. Syfrid demurred, dreading to fulfill the condition, but
by sharp menaces Toste induced him to promise what he asked. For
threats can sometimes gain a request which softdealing cannot
compass. Hadding was conquered by this man in an affair by land;
but in the midst of his flight he came on his enemy's fleet, and
made it unseaworthy by boring the sides; then he got a skiff and
steered it out to sea. Toste thought he was slain, but though he
sought long among the indiscriminate heaps of dead, could not
find him, and came back to his fleet; when he saw from afar off a
light boat tossing on the ocean billows. Putting out some
vessels, he resolved to give it chase, but was brought back by
peril of shipwreck, and only just reached the shore. Then he
quickly took some sound craft, and accomplished the journey which
he had before begun. Hadding, seeing he was caught, proceeded to
ask his companion whether he was a skilled and practised swimmer;
and when the other said he was not, Hadding despairing of flight,
deliberately turned the vessel over and held on inside to its
hollow, thus making his pursuers think him dead. Then he
attacked Toste, who, careless and unaware, was greedily watching
over the remnants of his spoil; cut down his army, forced him to
quit his plunder, and avenged his own rout by that of Toste.

But Toste lacked not heart to avenge himself. For, not having
store enough in his own land to recruit his forces -- so heavy
was the blow he had received -- he went to Britain, calling
himself an ambassador. Upon his outward voyage, for sheer
wantonness, he got his crew together to play dice, and when a
wrangle arose from the throwing of the cubes, he taught them to
wind it up with a fatal affray. And so, by means of this
peaceful sport, he spread the spirit of strife through the whole
ship, and the jest gave place to quarrelling, which engendered
bloody combat. Also, fain to get some gain out of the
misfortunes of others, he seized the moneys of the slain, and
attached to him a certain rover then famous, named Koll; and a
little after returned in his company to his own land, where he
was challenged and slain by Hadding, who preferred to hazard his
own fortune rather than that of his soldiers. For generals of
antique valour were loth to accomplish by general massacre what
could be decided by the lot of a few.

After these deeds the figure of Hadding's dead wife appeared
before him in his sleep, and sang thus:

"A monster is born to thee that shall tame the rage of wild
beasts, and crush with fierce mouth the fleet wolves."

Then she added a little: "Take thou heed; from thee hath issued a
bird of harm, in choler a wild screech-owl, in tongue a tuneful

On the morrow the king, when he had shaken off slumber, told the
vision to a man skilled in interpretations, who explained the
wolf to denote a son that would be truculent and the word swan as
signifying a daughter; and foretold that the son would be deadly
to enemies and the daughter treacherous to her father. The
result answered to the prophecy. Hadding's daughter, Ulfhild,
who was wife to a certain private person called Guthorm, was
moved either by anger at her match, or with aspirations to glory,
and throwing aside all heed of daughterly love, tempted her
husband to slay her father; declaring that she preferred the name
of queen to that of princess. I have resolved to set forth the
manner of her exhortation almost in the words in which she
uttered it; they were nearly these:

"Miserable am I, whose nobleness is shadowed by an unequal yoke!
Hapless am I, to whose pedigree is bound the lowliness of a
peasant! Luckless issue of a king, to whom a common man is equal
by law of marriage! Pitiable daughter of a prince, whose
comeliness her spiritless father hath made over to base and
contemptible embraces! Unhappy child of thy mother, with thy

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