The first strophes of the first song of Helge Hundingsbane distinguish themselves in tone and character and broad treatment from the continuation of the song, and have clearly belonged to a genuine old mythic poem about Halfdan, and without much change the compiler of the Helge Hunbingsbane song has incorporated them into his poem. They describe Halfdan’s (" Helge Hundingsbane’s ") birth. The real niythic names of his parents, Borgar and Drott, have been retained side by side with the names given by the compiler, Sigmund and Borghild.

Ár var alda,
hnigo heilog votn
ţat yr arar gullo,
af himinfjollum;
ţá hafţi Helga
inn hugom stora
Borghildr borit
i Bralundi.
Nott varţ i bee,
nornir qvomo,
ţer er auţlingi
aldr um scopo ;
ţann baţo fylci
frćgstan verţa
oc buţlanga
beztan ticcia.
Snero ţer af afli
ţa er Borgarr braut
i Brálundi;
ţer um greiddo
gullin simo
oc und manasal
miţian festo.
ţer austr oc vestr
enda fálo:
ţar átti lofdungr
land a milli;
brá nipt Nera
a nordrvega
einni festi
ey baţ hon halda.
Etti var at angri
Ylfinga niţ
oc ţeirre meyio
yr nunuţ fćddi;
hrafn gvaţ at hrafni
—sat a hám meiţi
andvanr áto :—
"Ec veit noceoţ !
It was time’s morning,
eagles screeched,
holy waters fell
from the heavenly mountains.
Then was the mighty
Helge born
by Borghild
in Bralund.
It was night,
norns came,
they who did shape
the fate of the nobleman
they proclaimed him
best among Budlungs,
and most famed
among princes.
With all their might the threads
of fate they twisted,
when Borgar settled
in Bralund
of gold they made
the warp of the web,
and fastened it directly
‘neath the halls of the moon.
In the east and west
they hid the ends:
there between
the chief should rule
Nere’s * kinswoman
northward sent
one thread and bade it
hold for ever.
One cause there was
of alarm to the Yngling (Borgar),
and also for her
who bore the loved one.
Hungry cawed
raven to raven
in the high tree:
"Hear what I know

*Urd, the chief goddess of fate. See the treatise "Mythen cm Underjorden ".

"Stendr i brynio
burr Sigmundar,
dćgrs eins gamall,
nu er dagr kominn;
hversir augo
sem hildingar,
sa er varga vinr,
viţ scolom teitir.
Drótt ţotti sa
dauglingr vera
quado meţ gumnom
god-ár kominn;
sialfr gece visi
or vig ţrimo
ungom fćra
itrlauc grami.
"In coat of mail
stands Sigmund’s son,
one day old,
now the day is come;
sharp eyes of the Hildings
has he, and the wolves’
friend he becomes,
"We shall thrive."
Drott, it is said, saw
In him a dayling,*
saying, "Now are good seasons
come among men";
to the young lord
from thunder-strife
came the chief himself
with a glorious flower.

Halfdan’s (" Helge Hundingsbane’s ") birth occurs, according to the contents of these strophes, when two epochs meet. His arrival announces the close of the peaceful epoch and the beginning of an age of strife, which ever since has reigned in the world. His significance in this respect is distinctly manifest in the poem. The raven, to whom the battle-field will soon be as a well-spread table, is yet suffering from hunger (andvanr átu) but from the high tree in which it sits, it has on the day after the birth of the child, presumably through the window, seen the newcomer, and discovered that he possessed "the sharp eyes of the Hildings," and with prophetic vision it has already seen him clad in coat of mail. It proclaims its discovery to another raven in the same tree, and foretells that theirs and the age of the wolves has come: "We shall thrive ".

The parents of the child heard and understood what the raven said. Among the runes which Heimdal, Borgar’s father, taught him, and which the son of the latter in time learned, are the knowledge of bird-speech (Konr ungr klök nam fugla—Rigsthula, 43, 44). The raven’s appearance in the song of Helge Hundings

*‘Dayling = bright son of day or light.

bane is to be compared with its relative the crow in Rigsthula; the one foretells that the new-born one’s path of life lies over battlefields, the other urges the grown man to turn away from his peaceful amusements. Important in regard to a correct understanding of the song and characteristic of the original relation of the strophes quoted to the myth concerning primeval time, is the circumstance that Halfdan’s (" Helge Hundingsbane’s ") parents are not pleased with the prophecies of the raven; on the contrary they are filled with alarm. Former interpreters have been surprised at this. It has seemed to them that the prophecy of the lad’s future heroic and blood-stained career ought, in harmony with the general spirit pervading the old Norse literature, to have awakened the parents’ joy and pride. But the matter is explained by the mythic connection which makes Borgar’s life constitute the transition period from a happy and peaceful golden age to an age of warfare. With all their love of strife and admiration for warlike deeds, the Teutons still were human, and shared with all other people the opinion that peace and harmony is something better and more desirable than war and bloodshed. Like their Aryan kinsmen, they dreamed of primeval Saturnia regna, and looked forward to a regeneration which is to restore the reign of peace. Borgar, in the myth, established the community, was the legislator and judge. He was the hero of peaceful deeds, who did not care to employ weapons except against wild beasts and robbers. But the myth had also equipped him with courage and strength, the necessary qualities for inspiring respect and interest, and had given him abundant opportunity for exhibiting these qualities in the promotion of culture and the maintenance of the sacredness of the law. Borgar was the Hercules of the northern myth, who fought with the gigantic beasts and robbers of the olden time. Saxo (Hist., 23) has preserved the traditions which tell how he at one time fought breast to breast with a giant bear, conquering him and bringing him fettered into his own camp.

As is well known, the family names Ylfings, Hildings, Budlungs, &c., have in the poems of the Christian skalds lost their specific application to certain families, and are applied to royal and princely warriors in general. This is in perfect analogy with the Christian Icelandic poetry, according to which it is proper to take the name of any viking, giant, or dwarf, and apply it to any special viking, giant, or drawf, a poetic principle which scholars even of our time claim can also be applied in the interpretation of the heathen poems. In regard to the old Norse poets this method is, however, as impossible as it would be in Greek poetry to call Odysseus a Peleid, or Achilleus a Laertiatid, or Prometheus Hephćstos, or Hephćstos Dćdalos. The poems concerning Helge Hundingsbane are compiled in Christian times from old songs about Borgar’s son Halfdan, and we find that the patronymic appellations Ylfing, Hilding, Budlung, and Lofdung are copiously strewn on "Helge Hundingsbane". But, so far as the above-quoted strophes are concerned, it can be shown that the appellations Ylfing, Hilding, and Budlung are in fact old usage and have a mythic foundation. The German poem "Wolfdieterich und Sabin" calls Berchtung (Borgar) Potelung—that is, Budlung the poem "Wolfdieterich" makes Berchtung the progenitor of the Hildings, and adds: "From the same race the Ylfings have come to us "—von dem selbe geslehte sint uns die wilfinge kumen (v. 223).

Saxo mentions the Hilding Hildeger as Halfdan’s half-brother, and the tradition on which the saga of Asmund Kćmpebane is based has done the same (compare No. 43). The agreement in this point between German, Danish, and Icelandic statements points to an older source common to them all, and furnishes an additional proof that the German Berchtung occupied in the mythic genealogies precisely the same place as the Norse Borgar.

That Thor is one of Halfdan’s fathers, just as Heimdal is one of Borgar’s, has already been pointed out above (see No. 25). To a divine common fatherhood point the words: "Drott, it is said, saw in him (the lad just born) a dayling (son of a god of light), a son divine ". Who the divine partner-father is is indicated by the fact that a storm has broken out the night when Drott’s son is born. There is a thunder-strife vig ţrimo, the eagles screech, and holy waters fall from the heavenly mountains (from the clouds). The god of thunder is present, and casts his shadow over the house where the child is born.


The myths and heroic poems are not wanting in ideal heroes, who are models of goodness of heart, justice, and the most sensitive nobleness. Such are, for example, the Asa-god Balder, his counterpart among heroes, Helge Hjorvardson, Beowulf, and, to a certain degree also, Sigurd Fafnesbane. Halfdan did not belong to this group. His part in the myth is to be the personal representative of the strife-age that came with him, of an age when the inhabitants of the earth are visited by the great winter and by dire mimisfortunes, when the demoralisation of the world has begun along with disturbances in nature, and when the words already are applicable, " hart er i heimi" (hard is the world). Halfdan is guilty of the abduction of a woman—the old custom of taking a maid from her father by violence or cunning is illustrated in his saga. It follows, however, that the myth at the same time embellished him with qualities which made him a worthy Teutonic patriarch, and attractive to the hearers of the songs concerning him. These qualities are, besides the necessary strength and courage, the above-mentioned knowledge of runes, wherein he even surpasses his father (Rigsth.), great skaldic gifts (Saxo, Hist., 325), a liberality which makes him love to strew gold about him (Helge Hund., i 9), and an extraordinary, fascinating physical beauty—which is emphasised by Saxo (Hist., 30), and which is also evident from the fact that the Teutonic myth makes him, as the Greek myth makes Achilleus, on one occasion don a woman’s attire, and resemble a valkyrie in this guise (Helge Hund., ii.). No doubt the myth also described him as the model of a faithful foster-brother in his relations to the silent Hamal, who externally was so like him that the one could easily be taken for the other (cp. Helge Hund., ii. 1, 6). In all cases it is certain that the myth made the foster-brotherhood between Halfdan and Hamal the basis of the unfailing fidelity with which Hamal’s descendants, the Amalians, cling to the son of Halfdan’s favourite Hadding, and support his cause even amid the most difficult circumstances (see Nos. 42, 43). The abduction of a woman by Halfdan is founded in the physical interpretation of the myth, and can thus be justified. The wife he takes by force is the goddess of vegetation, Groa, and he does it because her husband Orvandel has made a compact with the powers of frost (see Nos. 33, 38, 108, 109).

There are indications that our ancestors believed the sword to be a later invention than the other kinds of weapons, and that it was from the beginning under a curse. The first and most important of all sword-smiths was, according to the myth, Thjasse,* who accordingly is called fadir mörna, the father of the swords (Haustlaung, Younger Edda, 306). The best sword made by him is intended to make way for the destruction of the gods (see Nos. 33, 98, 101, 103). After various fortunes it comes into the possession of Frey, but is of no service to Asgard. It is given to the parents of the giantess Gerd, and in Ragnarok it causes the death of Frey.

Halfdan had two swords, which his mother’s father, for whom they were made, had buried in the earth, and his mother long kept the place of concealment secret from him. The first time he uses one of them he slays in a duel his noble half-brother Hildeger, fighting on the side of the Skilfings, without knowing who he is (cp. Saxo, Hist., 351, 355, 356, with Asmund Kćmpebane’s saga). Cursed swords are several times mentioned in the sagas.

Halfdan’s weapon, which he wields successfully in advantageous exploits, is, in fact, the club (Saxo, Hist., 26, 31, 323, 353). That the Teutonic patriarch’s favourite weapon is the club, not the sword; that the latter, later, in his hand, sheds the blood of a kinsman; and that he himself finally is slain by the sword forged by Thjasse, and that, too, in conflict with a son (the step-son Svipdag—see below), I regard as worthy of notice from the standpoint of the views cherished during some of the centuries of the Teutonic heathendom in regard to the various age and sacredness of the different kinds of weapons. That the sword also at length was looked upon as sacred is plain from the fact that it was adopted and used by the Asa-gods. In Ragnarok, Vidar is to avenge his father with a hjörr and pierce Fafuer’s heart (Völuspa).

Hjörr may, it is true, also mean a missile, but still it is probable that it, in Vidar’s hand, means a sword. The oldest and most sacred weapons were the spear, the hammer, the club, and the axe. The spear which, in the days of Tacitus, and much later, was the chief weapon both for foot-soldiers and cavalry in the Teutonic armies, is wielded by the Asa-father himself, whose Gunguer was forged for him by Ivalde’s sons before the dreadful enmity between the gods and them had begun. The hammer is Thor’s most sacred weapon. Before Sindre

* Proofs of Thjasse’s original identity with Volund are given in Nos. 113-115.

forged one for him of iron (Gylfaginning), lie wielded a hammer of stone. This is evident from the very name hamarr, a rock, a stone. The club is, as we have seen, the weapon of the Teutonic patriarch, and is wielded side by side with Thor’s hammer in the conflict with the powers of frost. The battle-axe belonged to Njord. This is evident from the metaphors found in the Younger Edda, p. 346, and in Islend. Saga, 9. The mythological kernel in the former metaphor is Njördr klauf Herjan's hurir, i.e., "N cleaved Odin’s gates" (when the Vans conquered Asgard); in the other the battle - axe is called Gaut’s meginhurdar galli, i.e., "the destroyer of Odin’s great gate ". The bow is a weapon employed by the Asa-gods Hödr and Ullr, but Balder is slain by a shot from the bow, and the chief archer of the myth is, as we shall see, not an Asa-god, but a brother of Thjasse. (Further discussion of the weapon-myth will be found in No. 39.)


In regard to the significance of the conflicts awaiting Halfdan, and occupying his whole life, when interpreted as myths of nature, we must remember that he inherits from his father the duty of stopping the progress southward of the giant-world’s wintry agents, the kinsmen of Thjasse, and of the Skilfing (Yngling) tribes dwelling in the north. The migration sagas have, as we have seen, shown that Borgar and his people had to leave the original country and move south to Denmark, Saxland, and to those regions on the other side of the Baltic in which the Goths settled. For a time the original country is possessed by the conquerors, who, according to Völuspa, "from Svarin’s Mound attacked and took (sótti) the clayey plains as far as Jaravall ". But Halfdan represses them. That the words quoted from Völuspa really refer to the same mythic persons with whom Halfdan afterwards fights is proved by the fact that Svarin and Svarin’s Mound are never named in our documents except in connection with Halfdan’s saga. In Saxo it is Halfdan Gram who slays Svarin and his numerous brothers; in the saga of "Helge Hundingsbane" it is again Halfdan, under the name Helge, who attacks tribes dwelling around Svarin’s Mound, and conquers them. To this may be added, that the compiler of the first song about Helge Hundingsbane borrowed from the saga-original, on which the song is based, names which point to the Völuspa strophe concerning the attack on the south Scandinavian plains. In the category of names, or the genealogy of the aggressors, occur, as has been shown already, the Skilfing names Alf and Yngve. Thus also in the Helge-song’s list of persons with whom the conflict is waged in the vicinity of Svarin’s Mound. In the Völuspa’s list Moinn is mentioned among the aggressors (in the variation in the Prose Edda); in the Helge-song, strophe 46, it is said that Helge-Halfdan fought á Móinsheimom against his brave foes, whom he afterwards slew in the battle around Svarin’s Mound. In the Völuspa’s list is named among the aggressors one Haugspori, "the one spying from the mound"; in the Helge-song is mentioned Sporvitnir, who from Svarin’s Mound watches the forces of Helge-Halfdan advancing. I have already (No. 28B) pointed out several other names which occur in the Völuspa list, and whose connection with the myth concerning the artists, frost-giants, and Skilfings of antiquity, and their attack on the original country, can be shown.

