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

Part 5 out of 9

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Erik had caused it, and to report when they had made careful
scrutiny. These men were received as friends by Odd, and hunted
for every plan of the general with their sharp ears. He had
determined to attack the enemy unawares at daybreak, that he
might massacre them the more speedily while they were swathed in
their night garments: for he said that men's bodies were wont to
be most dull and heavy at that hour of dawn. He also told them,
thereby hastening what was to prove his own destruction, that his
ships were laden with stones fit for throwing. The spies slipped
off in the first sleep of the night, reported that Odd had filled
all his vessels with pebbles, and also told everything else they
had heard. Erik now quite understood the case, and, when he
considered the smallness of his own fleet, thought that he must
call the waters to destroy the enemy, and win their aid for

So he got into a boat and rowed, pulling silently, close up to
the keels of the enemy; and gradually, by screwing in an auger,
he bored the planks (a device practiced by Hadding and also by
Frode), nearest to the water, and soon made good his return, the
oar-beat being scarce audible. Now he bore himself so warily,
that not one of the watchers noted his approach or departure. As
he rowed off, the water got in through the chinks of Odd's
vessels, and sank them, so that they were seen disappearing in
the deep, as the water flooded them more and more within. The
weight of the stones inside helped them mightily to sink. The
billows were washing away the thwarts, and the sea was flush with
the decks, when Odd, seeing the vessels almost on a level with
the waves, ordered the heavy seas that had been shipped to be
baled out with pitchers. And so, while the crews were toiling on
to protect the sinking parts of the vessels from the flood of
waters, the enemy hove close up. Thus, as they fell to their
arms, the flood came upon them harder, and as they prepared to
fight, they found they must swim for it. Waves, not weapons,
fought for Erik, and the sea, which he had himself Enabled to
approach and do harm, battled for him. Thus Erik made better use
of the billow than of the steel, and by the effectual aid of the
waters seemed to fight in his own absence, the ocean lending him
defence. The victory was given to his craft; for a flooded ship
could not endure a battle. Thus was Odd slain with all his crew;
the look-outs were captured, and it was found that no man escaped
to tell the tale of the disaster.

Erik, when the massacre was accomplished, made a rapid retreat,
and put in at the isle Lesso. Finding nothing there to appease
his hunger, he sent the spoil homeward on two ships, which were
to bring back supplies for another year. He tried to go by
himself to the king in a single ship. So he put in to Zealand,
and the sailors ran about over the shore, and began to cut down
the cattle: for they must either ease their hunger or perish of
famine. So they killed the herd, skinned the carcases, and cast
them on board. When the owners of the cattle found this out,
they hastily pursued the free-booters with a fleet. And when
Erik found that he was being attacked by the owners of the
cattle, he took care that the carcases of the slaughtered cows
should be tied with marked ropes and hidden under water. Then,
when the Zealanders came up, he gave them leave to look about and
see if any of the carcases they were seeking were in his hands;
saying that a ship's corners were too narrow to hide things.
Unable to find a carcase anywhere, they turned their suspicions
on others, and thought the real criminals were guiltless of the
plunder. Since no traces of free-booting were to be seen, they
fancied that others had injured them, and pardoned the culprits.
As they sailed off, Erik lifted the carcase out of the water and
took it in.

Meantime Frode learnt that Odd and his men had gone down. For a
widespread rumour of the massacre had got wind, though the author
of the deed was unknown. There were men, however, who told how
they had seen three sails putting in to shore, and departing
again northwards. Then Erik went to the harbour, not far from
which Frode was tarrying, and, the moment that he stepped out of
the ship, tripped inadvertently, and came tumbling to the ground.
He found in the slip a presage of a lucky issue, and forecast
better results from this mean beginning. When Grep heard of his
coming, he hastened down to the sea, intending to assail with
chosen and pointed phrases the man whom he had heard was better-
spoken than all other folk. Grep's eloquence was not so much
excellent as impudent, for he surpassed all in stubbornness of
speech. So he began the dispute with reviling, and assailed Erik
as follows:

Grep: "Fool, who art thou? What idle quest is thine? Tell me,
whence or whither dost thou journey? What is thy road? What thy
desire? Who thy father? What thy lineage? Those have strength
beyond others who have never left their own homes, and the Luck
of kings is their houseluck. For the things of a vile man are
acceptable unto few, and seldom are the deeds of the hated

Erik: "Ragnar is my father; eloquence clothes my tongue; I have
ever loved virtue only. Wisdom hath been my one desire; I have
travelled many ways over the world, and seen the different
manners of men. The mind of the fool can keep no bounds in
aught: it is base and cannot control its feelings. The use of
sails is better than being drawn by the oar; the gale troubles
the waters, a drearier gust the land. For rowing goes through
the seas and lying the lands; and it is certain that the lands
are ruled with the lips, but the seas with the hand."

Grep: "Thou art thought to be as full of quibbling as a cock of
dirt. Thou stinkest heavy with filth, and reekest of nought but
sin. There is no need to lengthen the plea against a buffoon,
whose strength is in an empty and voluble tongue."

Erik: "By Hercules, if I mistake not, the coward word is wont to
come back to the utterer. The gods with righteous endeavour
bring home to the speaker words cast forth without knowledge. As
soon as we espy the sinister ears of the wolf, we believe that
the wolf himself is near. Men think no credit due to him that
hath no credit, whom report accuses of treachery."

Grep: "Shameless boy, owl astray from the path, night-owl in the
darkness, thou shalt pay for thy reckless words. Thou shalt be
sorry for the words thou now belchest forth madly, and shalt pay
with thy death for thy unhallowed speech. Lifeless thou shalt
pasture crows on thy bloodless corpse, to be a morsel for beasts,
a prey to the ravenous bird."

Erik: "The boding of the coward, and the will that is trained to
evil, have never kept themselves within due measure. He who
betrays his lord, he who conceives foul devices, will be as great
a snare to himself as to his friends. Whoso fosters a wolf in
his house is thought to feed a thief and a pest for his own

Grep: "I did not, as thou thinkest, beguile the queen, but I was
the guardian of her tender estate. She increased my fortunes,
and her favour first brought me gifts and strength, and wealth
and counsel."

Erik: "Lo, thy guilty disquiet lies heavy on thee; that man's
freedom is safest whose mind remains untainted. Whoso asks a
slave to be a friend, is deceived; often the henchman hurts his

At this Grep, shorn of his glibness of rejoinder, set spurs to
his horse and rode away. Now when he reached home, he filled the
palace with uproarious and vehement clamour; and shouting that he
had been worsted in words, roused all his soldiers to fight, as
though he would avenge by main force his luckless warfare of
tongues. For he swore that he would lay the host of the
foreigners under the claws of eagles. But the king warned him
that he should give his frenzy pause for counsel, that blind
plans were commonly hurtful; that nothing could be done both
cautiously and quickly at once; that headstrong efforts were the
worst obstacle; and lastly, that it was unseemly to attack a
handful with a host. Also, said he, the sagacious man was he who
could bridle a raging spirit, and stop his frantic empetuosity in
time. Thus the king forced the headlong rage of the young man to
yield to reflection. But he could not wholly recall to self-
control the frenzy of his heated mind, or prevent the champion of
wrangles, abashed by his hapless debate, and finding armed
vengeance refused him, from asking leave at least to try his
sorceries by way of revenge. He gained his request, and prepared
to go back to the shore with a chosen troop of wizards. So he
first put on a pole the severed head of a horse that had been
sacrificed to the gods, and setting sticks beneath displayed the
jaws grinning agape; hoping that he would foil the first efforts
of Erik by the horror of this wild spectacle. For he supposed
that the silly souls of the barbarians would give away at the
bogey of a protruding neck.

Erik was already on his road to meet them, and saw the head from
afar off, and, understanding the whole foul contrivance, he bade
his men keep silent and behave warily; no man was to be rash or
hasty of speech, lest by some careless outburst they might give
some opening to the sorceries; adding that if talking happened to
he needed, he would speak for all. And they were now parted by a
river; when the wizards, in order to dislodge Erik from the
approach to the bridge, set up close to the river, on their own
side, the pole on which they had fixed the horse's head.
Nevertheless Erik made dauntlessly for the bridge, and said: "On
the bearer fall the ill-luck of what he bears! May a better
issue attend our steps! Evil befall the evil-workers! Let the
weight of the ominous burden crush the carrier! Let the better
auguries bring us safety!" And it happened according to his
prayer. For straightway the head was shaken off, the stick fell
and crushed the bearer. And so all that array of sorceries was
baffled at the bidding of a single curse, and extinguished.

Then, as Erik advanced a little, it came into his mind that
strangers ought to fix on gifts for the king. So he carefully
wrapped up in his robe a piece of ice which he happened to find,
and managed to take it to the king by way of a present. But when
they reached the palace he sought entrance first, and bade his
brother follow close behind. Already the slaves of the king, in
order to receive him with mockery as he entered, had laid a
slippery hide on the threshold; and when Erik stepped upon it,
they suddenly jerked it away by dragging a rope, and would have
tripped him as he stood upon it, had not Roller, following
behind, caught his brother on his breast as he tottered. So
Erik, having half fallen, said that "bare was the back of the
brotherless." And when Gunwar said that such a trick ought not
to be permitted by a king, the king condemned the folly of the
messenger who took no heed against treachery. And thus he
excused his flout by the heedlessness of the man he flouted.

Within the palace was blazing a fire, which the aspect of the
season required: for it was now gone midwinter. By it, in
different groups, sat the king on one side and the champions on
the other. These latter, when Erik joined them, uttered gruesome
sounds like things howling. The king stopped the clamour,
telling them that the noises of wild beasts ought not to be in
the breasts of men. Erik added, that it was the way of dogs, for
all the others to set up barking when one started it; for all
folk by their bearing betrayed their birth and revealed their
race. But when Koll, who was the keeper of the gifts offered to
the king, asked him whether he had brought any presents with him,
he produced the ice which he had hidden in his breast. And when
he had handed it to Koll across the hearth, he purposely let it
go into the fire, as though it had slipped from the hand of the
receiver. All present saw the shining fragment, and it seemed as
though molten metal had fallen into the fire. Erik, maintaining
that it had been jerked away by the carelessness of him who took
it, asked what punishment was due to the loser of the gift.

The king consulted the opinion of the queen, who advised him not
to relax the statute of the law which he had passed, whereby he
gave warning that all who lost presents that were transmitted to
him should be punished with death. Everyone else also said that
the penalty by law appointed ought not to be remitted. And so
the king, being counselled to allow the punishment as inevitable,
gave leave for Koll to be hanged.

Then Frode began to accost Erik thus: "O thou, wantoning in
insolent phrase, in boastful and bedizened speech, whence dost
thou say that thou hast come hither, and why?"

Erik answered: "I came from Rennes Isle, and I took my seat by a

Frode rejoined: "I ask, whither thou wentest next?"

Erik answered. "I went off from the stone riding on a beam, and
often again took station by a stone."

Frode replied: "I ask thee whither thou next didst bend thy
course, or where the evening found thee?"

Then said Erik: "Leaving a crag, I came to a rock, and likewise
lay by a stone."

Frode said: "The boulders lay thick in those parts."

Erik answered: "Yet thicker lies the sand, plain to see."

Frode said: "Tell what thy business was, and whither thou
struckest off thence."

Then said Erik: "Leaving the rock, as my ship ran on, I found a

Frode said: "Now thou hast said something fresh, though both
these things are common in the sea: but I would know what path
took thee after that?"

Erik answered: "After a dolphin I went to a dolphin."

Frode said: "The herd of dolphins is somewhat common."

Then said Erik: "It does swim somewhat commonly on the waters."

Frode said: "I would fain blow whither thou wert borne on thy
toilsome journey after leaving the dolphins?"

