Legendary Sagas of the Northland
in English Translation
|Norna-Gestr Saga||The Story of Norna-Gest|
|Early 14th century||
Translated by Nora Kershaw
|1. Gestr kom til Óláfs konungs||Chapter 1.|
Svá er sagt, at á einum tíma, þá er Óláfr konungr
Tryggvason sat í Þrándheimi, bar svá til, at einn maðr kom til hans at
áliðnum degi ok kvaddi hann sæmiliga. Konungr tók honum vel ok spurði,
hverr hann væri, en hann sagðist Gestr heita.
Konungr svarar: "Gestr muntu hér vera, hversu sem þú heitir."
Gestr svarar: "Satt segi ek til nafns míns, herra, en gjarna vilda ek at yðr gisting þiggja, ef kostr væri." Konungr sagði honum þat til reiðu vera. En með því at áliðinn var dagr, vildi konungr ekki tala við gestinn, því at hann gekk þá skjótt til aptansöngs ok síðan til borðs ok þá til svefns ok náða. Ok á þeiri sömu nótt vakti Óláfr konungr Tryggvason í sæng sinni ok las bænir sínar, en aðrir menn allir sváfu í því herbergi. Þá þótti konungi einn álfr eða andi nokkurr koma inn í húsit ok þó at luktum dyrum öllum. Hann kom fyrir rekkju hvers manns, er þar svaf, ok at lyktum kom hann til sængr eins manns, er þar lá utarliga. Þá mælti álfrinn ok nam staðar: "Furðu sterkr láss er hér fyrir tómu húsi, ok er konungr eigi jafnvíss um slíkt sem aðrir láta, er hann sé allra manna spakastr, er hann sefr nú svá fast." Eptir þat hverfr sá á brott at luktum dyrum.
En snemma um morgininn eptir sendi konungr skósvein sinn at verða víss, hverr þessa sæng hafði byggt um nóttina; prófaðist svá, at þar hafði legit gestrinn.
Konungr lét kalla hann fyrir sik ok spurði, hvers son hann væri. En hann svarar: "Þórðr hét faðir
"Þrifligr maðr ertu," segir konungr.
Gestr sjá var djarfr í orðum ok meiri en flestir menn aðrir, sterkligr ok nokkut hniginn í efra aldr. Hann biðr konung at dveljast þá lengr með hirðinni. Konungr spurði, ef hann væri kristinn. Gestr lézt vera prímsigndr, en eigi skírðr. Konungr sagði honum heimilt at vera með hirðinni, -- "en skamma stund muntu með mér óskírðr." En því hafði álfrinn svá til orðs tekit um lásinn, at Gestr signdi sik um kveldit sem aðrir menn, en var þó reyndar heiðinn. Konungr mælti: "Ertu nokkurr íþróttamaðr?" Hann kvaðst leika á hörpu eða segja sögur, svá at gaman þætti at Konungr sagði þá: "Illa gerir Sveinn konungr þat, at hann lætr óskírða menn fara ór ríki sínu landa á meðal." Gestr svarar: "Ekki er þat Dana konungi at kenna, því at miklu fyrr fór ek burt ór Danmörk en Ottó keisari lét brenna Danavirki ok kúgaði Harald konung Gormsson ok Hákon blótjarl at taka við kristni."
Margra hluta spyrr konungr Gest, en hann leysti flest vel ok vitrliga.
Svá segja menn, at Gestr þessi kæmi á þriðja ári ríkis Ólafs konungs til hans. Á því ári kómu ok til hans þeir menn, er Grímar hétu ok váru sendir af Guðmundi af Glasisvöllum. Þeir færðu konungi horn tvau er Guðmundr gaf honum. Þau kölluðu þeir ok Gríma. Þeir höfðu ok fleiri erendi til konungs, sem síðar mun sagt verða.
Nú er þat at segja, at Gestr dvaldist með konungi. Er honum skipat utar frá gestum. Hann var siðsamr maðr ok látaðr vel. Var hann ok þokkasamr af flestum mönnum ok virðist vel.