The physical significance of Halfdan’s conflicts and adventures is apparent also from the names of the women, whom the saga makes him marry. Groa (grow), whom he robs and keeps for some time, is, as her very name indicates, a goddess of vegetation. Signe-Alveig, whom he afterwards marries, is the same. Her name signifies "the nourishing drink ". According to Saxo she is the daughter of Sumblus, Latin for Sumbi, which means feast, ale, mead, and is a synonym for Ölvaldi, Ölmódr, names which belonged to the father of the Ivalde sons (see No. 123).

According to a well-supported statement in Forspjallsljod (see No. 123), Ivalde was the father of two groups of children. The mother of one of these groups is a giantess (see Nos. 113, 114, 115). With her he has three sons, viz., the three famous artists of antiquity—Ide, Gang-Urnir, and Thjasse. The mother of the other group is a goddess of light (see No. 123). With her he has daughters, who are goddesses of growth, among them Idun and Signe-Alveig. That Idun is the daughter of Ivalde is clear from Forspjallsljod (6), álfa ćttar Iţunni héto Ivallds ellri yngsta barna.

Of the names of their father Sumbl, Ölvaldi, Ölmódr, it may be said that, as nature-symbols, "öl" (ale) and "mjöd" (mead), are in the Teutonic mythology identical with somna and somamadhu in Rigveda and haoma in Avesta, that is, they are the strength-developing, nourishing saps in nature. Mimir’s subterranean well, from which the world-tree draws its nourishment, is a mead-fountain. In the poem "Haustlaung" Idun is called Ölgefn; in the same poem Groa is called Ölgefion. Both appellations refer to goddesses who give the drink of growth and regeneration to nature and to the gods. Thus we here have a family, the names and epithets of whose members characterise them as forces, active in the service of nature and of the god of harvests. Their names and epithets also point to the family bond which unites them. We have the group of names, Ivaldi, Ii, Iunn, and the group, Ölvaldi (Ölmódr), Ölgefn, and Ölgefion, both indicating members of the same family. Further on (see Nos. 113, 114, 115) proof shall be presented that Groa’s first husband, Orvandel the brave, is one of Thjasse’s brothers, and thus that Groa, too, was closely connected with this family.

As we know, it is the enmity caused by Loki between the Asa-gods and the lower serving, yet powerful, divinities of nature belonging to the Ivalde group, which produces the terrible winter with its awful consequences for man, and particularly for the Teutonic tribes. These hitherto beneficent agents of growth have ceased to serve the gods, and have allied themselves with the frost-giants. The war waged by Halfdan must be regarded from this standpoint. Midgard’s chief hero, the real Teutonic patriarch, tries to reconquer for the Teutons the country of which winter has robbed them. To be able to do this, be is the son of Thor, the divine foe of the frost-giants, and performs on the of Midgard a work corresponding to that which Thor has to do in space and in Jotunheim. And in the same manner as Heimdal before secured favourable conditions of nature to the original country, by uniting the sun-goddess with himself through bonds of love, his grandson Halfdan now seeks to do the same for the Teutonic country, by robbing a hostile son of Ivalde, Orvandel, of his wife Groa, the growth—giver, and thereupon also of Alveig, the giver of the nourishing sap. A symbol of nature may also be found in Saxo’s statement, that the king of Svithiod, Sigtrygg, Groa’s father, could not be conquered unless Halfdan fastened a golden ball to his club (Hist., 31). The purpose of Halfdan’s conflicts, the object which the norns particularly gave to his life, that of reconquering from the powers of frost the northernmost regions of the Teutonic territory and of permanently securing them for culture, and the difficulty of this task is indicated, it seems to me, in the strophes above quoted, which tell us that the norns fastened the woof of his power in the east and west, and that he from the beginning, and undisputed, extended the sceptre of his rule over these latitudes, while in regard to the northern latitudes, it is said that Nere’s kinswoman, the chief of the norns (see Nos. 57-64, 85), cast a single thread in this direction and prayed that it might hold for ever:

ţer austr oc vestr enda fâlo, ţar átti lofdungr land a milli; brá nipt Nera a nordrvega einni festi, ey baţ hon halda.

The norns’ prayer was heard. That the myth made Halfdan proceed victoriously to the north, even to the very starting-point of the emigration to the south caused by the fimbul-winter, that is to say, to Svarin’s Mound, is proved by the statements that he slays Svarin and his brothers, and wins in the vicinity of Svarin’s Mound the victory over his opponents, which was for a time decisive. His penetration into the north, when regarded as a nature-myth, means the restoration of the proper change of seasons, and the rendering of the original country and of Svithiod inhabitable. As far as the hero, who secured the "giver of growth" and the "giver of nourishing sap," succeeds with the aid of his father Thor to carry his weapons into the Teutonic lands destroyed by frost, so far spring and summer again extend the sceptre of their reign. The songs about Helge Hundingsbane have also preserved from the myth the idea that Halfdan and his forces penetrating northward by land and by sea are accompanied in the air by "valkyries," "goddesses from the south," armed with helmets, coats of mail, and shining spears, who fight the forces of nature that are hostile to Halfdan, and these valkyries are in their very nature goddesses of growth, from the manes of whose horses falls the dew which gives the power of growth back to the earth and harvests to men. (Cp. HeIg. Hund., i 15, 30; ii., the prose to v. 5, 12, 13, with Helg. Hjörv., 28.) On this account the Swedes, too, have celebrated Halfdan in their songs as their patriarch and benefactor, and according to Saxo they have worshipped him as a divinity, although it was his task to check the advance of the Skilfings to the south.

Doubtless it is after this successful war that Halfdan performs the great sacrifice mentioned in Skaldskaparmal, ch. 64, in order that he may retain his royal power for three hundred years. The statement should be compared with what the German poems of the middle ages tell about the longevity of Berchtung-Borgar and other heroes of antiquity. They live for several centuries. But the response Halfdan gets from the powers to whom he sacrificed is that he shall live simply to the age of an old man, and that in his family there shall not for three hundred years be born a woman or a fameless man.


When Halfdan secured Groa, she was already the bride of Orvandel the brave, and the first son she bore in Halfdan’s house was not his, but Orvandel’s. The son’s name is Svmpdag. He develops into a hero who, like Halfdan himself, is the most brilliant and most beloved of those celebrated in Teutonic songs. We have devoted a special part of this work to him (see Nos. 96-107). There we have given proofs of various mythological facts, which I now already must incorporate with the following series of events in order that the epic thread may not be wanting:

(a) Groa bears with Halfdan the son Guthorm (Saxo, Hist. Dan., 34).

(b) Groa is rejected by Halfdan (Saxo, Hist. Dan., 33). She returns to Orvandel, and brings with her her own and his son Svipdag.

(e) Halfdan marries Signe-Alveig (Hyndluljod, 15; Prose Edda, i. 516; Saxo, Hist., 33), and with her becomes the father of the son Hadding (Saxo, Hist. Dan., 34).

(d) Groa dies, and Orvandel marries again (Grógaldr, 3). Before her death Groa has told her son that if he needs her help he must go to her grave and invoke her (Grógaldr, 1).

(e) It is Svipdag’s duty to revenge on Halfdan the disgrace done to his mother and the murder of his mother’s father Sigtrygg. But his stepmother bids Svipdag seek Menglad, "the one loving ornaments" (Grógaldr, 3).

(f) Under the weight of these tasks Svipdag goes to his mother’s grave, bids her awake from her sleep of death, and from her he receives protecting incantations (Grógaldr, 1).

(g) Before Svipdag enters upon the adventurous expedition to find Menglad, he undertakes, at the head of the giants, the allies of the Ivaldesons (see Fjölsvinsm, 1, where Svipdag is called Ţursaţjoar sjólr), a war of revenge against Halfdan (Saxo, 33 ff., 325; cp. Nos. 102, 103). The host of giants is defeated, and Svipdag, who has entered into a duel with his stepfather, is overcome by the latter. Halfdan offers to spare his life and adopt him as his son. But Svipdag refuses to accept life as a gift from him, and answers a defiant no to the proffered father-hand. Then Halfdan binds him to a tree and leaves him to his fate (Saxo, Hist., 325 ; cp. No. 103).

(h) Svipdag is freed from his bonds through one of the incantations sung over him by his mother (Grógaldr, 10).

(i) Svipdag wanders about sorrowing in the land of the giants. Gevarr-Nökkve, god of the moon (see Nos. 90, 91), tells him how he is to find an irresistible sword, which is always attended by victory (see No. 101). The sword is forged by Thjasse, who intended to destroy the world of the gods with it; but just at the moment when the smith had finished his weapon he was surprised in his sleep by Mimir, who put him in chains and took the sword. The latter is now concealed in the lower world (see Nos. 98, 101, 103).

(j) Following Gevarr-Nökkve’s directions, Svipdag goes to the northernmost edge of the world, and finds there a descent to the lower world; he conquers the guard of the gates of Hades, sees the wonderful regions down there, and succeeds in securing the sword of victory (see Nos. 53, 97, 98, 101, 103, 112).

(k) Svipdag begins a new war with Halfdan. Thor fights on his son’s side, but the irresistible sword cleaves the hammer Mjolner; the Asa-god himself must yield. The war ends with Halfdan’s defeat. He dies of the wounds he has received in the battle (see Nos. 101, 103; cp. Saxo, Hist., 34).

(l) Svipdag seeks and finds Menglad, who is Freyja who was robbed by the giants. He liberates her and sends her pure and undefiled to Asgard (see Nos. 96, 98, 100, 102).

(m) Idun is brought back to Asgard by Loki. Thjasse, who is freed from his prison at Mimir’s, pursues, in the guise of an eagle, Loki to the walls of Asgard, where he is slain by the gods (see the Eddas).

(n) Svipdag, armed with the sword of victory, goes to Asgard, is received joyfully by Freyja, becomes her husband, and presents his sword of victory to Frey. Reconciliation between the gods and the Ivalde race. Njord marries Thjasse’s daughter Skade. Orvandel’s second son Ull, Svipdag’s half-brother (see No. 102), is adopted in Valhal. A sister of Svipdag is married to Forsete (Hyndluljod, 20). The gods honour the memory of Thjasse by connecting his name with certain stars (Harbardsljod, 19). A similar honour had already been paid to his brother Orvandel (Prose Edda).

From this series of events we find that, although the Teutonic patriarch finally succumbs in the war which he waged against the Thjasse-race and the frost-powers led by Thjasse’s kinsmen, still the results of his work are permanent. When the crisis had reached its culminating point; when the giant hosts of the fimbulwinter had received as their leader the son of Orvandel, armed with the irresistible sword; when Halfdan’s fate is settled; when Thor himself, Midgard’s veorr (Völusp.), the mighty protector of earth arid the human race, must retreat with his lightning hammer broken into pieces, then the power of love suddenly prevails and saves the world. Svipdag, who, under the spell of his deceased mother’s incantations from the grave, obeyed the command of his stepmother to find and rescue Freyja from the power of the giants, thereby wins her heart and earns the gratitude of the gods. He has himself learned to love her, and is at last compelled by his longing to seek her in Asgard. The end of the power of the fimbul-winter is marked by Freyja’s and Idun’s return to the gods by Thjasse’s death, by the presentation of the invincible sword to the god of harvests (Frey), by the adoption of Thjasse’s kinsmen, Svipdag, Ull, and Skade in Asgard, and by several marriage ties celebrated in commemoration of the reconciliation between Asgard’s gods and the kinsmen of the great artist of antiquity.


Thus the peace of the world and the order of nature might seem secured. But it is not long before a new war breaks out, to which the former may be regarded as simply the prelude. The feud, which had its origin in the judgment passed by the gods on Thjasse’s gifts, and which ended in the marriage of Svipdag and Freyja, was waged for the purpose of securing again for settlement and culture the ancient domain and Svithiod, where Heimdal had founded the first community. It was confined within the limits of the North Teutonic peninsula, and in it the united powers of Asgard supported the other Teutonic tribes fighting under Half-dan. But the new conflict rages at the same time in heaven and in earth, between the divine clans of the Asas and the Vans, and between all the Teutonic tribes led into war with each other by Halfdan’s sons. From the standpoint of Teutonic mythology it is a world war; and Völuspa calls it the first great war in the world— folevig fyrst i heimi (str. 21, 25).

Loki was the cause of the former prelusive war. His feminine counterpart and ally Gullveig-Heidr, who gradually is blended, so to speak, into one with him, causes the other. This is apparent from the following Völuspa strophes:

Str. 21. ţat man hon folevig fyrst i heimi er Gullveig geirum studdu oc i haull Hárs hana brendo.

Str. 22. ţrysvar brendo ţrysvar borna opt osialdan ţo hon en lifir.

Str. 23. Heia hana heto hvars til husa com vólo velspá vitti hon ganda sei hon, kuni seid hon Leikin, e var hon angan illrar brudar.

Str. 24. ţá gengo regin oll a raukstola ginheilog god oc um ţat gettuz hvart scyldo esir afra gialda eţa scyldo goin aull gildi ciga.

Str. 25. Eleyge Odin oc ifole um seáut ţat var en folevig fyrst i heimi. Brotin var borvegr borgar asa knatto vanir vigspa vollo sporna.