Erik answered: "I soon came upon the trunk of a tree."

Frode rejoined: "Whither didst thou next pass on thy journey?"

Then said Erik: "From a trunk I passed on to a log."

Frode said: "That spot must he thick with trees, since thou art
always calling the abodes of thy hosts by the name of trunks."

Erik replied: "There is a thicker place in the woods."

Frode went on: "Relate whither thou next didst bear thy steps."

Erik answered: "Oft again I made my way to the lopped timbers of
the woods; but, as I rested there, wolves that were sated on
human carcases licked the points of the spears. There a lance-
head was shaken from the shaft of the king, and it was the
grandson of Fridleif."

Frode said: "I am bewildered, and know not what to think about
the dispute: for thou hast beguiled my mind with very dark

Erik answered: "Thou owest me the prize for this contest that is
finished: for under a veil I have declared to thee certain things
thou hast ill understood. For under the name I gave before of
`spear-point' I signified Odd, whom my hand had slain."

And when the queen also had awarded him the palm of eloquence and
the prize for flow of speech, the king straightway took a
bracelet from his arm, and gave it to him as the appointed
reward, adding: "I would fain learn from thyself thy debate with
Grep, wherein he was not ashamed openly to avow himself

Then said Erik: "He was smitten with shame for the adultery
wherewith he was taxed; for since he could bring no defence, he
confessed that he had committed it with thy wife."

The king turned to Hanund and asked her in what spirit she
received the charge; and she not only confessed her guilt by a
cry, but also put forth in her face a blushing signal of her sin,
and gave manifest token of her fault. The king, observing not
only her words, but also the signs of her countenance, but
doubting with what sentence he should punish the criminal, let
the queen settle by her own choice the punishment which her crime
deserved. When she learnt that the sentence committed to her
concerned her own guilt, she wavered awhile as she pondered how
to appraise her transgression; but Grep sprang up and ran forward
to transfix Erik with a spear, wishing to buy off his own death
by slaying the accuser. But Roller fell on him with drawn sword,
and dealt him first the doom he had himself purposed.

Erik said: "The service of kin is best for the helpless."

And Roller said: "In sore needs good men should be dutifully

Then Frode said: "I think it will happen to you according to the
common saying, `that the striker sometimes has short joy of his
stroke', and `that the hand is seldom long glad of the smiting'."

Erik answered: "The man must not be impeached whose deed justice
excuses. For my work is as far as from that of Grep, as an act
of self-defence is from an attack upon another."

Then the brethren of Grep began to spring up and clamour and
swear that they would either bring avengers upon the whole fleet
of Erik, or would fight him and ten champions with him.

Erik said to them: "Sick men have to devise by craft some
provision for their journey. He whose sword-point is dull should
only probe things that are soft and tender. He who has a blunt
knife must search out the ways to cut joint by joint. Since,
therefore, it is best for a man in distress to delay the evil,
and nothing is more fortunate in trouble than to stave off hard
necessity, I ask three days' space to get ready, provided that I
may obtain from the king the skill of a freshly slain ox."

Frode answered: "He who fell on a hide deserves a hide"; thus
openly taunting the asker with his previous fall. But Erik, when
the hide was given him, made some sandals, which he smeared with
a mixture of tar and sand, in order to plant his steps the more
firmly, and fitted them on to the feet of himself and his people.
At last, having meditated what spot he should choose for the
fight -- for he said that he was unskilled in combat by land and
in all warfare -- he demanded it should be on the frozen sea. To
this both sides agreed. The king granted a truce for
preparations, and bade the sons of Westmar withdraw, saying that
it was amiss that a guest, even if he had deserved ill should be
driven from his lodging. Then he went back to examine into the
manner of the punishment, which he had left to the queen's own
choice to exact. For she forebore to give judgment, and begged
pardon for her slip. Erik added, that woman's errors must often
be forgiven, and that punishment ought not to be inflicted,
unless amendment were unable to get rid of her fault. So the
king pardoned Hanund. As twilight drew near, Erik said: "With
Gotar, not only are rooms provided when the soldiers are coming
to feast at the banquet, but each is appointed a separate place
and seat where he is to lie." Then the king gave up for their
occupation the places where his own champions had sat; and next
the servants brought the banquet. But Erik, knowing well the
courtesy of the king, which made him forbid them to use up any of
the meal that was left, cast away the piece of which he had
tasted very little, calling whole portions broken bits of food.
And so, as the dishes dwindled, the servants brought up fresh
ones to the lacking and shamefaced guests, thus spending on a
little supper what might have served for a great banquet.

So the king said: "Are the soldiers of Gotar wont to squander the
meat after once touching it, as if it were so many pared-off
crusts? And to spurn the first dishes as if they were the last

Erik said: "Uncouthness claims no place in the manners of Gotar,
neither does any disorderly habit feign there."

But Frode said: "Then thy manners are not those of thy lord, and
thou hast proved that thou hast not taken all wisdom to heart.
For he who goes against the example of his elders shows himself a
deserter and a renegade."

Then said Erik: "The wise man must be taught by the wiser. For
knowledge grows by learning, and instruction is advanced by

Frode rejoined: "This affectation of thine of superfluous words,
what exemplary lesson will it teach me?"

Erik said: "A loyal few are a safer defence for a king than many

Frode said to him: "Wilt thou then show us closer allegiance than
the rest?"

Erik answered: "No man ties the unborn (horse) to the crib, or
the unbegotten to the stall. For thou hast not yet experienced
all things. Besides, with Gotar there is always a mixture of
drinking with feasting; liquor, over and above, and as well as
meat, is the joy of the reveller."

Frode said: "Never have I found a more shameless beggar of meat
and drink."

Erik replied: "Few reckon the need of the silent, or measure the
wants of him who holds his peace."

Then the king bade his sister bring forth the drink in a great
goblet. Erik caught hold of her right hand and of the goblet she
offered at the same time, and said: "Noblest of kings, hath thy
benignity granted me this present? Dost thou assure me that what
I hold shall be mine as an irrevocable gift?"

The king, thinking that he was only asking for the cup, declared
it was a gift. But Erik drew the maiden to him, as if she was
given with the cup. When the king saw it, he said: "A fool is
shown by his deed; with us freedom of maidens is ever held

Then Erik, feigning that he would cut off the girl's hand with
his sword, as though it had been granted under the name of the
cup, said: "If I have taken more than thou gavest, or if I am
rash to keep the whole, let me at least get some." The king saw
his mistake in his promise, and gave him the maiden, being loth
to undo his heedlessness by fickleness, and that the weight of
his pledge might seem the greater; though it is held an act more
of ripe judgment than of unsteadfastness to take back a foolish

Then, taking from Erik security that he would return, he sent him
to the ships; for the time appointed for the battle was at hand.
Erik and his men went on to the sea, then covered near with ice;
and, thanks to the stability of their sandals, felled the enemy,
whose footing was slippery and unsteady. For Frode had decreed
that no man should help either side if it wavered or were
distressed. Then he went back in triumph to the king. So
Gotwar, sorrowing at the destruction of her children who had
miserably perished, and eager to avenge them, announced that it
would please her to have a flyting with Erik, on condition that
she should gage a heavy necklace and he his life; so that if he
conquered he should win gold, but if he gave in, death. Erik
agreed to the contest, and the gage was deposited with Gunwar.
So Gotwar began thus:

"Quando tuam limas admissa cote bipennem,
Nonne terit tremulas mentula quassa nates?"

Erik rejoined:

"Ut cuivis natura pilos in corpore sevit,
Omnis nempe suo barba ferenda loco est.
Re Veneris homines artus agitare necesse est;
Motus quippe suos nam labor omnis habet.
Cum natis excipitur nate, vel cum subdita penem
Vulva capit, quid ad haec addere mas renuit?"

Powerless to answer this, Gotwar had to give the gold to the man
whom she had meant to kill, and thus wasted a lordly gift instead
of punishing the slayer of her son. For her ill fate was
crowned, instead of her ill-will being avenged. First bereaved,
and then silenced by furious words, she lost at once her wealth
and all reward of her eloquence. She made the man blest who had
taken away her children, and enriched her bereaver with a
present: and took away nothing to make up the slaughter of her
sons save the reproach of ignorance and the loss of goods.
Westmar, when he saw this, determined to attack the man by force,
since he was the stronger of tongue, and laid down the condition
that the reward of the conqueror should be the death of the
conquered, so that the life of both parties was plainly at stake.
Erik, unwilling to be thought quicker of tongue than of hand, did
not refuse the terms.

Now the manner of combat was as follows. A ring, plaited of
withy or rope, used to be offered to the combatants for them to
drag away by wrenching it with a great effort of foot and hand;
and the prize went to the stronger, for if either of the
combatants could wrench it from the other, he was awarded the
victory. Erik struggled in this manner, and, grasping the rope
sharply, wrested it out of the hands of his opponent. When Erode
saw this, he said: "I think it is hard to tug at a rope with a
strong man."

And Erik said: "Hard, at any rate, when a tumour is in the body
or a hunch sits on the back."

And straightway, thrusting his foot forth, he broke the infirm
neck and back of the old man, and crushed him. And so Westmar
failed to compass his revenge: zealous to retaliate, he fell into
the portion of those who need revenging; being smitten down even
as those whose slaughter he had desired to punish.

Now Frode intended to pierce Erik by throwing a dagger at him.
But Gunwar knew her brother's purpose, and said, in order to warn
her betrothed of his peril, that no man could be wise who took no
forethought for himself. This speech warned Erik to ward off the
treachery, and he shrewdly understood the counsel of caution.
For at once he sprang up and said that the glory of the wise man
would be victorious, but that guile was its own punishment; thus
censuring his treacherous intent in very gentle terms. But the
king suddenly flung his knife at him, yet was too late to hit
him; for he sprang aside, and the steel missed its mark and ran
into the wall opposite. Then said Erik: "Gifts should be handed
to friends, and not thrown; thou hadst made the present
acceptable if thou hadst given the sheath to keep the blade

On this request the king at once took the sheath from his girdle
and gave it to him, being forced to abate his hatred by the self-
control of his foe. Thus he was mollified by the prudent
feigning of the other, and with goodwill gave him for his own the
weapon which he had cast with ill will. And thus Erik, by taking
the wrong done him in a dissembling manner, turned it into a
favour, accepting as a splendid gift the steel which had been
meant to slay him. For he put a generous complexion on what
Frode had done with intent to harm. Then they gave themselves up
to rest. In the night Gunwar awoke Erik silently, and pointed
out to him that they ought to fly, saying that it was very
expedient to return with safe chariot ere harm was done. He went
with her to the shore, where he happened to find the king's fleet
beached: so, cutting away part of the sides, he made it
unseaworthy, and by again replacing some laths he patched it so
that the damage might be unnoticed by those who looked at it.
Then he caused the vessel whither he and his company had retired
to put off a little from the shore.