I. The story goes that on one occasion when King Olaf
Tryggvason was living at Trondhjem, it chanced that a man came to him late in
the day and addressed him respectfully. The King welcomed him and asked him who
he was, and he said that his name was Guest.
The King answered: "You shall be guest here, whatever you are called."
Guest said: "I have told you my name truly, Sire, and I will gladly receive your hospitality if I may."
The King told him he could have it readily. But since the day was far spent, the King would not enter into conversation with his guest; for he was going soon to vespers, and after that to dinner, and then to bed and to sleep.
Now on that same night King Olaf Tryggvason was lying awake in his bed and saying his prayers, while all the other men in the hall were asleep. Then the King noticed that an elf or spirit of some kind had come into the hall, though all the doors were locked. He made his way past the beds of the men who were asleep there, one after another, and at last reached the bed of a man at the far end.
Then the elf stopped and said: "An empty house, and a mighty strong bolt on the door! People say that the King is the wisest of men. If he were as clever in things of this kind as they say he would not sleep so soundly."
After that he vanished through the door, locked as it was.
Early next morning the King sent his servant to find out who had occupied that bed over night, and it proved to have been the stranger. The King ordered him to be summoned before him and asked him whose son he was.
He answered: "My father's name was Thorth. He was a Dane and was called 'The Contentious,' and lived at a place called Groening in Denmark."
"You are a well set-up man," said the King.
Guest was bold of speech, and bigger in build than most men. He looked strong but was somewhat advanced in years. He asked the King if he might stay for a while in his retinue. The King asked if he were baptised. Guest said that he had been prime-signed but not baptised. The King said that he was free to remain in his retinue, but added:
"You will not remain long unbaptised with me."
The reason for the elf's remark about the bolt was that Guest had crossed himself, that evening like other men, but was in reality still a heathen.
The King said: "Can you do anything in the way of sport or music?"
He replied that he could play the harp and tell stories which people enjoyed.
Then said the King: "King Svein has no right to let unbaptised men leave his kingdom and wander about from one country to another."
Guest replied: "You must not blame the King of the Danes for this, for it is a long time since I left Denmark. In fact it was a long time before the Emperor Otto burnt the Dane-work and forced King Harold Gormsson and Earl Haakon the Heathen to become Christians."
The King questioned Guest about many subjects and he always gave him good and intelligent answers. Men say that it was in the third year of King Olaf's reign that Guest came to him.
In this year also there came to him two men called Grim who were sent by Guthmund from Glasisvellir. They brought to the King as a present from Guthmund two horns which were also called 'Grim.' They had also some further business with the King which we will return later.
As for Guest, he remained with the King, and had a place at the far end of the visitors' seats. He was a man of breeding and had good manners, and was popular and much respected by everyone.
|2. Veðjan Gests ok hirðmanna||Chapter 2|
Litlu fyrir jól kom Úlfr heim inn rauði
ok sveit manna með honum. Hann hafði verit um sumarit í konungs erendum, því at
hann var settr til landsgæzlu um haustit í Víkinni við áhlaupum Dana. Var hann
jafnan vanr at vera með Óláfi konungi um hávetri.
Hann spyrr: "Lízt yðr vel á hringinn?
"Allvel," sögðu þeir, "utan Gesti inum nýkomna. Honum finnst ekki til, ok þat hyggjum vér, at hann kunni ekki til at sjá, at hann anzar ekki um slíka hluti." Herbergis sveinninn gengr innar fyrir konung ok segir honum þessi in sömu orð gestanna ok þessi inn komni gestr, hversu hann anzaði lítt til þessa gripar, er honum var sýnd slík gersimi.
Konungr sagði þá: "Gestr inn komni mun fleira vita en þér munuð ætla, ok skal hann koma til mín í morgin ok segja mér nokkura sögu." Nú talast þeir við gestirnir utar á bekkinn. Þeir spyrja inn nýkomna gest, hvar hann hefir sét jafngóðan hring eða betra. Gestr svarar: "Með því at yðr þykkir undarligt, at ek tala svá fátt til, þá hefi ek víst sét þat gull, at engum mun er verra, nema betra sýnist." Nú hlæja konungsmenn mjök ok segja, at þar horfist til gamans mikils, -- "ok muntu vilja veðja við oss, at þú hafir sét jafngott gull sem þetta, svá at þú megir þat sanna. Skulum vér við setja fjórar merkr gangsilfrs, en þú kníf þinn ok belti, ok skal konungr um segja, hvárir sannara hafa."