The first thing to be established in the interpretation of these strophes is the fact that they, in the order in which they are found in Codex Regius, and in which I have given them, all belong together and refer to the same mythic event—that is, to the origin of the great world war. This is evident from a comparison of strophe 21 with 25, the first and last of those quoted. Both speak of the war, which is called fólkvig fyrst í heimi. The former strophe informs us that it occurred as a result of, and in connection with, the murder of Gulveig, a murder committed in Valhal itself, in the hail of the Asa-father, beneath the roof where the gods of the Asaclan are gathered around their father. The latter strophe tells that the first great war in the world produced a separation between the two god-claus, the Asas and Vans, a division caused by the fact that Odin, hurling his spear, interrupted a discussion between them; and the strophe also explains the result of the war: the bulwark around Asgard was broken, and the Vans got possession of the power of the Asas. The discussion or council is explained in strophe 24. It is there expressly emphasised that all the gods, the Asas and Vans, regin oll, godin aull, solemnly assemble and seat themselves on their raukstola to counsel together concerning the murder of Gullveig-Heidr. Strophe 23 has already described who Gulveig is, and thus given at least one reason for the hatred of the Asas towards her, and for the treatment she receives in Odin’s ball. It is evident that she was in Asgard under the name Gulveig, since Gulveig was killed and burnt in Valhal; but Midgard, the abode of man, has also been the scene of her activity. There she has roamed about under the name Heidr, practising the evil arts of black sorcery (see No. 27) and encouraging the evil passions of mankind: ć var hon angan illrar bruar. Hence Gulveig suffers the punishment which from time immemorial was established among the Aryans for the practice of the black art; she was burnt. And her mysteriously terrible and magic nature is revealed by the fact that the flames, though kindled by divine hands, do not have the power over her that they have over other agents of sorcery. The gods burn her thrice; they pierce the body of the witch with their spears, and hold her over the flames of the fire. All is in vain. They cannot prevent her return and regeneration. Thrice burned and thrice born, she still lives.

After Völuspa has given an account of the vala who in Asgard was called Gullveig and on earth Heir, the poem speaks, in strophe 24, of the dispute which arose among the gods on account of her murder. The gods assembled on and around the judgment seats are divided into two parties, of which the Asas constitute the one. The fact that the treatment received by Gulveig can become a question of dispute which ends in enmity between the gods is a proof that only one of the god-clans has committed the murder; and since this took place, not in Njord’s, or Frey’s, or Freyja’s halls, but in VaIhal, where Odin rules and is surrounded by his sons, it follows that the Asas must have committed the murder. Of course, Vans who were guests in Odin’s hall might have been the perpetrators of the murder; but, on the one hand, the poem would scarcely have indicated Odin’s ball as the place where Gulveig was to be punished, unless it wished thereby to point out the Asas as the doers of the deed; and, on the other hand, we cannot conceive the murder as possible, as described in Völuspa, if the Vans were the ones who committed it, and the Asas were Gulveig’s protectors; for then the latter, who were the lords in Valhal, would certainly not have permitted the Vans quietly and peaceably to subject Gulveig to the long torture there described, in which she is spitted on spears and held over the flames to be burnt to ashes.

That the Asas committed the murder is also corroborated by Völuspa’s account of the question in dispute. One of the views prevailing in the consultation and discussion in regard to the matter is that the Asas ought to afrád gjalda in reference to the murder committed. In this afrá gjalda we meet with a phrase which is echoed in the laws of Iceland, and in the old codes of Norway and Sweden. There can be no doubt that the phrase has found its way into the language of the law from the popular vernacular, and that its legal significance was simply more definite and precise than its use in the vernacular. The common popular meaning of the phrase is to pay compensation. The compensation may be of any kind whatsoever. It may be rent for the use of another’s field, or it may be taxes for the enjoyment of social rights, or it may be death and wounds for having waged war. In the present instance, it must mean compensation to be paid by the Asas for the slaying of Gullveig-Heidr. As such a demand could not be made by the Asas themselves, it must have been made by the Vans and their supporters in the discussion. Against this demand we have the proposition from the Asas that all the gods should gildi eiga. In regard to this disputed phrase at least so much is clear, that it must contain either an absolute or a partial counter-proposition to the deniand of the Vans, and its purpose must be that the Asas ought not—at least, not alone—to pay the compensation for the murder, but that the crime should be regarded as one in reference to which all the gods, the Asas and the Vans, were a like guilty, and as one for which they all together should assume the responsibility.

The discussion does not lead to a friendly settlement. Something must have been said at which Odin has become deeply offended, for the Asa-father, distinguished for his wisdom and calmness, hurls his spear into the midst of those deliberating—a token that the contest of reason against reason is at an end, and that it is to be followed by a contest with weapons. The myth concerning this deliberation between Asas and Vans was well known to Saxo, and what he has to say about it (Hist., 126 if.), turning myth as usual into history, should be compared with Völuspa’s account, for both these sources complement each other.

The first thing that strikes us in Saxo’s narrative is that sorcery, the black art, plays, as in Völuspa, the chief part in the chain of events. His account is taken from a mythic circumstance, mentioned by the heathen skald Kormak (sei Yggr til Rindar— Younger Edda, i. 236), according to which Odin, forced by extreme need, sought the favour of Rind, and gained his point by sorcery and witchcraft, as he could not gain it otherwise. According to Saxo, Odin touched Rind with a piece of bark on which he had inscribed magic songs, and the result was that she became insane (Rinda . . . quam Othinus cortice carminibus adnotato contingens lymphanti similem reddidit). In immediate connection herewith it is related that the gods held a council, in which it was claimed that Odin had stained his divine honour, and ought to be deposed from his royal dignity (dii . . . Othinum variis majestatis detrimentis divinitatis gloriam. maculasse cernentes, collegio suo submocendum duxerunt—Hist., 129). Among the deeds of which his opponents in this council accused him was, as it appears from Saxo, at least one of which he ought to take the consequences, but for which all the gods ought not to be held responsible (. . . ne vet ipsi, alieno crimine implicati, insontes nocentis crimine punirentur—Hist., 129; in omnium caput unius culpam recidere putares, Hist., 130). The result of the deliberation of the gods is, in Saxo as in Völuspa, that Odin is banished, and that another clan of gods than his holds the power for some time. Thereupon he is, with the consent of the reigning gods, recalled to the throne, which he henceforth occupies in a brilliant manner. But one of his first acts after his return is to banish the black art and its agents from heaven and from earth (Hist., 44).

Thus the chain of events in Saxo both begins and ends with sorcery. It is the background on which both in Saxo and in Völuspa those events occur which are connected with the dispute between the Asas and Vans. In both the documents the gods meet in council before the breaking out of the enmity. In both the question turns on a deed done by Odin, for which certain gods do not wish to take the responsibility. Saxo indicates this by the words: Ne vel ipsi, alieno crimine implicati, innocentes nocentis crimine punirentur. Völuspa indicates it by letting the Vans present, against the proposition that godin öll skyldu gildi eiga, the claim that Odin’s own clan, and it alone, should afrá gjalda. And while Völuspa makes Odin suddenly interrupt the deliberations and hurl his spear among the deliberators, Saxo gives us the explanation of his sudden wrath. He and his clan had slain and burnt Gulveig-Heid because she practised sorcery and other evil arts of witchcraft. And as he refuses to make compensation for the murder and demands that all the gods take the consequences and share the blame, the Vans have replied in council, that he too once practised sorcery on the occasion when he visited Rind, and that, if Gulveig was justly burnt for this crime, then he ought justly to be deposed from his dignity stained by the same crime as the ruler of all the gods. Thus Völuspa’s and Saxo’s accounts supplement and illustrate each other.

One dark point remains, however. Why have the Vans objected to the killing of Gulveig-Heid? Should this clan of gods, celebrated in song as benevolent, useful, and pure, be kindly disposed toward the evil and corrupting arts of witchcraft? This cannot have been the meaning of the myth. As shall be shown, the evil plans of Gulveig-Heid have particularly been directed against those very Vana-gods who in the council demand compensation for her death. In this regard Saxo has in perfect faithfulness toward his mythic source represented Odin on the one hand, and his opponents among the gods on the other, as alike hostile to the black art. Odin, who on one occasion and under peculiar circumstances, which I shall discuss in connection with the Balder myth, was guilty of the practice of sorcery, is nevertheless the declared enemy of witchcraft, and Saxo makes him take pains to forbid and persecute it. The Vans likewise look upon it with horror, and it is this horror which adds strength to their words when they attack and depose Odin, because he has himself practised that for which he has punished Gulveig.

The explanation of the fact is, as shall be shown below, that Frey, on account of a passion of which he is the victim (probably through sorcery), was driven to marry the giant maid Gerd, whose kin in that way became friends of the Vans. Frey is obliged to demand satisfaction for a murder perpetrated on a kinswoman of his wife. The kinship of blood demands its sacred right, and according to Teutonic ideas of law, the Vans must act as they do regardless of the moral character of Gulveig.


The duty of the Vana-deities becomes even more plain, if it can be shown that Gulveig-Heid is Gerd’s mother; for Frey, supported by the Vana-gods, then demnands satisfaction for the murder of his own mother-in-law. Gerd’s mother is, in Hyndluljod, 30, called Aurboda, and is the wife of the giant Gymer:

Freyr atti Gerdi, Hon vor Gymis dottir, iotna ćttar ok Aurbodu.

It can, in fact, be demonstrated that Aurboda is identical with Gulveig-Heid. The evidence is given below in two divisions.

(a) Evidence that Gulveig-Heid is identical with Angerboda, "the ancient one in the Ironwood"; (b) evidence that Gulveig-HeidAngerboda is identical with Aurboda, Gerd’s mother.

(a) Gulveid-Heid identical with Angerboda. Hyndluljod, 40, 41, says: ol ulf Loki vid Angrbodu, (enn Sleipni gat vid Svadilfara); eitt ţotti skars allra feikna.zst ţat var brodur fra Byleistz komit. Loki af hiarta lindi brendu, fann hann haalfsuidinn hugstein konu; yard Loptr kvidugr af konu illri; ţadani er aa folldu fiagd hvert komit.

From the account we see that an evil female being (ill kona) had been burnt, but that the flames were not able to destroy the seed of life in her nature. Her heart had not been burnt through or changed to ashes. It was only half-burnt (hálfsvidinn hugsteinn), and in this condition it had together with the other remains of the cremated woman been thrown away, for Loki finds and swallows the heart.

Our ancestors looked upon the heart as the seat of the life principle, of the soul of living beings. A number of linguistic phrases are founded on the idea that goodness and evil, kindness and severity, courage and cowardice, joy and sorrow, are connected with the character of the heart; sometimes we find hjarta used entirely in the sense of soul, as in the expression hold ok hjarta, soul and body. So long as the heart in a dead body had not gone into decay, it was believed that the principle of life dwelling therein still was able, under peculiar circumstances, to operate on the limbs and exercise an influence on its environment, particularly if the dead person in life had been endowed with a will at once evil and powerful. In such cases it was regarded as important to pierce the heart of the dead with a pointed spear (cp. Saxo, Hist., 43, and No. 95).

The half-burnt heart, accordingly, contains the evil woman’s soul, and its influence upon Loki, after he has swallowed it, is most remarkable. Once before when he bore Sleipner with the giant horse Svadilfare, Loki had revealed his androgynous nature So he does now. The swallowed heart redeveloped the feminine in him (Loki lindi af brendu hjarta). It fertilised him with the evil purposes which the heart contained. Loki became the possessor of the evil woman (kvidugr. af konu illri), and became the father of the children froni which the trolls (flagd) are come which are found in the world. First among the children is mentioned the wolf, which is called Fenrir, and which in Ragnarok shall cause the death of the Asa- father. To this event point Njord’s words about Loki, in Lokasenna, str. 33: ass ragr er hefir born of borit. The woman possessing the half-burnt heart, who is the mother or rather the father of the wolf, is called Angerboda (ól ulf Loki vi Angrbodu). N. M. Petersen and other mythologists have rightly seen that she is the same as "the old one," who in historical times and until Ragnarok dwells in the Ironwood, and "there fosters Fenrer’s kinsmen" (Völuspa, 39), her own offspring, which at the close of this period are to issue from the Iron-wood, and break into Midgard and dye its citadels with blood (Völuspa, 30).

The fact that Angerboda now dwells in the Ironwood, although there on a former occasion did not remain more of her than a half-burnt heart, proves that the attempt to destroy her with fire was unsuccessful, and that she arose again in bodily form after this cremation, and became the mother and nourisher of were-wolves. Thus the myth about Angerboda is identical with the myth about Gulveig-Heid in the two characteristic points

  1. Unsuccessful burning of an evil woman.
  2. Her regeneration after the cremation.

These points apply equally to Gulveig-Heid and to Angerboda, "the old one in the Ironwood ". The myth about Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, as it was remnembered in the first period after the introduction of Christianity, we find in part recapitulated in Helgakvida Hundingsbane, i. 37-40, where Sinfjotle compares his opponent Gudmund with the evil female principle in the heathen mythology, the vala imi question, and where Gudmund in return compares Sinfjotle with its evil masculine principle, Loki.

Sinfjotle says:

ţu vart vaulra I Varinseyio, scollvis kona bartu scrauc saman; ţu vart, en sceţa, scass valkgria, autul, amátlig at Alfaudar ; mundo einherjar allir beriaz, svevis koua, um sakar ţinar. Nio atta viţ a neri Sagu ulfa alna cc var einn faţir ţeirra.

Gudmund’s answer begins:

Fadir varattu fenirisulfa...

The evil woman with whom one of the two heroes compares the other is said to be a vala, who has practised her art partly on Varin’s Isle, partly in Asgard at Alfather’s, and there she was the cause of a war in which all the warriors of Asgard took part. This refers to the war between the Asas and Vans. It is the second feud among the powers of Asgard.

The vala must therefore be Gulveig-Heid of the myth, on whose account the war between the Asas and Vans broke out, according to Völuspa. Now it is said of her in the lines above quoted, that she gave birth to wolves, and that these wolves were fenrisulfar ". Of Angerboda we already know that she is the mother of the real Fenris—wolf, and that she, in the Ironwood, produces other wolves which are called by Fenrer’s name (Fenris kindir—Völuspa). Thus the identity of Gulveig-Heid and Angerboda is still further established by the fact that both the one and the other is called the mother of the Fenris family.