The king prepared to give them chase with his mutilated ships,
but soon the waves broke through; and though he was very heavily
laden with his armour, he began to swim off among the rest,
having become more anxious to save his own life than to attack
that of others. The bows plunged over into the sea, the tide
flooded in and swept the rowers from their seats. When Erik and
Roller saw this they instantly flung themselves into the deep
water, spurning danger, and by swimming picked up the king, who
was tossing about. Thrice the waves had poured over him and
borne him down when Erik caught him by the hair, and lifted him
out of the sea. The remaining crowd of the wrecked either sank
in the waters, or got with trouble to the land. The king was
stripped of his dripping attire and swathed round with dry
garments, and the water poured in floods from his chest as he
kept belching it; his voice also seemed to fail under the
exhaustion of continual pantings. At last heat was restored to
his limbs, which were numbed with cold, and his breathing became
quicker. He had not fully got back his strength, and could sit
but not rise. Gradually his native force returned. But when he
was asked at last whether he sued for life and grace, he put his
hand to his eyes, and strove to lift up their downcast gaze. But
as, little by little, power came back to his body, and as his
voice became more assured, he said:

"By this light, which I am loth to look on, by this heaven which
I behold and drink in with little joy, I beseech and conjure you
not to persuade me to use either any more. I wished to die; ye
have saved me in vain. I was not allowed to perish in the
waters; at least I will die by the sword. I was unconquered
before; thine, Erik, was the first wit to which I yielded: I was
all the more unhappy, because I had never been beaten by men of
note, and now I let a low-born man defeat me. This is great
cause for a king to be ashamed. This is a good and sufficient
reason for a general to die; it is right that he should care for
nothing so much as glory. If he want that, then take it that he
lacks all else. For nothing about a king is more on men's lips
than his repute. I was credited with the height of understanding
and eloquence. But I have been stripped of both the things
wherein I was thought to excel, and am all the more miserable
because I, the conqueror of kings, am seen conquered by a
peasant. Why grant life to him whom thou hast robbed of honour?
I have lost sister, realm, treasure, household gear, and, what is
greater than them all, renown: I am luckless in all chances, and
in all thy good fortune is confessed. Why am I to be kept to
live on for all this ignominy? What freedom can be so happy for
me that it can wipe out all the shame of captivity? What will
all the following time bring for me? It can beget nothing but
long remorse in my mind, and will savour only of past woes. What
will prolonging of life avail, if it only brings back the memory
of sorrow? To the stricken nought is pleasanter than death, and
that decease is happy which comes at a man's wish, for it cuts
not short any sweetness of his days, but annihilates his disgust
at all things. Life in prosperity, but death in adversity, is
best to seek. No hope of better things tempts me to long for
life. What hap can quite repair my shattered fortunes? And by
now, had ye not rescued me in my peril, I should have forgotten
even these. What though thou shouldst give me back my realm,
restore my sister, and renew my treasure? Thou canst never
repair my renown. Nothing that is patched up can have the lustre
of the unimpaired, and rumour will recount for ages that Frode
was taken captive. Moreover, if ye reckon the calamities I have
inflicted on you, I have deserved to die at your hands; if ye
recall the harms I have done, ye will repent your kindness. Ye
will be ashamed of having aided a foe, if ye consider how
savagely he treated you. Why do ye spare the guilty? Why do ye
stay your hand from the throat of your persecutor? It is fitting
that the lot which I had prepared for you should come home to
myself. I own that if I had happened to have you in my power as
ye now have me, I should have paid no heed to compassion. But if
I am innocent before you in act, I am guilty at least in will. I
pray you, let my wrongful intention, which sometimes is counted
to stand for the deed, recoil upon me. If ye refuse me death by
the sword I will take care to kill myself with my own hand."

Erik rejoined thus: "I pray that the gods may turn thee from the
folly of thy purpose; turn thee, I say, that thou mayst not try
to end a most glorious life abominably. Why, surely the gods
themselves have forbidden that a man who is kind to others should
commit unnatural self-murder. Fortune has tried thee to find out
with what spirit thou wouldst meet adversity. Destiny has proved
thee, not brought thee low. No sorrow has been inflicted on thee
which a happier lot cannot efface. Thy prosperity has not been
changed; only a warning has been given thee. No man behaves with
self-control in prosperity who has not learnt to endure
adversity. Besides, the whole use of blessings is reaped after
misfortunes have been graciously acknowledged. Sweeter is the
joy which follows on the bitterness of fate. Wilt thou shun thy
life because thou hast once had a drenching, and the waters
closed over thee? But if the waters can crush thy spirit, when
wilt thou with calm courage bear the sword? Who would not reckon
swimming away in his armour more to his glory than to his shame?
How many men would think themselves happy were they unhappy with
thy fortune? The sovereignty is still thine; thy courage is in
its prime; thy years are ripening; thou canst hope to compass
more than thou hast yet achieved. I would not find thee fickle
enough to wish, not only to shun hardships, but also to fling
away thy life, because thou couldst not bear them. None is so
unmanly as he who from fear of adversity loses heart to live. No
wise man makes up for his calamities by dying. Wrath against
another is foolish, but against a man's self it is foolhardy; and
it is a coward frenzy which dooms its owner. But if thou go
without need to thy death for some wrong suffered, or for some
petty perturbation of spirit, whom dost thou leave behind to
avenge thee? Who is so mad that he would wish to punish the
fickleness of fortune by destroying himself? What man has lived
so prosperously but that ill fate has sometimes stricken him?
Hast thou enjoyed felicity unbroken and passed thy days without a
shock, and now, upon a slight cloud of sadness, dost thou prepare
to quit thy life, only to save thy anguish? If thou bear trifles
so ill, how shalt thou endure the heavier frowns of fortune?
Callow is the man who has never tasted of the cup of sorrow; and
no man who has not suffered hardships is temperate in enjoying
ease. Wilt thou, who shouldst have been a pillar of courage,
show a sign of a palsied spirit? Born of a brave sire, wilt thou
display utter impotence? Wilt thou fall so far from thy
ancestors as to turn softer than women? Hast thou not yet begun
thy prime, and art thou already taken with weariness of life?
Whoever set such an example before? Shall the grandson of a
famous man, and the child of the unvanquished, be too weak to
endure a slight gust of adversity? Thy nature portrays the
courage of thy sires; none has conquered thee, only thine own
heedlessness has hurt thee. We snatched thee from peril, we did
not subdue thee; wilt thou give us hatred for love, and set our
friendship down as wrongdoing? Our service should have appeased
thee, and not troubled thee. May the gods never desire thee to
go so far in frenzy, as to persist in branding thy preserver as a
traitor! Shall we be guilty before thee in a matter wherein we
do thee good? Shall we draw anger on us for our service? Wilt
thou account him thy foe whom thou hast to thank for thy life?
For thou wert not free when we took thee, but in distress, and we
came in time to help thee. And, behold, I restore thy treasure,
thy wealth, thy goods. If thou thinkest thy sister was betrothed
to me over-hastily, let her marry the man whom thou commandest;
for her chastity remains inviolate. Moreover, if thou wilt
accept me, I wish to fight for thee. Beware lest thou wrongfully
steel thy mind in anger. No loss of power has shattered thee,
none of thy freedom has been forfeited. Thou shalt see that I am
obeying, not commanding thee. I agree to any sentence thou mayst
pronounce against my life. Be assured that thou art as strong
here as-in thy palace; thou hast the same power to rule here as
in thy court. Enact concerning us here whatsoever would have
been thy will in the palace: we are ready to obey." Thus much
said Erik.

Now this speech softened the king towards himself as much as
towards his foe. Then, everything being arranged and made
friendly, they returned to the shore. The king ordered that Erik
and his sailors should be taken in carriages. But when they
reached the palace he had an assembly summoned, to which he
called Erik, and under the pledge of betrothal gave him his
sister and command over a hundred men. Then he added that the
queen would be a weariness to him, and that the daughter of Gotar
had taken his liking. He must, therefore, have a fresh embassy,
and the business could best be done by Erik, for whose efforts
nothing seemed too hard. He also said that he would stone Gotwar
to death for her complicity in concealing the crime; but Hanund
he would restore to her father, that he might not have a
traitress against his life dwelling amongst the Danes. Erik
approved his plans, and promised his help to carry out his
bidding; except that he declared that it would be better to marry
the queen, when she had been put away, to Roller, of whom his
sovereignty need have no fears. This opinion Frode received
reverentially, as though it were some lesson vouchsafed from
above. The queen also, that she might not seem to be driven by
compulsion, complied, as women will, and declared that there was
no natural necessity to grieve, and that all distress of spirit
was a creature of fancy: and, moreover, that one ought not to
bewail the punishment that befell one's deserts. And so the
brethren celebrated their marriages together, one wedding the
sister of the king, and the other his divorced queen.

Then they sailed back to Norway, taking their wives with them.
For the women could not be torn from the side of their husbands,
either by distance of journey or by dread of peril, but declared
that they would stick to their lords like a feather to something
shaggy. They found that Ragnar was dead, and that Kraka had
already married one Brak. Then they remembered the father's
treasure, dug up the money, and bore it off. But Erik's fame had
gone before him, and Gotar had learnt all his good fortune. Now
when Gotar learnt that he had come himself, he feared that his
immense self-confidence would lead him to plan the worst against
the Norwegians, and was anxious to take his wife from him and
marry him to his own daughter in her place: for his queen had
just died, and he was anxious to marry the sister of Frode more
than anyone. Erik, when he learnt of his purpose, called his men
together, and told them that his fortune had not yet got off from
the reefs. Also he said that he saw, that as a bundle that was
not tied by a band fell to pieces, so likewise the heaviest
punishment that was not constrained on a man by his own fault
suddenly collapsed. They had experienced this of late with
Frode; for they saw how at the hardest pass their innocence had
been protected by the help of the gods; and if they continued to
preserve it they should hope for like aid in their adversity.
Next, they must pretend flight for a little while, if they were
attacked by Gotar, for so they would have a juster plea for
fighting. For they had every right to thrust out the hand in
order to shield the head from peril. Seldom could a man carry to
a successful end a battle he had begun against the innocent; so,
to give them a better plea for assaulting the enemy, he must be
provoked to attack them first.

Erik then turned to Gunwar, and asked her, in order to test her
fidelity, whether she had any love for Gotar, telling her it was
unworthy that a maid of royal lineage should be bound to the bed
of a man of the people. Then she began to conjure him earnestly
by the power of heaven to tell her whether his purpose was true
or reigned? He said that he had spoken seriously, and she cried:
"And so thou art prepared to bring on me the worst of shame by
leaving me a widow, whom thou lovedst dearly as a maid! Common
rumour often speaks false, but I have been wrong in my opinion of
thee. I thought I had married a steadfast man; I hoped his
loyalty was past question; but now I find him to be more fickle
than the winds." Saying this, she wept abundantly.

Dear to Erik was his wife's fears; presently he embraced her and
said: "I wished to know how loyal thou wert to me. Nought but
death has the right to sever us, but Gotar means to steal thee
away, seeking thy love by robbery. When he has committed the
theft, pretend it is done with thy goodwill; yet put off the
wedding till he has given me his daughter in thy place. When she
has been granted, Gotar and I will hold our marriage on the same
day. And take care that thou prepare rooms for our banqueting
which have a common party-wall, yet are separate: lest perchance,
if I were before thine eyes, thou shouldst ruffle the king with
thy lukewarm looks at him. For this will be a most effective
trick to baffle the wish of the ravisher." Then he bade Brak
(one of his men), to lie in ambush not far from the palace with a
chosen band of his quickest men, that he might help him at need.

Then he summoned Roller, and fled in his ship with his wife and
all his goods, in order to tempt the king out, pretending panic:
So, when he saw that the fleet of Gotar was pressing him hard, he
said: "Behold how the bow of guile shooteth the shaft of
treachery;" and instantly rousing his sailors with the war-shout,
he steered the ship about. Gotar came close up to him and asked
who was the pilot of the ship, and he was told that it was Erik.
He also shouted a question whether he was the same man who by his
marvellous speaking could silence the eloquence of all other men.
Erik, when he heard this, replied that he had long since received
the surname of the "Shrewd-spoken", and that he had not won the
auspicious title for nothing. Then both went back to the nearest
shore, where Gotar, when he learnt the mission of Erik, said that
he wished for the sister of Frode, but would rather offer his own
daughter to Frode's envoy, that Erik might not repent the passing
of his own wife to another man. Thus it would not be unfitting
for the fruit of the mission to fall to the ambassador.

Erik, he said, was delightful to him as a son-in-law, if only he
could win alliance with Frode through Gunwar.

Erik lauded the kindness of the king and approved his judgment,
declaring he could not have expected a greater thing from the
immortal gods than what was now offered him unasked. Still, he
said, the king must first discover Gunwar's own mind and choice.
She accepted the flatteries of the king with feigned goodwill,
and seemed to consent readily to his suit, but besought him to
suffer Erik's nuptials to precede hers; because, if Erik's were
accomplished first, there would be a better opportunity for the
king's; but chiefly on this account, that, if she were to marry
again, she might not be disgusted at her new marriage troth by
the memory of the old recurring. She also declared it
inexpedient for two sets of preparations to be confounded in one
ceremony. The king was prevailed upon by her answers, and highly
approved her requests.

Gotar's constant talks with Erik furnished him with a store of
most fairshapen maxims, wherewith to rejoice and refresh his
mind. So, not satisfied with giving him his daughter in marriage
he also made over to him the district of Lither, thinking that
their connection deserved some kindness. Now Kraka, whom Erik,
because of her cunning in witchcraft, had brought with him on his
travels, feigned weakness of the eyes, and muffled up her face in
her cloak, so that not a single particle of her head was visible
for recognition. When people asked her who she was, she said
that she was Gunwar's sister, child of the same mother but a
different father.

Now when they came to the dwelling of Gotar, the wedding-feast of
Alfhild (this was his daughter's name) was being held. Erik and
the king sat at meat in different rooms, with a party-wall in
common, and also entirely covered on the inside with hanging
tapestries. Gunwar sat by Gotar, but Erik sat close between
Kraka on the one side and Alfhild on the other. Amid the
merrymaking, he gradually drew a lath out of the wall, and made
an opening large enough to allow the passage of a human body; and
thus, without the knowledge of the guests, he made a space wide
enough to go through. Then, in the course of the feast, he began
to question his betrothed closely whether she would rather marry
himself or Frode: especially since, if due heed were paid to
matches, the daughter of a king ought to go to the arms of one as
noble as herself, so that the lowliness of one of the pair might
not impair the lordliness of the other. She said that she would
never marry against the permission of her father; but he turned
her aversion into compliance by promises that she should be
queen, and that she should be richer than all other women, for
she was captivated by the promise of wealth quite as much as of
glory. There is also a tradition that Kraka turned the maiden's
inclinations to Frode by a drink which she mixed and gave to her.

Now Gotar, after the feast, in order to make the marriage-mirth
go fast and furious, went to the revel of Erik. As he passed
out, Gunwar, as she had been previously bidden, went through the
hole in the party-wall where the lath had been removed, and took
the seat next to Erik. Gotar marvelled that she was sitting
there by his side, and began to ask eagerly how and why she had
come there. She said that she was Gunwar's sister, and that the
king was deceived by the likeness of their looks. And when the
king, in order to look into the matter, hurried back to the royal
room, Gunwar returned through the back door by which she had come
and sat in her old place in the sight of all. Gotar, when he saw
her, could scarcely believe his eyes, and in the utmost doubt
whether he had recognized her aright, he retraced his steps to
Erik; and there he saw before him Gunwar, who had got back in her
own fashion. And so, as often as he changed to go from one hall
to the other, he found her whom he sought in either place. By
this time the king was tormented by great wonder at what was no
mere likeness, but the very same face in both places. For it
seemed flatly impossible that different people should look
exactly and undistinguishably alike. At last, when the revel
broke up, he courteously escorted his daughter and Erik as far as
their room, as the manner is at weddings, and went back himself
to bed elsewhere.

But Erik suffered Alfhild, who was destined for Frode, to lie
apart, and embraced Gunwar as usual, thus outwitting the king.
So Gotar passed a sleepless night, revolving how he had been
apparently deluded with a dazed and wandering mind: for it seemed
to him no mere likeness of looks, but sameness. Thus he was
filled with such wavering and doubtful judgment, that though he
really discerned the truth he thought he must have been mistaken.
At last it flashed across his mind that the wall might have been
tampered with. He gave orders that it should be carefully
surveyed and examined, but found no traces of a breakage: in
fact, the entire room seemed to be whole and unimpaired. For
Erik, early in the night, had patched up the damage of the broken
wall, that his trick might not be detected. Then the king sent
two men privily into the bedroom of Erik to learn the truth, and
bade them stand behind the hangings and note all things
carefully. They further received orders to kill Erik if they
found him with Gunwar. They went secretly into the room, and,
concealing themselves in the curtained corners, beheld Erik and
Gunwar in bed together with arms entwined. Thinking them only
drowsy, they waited for their deeper sleep, wishing to stay until
a heavier slumber gave them a chance to commit their crime. Erik
snored lustily, and they knew it was a sure sign that he slept
soundly; so they straightway came forth with drawn blades in
order to butcher him. Erik was awakened by their treacherous
onset, and seeing their swords hanging over his head, called out
the name of his stepmother, (Kraka), to which long ago he had
been bidden to appeal when in peril, and he found a speedy help
in his need. For his shield, which hung aloft from the rafter,
instantly fell and covered his unarmed body, and, as if on
purpose, covered it from impalement by the cutthroats. He did
not fail to make use of his luck, but, snatching his sword,
lopped off both feet of the nearest of them. Gunwar, with equal
energy, ran a spear through the other: she had the body of a
woman, but the spirit of a man.

Thus Erik escaped the trap; whereupon he went back to the sea and
made ready to sail off by night. But Roller sounded on his horn
the signal for those who had been bidden to watch close by, to
break into the palace. When the king heard this, he thought it
meant that the enemy was upon them, and made off hastily in a
ship. Meanwhile Brak, and those who had broken in with him,
snatched up the goods of the king, and got them on board Erik's
ships. Almost half the night was spent in pillaging. In the
morning, when the king found that they had fled, he prepared to
pursue them, but was advised by one of his friends not to plan
anything on a sudden or do it in haste. His friend, indeed,
tried to convince him that he needed a larger equipment, and that
it was ill-advised to pursue the fugitives to Denmark with a
handful. But neither could this curb the king's impetuous
spirit; it could not bear the loss; for nothing had stung him
more than this, that his preparations to slay another should have
recoiled on his own men. So he sailed to the harbour which is
now called Omi. Here the weather began to be bad, provision
failed, and they thought it better, since die they must, to die
by the sword than by famine. And so the sailors turned their
hand against one another, and hastened their end by mutual blows.
The king with a few men took to the cliffs and escaped. Lofty
barrows still mark the scene of the slaughter. Meanwhile Erik
ended his voyage fairly, and the wedding of Alfhild and Frode was

Then came tidings of an inroad of the Sclavs, and Erik was
commissioned to suppress it with eight ships, since Frode as yet
seemed inexperienced in war. Erik, loth ever to flinch from any
manly undertaking, gladly undertook the business and did it
bravely. Learning that the pirates had seven ships, he sailed up
to them with only one of his own, ordering the rest to be girt
with timber parapets, and covered over with pruned boughs of
trees. Then he advanced to observe the number of the enemy more
fully, but when the Sclavs pursued closely, he beat a quick
retreat to his men. But the enemy, blind to the trap, and as
eager to take the fugitives, rowed smiting the waters fast and
incessantly. For the ships of Erik could not be clearly
distinguished, looking like a leafy wood. The enemy, after
venturing into a winding strait, suddenly saw themselves
surrounded by the fleet of Erik. First, confounded by the
strange sight, they thought that a wood was sailing; and then
they saw that guile lurked under the leaves. Therefore, tardily
repenting their rashness, they tried to retrace their incautious
voyage: but while they were trying to steer about, they saw the
enemy boarding them; Erik, however, put his ship ashore, and
slung stones against the enemy from afar. Thus most of the
Sclavs were killed, and forty taken, who afterwards under stress
of bonds and famine, and in strait of divers torments, gave up
the ghost.

Meantime Frode, in order to cross on an expedition into Sclavia,
had mustered a mighty fleet from the Danes, as well as from
neighbouring peoples. The smallest boat of this fleet could
carry twelve sailors, and be rowed by as many oars. Then Erik,
bidding his men await him patiently went to tell Frode the
tidings of the defeat he had inflicted. As he sailed along he
happened to see a pirate ship aground on some shallows; and being
wont to utter weighty words upon chance occurrences, he said,
"Obscure is the lot of the base-born, and mean is the fortune of
the lowly." Then he brought his ship up close and destroyed the
pirates, who were trying to get off their own vessel with poles,
and busily engrossed in saving her. This accomplished, he made
his way back to the king's fleet; and wishing to cheer Frode with
a greeting that heralded his victory, he said, "Hail to the maker
of a most prosperous peace!" The king prayed that his word might
come true, and declared that the spirit of the wise man was
prophetic. Erik answered that he spoke truly, and that the petty
victory brought an omen of a greater one; declaring that a
presage of great matters could often be got from trifles. Then
the king counselled him to scatter his force, and ordered the
horsemen of Jutland to go by the land way, while the rest of the
army went by the short sea-passage. But the sea was covered with
such a throng of vessels, that there were not enough harbours to
take them in, nor shores for them to encamp on, nor money for
their provisions; while the land army is said to have been so
great that, in order to shorten the way, it levelled mountains,
made marshes passable, filled up pits with material, and the
hugest chasms by casting in great boulders.

Meanwhile Strunik the King of the Sclavs sent envoys to ask for a
truce; but Frode refused him time to equip himself, saying that
an enemy ought not to be furnished with a truce. Moreover, he
said, he had hitherto passed his life without experience of war,
and now he ought not to delay its beginning by waiting in doubt;
for the man that conducted his first campaign successfully might
hope for as good fortune in the rest. For each side would take
the augury afforded by the first engagements as a presage of the
combat; since the preliminary successes of war were often a
prophecy of the sequel. Erik commended the wisdom of the reply,
declaring that the game ought to be played abroad just as it had
been begun at home: meaning that the Danes had been challenged by
the Sclavs. After these words he fought a furious battle, slew
Strunik with the bravest of his race, and received the surrender
of the rest. Then Frode called the Sclavs together, and
proclaimed by a herald that any man among them who had been
trained to theft or plunder should be speedily given up;
promising that he would reward the character of such men with the
highest honours. He also ordered that all of them, who were
versed in evil arts should come forth to have their reward. This
offer pleased the Sclavs: and some of them, tempted by their
hopes of the gift, betrayed themselves with more avarice than
judgment, before the others could make them known. These were
misled by such great covetousness, that they thought less of
shame than lucre, and accounted as their glory what was really
their guilt. When these had given themselves up of their own
will, he said: "Sclavs! This is the pest from which you must
clear your land yourselves." And straightway he ordered the
executioners to seize them, and had them fixed upon the highest
gallows by the hand of their own countrymen. The punishers
looked fewer than the punished. And thus the shrewd king, by
refusing to those who owned their guilt the pardon which he
granted to the conquered foe, destroyed almost the entire stock
of the Sclavic race. Thus the longing for an undeserved reward
was visited with a deserved penalty, and the thirst for an undue
wage justly punished. I should think that these men were rightly
delivered to their doom, who brought the peril on their own heads
by speaking, when they could have saved their lives by the
protection of silence.