The passage quoted is not the only one which has preserved the memory of Gulveig-Heid as mother of the were-wolves. Volsungasaga (c. ii. 8) relates that a giantess, Hrímnir’s daughter, first dwelt in Asgard as the maid-servant of Frigg, then on earth, and that she, during her sojourn on earth, became the wife of a king, and with him the mother and grandmother of were-wolves, who infested the woods and murdered men. The fantastic and horrible saga about these were-wolves has, in Christian times and by Christian authors, been connected with the poems about Helge Hundingsbane and Sigurd Fafnersbane. The circumstance that the giantess in question first dwelt in Asgard and thereupon in Midgard, indicates that she is identical with Gulveig-Heid, and this identity is confirmed by the statement that she is a daughter of the giant Hrímnir.

The myth, as it has come down to our days, knows only one daughter of this giant, and she is the same as Gimlveig-Heid. Hyudluljod states that Heidr is Hrimnir's daughter, and mentions no sister of hers, but, on the other hand, a brother Hrossţiofr (Heidr ok Hrorsţiofr Hrimnis kinidar—Hyndl., 30). In allusion to the cremation of Gulveig-Heid fire is called in Thorsdrapa Hrimmis drósar lyptisylgr, "the lifting drink of Hrimner’s daughter," the drink which Heid lifted up on spears had to drink. Nowhere is any other daughter of Hrimner mentioned. And while it is stated in the above-cited strophe that the giantess who caused the war in Asgard and became the mother of fenriswolves was a vala on Varin’s Isle (vaulva i Varinseyio), a comparison of Helgakv.. Hund., i. 26, with Volsungasaga, c. 2, shows that Varin’s Isle and Varin’s Fjord were located in that very country, where Hrimner’s daughter was supposed to have been for some time the wife of a king and to have givemi birth to were-wolves.

Thus we have found that the three characteristic points— unsuccessful cremation of an evil giantess, her regeneration after the cremation, the same woman as mother of the Fenrer race— are common to Gulveig—Heid and Angerboda. Their identity is apparent from various other circumstances, but may be regarded as completely demonstrated by the proofs given. Gulveig’s activity in anitiquity as the founder of the diabolical magic art, as one who awakens man’s evil passions and produces strife in Asgard itself, has its complement in Angemboda’s activity as the mother and nourisher of that class of beings in whose members witchcraft, thirst for blood, and hatred of the gods are personified. Tine activity of the evil principle has, in the great epic of the myth, formed a continuity spanning all ages, amid this continuous thread of evil is twisted from the treacherous deeds of Gulveig and Loki, the feminine and the masculine representatives of the evil principhe. Both appear at the dawn of mankind : Loki has already at the beginning of time secured access to Alfather (Lokasenna, 9), and Gulveig deceives the sons of men already in the time of Heimdal’s son Borgar. Loki entices Idun from the secure grounds of Asgard, and treacherously delivers her to the powers of frost ; Gulveig, as we shall see, plays Freyja into the hands of the giants. Loki plans enmity between the gods and the forces of nature, which hitherto had been friendly, and which have their personal representatives in Ivalde’s sons ; Gulveig causes the war between the Asas and Vans. The interference of both is interrupted at the close of the mythic age, when Loki is chained, and Gulveig, in the guise of Angerboda, is aii exile in the Ironwood. Before this they have for a time been blended, so to speak, into a single being, in which the feminine assuming masculineness, and the masculine effemninated, bear to tine world an offspring of foes to tine gods and to creation. Both finally act their paints in the destruction of the world. Before that crisis comes Aingerboda has fostered that host of "sons of world-ruin" which Loki is to lead to battle, and a magic sword which sine has kept in tIne Ironwood is given to Surt, in whose hand it is to be the death of Frey, the lord of harvests (see Nos. 89, 98, 101, 103).

That the woman whno in antiquity, in various guises, visited Asgard and Midgard was believed to have had her home in tine Ironwood* of the East during the historical age down to Ragnarok

* In Völuspa the wood is called both Jarnvidr Gaglvidr (Cod. Reg.), and Gulgvidr (Cod. Hank.). It may be that we here have a fossil word preserved in Völuspa meaning metal. Perhaps the wood was a copper or bronze forest before it became an iron wood. Compare ghalgha, ghalghi (Fick., ii. .578) metal, which, again, is to be compared with c a l koV = copper, bronze.

is explained by what Saxo says—viz., that Odin, after his return and reconciliation with the Vans, banished the agents of the black art both from heaven and from earth. Here, too, the connection between Gulveig-Heid and Angerboda is manifest. The war between the Asas and Vans was caused by the burning of Gulveig by the former. After the reconciliation with the Asas this punishment cannot again be inflicted on the regenerated witch. The Asas must allow her to live to the end of time; but both the clans of gods agree that she must not show her face again in Asgard or Midgard. The myth concerning the banishment of the fatuous vala to the Ironwood, and of the Loki progeny which she there fosters, has been turned into history by Jordanes in his De Goth. Origine, ch. 24, where it is stated that a Gothic king compelled the suspected valas (haliorunas) found among his people to take their refuge to the deserts in the East beyond the Moeotian Marsh, where they mixed with tine wood-sprites, and this became the progenitors of the Huns. In this manner the Christian Goths got from their mythic traditions an explanation of the source of the eastern hosts of horsemen, whose ugly faces and barbarous manners seemed to them to prove an other than purely human origin. The vala Gulveig-Heid and her like become in Jordanes these haliorunć; Lake and the giants of the Ironwood become these wood-sprites the Asa-god who caused the banishment becomes a king, son of Gandaricus Magnus (the great ruler of the Gandians, Odin), and Loki’s and Angerboda’s wonderful progeny beconne the Huns.

Stress should be laid on the fact that Jordanes and Saxo have in tine same manner preserved the tradition that Odin and the Asas, after making peace and becoming reconciled with the Vans, do not apply the death-penalty and burning to Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda and her kith and kin, but, instead, sentence them to banishment from the domains of gods and en That the tradition preserved in Saxo amid Jordanes corresponded with the myth is proved by the fact that we there rediscover Gulveig-Heid-Amigerboda with her offspring in tine Ironwood, which was thought to be situated in the utmost East, far away from the human world, and that she remains there undisturbed until the destruction of the world. The reconciliation between tine Asas and Vans has, as this conclusively shows, been based on an admission on the part of the Asas that the Vans had a right to find fault with amid demand satisfaction for the murder of Gulveig-Heid. Thus the dispute which caused the war between Asas and Vans was at last decided to the advantage of the latter, while they on their part, after being satisfied, reinstate Odin in his dignity as universal ruler and father of the gods.

(b) Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda identical with Aurboda.

In the Ironwood dwells Angerboda, together with a giant, who is gygjar hirdir, the guardian and watcher of the giantess. He has charge of her remarkable herds, and also guards a sword brought to the Ironwood. This vocation has given him the epithet Egther (Egţerr—Völuspa), which means sword-guardian. Saxo speaks of him as Egtherus, an ally of Finns, skilled in magic, and a chief of Bjarmians, equally skilful in magic (cp. Hist., 248, 249, with Nos. 52, 53). Bjarmians and Finns are in Saxo made the heirs of the wicked inhabitants of Jotunheim. Vilkinasaga knows him by the name Etgeir, who watches over precious implements in Isung’s wood. Etgeir is a corruption of Egther, and Isung’s wood is a reminiscence of Isarnvidr, Isarnho, the Ironwood. In the Vilkinasaga he is the brother of Vidolf. According to Hyndluljod, all the valas of the myth come from Vidolf. As Gulveig-Heid- Angerboda is the chief of all valas, and the teacher of the arts practised by the valas, this statement in Hyndluljod makes us think of her particularly; and as Hrimnir’s daughter has been born and burnt several timnes, she may also have had several fathers. Among them, then, is Vidolf, whose character, as described by Saxo, fits well for such a daughter. He is a master in sorcery, and also skilful in the art of medicine. But the medical art he practises in such a tnanner that those who seek his help receive from him such remedies as do harm instead of good. Only by threats can he be made to do good with his art (Hist., 323, 324). The statemnent in Vilkinasaga compared with that in Hyndluljod seems therefore to point to a near kinship between Angerboda and her sword-guard. She appears to be the daughter of his brother.

In Völuspa’s description of the approach of Ragnarok, Egther, Angerboda’s shepherd, is represented as sitting on a mound—like Aurboda’s shepherd in Skirnisför—and playing a harp, happy over that which is to happen. That the giant who is hostile to the gods, and who is the guardian of the strange herds, does not play an idyl on the strings of his harp does not need to be stated. He is visited by a being in the guise of the red cock. The cock, says Völuspa, is Fjalarr (str. 44). What the heathen records tell us about Fjalar is the following:

(a) He is the same giant as the Younger Edda (i. 144 ff.) calls Utgard-Loki. The latter is a fire - giant, Loge’s, the fire’s ruler (Younger Edda, 152), the cause of earthquakes (Younger Edda, 144), and skilled in producing optical delusions. Fjalar’s identity with Utgard-Loki is proved by Harbardsljod, str. 26, where Thor, on his way to Fjalar, meets with the same adventures as, according to the Younger Edda, lie met with on his way to Utgard-Loke.

(b) He is the same giant as the one called Suttung. The giant from whom Odin robs the skaldic mead, and whose devoted daughter Gunlad he causes bitter sorrow, is called in Havamál sometimes Fjalar and sometimes Suttung (cp. strs. 13, 14, 104, 105).

(c) Fjalar is the son of the chief of the fire-giants, Surtr, and dwells in the subterranean dales of the latter. A full account of this imi No. 89. Here it will suffice to point out that when Odin flies out of Fjalar’s dwelling with the skaldic mead, it is "from Surt’s deep dales" that he "flying bears" the precious drink (hinn er Surts or sökkdölum farmagnur fljúgandi bar, a strophe by Eyvind, quoted in the Younger Edda, p. 242), and that this drink while it remained with Fjalar was "the drink of Surt’s race" Sylgr Surts ćttar, Fornms., iii. 3).

(d) Fjalar, with Froste, takes part in the attack of Thjasse’s kinsmen and the Skilfings from Svarin’s Mound against "the land of the clayey plains, to Jaravall" (Völuspa, 14, 15 ; see Nos. 28, 32). Thins he is allied with the powers of frost, who are foes of the gods, and who seek to conquer the Teutonic domain. The approach of the fimbul-winter was also attended by an earthquake (see Nos. 28, 81).

When, therefore, Völuspa makes Fjalar on his visit to the sword-guardian in the Ironwood appear in the guise of the red cock, then this is in harmony with Fjalar’s nature as a fire—giant and as a son of Surt.

* In Bragerćdur's pseudo-mythic account of the Skaldic mead (Younger Edda, 216 ff.) the name Fjalarr also appears. In regard to tire value of this account, see tire investigation in No. 89.

Sat ţar a haugi oc sló haurpo gygjar hirţir gladr Egţer. Gol um hanom i galgviţi fagrraudr hani sa er Fjalar heitir (Völusp., 41).

The red cock has from time immemorial been the symbol of fire as a destructive power. That what Odin does against Fjalar—when he robs him of the mead, which in the myth is the most precious of all drinks, and when he deceived his daughter—is calculated to awaken Fjalar’s thirst for revenge and to bring about a satisfaction sooner or later, lies in the very spirit of Teutonic poetry and ethics, especially since Odin’s act, though done from a good motive, was morally reprehensible. What Fjalar’s errand to Angerboda’s sword-guard was appears from the fact that when the last war between the gods and their enemies is fought a short time afterwards, Fjalar’s father, the chief of the fire-giants, Surt, is armed with the best of the mythical weapons, the sword which had belonged to a valtivi, one of the gods of Asgard (Völusp., 50), and which casts the splendour of the sun upon the world. The famous sword of the myth, t.hat which Thjasse finished with a purpose hostile to the gods (see No. 87 and elsewhere), the sword concealed by Mimir (see Nos. 87, 98, 101), the sword found by Svipdag (see Nos. 89, 101, 103), the sword secured through him by Frey, the one given by Frey to Gymer and Aurboda in exchange for Gerd,—this sword is found again in the Ragnarok conflict, wielded by Surt, and causes Frey’s death (Völuspa), it having been secured by Surt’s son, Fjalar, in the Ironwood from Angerboda’s sword-guard.

Gulli keypta leztu Gym is dotturoc seldir ţitt sva sverţ; Enn er Muspells synir ria myreviţ yfir veizta ţu ţu, vesall, hve ţa vegr (Lokas., 42).

This passage not only tells us that Frey gave his sword in exchange for Gerd to the parents of the giantess, Gymer and Aurboda, but also gives us to understand that this bargain shall cause his death in Ragnarok. This bride-purchase is fully described in Skirnismal, in which poem we learn that the gods most unwillingly part with the safety which the incomparable sword secured to Asgard. They yield in order to save the life of the harvest-god, who was wasting away with longing and anxiety, but not until the giants had refused to accept other Asgard treasures, among them the precious ring Draupner, which the Asa-father once laid on the pulseless breast of his favourite son Balder. At the approach of Ragnarok, Surt’s son, Fjahar, goes to the Ironwood to fetch for his father the sword by which Frey, its former possessor, is to fall. The sword is then guarded by Angerboda’s shepherd, and consequently belongs to her. In other words, the sword which Aurboda enticed Frey to give her is now found in the possession of Angerboda. This circumstance of itself is a very strong reason for their identity. If there were no other evidence of their identity than this, a sound application of methodology would still bid us accept this identity rather than explain the matter by inventing a new, nowhere-supported myth, and thus making the sword pass from Aurboda to another giantess.

When we now add the important fact in the disposition of this matter, that Aurboda’s son-in-law, Frey, demands, in behalf of a near kinsman, satisfaction from the Asas when they had killed and burnt Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, then it seems to me that there can be no doubt in regard to the identity of Aurboda and Angerboda, the less so, since all that our mythic fragments have to tell us about Gymer’s wife confirms tlne theory that she is the same person. Aurboda has, like Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, practised the arts of sorcery: she is one of the valas of the evil giant world. This is told to us in a strophe by the skald Refr, who calls her "Gymer’s primeval cold vala" (ursvöl Gymnis völva—Younger Edda, i. 326, 496). She might be called "primeval cold" (ursvöl) from the fact that the fire was not able to pierce her heart and change it to ashes, in spite of a threefold burning. Under all circumstances, the passage quoted informs us that she is a vala.

But have our mythic fragments preserved any allusion to show that Aurboda, like Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda. ever dwelt among the gods in Asgard ? Asgard is a place where giants are refused admittance. Exceptions fromn this prohibition must have been very few, and the myths must have given good reasons for them. We k-now in regard to Loki’s appearance in Asgard, that it is based on a promise given to him by the Asa-father in time’s morning ; and the promise was sealed with blood (Lokasenna, 9). If, now, this Aurboda, who, like Angerboda, is a vala of giant race, and, like Angerboda, is the owner of Frey’s sword, and, like Angerboda, is a kinswoman of the Vans—if now this same Aurboda, in further likeness with Angerboda, was one of the certainly very few of the giant class who was permitted to enter within the gates of Asgard, then it must be admitted that this fact absolutely confirms their identity.

Anrboda did actually dwell in Asgard. Of this we are assured by the poem " Fjölsvinsmal ". There it is related that when Svipdag came to the gates of Asgard to seek and find Menglad-Freyja, who was destined to be his wife (see Nos. 96, 97), he sees Menglad sitting on a hill surrounded by goddesses, whose very names, Eir, Bjöört, Blid, and Frid, tell us that they are goddesses of lower or higher rank. Eir is an asynja of the healing art (Younger Edda, i. 114). Björt, Blid, and Frid are the dises of splendour, benevolence, and beauty. They are mighty beings, and can give aid in distress to all who worship them (Fjolsv., 40). But in the midst of this circle of dises, who surround Menglad, Svipdag also sees Aurboda (Fjolsv., 38).

Above them Svipdag sees Mimir’s tree—the world-tree (see No. 97), spreading its all-embracing branches, on which grow fruits which soothe kelisjukar konur and lighten the entrance upon terrestrial life for the children of men (Fjolsv., 22). Menglad-Freyja is, as we know, the goddess of love and fertility, and it is Frigg s and her vocation to dispose of these fruits for the purposes for which they are intended.

The Volsungasaga has preserved a record concerning these fruits, and concerning the giant-daughter who was admitted to Asgard as a maid-servant of the goddesses. A king and queen had long been married without getting any children. They beseeched the gods for an heir. Frigg heard their prayers and sent them in the guise of a crow the daughter of the giant Hrimner, a giantess who had been adopted in Asgard as Odin’s wish—may ". Hrimner’s daughter took an apple with her, and when the queen had eaten it, it was not long before she perceived that her wish would come to pass (Volsungasaga, pp. 1, 2). Hrimner’s daughter is, as we know, Gulveig-Heid.

Thus the question whether Aurboda ever dwelt in Asgard is answered in the affirmative. We have discovered her, though she is the daughter of a giant, in the circle around Menglad-Freyja, where she has occupied a subordinate position as maid-servant. At the same time we have found that Gulveig-Heid has for some time had an occupation in Asgard of precisely the same kind as that which belongs to a dis serving under the goddess of fertility. Thus the similarity between Aurboda and Gulveig-Heid is not confined to the fact that they, although giantesses, dwelt in Asgard, but they were employed there in the same manner.

The demonstration that Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda is identical with Aurboda may now be regarded as completed. Of the one as of the other it is related that she was a vala of giant-race, that she nevertheless dwelt for some time in Asgard, aiid was there employed by Frigg or Freyja in the service of fertility, and that she possessed the sword, which had formerly belonged to Frey, and by which Frey is to fall. Aurboda is Frey’s mother-in-law, consequently closely related to him ; and it must have been in behalf of a near relation that Frey and Njord demnanded satisfaction from the Asas when the latter slew Gulveig-Heid. Under such circumstances it is utterly impossible from a methodological standpoint to regard them otherwise than identical. We must consider that nearly all mythic characters are polyonomous, and that the Teutonic mythology particularly, on account of its poetics, is burdened with a highly-developed polyonomy.

But of Gulveig-Heid’s and Aurboda’s identity there are also other proofs which, for the sake of completeness, we will riot omit.

So far as the very names Gulveig and Aurboda are concerned the one can serve as a paraphrase of the other. The first part of the name Aurboda, the aur of many significations may be referred to eyrir, pl. aurar, which nieans precious metal, and is thought to be borrowed from the Latin aurum (gold). Thus Gull and Aur correspond. In tIme same manner veig in Gulveig can correspond to boda Aurboda. Veig means a fermenting liquid; boda has two significations. It can be the feminine form of bodi, meaning fer—menting water, froth, foam. No other names compounded with boa occur in Norse literature than Aurboa and Angrboda.

Ynglingasaga * (ch. 4) relates a tradition that Freyja kendi fyrst med Asum seid, that Freyja was the first to practise sorcery in Asgard. There is no doubt that the statement is correct. For we have seen that Gulveig-Heid, the sorceress and spreader of sorcery in antiquity, succeeded in getting admission to Asgard, and that Aurboda is mentioned as particularly belonging to the circle of serving dises who attended Freyja. As this giantess was so zealous in spreading her evil arts among the inhabitants of Midgard, it would be strange if the myth did not make her, after she had gained Freyja’s confidence, try to betray her into practising the same arts. Doubtless Voluspa and Saxo have reference to Guiveig~Heid-Aurboda when they say that Freyja, through some treacherous person among her attendants, was delivered into the hands of the giants.

In his historical account relating how Freyja (Syritha) was robbed from Asgard and came to the giants but was afterwards saved from their power, Saxo (Hist., 331; cp. No. 100) tells that a woman, who was secretly allied with a giant, had succeeded in ingratiating herself in her favour, and for sonie time performed the duties of a maid-servant at her borne; but this she did in order to entice her in a cunning manner away froni her safe home to a place where the giant lay in ambush and carried her away to the recesses of his mountain country. (Gigas fćminam subornat, quć cum obtenta virginis familiaritate, ejus aliquamdiu pedissequam egisset, hanc tandem a paternis procul penatibus, qućsita callidius digres— sione, reduxit; quam ipse max irruens in arctiora montauć erepidi— nis septa devexit.) Thus Saxo informs us that it was a woman among Freyja's attendants who betrayed her, and that this woman was allied with the giant world, which is hostile to the gods, while she held a trusted servant’s place with the goddess. Aurboda is the only woman connected with the giants in regard to whom our mythic records inform us that she occupied such a position with Freyja; and as Aurboda’s character and part, played in the

* Ynglingasaga is the opening chapters of Snorre Sturlason’s Heimskringla (see No. 7). R. B. Anderson now has in press an English translation of the whole Heimskringla, to be issued in the course of the winter (1889), in four volumes, by John C. Nimmo, London.

epic of the myth, correspond with such an act of treason, there is no reason for assuming the mere possibility, that the betrayer of Freyja may have been some one else, who is neither mentioned nor known.

With this it is important to compare Voluspa, 26, 27, which not only mentions the fact that Freyja came into the power of the giants through treachery, but also informs us how the treason was punished:

ţa gengo regin oll A ráukstola, ginheilog god oc um ţat gettuz hverir hefi lopt alt levi blandit eţa ett iotuns Oţs mey gefna ţorr ein ţar va ţrungin modi, hann sialdan sitr er hann slict um fregn.

These Voluspa lines stand in Codex Regius in immediate connection with the above-quoted strophes which speak of GulveigHeid and of the war caused by her between the Asas and Vans. They inform us that the gods assembled to hold a solemn counsel to find out "who had filled all the air with evil," or "who had delivered Freyja to the race of giants" ; and that the person found guilty was at once slain by Thor, who grew most angry.

Now if this person is Gulveig-Aurboda, then it follows that she received her death-blow from Thor’s hammer, before the Asas made in common the unsuccessful attempt to change her body into ashes. We also find elsewhere in our mythic records that an exceedingly dangerous woman met with precisely this fate. There she is called Hyrrokin. A strophe by Thorbjorn Disarskald, preserved in the Younger Edda, states that Hyrrokin was one of the giantesses slain by Thor. But the very appellation Hyrrokin, which must be an epithet of a giantess known by seine other more common name, indicates that some effort worthy of being remembered in the myth had been made to burn her, but that the effort resulted in her being smoked (rökt) rather than that she was burnt; for the epithet Hyrrokin means the "fire-smoked ". For those familiar with the contents of the myth, this epithet was regarded as plain enough to indicate who was meant. If it is not, therefore, to be looked upon as an unhappy and misleading epithet, it must refer to the thrice in vain burnt Gulveig. All that we learn about Hyrrokin confirms her identity with Aurboda. In the symnbolic-allegorical work of art, which toward the close of the tenth century decorated a hall at Hjardarholt, and of which I shall give a fuller account elsewhere, the storm which from the land side carried Balder’s ship out on the sea is represented by the giantess Hyrrokin. In the same capacity of storm-giantess carrying sailors out upon the ocean appears Gymer’s wife, Aurboda, in a poem by Refr:

Fćrir björn, ţar er bára brestr, undinna festa, Opt i Ćgis kjopta úrsvöl Gymis völva.

"Gymer’s ancient-cold vala often carries the ship amid breaking billows into the jaws of Ćgir." Gymer, Aurboda’s husband, represents in the physical interpretation of the myth the east wind coming from the Ironwood. From the other side of Eystrasalt (the Baltic) Gymer sings his song (Ynglingasaga, 36) ; and the same gale belongs to Aurboda, for Ćgir, into whose jaws she drives the ships, is the great open western ocean. That Aurboda represents the gale from the east finds its natural explanation in her identity with Angerboda "the old," who dwells in the Ironwood in the uttermost east. "Austr byr hin alldna i iarnviţi (Völusp.).

The result of the investigation is that Gullveig-Heidr, Aurboda, and Angrboa are different names for the different hypostases of the thrice-born and thrice-burnt one, and that Hyrrokin, "the firesmoked," is an epithet common to all these hypostases.


When the Asas had refused to give satisfaction for the murder of Gulveig, and when Odin, by hurling his spear, had indicated that the treaty of peace between him and the Vans was broken, the latter leave the assembly hall and Asgard. This is evident from the fact that they afterwards return to Asgard and attack the citadel of the Asa clan. The gods are now divided into two hostile camps: on the one side Odin and his allies, among whom are Heimdal (see Nos. 38, 39, 40) and Skade; on the other Njord, Frigg (Saxo, Hist., 42-44), Frey, Ull (Saxo, Hist., 130, 131), and Freyja and her husband Svipdag, besides all that clan of divinities who were not adopted in Asgard, but belong to the race of Vans and dwell in Vanaheim.

So far as Skade is concerned the breach between the gods seems to have furnished her an opportunity of getting a divorce from Njord, with whom she did not live on good terms. According to statements found in the myths, Thjasse’s daughter and he were altogether too different in disposition to dwell in peace together. Saxo (Hist., 53 ff.) and the Younger Edda (p. 94) have both preserved the record of a song which describes their different tastes as to home and surroundings. Skade loved Thrymheim, the rocky home of her father Thjasse, on whose snow-clad plains she was fond of running on skees and of felling wild beasts with her arrows; but when Njord had remained nine days and nine nights among the mountains he was weary of the rocks and of the howling of wolves, and longed for the song of swans on the sea-strand. But when Skade accompanied hini thither she could not long endure to be awakened every morning by the shrieking of sea-fowls. In Grimnismal, 11, it is said that Skade "now" occupies her father’s "ancient home" in Thrymheim, but Njord is not there iiamed. In a strophe by Thord Sjarekson (Younger Edda, 262) we read that Skade never became devoted to the Vana-god (nama snotr una godbrúdr Vani), and Eyvind Skaldaspiller relates in Haleygjatal that there was a time when Odin dwelt i Manhei mum together with Skade, and begat with her many sons. With Manheimar is meant that part of the world which is inhabited by man; that is to say, Midgard and the lower world, where are also found a race of menskim menn (see Nos. 52, 53, 59, 63), and the topographical counterpart of the word is Asgardr. Thus it must have been after his banishment from Asgard, while he was separated from Frigg and found refuge somewhere in Manheimar, that Odin had Skade for his wife. Her epithet in Grimnismal, skír brúdrgoa, also seems to indicate that she had conjugal relations with more than one of the gods.

While Odin was absent and deposed as ruler of the world, Ull has occupied so important a position among the ruling Vans that, according to the tradition preserved in Saxo, they bestowed upon him the task and honour which until that time had belonged to Odin (Dii . . . Ollerum quendam non soluma in regni, sed etiam in divinitatis infulas subrogavere—Hist., 130). This is explained by the fact that Njord and Frey, though valtivar and brave warriors when they are invoked, are in their very nature gods of peace and promoters of wealth and agriculture, while Ull is by nature a warrior. He is a skilful archer, excellent in a duel, and hefir hermanns atgervi (Younger Edda, i. 102), Also, after the reconciliation between the Asas and Vans, Thor’s stepson Ull has held a high position in Asgard, as is apparently corroborated by Odin’s words in Grimnismal, 41 (Ullar hylli ok allra góa).

From the mythic accounts in regard to the situation and environment of Asgard we may conclude that the siege by the Vans was no easy task. The home of the Asas is surrounded by the atmospheric ocean, whose strong currents make it difficult for the mythic horses to swim to it (see Nos. 65, 93). The bridge Bifrost is not therefore superfluous, but it is that connection between the lower worlds and Asgard which the gods daily use, and which must be captured by the enemy before the great cordon which encloses the shining halls of the gods can be attacked. The wall is built of "the limbs of Lerbrimer" (Fjolsv., 1), and constructed by its architect in such a manner that it is a safe protection against mountain-giants and frost-giants (Younger Edda, 134). In the wall is a gate wondrously made by the artist-brothers who are sons of "Solblinde" (Valgrind—Grimnism., 22; ţrymgjöll—Fjölsvimsm., 10). Few there are who understand the lock of that gate, and if anybody brings it out of its proper place in the wall-opening where it blocks the way for those who have no right to enter, then the gate itself beconies a chain for him who has attempted such a thing (Porn yr su grind, enn ţat fáir vito, hor hve er i lás um lokin— Grimn., 22. Fjöturr fastr,. verdr vid faranda hvern er hana hefr frá hlidi—Fjölsv., 10).