The king, exalted by the honours of his fresh victory, and loth
to seem less strong in justice than in battle, resolved to
remodel his army by some new laws, some of which are retained by
present usage, while others men have chosen to abolish for new
ones. (a) For he decreed, when the spoil was divided, that each
of the vanguard should receive a greater share than the rest of
the soldiery: while he granted all gold that was taken to the
generals (before whom the standards were always borne in battle)
on account of their rank; wishing the common soldiers to be
content with silver. He ordered that the arms should go to the
champions, but the captured ships should pass to the common
people, as the due of those who had the right of building and
equipping vessels. (b) Also he forbade that anyone should
venture to lock up his household goods, as he would receive
double the value of any losses from the treasury of the king; but
if anyone thought fit to keep it in locked coffers, he must pay
the king a gold mark. He also laid down that anyone who
spared a thief should be punished as a thief. (d) Further, that
the first man to flee in battle should forfeit all common rights.
(e) But when he had returned into Denmark he wished to amend by
good measures any corruption caused by the evil practices of
Grep; and therefore granted women free choice in marriage, so
that there might be no compulsory wedlock. And so he provided by
law that women should be held duly married to those whom they had
wedded without consulting their fathers. (f) But if a free woman
agreed to marry a slave, she must fall to his rank, lose the
blessing of freedom, and adopt the standing of a slave. (g) He
also imposed on men the statute that they must marry any woman
whom they had seduced. (h) He ordained that adulterers should be
deprived of a member by the lawful husbands, so that continence
might not be destroyed by shameful sins. (I) Also he ordained
that if a Dane plundered another Dane, he should repay double,
and be held guilty of a breach of the peace. (k) And if any man
were to take to the house of another anything which he had got by
thieving, his host, if he shut the door of his house behind the
man, should incur forfeiture of all his goods, and should be
beaten in full assembly, being regarded as having made himself
guilty of the same crime. (l) Also, whatsoever exile should turn
enemy to his country, or bear a shield against his countrymen,
should be punished with the loss of life and goods. (m) But if
any man, from a contumacious spirit, were slack in fulfilling the
orders of the king, he should be punished with exile. For, on
all occasion of any sudden and urgent war, an arrow of wood,
looking like iron, used to be passed on everywhere from man to
man as a messenger. (n) But if any one of the commons went in
front of the vanguard in battle, he was to rise from a slave into
a freeman, and from a peasant into a nobleman; but if he were
nobly-born already, he should be created a governor. So great a
guerdon did valiant men earn of old; and thus did the ancients
think noble rank the due of bravery. For it was thought that the
luck a man had should be set down to his valour, and not his
valour to his luck. (o) He also enacted that no dispute should
be entered on with a promise made under oath and a gage
deposited; but whosoever requested another man to deposit a gage
against him should pay that man half a gold mark, on pain of
severe bodily chastisement. For the king had foreseen that the
greatest occasions of strife might arise from the depositing of
gages. (p) But he decided that any quarrel whatsoever should be
decided by the sword, thinking a combat of weapons more
honourable than one of words. But if either of the combatants
drew back his foot, and stepped out of the ring of the circle
previously marked, he was to consider himself conquered, and
suffer the loss of his case. But a man of the people, if he
attacked a champion on any score, should be armed to meet him;
but the champion should only fight with a truncheon an ell long.
(q) Further, he appointed that if an alien killed a Dane, his
death should be redressed by the slaying of two foreigners.

Meanwhile, Gotar, in order to punish Erik, equipped his army for
war: and Frode, on the other side, equipped a great fleet to go
against Norway. When both alike had put into Rennes-Isle, Gotar,
terrified by the greatness of Frode's name, sent ambassadors to
pray for peace. Erik said to them, "Shameless is the robber who
is the first to seek peace, or ventures to offer it to the good.
He who longs to win must struggle: blow must counter blow, malice
repel malice."

Gotar listened attentively to this from a distance, and then
said, as loudly as he could: "Each man fights for valour
according as he remembers kindness." Erik said to him: "I have
requited thy kindness by giving thee back counsel." By this
speech he meant that his excellent advice was worth more than all
manner of gifts. And, in order to show that Gotar was ungrateful
for the counsel he had received, he said: "When thou desiredst to
take my life and my wife, thou didst mar the look of thy fair
example. Only the sword has the right to decide between us."
Then Gotar attacked the fleet of the Danes; he was unsuccessful
in the engagement, and slain.

Afterwards Roller received his realm from Frode as a gift; it
stretched over seven provinces. Erik likewise presented Roller
with the province which Gotar had once bestowed upon him. After
these exploits Frode passed three years in complete and tranquil

Meanwhile the King of the Huns, when he heard that his daughter
had been put away, allied himself with Olmar, King of the
Easterlings, and in two years equipped an armament against the
Danes. So Frode levied an army not only of native Danes, but
also of Norwegians and Sclavs. Erik, whom he had sent to spy out
the array of the enemy, found Olmar, who had received the command
of the fleet, not far from Russia; while the King of the Huns led
the land forces. He addressed Olmar thus:

"What means, prithee, this strong equipment of war? Or whither
dost thou speed, King Olmar, mighty in thy fleet?"

Olmar. "We are minded to attack the son of Fridleif. And who
art thou, whose bold lips ask such questions?"

Erik. "Vain hope of conquering the unconquered hath filled thy
heart; over Frode no man can prevail."

Olmar. "Whatsoever befalls, must once happen for the first time;
and often enough the unexpected comes to pass."

By this saying he let him know that no man must put too much
trust in fortune. Then Erik rode up to inspect the army of the
Huns. As it passed by him, and he in turn by it, it showed its
vanguard to the rising and its rear to the setting sun. So he
asked those whom he met, who had the command of all those
thousands. Hun, the King of the Huns, happened to see him, and
heard that he had undertaken to reconnoitre, and asked what was
the name of the questioner. Erik said he was the man who came
everywhere and was found nowhere. Then the king, when an
interpreter was brought, asked what work Frode was about. Erik
replied, "Frode never waits at home for a hostile army, nor
tarries in his house for his foe. For he who covets the pinnacle
of another's power must watch and wake all night. No man has
ever won a victory by snoring, and no wolf has ever found a
carcase by lying asleep."

The king, perceiving that he was a cunning speaker of choice
maxims, said: "Here, perchance, is that Erik who, as I have
heard, accused my daughter falsely."

But Erik, when they were bidden to seize him instantly, said that
it was unseemly for one man to be dragged off by really; and by
this saying he not only appeased the mind of the king, but even
inclined him to be willing to pardon him. But it was clear that
this impunity came more from cunning than kindness; for the chief
reason why he was let go was that he might terrify Frode by the
report of their vast numbers. When he returned, Frode bad him
relate what he had discovered, and he said that he had seen six
kings each with his fleet; and that each of these fleets
contained five thousand ships, each ship being known to hold
three hundred rowers. Each millenary of the whole total he said
consisted of four wings; now, since the full number of a wing is
three hundred, he meant that a millenary should be understood to
contain twelve hundred men. When Frode wavered in doubt what he
could do against so many, and looked eagerly round for
reinforcements, Erik said: "Boldness helps the righteous; a
valiant dog must attack the bear; we want wolf-hounds, and not
little unwarlike birds." This said, he advised Frode to muster
his fleet. When it was drawn up they sailed off against the
enemy; and so they fought and subdued the islands lying between
Denmark and the East; and as they advanced thence, met some ships
of the Ruthenian fleet. Frode thought it shameful to attack such
a handful, but Erik said: "We must seek food from the gaunt and
lean. He who falls shall seldom fatten, nor has that man the
power to bite whom the huge sack has devoured." By this warning
he cured the king of all shame about making an assault, and
presently induced him to attack a small number with a throng; for
he showed him that advantage must be counted before honour.

After this they went on to meet Olmar, who because of the
slowness of his multitude preferred awaiting the enemy to
attacking it; for the vessels of the Ruthenians seemed
disorganized, and, owing to their size, not so well able to row.
But not even did the force of his multitudes avail him. For the
extraordinary masses of the Ruthenians were stronger in numbers
than in bravery, and yielded the victory to the stout handful of
the Danes.

When Frode tried to return home, his voyage encountered an
unheard-of difficulty. For the crowds of dead bodies, and
likewise the fragments of shields and spears, bestrewed the
entire gulf of the sea, and tossed on the tide, so that the
harbours were not only straitened, but stank. The vessels stuck,
hampered amid the corpses. They could neither thrust off with
oars, nor drive away with poles, the rotting carcases that
floated around, or prevent, when they had put one away, another
rolling up and driving against the fleet. You would have thought
that a war had arisen with the dead, and there was a strange
combat with the lifeless.

So Frode summoned the nations which he had conquered, and enacted
(a) that any father of a family who had fallen in that war should
be buried with his horse and all his arms and decorations. And
if any body-snatcher, in his abominable covetousness, made an
attempt on him, he was to suffer for it, not only with his life,
but also with the loss of burial for his own body; he should have
no barrow and no funeral. For he thought it just that he who
despoiled another's ashes should be granted no burial, but should
repeat in his own person the fate he had inflicted on another.
He appointed that the body of a centurion or governor should
receive funeral on a pyre built of his own ship. He ordered that
the bodies of every ten pilots should be burnt together with a
single ship, but that every earl or king that was killed should
be put on his own ship and burnt with it. He wished this nice
attention to be paid in conducting the funerals of the slain,
because he wished to prevent indiscriminate obsequies. By this
time all the kings of the Russians except Olmar and Dag had
fallen in battle. (b) He also ordered the Russians to conduct
their warfare in imitation of the Danes, and never to marry a
wife without buying her. He thought that bought marriages would
have more security, believing that the troth which was sealed
with a price was the safest. (d) Moreover, anyone who durst
attempt the violation of a virgin was to be punished with the
severance of his bodily parts, or else to requite the wrong of
his intercourse with a thousand talents. (e) He also enacted
that any man that applied himself to war, who aspired to the
title of tried soldier, should attack a single man, should stand
the attack of two, should only withdraw his foot a little to
avoid three, but should not blush to flee from four. (f) He also
proclaimed that a new custom concerning the pay of the soldiers
should be observed by the princes under his sway. He ordered
that each native soldier and housecarl should be presented in the
winter season with three marks of silver, a common or hired
soldier with two, a private soldier who had finished his service
with only one. By this law he did injustice to valour, reckoning
the rank of the soldiers and not their courage; and he was open
to the charge of error in the matter, because he set familiar
acquaintance above desert.

After this the king asked Erik whether the army of the Huns was
as large as the forces of Olmar, and Erik answered in the
following song:

"By Hercules, I came on a countless throng, a throng that neither
earth nor wave could hold. Thick flared all their camp-fires,
and the whole wood blazed up; the flame betokened a numberless
array. The earth sank under the fraying of the horse-hoofs;
creaking waggons rattled swiftly. The wheels rumbled, the driver
rode upon the winds, so that the chariots sounded like thunder.
The earth hardly bore the throngs of men-at-arms, speeding on
confusedly; they trod it, but it could not bear their weight. I
thought that the air crashed and the earth was shaken, so mighty
was the motion of the stranger army. For I saw fifteen standards
flickering at once; each of them had a hundred lesser standards,
and after each of these could have been seen twenty; and the
captains in their order were equal in number to the standards."

Now when Frode asked wherewithal he was to resist so many, Erik
instructed him that he must return home and suffer the enemy
first to perish of their own hugeness. His counsel was obeyed,
the advice being approved as heartily as it was uttered. But the
Huns went on through pathless deserts, and, finding provisions
nowhere, began to run the risk of general starvation; for it was
a huge and swampy district, and nothing could be found to relieve
their want. At last, when the beasts of burden had been cut down
and eaten, they began to scatter, lacking carriages as much as
food. Now their straying from the road was as perilous to them
as their hunger. Neither horses nor asses were spared, nor did
they refrain from filthy garbage. At last they did not even
spare dogs: to dying men every abomination was lawful; for there
is nothing too hard for the bidding of extreme need. At last
when they were worn out with hunger, there came a general
mortality. Bodies were carried out for burial without end, for
all feared to perish, and none pitied the perishing. Fear indeed
had cast out humanity. So first the divisions deserted from the
king little by little; and then the army melted away by
companies. He was also deserted by the prophet Ygg, a man of
unknown age, which was prolonged beyond the human span; this man
went as a deserter to Frode, and told him of all the preparations
of the Huns.