Outside of the very high Asgard cordon and around it there flows a rapid river (see below), the moat of the citadel. Over the eddies of the stream floats a dark, shining, ignitible mist. If it is kindled it explodes in flames, whose bickering tongues strike their victims with unerring certainty. It is the vaferloge, "the bickering flame," "the quick fire," celebrated in ancient songs—vafrlogi, cafreyi, skjótbrinni. It was this fire which the gods kindled around Asgard when they saw Thjasse approaching in eagle guise. In it their irreconcilable foe burnt his pinions, and fell to the around. "Haustlaung," Thjodolf’s poem, says that when Thjasse approached the citadel of the gods "the gods raised the quick fire and sharpened their javelins "—Hófu skjót; en skófu sköpt; ginnregin brinna. The "quick fire," skjót-brinni, is the vaferloge.*

The material of which the ignitible mist consists is called "black terror-gleam ". It is or odauccom; that is to say, ofdauecoat ognar ljoma (Fafn., 40) (cp. myrckvan vafrloga—Skirn., 8, 9; Fjolsv., 31). It is said to be "wise," which implies that it consciously aims at him for whose destruction it is kindled.

How a water could be conceived that evaporates a dark ignitible mist we find explained in Thorsdrapa. The thunder-storm is the storm of the vaferfire," and Thor is the "ruler of the chariot of the vaferfire-storm " (vafr-eyda hreggs húfstjóri). Thus the thundercloud comitains the water that evaporates a dark material for lightning. The dark metallic colour which is peculiar to the thunder-cloud was regarded as coming from that very material which is the black terror-gleam" of which lightning is formed. When Thor splits the cloud he separates the two component parts, the water and the vafermist; the former falls down as rain, the latter is ignited and rushes away in quick, bickering, zigzag flames—the vaferfires. That these are "wise’ was a common Aryan belief. They do not proceed blindly, but know their mark and never miss it.

The river that foams around Asgard thus has its source in the thunder-clouds; not as we find them after they have been split by Thor, but such as they are originally, swollen with a celestial water that evaporates vafermist. All waters—subterranean, terrestrial, and celestial—have their source in that great subterranean fountain Hvergelmer. Thence they come and thither they return (Grimn., 26; see Nos. 59, 63, 33).

* The author of Bragarćdur in the Younger Edda has understood this passage to mean that the Asas, when they saw Thjasse approaching, carried out a lot of shavings, which were kindled (!).

Hvergelmer’s waters are sucked up by the northern root of the world-tree ; they rise through its trunk spread into its branches and leaves, and evaporate from its crown into a water-tank situated on the top of Asgard, Eikţyrnir, in Grimnismal, str. 26, symbolised as a "stag "* who stands on the roof of Odin’s hall and out of whose horns the waters stream down into Hvergelmer. Eikthyrnir is the great celestial water-tank which gathers and lets out the thunder-cloud. In this tank the Asgard river has its source, and hence it consists not only of foaming water but also of ignitible vafermists. In its capacity of discharger of the thunder-cloud, the tank is called Eikthyrrnir, the oak-stinger. Oaks struck by lightning is no unusual occurrence. The oak is, according to popular belief based on observation, that tree which the lightning most frequently strikes.

But Asgard is not the only citadel which is surrounded by vafermists. These are also found enveloping the home where dwelt the storm-giant Gymer and the storm-giantess Aurboda, the sorceress who knows all of Asgard’s secrets, at the time when Frey sent Skirner to ask for the hand of their daughter Gerd. Epics which in their present form date from Christian times make vaferflames burn around castles, where goddesses, pricked by sleep-thorns, are slumbering. This is a belief of a later age.

To get over or through the vaferflame is, according to the myth, impossible for anyone who has not got a certain mythical horse to ride—probably Sleipner, the eight-footed steed of the Asa-father, which is the best of all horses (Grimn., 44). The quality of this steed, which enables it to bear its rider unscathed through the vaferflame, makes it indespensable when this obstacle is to be overcome. When Skirner is to go on Frey’s journey of courtship to Gerd, he asks for that purpose mar ţann er mic um myrckvan beri visan vafrloga, and is allowed to ride it on and for the journey (Skim., 5, 9).

* In the same poem the elf-artist, Dáinn, and the " dwarf "-artist, Dvalinn, are symbolised as stags, the wanderer Ratr (see below) as a squirrel, the wolf-giant Grofvitner’s sons as serpents, the bridge Bifrost as a fish (see No. 93), &c. Fortunately for the comprehension of our mythic records such svmbolising is confined to a few strophes in the poem named, and these strophes appear to have belonged originally to an independent song which made a speciality of that sort of symbolism, and to have been incorporated in Grimnismal in later times.

This horse must accordingly have been in the possession of the Vans when they conquered Asgard, an assumption confirmed by what is to be stated below. (In the great epic Sigurd’s horse Grane is made to inherit the qualities of this divine horse.)

On the outer side of the Asgard river, and directly opposite the Asgard gate, lie projecting ramparts (forgardir) to protect the drawbridge, which from the opening in the wall can be dropped down across the river (see below). When Svipdag proceeded toward Menglad’s abode in Asgard, he first came to this forgarir (Fjöls., i. 3). There he is hailed by the watch of the citadel, and thence he gets a glimpse over the gate of all the glorious things which are hid behind the high walls of the citadel. Outside the river Asgard has fields with groves and woods (Younger Edda, 136, 210).

Of the events of the wars waged around Asgard, the mythic fragments, which the Icelandic records have preserved, give us but very little information, though they must have been favourite themes for the heathen skaldic art, which here had an opportunity of describing in a characteristic manner all the gods involved, and of picturing not only their various characters, but also their various weapons, equipments, and horses. In regard to the weapons of attack we must remember that Thor at the outbreak of the conflict is deprived of the assistance of his splendid hammer : it has been broken by Svipdag’s sword of victory (see Nos. 101, 103)—a point which it was necessary for the myth to assume, otherwise the Vans could hardly be represented as conquerors. Nor do the Vans have the above-mentioned sword at their disposal: it is already in the power of Gymer and Aurboda. The irresistible weapons which in a purely mechanical manner would have decided the issue of the war, were disposed of in advance in order that the persons themnselves, with their varied warlike qualities, might get to the foreground and decide the fate of the conflict by heroism or prudence, by prescient wisdom or by blind daring. In this war the Vans have particularly distimiguished themselves by wise and well calculated undertakings. This we learn from Völuspa, where it makes the final victors conquer Asgard through vígspá, that is, foreknowledge applied to warlike ends (str.. 26). The Asas, as we might expect from Odin’s brave sons, have especially distinguished themselves by their strength and courage. A record 26; see Nos. 59, 63, 33). Hvergelmer’s waters are sucked up by the northern root of the world-tree; they rise through its trunk, spread into its branches and leaves, and evaporate from its crown into a water-tank situated on the top of Asgard, Eikţyrnir, in Grimnismal, str. 26, symbolised as a "stag "* who stands on the roof of Odin’s hall and out of whose horns the waters stream down into Hvergelmer. Eikihyrnir is the great celestial water-tank which gathers and lets out the thunder-cloud. In this tank the Asgard river has its source, and hence it consists not only of foaming water but also of ignitible vafermists. In its capacity of discharger of the thunder-cloud, the tank is called Eikthyrnir, the oak-stinger. Oaks struck by lightning is no unusual occurrence. The oak is, according to popular belief based on observation, that tree which the lightning most frequently strikes.

But Asgard is not the only citadel which is surrounded by vafermists. These are also found enveloping the home where dwelt the storm-giant Gymer and the storm-giantess Aurboda, the sorceress who knows all of Asgard’s secrets, at the time when Frey sent Skirner to ask for the hand of their daughter Gerd. Epics which in their present form date from Christian times make vaferflames burn around castles, where goddesses, pricked by sleep-thorns, are slumbering. This is a belief of a later age.

To get over or through the vaferflame is, according to the myth, impossible for anyone who has not got a certain mythical horse to ride—probably Sleipner, the eight-footed steed of the Asa-father, which is the best of all horses (Grimn., 44). The quality of this steed, which enables it to bear its rider unscathed through the vafer-flame, makes it indespeasable when this obstacle is to be overcome. When Skirner is to go on Frey’s journey of courtship to Gerd, he asks for that purpose mar ţann er mic um myrckvan beri visan vafrloga, and is allowed to ride it on and for the journey (Skirn., 8, 9).

* In the same poem the elf-artist, Dáinn, and the "dwarf "-artist, Dvalinn, are symbolised as stags, the wanderer Ratr (see below) as a squirrel, the wolf-giant Grafvitner’s sons as serpents, the bridge Bifrost as a fish (see No. 93), &c. Fortunately for the comprehension of our mythic records such symbolising is confined to a few strophes in the poem namned, and these strophes appear to have belonged originally to an independent song which made a speciality of that sort of symbolism, and to have been incorporated in Grimnismal in later times.

This horse must accordingly have been in the possession of the Vans when they conquered Asgard, an assumption confirmed by what is to be stated below. (In the great epic Sigurd’s horse Grane is made to inherit the qualities of this divine horse.)

On the outer side of the Asgard river, and directly opposite the Asgard gate, lie projecting ramparts (forgarđir) to protect the drawbridge, which from the opening in the wall can be dropped down across the river (see below). When Svipdag proceeded toward Menglad’s abode in Asgard, he first came to this forgarđir (Fjöls., i. 3). There he is hailed by the watch of the citadel, and thence he gets a glimpse over the gate of all the glorious things which are hid behind the high walls of the citadel. Outside the river Asgard has fields with groves and woods (Younger Edda, 136, 210).

Of the events of the wars waged around Asgard, the mythic fragments, which the Icelandic records have preserved, give us but very little information, though they must have been favourite themes for the heathen skaldic art, which here had an opportunity of describing in a characteristic manner all the gods involved, and of picturing not only their various characters, but also their various weapons, equipments, and horses. In regard to the weapons of attack we must remember that Thor at the outbreak of the conflict is deprived of the assistance of his splendid hammer : it has been broken by Svipdag’s sword of victory (see Nos. 101, 103)—a point which it was necessary for the myth to assume, otherwise the Vans could hardly be represented as conquerors. Nor do the Vans have the above-mentioned sword at their disposal : it is already in the power of Gymer and Aurboda. The irresistible weapons which in a purely mechanical manner would have decided the issue of the war, were disposed of in advance in order that the persons themselves, with their varied warlike qualities, might get to the foreground and decide the fate of the conflict by heroism or prudence, by prescient wisdom or by blind daring. In this war the Vans have particularly distinguished themselves by wise and well calculated undertakings. This we learn from Völuspa, where it makes the final victors conquer Asgard through vígspá, that is, foreknowledge applied to warlike ends (str. 26). The Asas, as we might expect from Odin’s brave sons, have especially distinguished themselves by their strength and courage. A record of this is found in the words of Thorbjorn Disarskald (Younger Edda, 256) :

Pórr hefir Yggs med ed árum Ásgarđ of ţrek varđan.

"Thor with Odin’s clan-men defended Asgard with indomitable courage."

But in number they must have been far inferior to their foes. Simply the circumstance that Odin and his men had to confine themselves to the defence of Asgard shows that nearly all other divinities of various ranks had allied themselves with his enemies. The ruler of the lower world (Mimir) and Honer are the only ones of whom it can be said that they remained faithful to Odin; and if we can trust the Heimskringla tradition, which is related as history and greatly corrupted, then Mimir lost his life in an effort at mediation between the contending gods, while he and Honer were held as hostages among the Vans (Yaglingas., ch. 4).

Asgard was at length conquered. Völuspa, str. 25, relates the final catastrophe :

brotin var bordvegr borgar asa knatto vanir vigspa vollo sporna. Broken was the bulwark of the asaburg;

Through warlike prudence were the Vans able its fields to tread.

Völuspa’s words seem to indicate that the Vans took Asgard by strategy; and this is confirmed by a source which shall be quoted below. But to carry out the plan which chiefly involved the finding of means for crossing the vaferflames kindled around the citadel and for opening the gates of Asgard, not only cunning but also courage was required. The myth has given the honour of this undertaking to Njord, the clan-chief of the Vans and the commander of their forces. This is clear from the above-quoted passage : Njorđr kla uf Herjans hurđir—" Njord broke Odin’s doors open," which should be compared with the poetical paraphrase for battle-axe : Gauts megin-hurđar galli—"the destroyer of Odin’s great gate,"—a paraphrase that indicates that Njord burst the Asgard gate open with the battle-axe. The conclusion which must be drawn from these utterances is confirmed by an account with which the sixth book of Saxo begins, and which doubtless is a fragment of the myth concerning the conquest of Asgard by the Vans corrupted and told as history. The event is transferred by Saxo to the reign of King Fridlevus

II. It should here be remarked that every important statement made by Saxo about this Fridlevus, on a closer examination, is found to be taken from the myth concerning Njord.

There were at that time twelve brothers, says Saxo, distinguished for courage, strength, and fine physical appearance. They were "widely celebrated for gigantic triumphs ". To their trophies and riches many peoples had paid tribute. But the source from which Saxo received information in regard to Fridlevus’ conflict with them did not mention more than seven of these twelve, and of these seven Saxo gives the names. They are called Bjorn, Asbjorn, Gunbjorn, &c. In all the names is found the epithet of the Asa-god Bjorn.

The brothers had had allies, says Saxo further, but at the point when the story begins they had been abandoned by them, and on this account they had been obliged to confine themselves on an island surrounded by a most violent stream which fell from the brow of a very high rock, and the whole surface of which glittered with raging foam. The island was fortified by a very high wall (prćaltum vallum), in which was built a remarkable gate. It was so built that the hinges were placed near the ground between the sides of the opening in the wall, so that the gate turning thereon could, by a movement regulated by chains, be lowered and form a bridge across the stream.

Thus the gate is, at the same time, a drawbridge of that kind with which the Germans became acquainted during the war with the Romans already before the time of Tacitus (cp. Annal., iv 51, with iv. 47. Within the fortification there was a most strange horse, and also a remarkably strong dog, which formerly had watched the herds of the giant Offotes. The horse was celebrated for his size and speed, and it was the only steed with which it was possible for a rider to cross the raging stream around the island fortress.