Meanwhile Hedin, prince of a considerable tribe of the
Norwegians, approached the fleet of Frode with a hundred and
fifty vessels. Choosing twelve out of these, he proceeded to
cruise nearer, signalling the approach of friends by a shield
raised on the mast. He thus greatly augmented the forces of the
king, and was received into his closest friendship. A mutual
love afterwards arose between this man and Hilda, the daughter of
Hogni, a chieftain of the Jutes, and a maiden of most eminent
renown. For, though they had not yet seen one another, each had
been kindled by the other's glory. But when they had a chance of
beholding one another, neither could look away; so steadfast was
the love that made their eyes linger.

Meanwhile, Frode distributed his soldiers through the towns, and
carefully gathered in the materials needed for the winter
supplies; but even so he could not maintain his army, with its
burden of expense: and plague fell on him almost as great as the
destruction that met the Huns. Therefore, to prevent the influx
of foreigners, he sent a fleet to the Elbe to take care that
nothing should cross; the admirals were Revil and Mevil. When
the winter broke up, Hedin and Hogni resolved to make a roving-
raid together; for Hogni did not know that his partner was in
love with his daughter. Now Hogni was of unusual stature, and
stiff in temper; while Hedin was very comely, but short. Also,
when Frode saw that the cost of keeping up his army grew daily
harder to bear, he sent Roller to Norway, Olmar to Sweden, King
Onef and Glomer, a rover captain, to the Orkneys for supplies,
each with his own forces. Thirty kings followed Frode, and were
his friends or vassals. But when Hun heard that Frode had sent
away his forces he mustered another and a fresh army. But Hogni
betrothed his daughter to Hedin, after they had sworn to one
another that whichever of them should perish by the sword should
be avenged by the other.

In the autumn, the men in search of supplies came back, but they
were richer in trophies than in food. For Roller had made
tributary the provinces Sundmor and Nordmor, after slaying Arthor
their king. But Olmar conquered Thor the Long, the King of the
Jemts and the Helsings, with two other captains of no less power,
and also took Esthonia and Kurland, with Oland, and the isles
that fringe Sweden; thus he was a most renowned conqueror of
savage lands. So he brought back 700 ships, thus doubling the
numbers of those previously taken out. Onef and Glomer, Hedin
and Hogni, won victories over the Orkneys, and returned with 900
ships. And by this time revenues had been got in from far and
wide, and there were ample materials gathered by plunder to
recruit their resources. They had also added twenty kingdoms to
the sway of Frode, whose kings, added to the thirty named before,
fought on the side of the Danes.

Trusting in their strength, they engaged with the Huns. Such a
carnage broke out on the first day of this combat that the three
chief rivers of Russia were bestrewn with a kind of bridge of
corpses, and could be crossed and passed over. Also the traces
of the massacre spread so wide that for the space of three days'
ride the ground was to be seen covered with human carcases. So,
when the battle had been seven days prolonged, King Hun fell; and
his brother of the same name, when he saw the line of the Huns
giving way, without delay surrendered himself and his company.
In that war 170 kings, who were either Huns or fighting amongst
the Huns, surrendered to the king. This great number Erik had
comprised in his previous description of the standards, when he
was giving an account of the multitude of the Huns in answer to
the questions of Frode. So Frode summoned the kings to assembly,
and imposed a rule upon them that they should all live under one
and the same law. Now he set Olmar over Holmgard; Onef over
Conogard; and he bestowed Saxony on Hun, his prisoner, and gave
Revil the Orkneys. To one Dimar he allotted the management of
the provinces of the Helsings, of the Jarnbers, and the Jemts, as
well as both Laplands; while on Dag he bestowed the government of
Esthonia. Each of these men he burdened with fixed conditions of
tribute, thus making allegiance a condition of his kindness. So
the realms of Frode embraced Russia on the east, and on the west
were bounded by the Rhine.

Meantime, certain slanderous tongues accused Hedin to Hogni of
having tempted and defiled his daughter before the rites of
betrothal; which was then accounted an enormous crime by all
nations. So the credulous ears of Hogni drank in this lying
report, and with his fleet he attacked Hedin, who was collecting
the king's dues among the Slavs; there was an engagement, and
Hogni was beaten, and went to Jutland. And thus the peace
instituted by Frode was disturbed by intestine war, and natives
were the first to disobey the king's law. Frode, therefore, sent
men to summon them both at once, and inquired closely what was
the reason of their feud. When he had heard it, he gave judgment
according to the terms of the law he had enacted; but when he saw
that even this could not reconcile them (for the father
obstinately demanded his daughter back), he decreed that the
quarrel should be settled by the sword -- it seemed the only
remedy for ending the dispute. The fight began, and Hedin was
grievously wounded; but when he began to lose blood and bodily
strength, he received unexpected mercy from his enemy. For
though Hogni had an easy chance of killing him, yet, pitying
youth and beauty, he constrained his cruelty to give way to
clemency. And so, loth to cut off a stripling who was panting at
his last gasp, he refrained his sword. For of old it was
accounted shameful to deprive of his life one who was ungrown or
a weakling; so closely did the antique bravery of champions take
heed of all that could incline them to modesty. So Hedin, with
the help of his men, was taken back to his ship, saved by the
kindness of his foe.

In the seventh year after, these same men began to fight on
Hedin's isle, and wounded each other so that they died. Hogni
would have been lucky if he had shown severity rather than
compassion to Hedin when he had once conquered him. They say
that Hilda longed so ardently for her husband, that she is
believed to have conjured up the spirits of the combatants by her
spells in the night in order to renew the war.

At the same time came to pass a savage war between Alrik, king of
the Swedes, and Gestiblind, king of the Goths. The latter, being
the weaker, approached Frode as a suppliant, willing, if he might
get his aid, to surrender his kingdom and himself. He soon
received the aid of Skalk, the Skanian, and Erik, and came back
with reinforcements. He had determined to let loose his attack
on Alrik, but Erik thought that he should first assail his son
Gunthion, governor of the men of Wermland and Solongs, declaring
that the storm-weary mariner ought to make for the nearest shore,
and moreover that the rootless trunk seldom burgeoned. So he
made an attack, wherein perished Gunthion, whose tomb records his
name. Alrik, when he heard of the destruction of his son,
hastened to avenge him, and when he had observed his enemies, he
summoned Erik, and, in a secret interview, recounted the leagues
of their fathers, imploring him to refuse to fight for
Gestiblind. This Erik steadfastly declined, and Alrik then asked
leave to fight Gestiblind, thinking that a duel was better than a
general engagement. But Erik said that Gestiblind was unfit for
arms by reason of old age, pleading his bad health, and above all
his years; but offered himself to fight in his place, explaining
that it would be shameful to decline a duel on behalf of the man
for whom he had come to make a war. Then they fought without
delay: Alrik was killed, and Erik was most severely wounded; it
was hard to find remedies, and he did not for long time recover
health. Now a false report had come to Frode that Erik had
fallen, and was tormenting the king's mind with sore grief; but
Erik dispelled this sadness with his welcome return; indeed, he
reported to Frode that by his efforts Sweden, Wermland,
Helsingland, and the islands of the Sun (Soleyar) had been added
to his realm. Frode straightway made him king of the nations he
had subdued, and also granted to him Helsingland with the two
Laplands, Finland and Esthonia, under a yearly tribute. None of
the Swedish kings before him was called by the name of Erik, but
the title passed from him to the rest.

At the same time Alf was king in Hethmark, and he had a son
Asmund. Biorn ruled in the province of Wik, and had a son Aswid.
Asmund was engaged on an unsuccessful hunt, and while he was
proceeding either to stalk the game with dogs or to catch it in
nets, a mist happened to come on. By this he was separated from
his sharers on a lonely track, wandered over the dreary ridges,
and at last, destitute of horse and clothing, ate fungi and
mushrooms, and wandered on aimlessly till he came to the dwelling
of King Biorn. Moreover, the son of the king and he, when they
had lived together a short while, swore by every vow, in order to
ratify the friendship which they observed to one another, that
whichever of them lived longest should be buried with him who
died. For their fellowship and love were so strong, that each
determined he would not prolong his days when the other was cut
off by death.

After this Frode gathered together a host of all his subject
nations, and attacked Norway with his fleet, Erik being bidden to
lead the land force. For, after the fashion of human greed, the
more he gained the more he wanted, and would not suffer even the
dreariest and most rugged region of the world to escape this kind
of attack; so much is increase of wealth wont to encourage
covetousness. So the Norwegians, casting away all hope of self-
defence, and losing all confidence in their power to revolt,
began to flee for the most part to Halogaland. The maiden Stikla
also withdrew from her country to save her chastity, proferring
the occupations of war to those of wedlock.

Meanwhile Aswid died of an illness, and was consigned with his
horse and dog to a cavern in the earth. And Asmund, because of
his oath of friendship, had the courage to be buried with him,
food being put in for him to eat.

Now just at this time Erik, who had crossed the uplands with his
army, happened to draw near the barrow of Aswid; and the Swedes,
thinking that treasures were in it, broke the hill open with
mattocks, and saw disclosed a cave deeper than they had thought.
To examine it, a man was wanted, who would lower himself on a
hanging rope tied around him. One of the quickest of the youths
was chosen by lot; and Asmund, when he saw him let down in a
basket following a rope, straightway cast him out and climbed
into the basket. Then he gave the signal to draw him up to those
above who were standing by and controlling the rope. They drew
in the basket in the hopes of great treasure; but when they saw
the unknown figure of the man they had taken out, they were
scared by his extraordinary look, and, thinking that the dead had
come to life, flung down the rope and fled all ways. For Asmund
looked ghastly and seemed to be covered as with the corruption of
the charnel. He tried to recall the fugitives, and began to
clamour that they were wrongfully afraid of a living man. And
when Erik saw him, he marvelled most at the aspect of his bloody
face: the blood flowing forth and spurting over it. For Aswid
had come to life in the nights, and in his continual struggles
had wrenched off his left ear; and there was to be seen the
horrid sight of a raw and unhealed scar. And when the bystanders
bade him tell how he had got such a wound, he began to speak
thus: --

"Why stand ye aghast, who see me colourless? Surely every live
man fades among the dead. Evil to the lonely man, and burdensome
to the single, remains every dwelling in the world. Hapless are
they whom chance hath bereft of human help. The listless night
of the cavern, the darkness of the ancient den, have taken all
joy from my eyes and soul. The ghastly ground, the crumbling
barrow, and the heavy tide of filthy things have marred the grace
of my youthful countenance, and sapped my wonted pith and force.
Besides all this, I have fought with the dead, enduring the heavy
burden and grievous peril of the wrestle; Aswid rose again and
fell on me with rending nails, by hellish might renewing ghastly
warfare after he was ashes.

"Why stand ye aghast, who see me colourless? Surely every live
man fades among the dead.

"By some strange enterprise of the power of hell the spirit of
Aswid was sent up from the nether world, and with cruel tooth
eats the fleet-footed (horse), and has given his dog to his
abominable jaws. Not sated with devouring the horse or hound, he
soon turned his swift nails upon me, tearing my cheek and taking
off my ear. Hence the hideous sight of my slashed countenance,
the blood-spurts in the ugly wound. Yet the bringer of horrors
did it not unscathed; for soon I cut off his head with my steel,
and impaled his guilty carcase with a stake.

"Why stand ye aghast who see me colourless? Surely every live
man fades among the dead."

Frode had by this taken his fleet over to Halogaland; and here,
in order to learn the numbers of his host, which seemed to
surpass all bounds and measure that could be counted, he ordered
his soldiers to pile up a hill, one stone being cast upon the
heap for each man. The enemy also pursued the same method of
numbering their host, and the hills are still to be seen to
convince the visitor. Here Frode joined battle with the
Norwegians, and the day was bloody. At nightfall both sides
determined to retreat. As daybreak drew near, Erik, who had come
across the land, came up and advised the king to renew the
battle. In this war the Danes suffered such slaughter that out
of 3,000 ships only 170 are supposed to have survived. The
Northmen, however, were exterminated in such a mighty massacre,
that (so the story goes) there were not men left to till even a
fifth of their villages.

Frode, now triumphant, wished to renew peace among all nations,
that he might ensure each man's property from the inroads of
thieves and now ensure peace to his realms after war. So he hung
one bracelet on a crag which is called Frode's Rock, and another
in the district of Wik, after he had addressed the assembled
Norwegians; threatening that these necklaces should serve to test
the honesty which he had decreed, and threatening that if they
were filched punishment should fall on all the governors of the
district. And thus, sorely imperilling the officers, there was
the gold unguarded, hanging up full in the parting of the roads,
and the booty, so easy to plunder, a temptation to all covetous
spirits. (a) Frode also enacted that seafarers should freely use
oars wherever they found them; while to those who wished to cross
a river he granted free use of the horse which they found nearest
to the ford. He decreed that they must dismount from this horse
when its fore feet only touched land and its hind feet were still
washed by the waters. For he thought that services such as these
should rather be accounted kindness than wrongdoing. Moreover,
he ordained that whosoever durst try and make further use of the
horse after he had crossed the river should be condemned to
death. (b) He also ordered that no man should hold his house or
his coffer under lock and key, or should keep anything guarded by
bolts, promising that all losses should be made good threefold.
Also, he appointed that it was lawful to claim as much of another
man's food for provision as would suffice for a single supper.
If anyone exceeded this measure in his takings, he was to be held
guilty of theft. Now, a thief (so he enacted) was to be hung up
with a sword passed through his sinews, with a wolf fastened by
his side, so that the wicked man might look like the savage
beast, both being punished alike. He also had the same
penalty extended to accomplices in thefts. Here he passed seven
most happy years of peace, begetting a son Alf and a daughter

It chanced that in these days Arngrim, a champion of Sweden, who
had challenged, attacked, and slain Skalk the Skanian because he
had once robbed him of a vessel, came to Frode. Elated beyond
measure with his deed, he ventured to sue for Frode's daughter;
but, finding the king deaf to him, he asked Erik, who was ruling
Sweden, to help him. Erik advised him to win Frode's goodwill by
some illustrious service, and to fight against Egther, the King
of Permland, and Thengil, the King of Finmark, since they alone
seemed to repudiate the Danish rule, while all men else
submitted. Without delay he led his army to that country. Now,
the Finns are the uttermost peoples of the North, who have taken
a portion of the world that is barely habitable to till and dwell
in. They are very keen spearmen, and no nation has a readier
skill in throwing the javelin. They fight with large, broad
arrows; they are addicted to the study of spells; they are
skilled hunters. Their habitation is not fixed, and their
dwellings are migratory; they pitch and settle wherever they have
caught game. Riding on curved boards (skees or snow-skates),
they run over ridges thick with snow. These men Arngrim
attacked, in order to win renown, and he crushed them. They
fought with ill success; but, as they were scattering in flight,
they cast three pebbles behind them, which they caused to appear
to the eyes of the enemy like three mountains. Arngrim's eyes
were dazzled and deluded, and he called back his men from the
pursuit of the enemy, fancying that he was checked by a barrier
of mighty rocks. Again, when they engaged and were beaten on the
morrow, the Finns cast snow upon the ground and made it look like
a mighty river. So the Swedes, whose eyes were utterly deluded,
were deceived by their misjudgment, for it seemed the roaring of
an extraordinary mass of waters. Thus, the conqueror dreading
the unsubstantial phantom of the waters, the Finns managed to
escape. They renewed the war again on the third day; but there
was no effective means of escape left any longer, for when they
saw that their lines were falling back, they surrendered to the
conqueror. Arngrim imposed on them the following terms of
tribute: that the number of the Finns should be counted, and
that, after the lapse of (every) three years, every ten of them
should pay a carriage-full of deer-skins by way of assessment.
Then he challenged and slew in single combat Egther, the captain
of the men of Permland, imposing on the men of Permland the
condition that each of them should pay one skin. Enriched with
these spoils and trophies, he returned to Erik, who went with him
into Denmark, and poured loud praises of the young warrior into
the ear of Frode, declaring that he who had added the ends of the
world to his realms deserved his daughter. Then Frode,
considering his splendid deserts, thought it was not amiss to
take for a son-in-law a man who had won wide-resounding fame by
such a roll of noble deeds.

Arngrim had twelve sons by Eyfura, whose names I here subjoin:
Brand, Biarbe, Brodd, Hiarrande; Tand, Tyrfing, two Haddings;
Hiortuar, Hiartuar, Hrane, Anganty. These followed the business
of sea-roving from their youth up; and they chanced to sail all
in one ship to the island Samso, where they found lying off the
coast two ships belonging to Hialmar and Arvarodd (Arrow-Odd) the
rovers. These ships they attacked and cleared of rowers; but,
not knowing whether they had cut down the captains, they fitted
the bodies of the slain to their several thwarts, and found that
those whom they sought were missing. At this they were sad,
knowing that the victory they had won was not worth a straw, and
that their safety would run much greater risk in the battle that
was to come. In fact, Hialmar and Arvarodd, whose ships had been
damaged by a storm, which had torn off their rudders, went into a
wood to hew another; and, going round the trunk with their axes,
pared down the shapeless timber until the huge stock assumed the
form of a marine implement. This they shouldered, and were
bearing it down to the beach, ignorant of the disaster of their
friends, when the sons of Eyfura, reeking with the fresh blood of
the slain, attacked them, so that they two had to fight many; the
contest was not even equal, for it was a band of twelve against
two. But the victory did not go according to the numbers. For
all the sons of Eyfura were killed; Hialmar was slain by them,
but Arvarodd gained the honours of victory, being the only
survivor left by fate out of all that band of comrades. He, with
an incredible effort, poised the still shapeless hulk of the
rudder, and drove it so strongly against the bodies of his foes
that, with a single thrust of it, he battered and crushed all
twelve. And, so, though they were rid of the general storm of
war, the band of rovers did not yet quit the ocean.

This it was that chiefly led Frode to attack the West, for his
one desire was the spread of peace. So he summoned Erik, and
mustered a fleet of all the kingdoms that bid him allegiance, and
sailed to Britain with numberless ships. But the king of that
island, perceiving that he was unequal in force (for the ships
seemed to cover the sea), went to Frode, affecting to surrender,
and not only began to flatter his greatness, but also promised to
the Danes, the conquerors of nations, the submission of himself
and of his country; proffering taxes, assessment, tribute, what
they would. Finally, he gave them a hospitable invitation.
Frode was pleased with the courtesy of the Briton, though his
suspicions of treachery were kept by so ready and unconstrained a
promise of everything, so speedy a surrender of the enemy before
fighting; such offers being seldom made in good faith. They were
also troubled with alarm about the banquet, fearing that as
drunkenness came on their sober wits might be entangled in it,
and attacked by hidden treachery. So few guests were bidden,
moreover, that it seemed unsafe for them to accept the
invitation; and it was further thought foolish to trust their
lives to the good faith of an enemy whom they did not know.

When the king found their minds thus wavering he again approached
Frode, and invited him to the banquet with 2,400 men; having
before bidden him to come to the feast with 1,200 nobles. Frode
was encouraged by the increase in the number of guests, and was
able to go to the banquet with greater inward confidence; but he
could not yet lay aside his suspicions, and privily caused men to
scour the interior and let him know quickly of any treachery
which they might espy. On this errand they went into the forest,
and, coming upon the array of an armed encampment belonging to
the forces of the Britons, they halted in doubt, but hastily
retraced their steps when the truth was apparent. For the tents
were dusky in colour, and muffled in a sort of pitchy coverings,
that they might not catch the eye of anyone who came near. When
Frode learned this, he arranged a counter-ambuscade with a strong
force of nobles, that he might not go heedlessly to the banquet,
and be cheated of timely aid. They went into hiding, and he
warned them that the note of the trumpet was the signal for them
to bring assistance. Then with a select band, lightly armed, he
went to the banquet. The hall was decked with regal splendour;
it was covered all round with crimson hangings of marvellous rich
handiwork. A curtain of purple dye adorned the propelled walls.
The flooring was bestrewn with bright mantles, which a man would
fear to trample on. Up above was to be seen the twinkle of many
lanterns, the gleam of lamps lit with oil, and the censers poured
forth fragrance whose sweet vapour was laden with the choicest
perfumes. The whole way was blocked by the tables loaded with
good things; and the places for reclining were decked with
gold-embroidered couches; the seats were full of pillows. The
majestic hall seemed to smile upon the guests, and nothing could
be noticed in all that pomp either inharmonious to the eye or
offensive to the smell. In the midst of the hall stood a great
butt ready for refilling the goblets, and holding an enormous
amount of liquor; enough could be drawn from it for the huge
revel to drink its fill. Servants, dressed in purple, bore
golden cups, and courteously did the office of serving the drink,
pacing in ordered ranks. Nor did they fail to offer the draught
in the horns of the wild ox.

The feast glittered with golden bowls, and was laden with shining
goblets, many of them studded with flashing jewels. The place
was filled with an immense luxury; the tables groaned with the
dishes, and the bowls brimmed over with divers liquors. Nor did
they use wine pure and simple, but, with juices sought far and
wide, composed a nectar of many flavours. The dishes glistened
with delicious foods, being filled mostly with the spoils of the
chase; though the flesh of tame animals was not lacking either.
The natives took care to drink more sparingly than the guests;
for the latter felt safe, and were tempted to make an orgy; while
the others, meditating treachery, had lost all temptations to be
drunken. So the Danes, who, if I may say so with my country's
leave, were seasoned to drain the bowl against each other, took
quantities of wine. The Britons, when they saw that the Danes
were very drunk, began gradually to slip away from the banquet,
and, leaving their guests within the hall, made immense efforts,
first to block the doors of the palace by applying bars and all
kinds of obstacles, and then to set fire to the house. The Danes
were penned inside the hall, and when the fire began to spread,
battered vainly at the doors; but they could not get out, and
soon attempted to make a sally by assaulting the wall. And the
Angles, when they saw that it was tottering under the stout
attack of the Danes, began to shove against it on their side, and
to prop the staggering pile by the application of large blocks on
the outside, to prevent the wall being shattered and releasing
the prisoners. But at last it yielded to the stronger hand of
the Danes, whose efforts increased with their peril; and those
pent within could sally out with ease. Then Frode bade the
trumpet strike in, to summon the band that had been posted in
ambush; and these, roused by the note of the clanging bugle,
caught the enemy in their own trap; for the King of the Britons,
with countless hosts of his men, was utterly destroyed. Thus the
band helped Frode doubly, being both the salvation of his men and
the destruction of his enemies.

Meantime the renown of the Danish bravery spread far, and moved
the Irish to strew iron calthrops on the ground, in order to make
their land harder to invade, and forbid access to their shores.
Now the Irish use armour which is light and easy to procure.
They crop the hair close with razors, and shave all the hair off
the back of the head, that they may not be seized by it when they
run away. They also turn the points of their spears towards the
assailant, and deliberately point their sword against the
pursuer; and they generally fling their lances behind their back,
being more skilled at conquering by flight than by fighting.
Hence, when you fancy that the victory is yours, then is the
moment of danger. But Frode was wary and not rash in his pursuit
of the foe who fled so treacherously, and he routed Kerwil
(Cearbal), the leader of the nation, in battle. Kerwil's brother
survived, but lost heart for resistance, and surrendered his
country to the king (Frode), who distributed among his soldiers
the booty he had won, to show himself free from all covetousness
and excessive love of wealth, and only ambitious to gain honour.