King Fridlevus now surrounds this citadel with his forces. These are arrayed at some distance from the citadel, and in the beginning nothing else is gained by the siege than that the besieged are hindered from making sallies into the surrounding territory. The citadel cannot be taken unless the above-mentioned horse gets into the power of Fridlevus. Bjorn, the owner of the horse, makes sorties from the citadel, and in so doing he did miot always take sufficient care, for on one occasion when he was on the outer side of the stream, and had gone some distance away from his horse, he fell into an ambush laid by Fridlevus. He saved hiimself by rushing headlong over the bridge, which was drawn up behind him, but the precious horse became Fridlevus’ booty. This was of course a severe loss to the besieged, and must have dimi-nished considerably their sense of security. Meanwhile, Fridlevus was able to manage the matter in such a way that the accident served rather to lull them into increased safety. During the following night the brothers found their horse, safe and sound, back on the island. Hence it must have swum back across the stream. And when it was afterwards found that the dead body of a man, clad in the shining robes of Fridlevus, floated on the eddies of the stream, they took it for granted that Fridlevus himself had perished in the stream.

But the real facts were as follows : Fridlevus, attended by a single companion, had in the night ridden from his camp to the river. There his companion’s life had to be sacrificed, in order that the king’s plan might be carried out. Fridlevus exchanged clothes with the dead man, who, in the king’s splendid robes, was cast into the stream. Then Fridlevus gave spur to the steed which he had captured, and rode through the eddies of the stream. Having passed this obstacle safely, he set the horse at liberty, climbed on a ladder over the wall, stole into the hall where the brothers were wont to assemble, hid himself under a projection over the hall door, listened to their conversation, saw them go out to reconnoitre the island, and saw them return, secure in the conviction that there was no danger at hand. Then he went to the gate and let it fall across the stream. His forces had, during the night, advanced toward the citadel, and when they saw the drawbridge down and the way open, they stormed the fortress and captured it.

The fact that we here have a transformation of the myth, telling how Njord at the head of the Vans conquered Asgard, is evident from the following circumstances :

(a) The conqueror is Fridlevus. The most of what Saxo relates about this Fridlevus is, as stated, taken from the myth about Njord, and told as history.

(b) The brothers were, according to Saxo, originally twelve, which is the well-established number of Odin’s clansmen : his sons, and the adopted Asa-gods. But when the siege in question takes place, Saxo finds in his source only seven of the twelve mentioned as enclosed in the citadel besieged by Fridlevus. The reason for the diminishing of the number is to be found in the fact that the adopted gods—Njord, Frey, and Ull—had left Asgard, and are in fact identical with the leaders of the besiegers. If we also deduct Balder and Höđr, who, at the time of the event, are dead and removed to the lower world, then we have left the number seven given. The name Bjorn, which they all bear, is an Asa epithet (Younger Edda, i. 553). The brothers have formerly had allies, but these have abandoned theni (deficientibus a se sociis), and it is on this account that they must confine themselves within their citadel. The Asas have had the Vans and other divine powers as allies, but these abandon them, and the Asas must defend themselves on their own fortified ground.

(c) Before this the brothers have made themselves celebrated for extraordinary exploits, amid have enjoyed a no less extraordinary power. They shone on account of their giganteis triumphis—an ambiguous expression which alludes to the mythic sagas concerning the victories of the Asas over Jotunheim’s giants (gigantes), and nations have submitted to them as victors, and enriched them with treasures (trophćis gentium celebres, spoliis locupletes).

(d) The island on which they are confined is fortified, like the Asa citadel, by an immensely high wall (prćaltum vallum), and is surrounded by a stream which is impassable unless one possesses a horse which is found among the brothers. Asgard is surrounded by a river belt covered with vaferflames, which cannot be crossed unless one has that single steed which um myrckvan beri visan vafrloga, and this belongs to the Asas.

(e) The stream which roars around the fortress of the brothers comes ex summis montium cacuminibus. The Asgard stream comes from the collector of the thunder-cloud, Eikţynir’, who stands on the summit of the world of the gods. The kindled vaferflames, which did not suit an historical narration, are explained by Saxo to be a spumeus candor, a foaming whiteness, a shining froth, which in uniform, eddying billows everywhere whirl on the surface of the stream (iota alvei tractu undis uniformiter turbidatis spumeus ubique candor exuberat).

(f) The only horse which is able to run through the shining and eddying foam is clearly one of the mythic horses. It is named along with another prodigy from the animal kingdom of mythology, viz., the terrible dog of the giant Offotes. Whether this is a reminiscence of Fenrir which was kept for some time in Asgard, or of Odin’s wolf-dog Freki, or of some other saga-animal of that sort, we will not now decide.

(g) Just as Asgard has an artfully contrived gate, so has also the citadel of the brothers. Saxo’s description of the gate implies that any person who does not know its character as a drawbridge, but lays violent hands on the mechanism which holds it in an upright position, falls, and is crushed under it. This explains the words of Fjölsvinnsmal about the gate to that citadel, within which Freyja-Menglad dwells: Fjöturr fastr verr vid faranda hvern, er hana hefr frá hlidi.

(h) In the myth, it is Njord himself who removes the obstacle, "Odin’s great gate," placed in his way. In Saxo’s account, it is Fridlevus himself who accomplishes the same exploit.

(i) In Saxo’s narration occurs an improbability, which is explained by the fact that he has transformed a myth into history. When Fridlevus is safe across the streani, he raises a ladder against the wall and climbs up on to it. Whence did he get this ladder, which must have been colossal, since the wall he got over in this manner is said to be prćaltum? Could he have taken it with him on the horse’s back ? Or did the besieged themselves place it against the wall as a friendly aid to the foe, who was already in possession of the only means for crossing the stream ? Both assumptions are alike improbable. Saxo hind to take recourse to a ladder, for he could not, without damaging the "historical" character of his story, repeat the myth’s probable description of the event. The horse which can gallop through the bickering flame can also leap over the highest wall. Sleipner's ability in this direction is demonstrated in the account of how it, with Hermod in the saddle, leaps over the wall to Balder’s high hail in the lower world (Younger Edda, 178). The impassibility of the Asgard wall is limited to mountain-giants and frost-giants; for a god riding Odin’s horse the wall was no obstacle. No doubt the myth has also stated that the Asas, after Njord had leaped over the wall and sought out the above-mentioned place of concealment, found within the wall their precious horse again, which lately had become the booty of the enemy. And where else should they have found it, if we regard the stream with the bickering flames as breaking against the very foot of the wall?

Finally, it should be added, that our myths tell of no other siege than the one Asgard was subjected to by the Vans. If other sieges have been mentioned, they cannot have been of the same importance as this one, and consequently they could not so easily have left traces in the mythic traditions adapted to history or heroic poetry; nor could a historicised account of a mythic siege which did not concern Asgard have preserved the points here pointed out, which are in harmony with the story of the Asgard siege.

When the citadel of the gods is captured, the gods are, as we have seen, once more in possession of the steed, which, judging from its qualities, must be Sleipner. Thins, Odin has the means of escaping from the enemy after all resistance has proved impossible. Thor has his thundering car, which, according to the Younger Edda, has room for several besides the owner, and the other Asas have splendid horses (Grimnism., Younger Edda), even though they are not equal to that of their father. The Asas give up their thione of power, and the Vans now assume the rule of the world.


In regard to the significance of the change of administration in the world of’ gods, Saxo has preserved a tradition which is of no small interest. The circumstance that Odin and his sons had to surrender the reign of the world did not imply that mankind should abandon their faith in the old gods and accept a new religion. Hitherto the Asas and Vans had been worshipped in common.

Now, when Odin was deposed, his name, honoured by the nations, was not to be obliterated. The name was given to Ull, and, as if he really were Odin, he was to receive the sacrifices and prayers that hitherto had been addressed to the banished one (Hist., 130). The ancient faith was to be maintained, and the shift involved nothing but the person; there was no change of religion. But in connection with this information, we also learn, from another statement in Saxo, that the myth concerning the war between Asas and Vans was connected with traditions concerning a conflict between various views among the believers in the Teutonic religion concerning offerings and prayers. The one view was more ritual, and demanded more attention paid to sacrifices. This view seenis to have gotten the upper band after the banishment of Odin. It was claimed that sacrifices and hymns addressed at the same time to several or all of the gods, did not have the efficacy of pacifying and reconciling angry deities, but that to each one of the gods should be given a separate sacrificial service (Saxo, Hist., 43). The result of this was, of course, an increase of sacrifices and a more highly-developed ritual, which from its very nature might have produced among the Teutons the same hierarchy as resulted from an excess of sacrifices among their Aryan-Asiatic kinsmen. The correctness of Saxo’s statement is fully confirmed by strophe 145 in Havamál, which advocates the opposite and incomaparably more moderate view in regard to sacrifices. This view came, according to the strophe, from Odin’s own lips. He is made to proclaim it to the people "after his return to his ancient power ".

Betr’a er obeţit en se ofbloţit ey ser til gildis giuf; betrec en’ osennt enn se ofsóit. Sva ţundr urn reist fyr ţioţa raue, ţar huann up um reis er hann aptr of kom.

The expression,ţar hann up urn reis, er hann apter of kom, refers to the fact that Odin had for some time been deposed from the administration of the world, but had returned, and that he then proclaimed to the people the view in regard to the real value of prayers and sacrifices which is laid down in the strophe. Hence it follows that before Odin returned to his throne another more exacting doctrine in regard to sacrifices had, according to the myth, secured prevalence. This is precisely what Saxo tells us. It is difficult to repress the question whether an historical reminiscence is not concealed in these statements. May it not be the record of conflicting views within the Teutonic religion—views represented in the myth by the Vana-gods on the one side and the Asas on the other ? The Vana views, I take it, represented tendencies which, had they been victorious, would have resulted in hierarchy, while the Asa doctrine represented the tendencies of the believers in the time-honoured Aryan custom of those who maintained the priestly authority of the father of the family, and who defended the efficacy of the simple hymns and sacrifices which from time out of mind had been addressed to several or all of the gods in comnion. That the question really has existed among the Teutonic peoples, at least as a subject for reflection, spontaneously suggests itself in the myth alluded to above. This myth has discussed the question, and decided it in precisely the same manner as history has decided it among the Teutonic races, among whom priestcraft and ritualism have held a far less important position than among their western kinsmen, the Celts, and their eastern kinsmen, the Iranians and Hindoos. That prayers on account of their length, or sacrifices on account of their abundance, should give evidence of greater piety and fear of God, and should be able to secure a macre ready hearing, is a doctrine which Odin himself rejects in the strophe above cited. He understands human nature, and knows that when a man brings abundant sacrifices he has the selfish purpose in view of prevailing on the gods to give a more abundant reward—a purpose prompted by selfishness, not by piety.


The conflict between the gods has its counterpart in, and is connected with, a war between all the Teutonic races, and the latter is again a continuation of the feud between Halfdan and Svipdag. The Teutonic race comes to tine front fighting under three racerepresentatives—(1) Yagve-Svipdag, the son of Orvandel and Groa; (2) Gudhorm, the son of Halfdan and Groa, consequently Svipdag’s half-brother; (3) Hadding, the son of Halfdan and Alveig (in Saxo called Signe, daughter of Sumbel), consequently Gudhorm’s half-brother.

The ruling Vans favour Svipdag, who is Freyja’s husband and Frey’s brother-in-law. The banished Asas support Hadding from their place of refuge. The conflict between the gods and the war between Halfdan’s successor and heir are woven together. It is like the Trojan war, where the gods, divided into parties, assist the Trojans or assist the Danai. Odin, Thor, and Heimdal interfere, as we shall see, to protect Hadding. This is their duty as kinsmen; for Heimdal, having assumed human nature, was the lad with the sheaf of grain who came to the primeval country and became the father of Borgar, who begat the son Halfdan. Thor was Halfdan’s associate father; hence he too had duties of kinship toward Hadding and Gudhorm, Halfdan’s sons. The gods, on the other hand, that favour Svipdag are, in Hadding’s eyes, foes, and Hadding long refuses to propitiate Frey by a demanded sacrifice (Saxo, Hist., 49, 50).

This war, simultaneously waged between the clans of the gods on the one hand, and between the Teutonic tribes on the other, is what the seeress mu Völuspa calls "the first great war in the world ". She not only gives an account of its outbreak and events among the gods, but also indicates that it was waged on the earth. Then—

sa hon valkyrior
vitt um komnar
gaurvar’ at rida
til Goţjodar
saw she valkyries
far travelled
equipped to ride
to Goththjod.

Goththjod is the Teutonic people and the Teutonic country.

When Svipdag had slain Halfdan, and when the Asas were expelled, the sons of the Teutonic patriarch were in danger of falling into the power of Svipdag. Thor interested himself in their behalf; and brought Gudhorm and Hadding to Jotunheim, where he concealed them with the giants Hafie and Vagnhofde—Gudhorm in Hafle’s rocky gard amid Hadding in Vagnhofde’s. In Saxo, who relates t.his story, the Asa-god Thor appears partly as Thor deus and Thoro pugil, Halfdan’s protector, whom Saxo himself identifies as the god Thor (Hist., 324), and partly as Brac and Brache, which name Saxo formed from Thor’s epithet, Asa-Brayr. It is by the name Brache that Thor appears as the protector of Halfdan’s sons. The giants Hafle and Vagnhofde dwell, according to Saxo, in "Svetia " probably, since Jotunheim, the northernmost Sweden, and the most distant east were called Sviţiod hinn kalda.*

Svipdag waged war against Halfdan, since it was his duty to avenge the disgrace of his mother Groa, and also that of his mother’s father, and, as shall be shown later, the death of his father Orvandel (see Nos. 108, 109). The revenge for bloodshed was sacred in the Teutonic world, amid this duty he performed when he with his irresistible sword felled his stepfather. But thereby the duty of revenge for bloodshed was transferred to Halfdan’s sons— less to Gudhorm, who is himself a son of Groa, but with all its weight to Hadding, the son of Alveig, and it is his bounden duty to bring about Svipdag’s death, since Svipdag had slain Halfdan. Connecting itself with Halfdan’s robbery of Groa, the goddess of growth, the red thread of revenge for bloodshed extends throughout the great hero-saga of Teutonic mythology.

Svipdag makes an effort to cut the thread. He offers Gudhorm and Hadding peace and friendship, and promises them kingship among the tribes subject to him. Groa’s son, Gudhorm, accepts the offer, and Svipdag makes him ruler of the Danes; but Hadding sends answer that he prefers to avenge his father’s death to accepting favours from an enemy (Saxo, Hist., 35, 36).