After the triumphs in Britain and the spoiling of the Irish they
went back to Denmark; and for thirty years there was a pause from
all warfare. At this time the Danish name became famous over the
whole world almost for its extraordinary valour. Frode,
therefore, desired to prolong and establish for ever the lustre
of his empire, and made it his first object to inflict severe
treatment upon thefts and brigandage, feeling these were domestic
evils and intestine plagues, and that if the nations were rid of
them they would come to enjoy a more tranquil life; so that no
ill-will should mar and hinder the continual extention of peace.
He also took care that the land should not be devoured by any
plague at home when the enemy was at rest, and that intestine
wickedness should not encroach when there was peace abroad. At
last he ordered that in Jutland, the chief district of his realm,
a golden bracelet, very heavy, should be set up on the highways
(as he had done before in the district of Wik), wishing by this
magnificent price to test the honesty which he had enacted. Now,
though the minds of the dishonest were vexed with the provocation
it furnished, and the souls of the evil tempted, yet the
unquestioned dread of danger prevailed. For so potent was the
majesty of Frode, that it guarded even gold that was thus exposed
to pillage, as though it were fast with bolts and bars. The
strange device brought great glory upon its inventor. After
dealing destruction everywhere, and gaining famous victories far
and wide, he resolved to bestow quiet on all men, that the cheer
of peace should follow the horrors of war, and the end of
slaughter might be the beginning of safety. He further thought
that for the same reason all men's property should be secured to
them by a protective decree, so that what had been saved from a
foreign enemy might not find a plunderer at home.

About the same time, the Author of our general salvation, coming
to the earth in order to save mortals, bore to put on the garb of
mortality; at which time the fires of war were quenched, and all
the lands were enjoying the calmest and most tranquil peace. It
has been thought that the peace then shed abroad so widely, so
even and uninterrupted over the whole world, attended not so much
an earthly rule as that divine birth; and that it was a heavenly
provision that this extraordinary gift of time should be a
witness to the presence of Him who created all times.

Meantime a certain matron, skilled in sorcery, who trusted in her
art more than she feared the severity of the king, tempted the
covetousness of her son to make a secret effort for the prize;
promising him impunity, since Frode was almost at death's door,
his body failing, and the remnant of his doting spirit feeble.
To his mother's counsels he objected the greatness of the peril;
but she bade him take hope, declaring, that either a sea-cow
should have a calf, or that the king's vengeance should be
baulked by some other chance. By this speech she banished her
son's fears, and made him obey her advice. When the deed was
done, Frode, stung by the affront, rushed with the utmost heat
and fury to raze the house of the matron, sending men on to
arrest her and bring her with her children. This the woman
foreknew, and deluded her enemies by a trick, changing from the
shape of a woman into that of a mare. When Frode came up she
took the shape of a sea-cow, and seemed to be straying and
grazing about the shore; and she also made her sons look like
calves of smaller size. This portent amazed the king, and he
ordered that they should be surrounded and cut off from returning
to the waters. Then he left the carriage, which he used because
of the feebleness of his aged body, and sat on the ground
marvelling. But the mother, who had taken the shape of the
larger beast, charged at the king with outstretched tusk, and
pierced one of his sides. The wound killed him; and his end was
unworthy of such majesty as his. His soldiers, thirsting to
avenge his death, threw their spears and transfixed the monsters,
and saw, when they were killed, that they were the corpses of
human beings with the heads of wild beasts: a circumstance which
exposed the trick more than anything.

So ended Frode, the most famous king in the whole world. The
nobles, when he had been disembowelled, had his body kept
embalmed for three years, for they feared the provinces would
rise if the king's end were published. They wished his death to
be concealed above all from foreigners, so that by the pretence
that he was alive they might preserve the boundaries of the
empire, which had been extended for so long; and that, on the
strength of the ancient authority of their general, they might
exact the usual tribute from their subjects. So, the lifeless
corpse was carried away by them in such a way that it seemed to
be taken, not in a funeral bier, but in a royal carriage, as if
it were a due and proper tribute from the soldiers to an infirm
old man not in full possession of his forces. Such splendour did
his friends bestow on him even in death. But when his limbs
rotted, and were seized with extreme decay, and when the
corruption could not be arrested, they buried his body with a
royal funeral in a barrow near Waere, a bridge of Zealand;
declaring that Frode had desired to die and be buried in what was
thought the chief province of his kingdom.


After the death of Frode, the Danes wrongly supposed that
Fridleif, who was being reared in Russia, had perished; and,
thinking that the sovereignty halted for lack of an heir, and
that it could no longer be kept on in the hands of the royal
line, they considered that the sceptre would be best deserved by
the man who should affix to the yet fresh grave of Frode a song
of praise in his glorification, and commit the renown of the dead
king to after ages by a splendid memorial. Then one HIARN, very
skilled in writing Danish poetry, wishing to give the fame of the
hero some notable record of words, and tempted by the enormous
prize, composed, after his own fashion, a barbarous stave. Its
purport, expressed in four lines, I have transcribed as follows:

"Frode, whom the Danes would have wished to live long, they bore
long through their lands when he was dead. The great chief's
body, with this turf heaped above it, bare earth covers under the
lucid sky."

When the composer of this song had uttered it, the Danes rewarded
him with the crown. Thus they gave a kingdom for an epitaph, and
the weight of a whole empire was presented to a little string of
letters. Slender expense for so vast a guerdon! This huge
payment for a little poem exceeded the glory of Caesar's
recompense; for it was enough for the divine Julius to pension
with a township the writer and glorifier of those conquests which
he had achieved over the whole world. But now the spendthrift
kindness of the populace squandered a kingdom on a churl. Nay,
not even Africanus, when he rewarded the records of his deed,
rose to the munificence of the Danes. For there the wage of that
laborious volume was in mere gold, while here a few callow verses
won a sceptre for a peasant.

At the same time Erik, who held the governorship of Sweden, died
of disease; and his son Halfdan, who governed in his father's
stead, alarmed by the many attacks of twelve brothers of
Norwegian birth, and powerless to punish their violence, fled,
hoping for reinforcements, to ask aid of Fridleif, then
sojourning in Russia. Approaching him with a suppliant face, he
lamented that he was himself shattered and bruised by a foreign
foe, and brought a dismal plaint of his wrongs. From him
Fridleif heard the tidings of his father's death, and granting
the aid he sought, went to Norway in armed array. At this time
the aforesaid brothers, their allies forsaking them, built a very
high rampart within an island surrounded by a swift stream, also
extending their earthworks along the level. Trusting to this
refuge, they harried the neighborhood with continual raids. For
they built a bridge on which they used to get to the mainland
when they left the island. This bridge was fastened to the gate
of the stronghold; and they worked it by the guidance of ropes,
in such a way that it turned as if on some revolving hinge, and
at one time let them pass across the river; while at another,
drawn back from above by unseen cords, it helped to defend the

These warriors were of valiant temper, young and stalwart, of
splendid bodily presence, renowned for victories over giants,
full of trophies of conquered nations, and wealthy with spoil. I
record the names of some of them -- for the rest have perished in
antiquity -- Gerbiorn, Gunbiorn, Arinbiorn, Stenbiorn, Esbiorn,
Thorbiorn, and Biorn. Biorn is said to have had a horse which
was splendid and of exceeding speed, so that when all the rest
were powerless to cross the river it alone stemmed the roaring
eddy without weariness. This rapid comes down in so swift and
sheer a volume that animals often lose all power of swimming in
it, and perish. For, trickling from the topmost crests of the
hills, it comes down the steep sides, catches on the rocks, and
is shattered, falling into the deep valleys with a manifold
clamour of waters; but, being straightway rebuffed by the rocks
that bar the way, it keeps the speed of its current ever at the
same even pace. And so, along the whole length of the channel,
the waves are one turbid mass, and the white foam brims over
everywhere. But, after rolling out of the narrows between the
rocks, it spreads abroad in a slacker and stiller flood, and
turns into an island a rock that lies in its course. On either
side of the rock juts out a sheer ridge, thick with divers trees,
which screen the river from distant view. Biorn had also a dog
of extraordinary fierceness, a terribly vicious brute, dangerous
for people to live with, which had often singly destroyed twelve
men. But, since the tale is hearsay rather than certainty, let
good judges weigh its credit. This dog, as I have heard, was the
favourite of the giant Offot (Un-foot), and used to watch his
herd amid the pastures.

Now the warriors, who were always pillaging the neighbourhood,
used often to commit great slaughters. Plundering houses,
cutting down cattle, sacking everything, making great hauls of
booty, rifling houses, then burning them, massacring male and
female promiscuously -- these, and not honest dealings, were
their occupations. Fridleif surprised them while on a reckless
raid, and drove them all back for refuge to the stronghold; he
also seized the immensely powerful horse, whose rider, in the
haste of his panic, had left it on the hither side of the river
in order to fly betimes; for he durst not take it with him over
the bridge. Then Fridleif proclaimed that he would pay the
weight of the dead body in gold to any man who slew one of those
brothers. The hope of the prize stimulated some of the champions
of the king; and yet they were fired not so much with
covetousness as with valour; so, going secretly to Fridleif, they
promised to attempt the task, vowing to sacrifice their lives if
they did not bring home the severed heads of the robbers.
Fridleif praised their valour and their vows, but bidding the
onlookers wait, went in the night to the river, satisfied with a
single companion. For, not to seem better provided with other
men's valour than with his own, he determined to forestall their
aid by his own courage. Thereupon he crushed and killed his
companion with a shower of flints, and flung his bloodless corpse
into the waves, having dressed it in his own clothes; which he
stripped off, borrowing the cast-off garb of the other, so that
when the corpse was seen it might look as if the king had
perished. He further deliberately drew blood from the beast on
which he had ridden, and bespattered it, so that when it came
back into camp he might make them think he himself was dead.
Then he set spur to his horse and drove it into the midst of the
eddies, crossed the river and alighted, and tried to climb over
the rampart that screened the stronghold by steps set up against
the mound. When he got over the top and could grasp the
battlements with his hand, he quietly put his foot inside, and,
without the knowledge of the watch, went lightly on tiptoe to the
house into which the bandits had gone to carouse. And when he
had reached its hall, he sat down under the porch overhanging the
door. Now the strength of their fastness made the warriors feel
so safe that they were tempted to a debauch; for they thought
that the swiftly rushing river made their garrison inaccessible,
since it seemed impossible either to swim over or to cross in
boats. For no part of the river allowed of fording.

Biorn, moved by the revel, said that in his sleep he had seen a
beast come out of the waters, which spouted ghastly fire from its
mouth, enveloping everything in a sheet of flame. Therefore the
holes and corners of the island should, he said, be searched; nor
ought they to trust so much to their position, as rashly to let
overweening confidence bring them to utter ruin. No situation
was so strong that the mere protection of nature was enough for
it without human effort. Moreover they must take great care that
the warning of his slumbers was not followed by a yet more gloomy
and disastrous fulfilment. So they all sallied forth from the
stronghold, and narrowly scanned the whole circuit of the island;
and finding the horse they surmised that Fridleif had been
drowned in the waters of the river. They received the horse
within the gates with rejoicing, supposing that it had flung off
its rider and swum over. But Biorn, still scared with the memory
of the visions of the night, advised them to keep watch, since it
was not safe for them yet to put aside suspicion of danger. Then
he went to his room to rest, with the memory of his vision deeply
stored in his heart.

Meanwhile the horse, which Fridleif, in order to spread a belief
in his death, had been loosed and besprinkled with blood (though
only with that which lies between flesh and skin), burst all
bedabbled into the camp of his soldiers. They went straight to
the river, and finding the carcase of the slave, took it for the
body of the king; the hissing eddies having cast it on the bank,
dressed in brave attire. Nothing helped their mistake so much as

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