Svipdag’s offer of peace and reconciliation is in harmony, if not with his own nature, at least with that of his kinsmen, the reigning Vans. If the offer to Hadding had been accepted, we might have looked for peace in the world. Now the future is threatened with the devastations of war, and the bloody thread of revenge shall continue to be spun if Svipdag does not prevent it by overpowering Hadding. The myth may have contained much information

* Filii Gram, Guthormus et Hadingus, quorum alterum Gro, alterum Signe enixa est, Svipdagero Daniam obtinente, per educatorem suum. Brache nave Svetiam deportati, Vegnophto et Haphlio gigantibus non solum alendi, verum etiam defensandi traduntur (Saxo, Hist., 34).

about the efforts of the one camp to capture him and about con trivances of the other to frustrate these efforts. Saxo has preserved a pantial record thereof. Among those who plot against Hadding also Loki (Lokerus—Saxo, Hist., 40, 41),* the banished ally of Aurboda. His purpose is doubtless to get into the favour of the reigning Vans. Hadding is no longer safe in Vagnhofde’s mountain home The lad is exposed to Loki’s snares. From one of these he is saved by the Asa-father himself. There came, says Saxo, on this occasior a rider to Hadding. He resembled a very aged man, one of whose eyes was lost (grandćvus quidam altero orbus oculo). He placed Hadding in front of himself on the horse, wrapped his mantle about him, and rode away. The lad became curious and wanted to see whither they were going. Through a hole in the mantle he got an opportunity of looking down, amid found to his astonishment and fright that land and sea were far below the hoofs of the steed. The rider niust have noticed his fright, for he forbade him to look out any more.

The rider, the one-eyed old man, is Odin, and the horse is Sleipner, rescued froni the captured Asgard. The place to which the lad is carried by Odin is the place of refuge secured by the Asas during their exile i Manheimum. In perfect harmony with the myths, Saxo refers Odin’s exile to the tinie preceding Hadding’s juvenile adventures, and makes Odin’s return to power simultaneous with Hadding’s great victory over his enemies (Hist., 42-44). Saxo has also found in his sources that sword-slain men, whom Odin chooses during "the first great war in the world," cannot come to Valhal. The reason for this is that Odin is not at that time the ruler there. They have dwelling-places and plains for their warlike amusements appointed in the lower world (Hist., 51).

The regions which, according to Saxo, are the scenes of Hadding's juvenile adventures lie on the other side of the Baltic down toward the Black Sea. He is associated with " Curetians" and " Hellespontians," doubtless for the reason that the myth has referred those adventures to the far east.

* The form Loki is also duplicated by the form Lokr. The latter is preserved in the sense of ‘‘ effeminated man,’’ found in myths concerning" loke. Compare the phrase " veykr Loka with "hinn vegki Loki ".

The one-eyed old man is endowed with wonderful powers. When he landed with the lad at his home, he sang over him prophetic incantations to protect him (Hist., 40), and gave him a drink of the "most splendid sort," which produced in Hadding enormous physical strength, and particularly made him able to free himself from bonds and chains. (Compare Havamal, str. 149, concerning Odin’s freeing incantations by which "fetters spring from the feet and chains from the hands ".) A comparison with other passages, which I shall discuss later, shows that the potion of which the old man is lord contains something which is called "Leifner’s flames," and that he who has been permitted to drink it, and over whom freeing incantations have simultaneously been sung, is able with his warm breath to free himself from every fetter which has been put on his enchanted limbs (see Nos. 43, 96, 103).

The old man predicts that Hadding will soon have an opportunity of testing the strength with which the drink and the magic songs have endowed him. And the prophecy is fulfilled. Hadding falls into the power of Loki. He chains him and threatens to expose him as food for a wild beast—in Saxo a lion, in the myth presumably some one of the wolf or serpent prodigies that are Loki’s offspring. But when his guards are put to sleep by Odin’s magic song, though Odin is far away, Hadding bursts his bonds, slays the beast, and eats, in obedience to Odin’s instructions, its heart. (The saga of Sigurd Fafuersbane has copied this feature. Sigurd eats the heart of the dragon Fafner and gets wisdom thereby.)

Thus Hadding has become a powerful hero, and his task to make war on Svipdag, to revenge on him his father’s death, and to recover the share in the rulership of the Teutons which Halfdan had possessed, now lies before him as the goal he is to reach.

Hadding leaves Vagnhofde’s home. The latter’s daughter, Hardgrep, who had fallen in love with the youth, accompanies him. When we next find Hadding he is at the head of an army. That this consisted of the tribes of Eastern Teutondom is confirmed by documents which I shall hereafter quote ; but it also follows from Saxo’s narrative, although he has referred the war to narrower limits than were given to it in the myth, since he, constructing a Danish history from mythic traditions, has his eves fixed chiefly on Denmark. Over the Scandian tribes and the Danes rule, according to Saxo’s own statement, Svipdag, and as his tributary king in Denmark his half-brother Gudhorm. Saxo also is aware that the Saxons, the Teutonic tribes of the German lowlands, on one occasion were the allies of Svipdag (Hist., 34). From these parts of Teutondom did not conne Hadding’s friends, but his enemies; and when we add that the first battle which Saxo mentions in this war was fought among the Curetians east of the Baltic, then it is clear that Saxo, too, like the other records to which I am coming later, has conceived the forces under Haddiag’s banner as having been gathered in the East. From this it is evident that the war is one between the tribes of North Teutondom, led by Svipdag and supported by the Vans on the one side, and the tribes of East Teutondom, led by Hadding and supported by the Asas on the other. But the tribes of the western Teutonic continent have also taken part in the first great war of mankind. Gudhorm, whom Saxo makes a tributary king in Yngve-Svipdag’s most southern domain, Denmark, has in the mythic traditions had a much greaten’ empire, and has ruled over the tribes of Western and Southern Teutondom, as shall be shown below.


The circumstance that the different divine clans had their favourites in the different camps gives the war a peculiar character. The armies see before a battle supernatural forms contending with each other in the starlight, and recognise in them their divine friends and opponents (Hist., 48). The elements are conjured on one and the other side for the good or harm of the contending brother-tribes. When fog and pouring rain suddenly darken the sky and fall upon Hadding’s forces from that side where the fylkings of the North are arrayed, then the one-eyed old man comes to their rescue and calls forth dark masses of clouds from the other side, which force back the rain-clouds and the fog (Hist., 53). In these cloud-masses we must recognise the presence of the thundering Thor, the son of the one-eyed old man.

Giants also take part in the conflict. Vagnhofde and Hardgrep,

the latter in a nian’s attire, contend on the side of the foster-son and the beloved Hadding (Hist., 45, 38). From Icelandic records we learn that Hafle and the giantesses Fenja and Menja fight under Gudhorm’s banners. In the Grottesong (14, 15) these maids sing:

En vit siţan a Sviioţu framvisar tvćr i folk stigum; beiddum biornu, en brutum skioldu gengum igegnum graserkiat lit. Steyptom stilli, studdum annan, veittum goţum Guthormi lid.

That the giant Hafle fought on the side of Gudhorm is probable from the fact that lie is his foster-father, and it is confirmed by the fact that Thor paraphrased (Grett., 30) is called fangvinr Hafia, "he who wrestled with Hafle ". Since Thor and Hafle formerly were friends—else the former would not have trusted Gudhorm to the care of the latter—their appearance afterwards as foes can hardly be explained otherwise than by the war between Thor’s protégé Hadding and Hafle’s foster-son Gudhorm. And as Had-ding’s foster-father, the giant Vagnhofde, faithfully supports the young chief whose childhood he protected, then the myth could scarcely avoid giving a similar part to the giant Hafle, and thus make the foster-fathers, like the foster-sons, contend with each other. The heroic poems are fond of parallels of this kind.

When Svipdag learns that Hadding has suddenly made his appearance in the East, and gathered its tribes around him for a war with Gudhornn, he descends from Asgard and reveals himself in the primeval Teutonic country on the Scandian peninsula, and requests its tribes to join the Danes and raise the banner of war against Halfdan’s and Alveig’s son, who, at the head of the eastern Teutons, is marching against their half- brother Gudhorni. The friends of both parties among the gods, men and giants, hasten to attach themselves to the cause which they have espoused as their own, and Vagnhofde among the rest abandons his rocky home to fight by the side of his foster-son and daughter.

This mythic situation is described in a hitherto unexplained strophe in the Old English song concerning the names of the letters in the runic alphabet. In regard to the rune which answers to I there is added the following lines:

Ing väs ćrest mid Eástdenum geseven seegum od he siddan eást ofer’ vćg gevât. Vćn ćfter ran; ţus Heardingas ţone häle nerndon.

"Yngve (Inge) was first seen among the East-Danemen. Then be betook himself eastward over the sea. Vagn hastened to follow: Thus the Heardings called this hero."

The Heardings are the Haddings—that is to say, Hadding himself, the kinsmen and friends who embraced his cause, and the Teutonic tribes who recognised him as their chief. The Norse Haddingr is to the Anglo-Saxon Hearding as the Norse haddr to the Anglo-Saxon hear’d. Vigfusson, and before him J. Grimm, have already identified these forms.

Ing is Yngve-Svipdag, who, when he left Asgard, "was first seen among the East-Danemen ". He calls Swedes and Danes to arms against Hadding’s tribes. The Anglo-Saxon strophe confirms the fact that they dwell in the East, separated by a sea from the Scandian tribes. Ing, with his warriors, "betakes himself eastward over the sea" to attack them. Thus the armies of the Swedes and Danes go by sea to the seat of war. What the authorities of Tacitus heard among the continental Teutons about the mighty fleets of the Swedes may be founded on the heroic songs about the first great war not less than on fact. As the army which was to cross the Baltic must be regarded as Immensely large, so the myth, too, has represented the ships of the Swedes as numerous, and in part as of immense size. A confused record from the songs about the expedition of Svipdag and his friends against the East Teutons, found in Icelandic tradition, occurs in Fornald., pp. 406-407, where a ship called Gnod, and capable of carrying 3000 men, is mentioned as belonging to a King Asmund.

Odin did not want this monstrous ship to reach its destination, but sank it, so it is said, in the Lessö seaway, with all its men and contents. The Asmund who is known in the heroic sagas of heathen times is a son of Svipdag and a king among the Sviones (Saxo, Hist., 44). According to Saxo, he has given brilliant proofs of his bravery in the war against Hadding, and fallen by the weapons of Vagnhofde and Hadding. That Odin in the Icelandic tradition appears as his enemy thus corresponds with the myth. The same Asmund may, as Gisle Brynjulfsson has assumed, be meant in Grimnersmal (49), where we learn that Odin, concealing himself under the name Jalk, once visited Asmund.

The hero Vagn, whom "the Haddings so called," is Hadding’s foster-father, Vagnhofde. As the word höfdi constitutes the second part of a mythic name, the compound form is a synonym of that name which forms the first part of the composition. Thins Svarthöfdi is identical with Svartr, Surtr. In Hyndluljod, 33, all the mythical sorcerers (seidberendr) are said to be sprung from Svarthöfdi. In this connection we must first of all think of Fjalar, who is the greatest sorcerer in mythology. The story about Thor’s, Thjalfe’s, and Loki’s visit to him is a chain of delusions of sight and hearing called forth by Fjalar, so that the Asa-god and his companions always mistake things for something else than they are. Fjalar is a son of Surtr (see No. 89). Thins the greatest a gent of sorcery is descended from Surtr, Svartr, and, as Hyndluljod states that all magicians of mythology have come of some Svarthöfdi, Svartr and Svarthöfdi must be identical. And so it is with Vagn and Vagnhöfdi; they are different names for the same person.

When the Anglo-Saxon rune-strophe says that Vang "made haste to follow" after Ing had gone across the sea, then this is to be compared with Saxo’s statement (Hist., 45), where it is said that Hadding in a battle was in greatest peril of losing his life, but was saved by the sudden and miraculous landing of Vagnhofde, who came to the battle-field and placed himself at his side. The Scandian fylkings advanced against Hadding’s; and Svipdag’s son Asmund, who fought at the head of his men, forced his way forward against Hadding himself, with his shield thrown on his back, and with both his hands on the hilt of a sword which felled all before it.

Then Hadding invoked the gods who were the friends of himself and his race (Hadingo familiarium sibi numinum prćsidia postulante subito Vagnophtus partibus ejus propugnatiurus advehitur), and then Vagnhofde is brought (advehitur) by sonic one of these gods to the battle-field and suddenly stands by Hadding’s side, swinging a crooked sword * against Asmund, while Hadding hurls his spear against him. This statement in Saxo corresponds with and explains the old English strophe’s reference to a quick journey which Vagn made to help Heardingas against Ing, and it is also illustrated by a passage in Grimnismal, 49, which, in connection with Odin’s appearance at Asmund’s, tells that he once by the name Kjalar "drew Kjalki " (mic heto Jale at Asmundar, cnn ţa Kialar, er ec Kialka dró). The word amid name Kjálki, as also Sledi, is used as a paraphrase of the word and name Vagn.‡ Thus Odin has once "drawn Vagn" (wagon). The meaning of this is clear from what is stated above. Hadding calls on Odin, who is the friend of him and of his cause, and Odin, who on a former occasion has carried Hadding on Sleipner’s back through the air, now brings, in the same or a similar manner, Vagnhofde to the battle-field, and places him near his foster-son. This episode is also interesting froni the fact that we can draw from it the conclusion that the skalds who celebrated the first great war in their songs made the gods influence the fate of the battle, not directly but indirectly. Odin mnight himself have saved his favourite, arid he might have slain Svipdag’s son Asmund with his spear Gungner; but lie does not do so; instead, he brings Vagnhofde to protect him. This is well calculated from an epic standpoint, while dii ex machina, when they appear in person on the battle-field with their superhuman strength, diminish the effect of the deeds of mortal heroes, and deprive every distress in which they have taken part of its more earnest significance. Homer never violated this rule without injury to the honour either of his gods or of his heroes.

* The crooked sword, as it appears from several passages in the sagas, has long been regarded by our heathen ancestors as a foreign form of weapon, used by the giants, but not by the gods or by the heroes of Midgard.

‡ Compare Fornald., ii. 118, where the hero of the saga cries to Gusi, who comes running after him with " 2 hreina ok vagn "—Skrid du af kjalka, Kyrr du hreina, seggr sidförull seg hvattu heitir!

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Chapters 20-29 / Chapters 40-49