Hætta þeir nú sínu tali. Tekr Gestr hörpu sína ok
slær vel ok lengi um kveldit, svá at öllum þykkir unað í á at heyra, ok
slær þó Gunnarsslag bezt. Ok at lyktum slær hann Guðrúnarbrögð in fornu.
Þau höfðu menn eigi fyrr heyrt. Ok eptir þat sváfu menn af um nóttina.
A little before Yule, Ulf the Red and his following came home. He had been
engaged on the King's business all summer, for he had been appointed to guard
the coasts of 'The Bay' against Danish raids. He never failed to be with King
Olaf at mid-winter.
|3. Gestr vann veðféit||Chapter 3.|
Konungr stendr snemma upp um morguninn ok hlýðir tíðum. Ok er þeim er lokit, gengr konungr til borðs með hirð sinni. Ok er hann er kominn í hásæti, gengr gestasveitin innar fyrir konung ok Gestr með þeim ok segja honum sín ummæli öll ok veðjan þá, sem þeir höfðu haft áðr.
Konungr svarar: "Lítit er mér um veðjan yðra, þó at þér setið peninga yðra við. Get ek þess til, at yðr hafi drykkr í höfuð fengit, ok þykki mér ráð, at þér hafið at engu, allra helzt ef Gesti þykkir svá betr."
Gestr svarar: "Þat vil ek, at haldist öll ummæli vár."
"Svá lízt mér á þik, Gestr, at mínir menn muni hafa mælt sik í þaular um þetta mál meir en þú, en þó mun þat nú skjótt reynt verða."
Eptir þat gengu þeir í brott, ok fóru menn at drekka. Ok er drykkjuborð váru upp tekin, lætr konungr kalla Gest ok talar svá til hans:
"Nú verðr þú skyldr til at bera fram gull nokkut, ef þú hefir til, svá at ek megi segja um veðjanina með yðr."
"Þat munu þér vilja, herra," sagði Gestr.
Hann þreifar þá til sjóðs eins, er hann hafði við sik, ok tók þar upp eitt knýti ok leysir til ok fær í hendr konungi. Konungr sér, at þetta er brotit af söðulhringju, ok sér, at þetta er allgott gull. Hann biðr þá taka hringinn Hnituð.
Ok er svá var gert, berr konungr saman gullit ok hringinn ok mælti síðan: "Víst lízt mér þetta betra gull, er Gestr hefir fram borit, ok svá mun lítast fleirum mönnum, þó at sjái."
Sönnuðu þetta þá margir menn með konungi. Síðan sagði hann Gesti veðféit. Þóttust gestirnir þá ósvinnir við orðnir um þetta mál.
Gestr mælti þá: "Takið fé yðvart sjálfir, því at ek þarf eigi at hafa, en veðið ekki optar við ókunna menn, því at eigi viti þér, hvern þér hittið þann fyrir, at bæði hefir fleira sét ok heyrt en þér. En þakka vil ek yðr, herra, órskurðinn."
Konungr mælti þá: "Nú vil ek, at þú segir, hvaðan þú fekkt gull þat, er þú ferr með."
Gestr svarar: "Trauðr em ek þess, því at þat mun flestum þykkja ótrúligt, er ek segi þar til."
"Þó viljum vér heyra," segir konungr, "með því at þú hefir oss áðr heitit sögu þinni."
Gestr svarar: "Ef ek segi yðr, hversu farit er um gullit, þá get ek, at þér vilið heyra aðra sögu hér með."
"Vera má þat," segir konungr, "at rétt getir þú þessa."
In the morning the King rose early and heard Mass; and after that he
went to breakfast with his retinue. And when he had taken his place in
the high seat, the guests came up to him, and Guest with them; and they
told him all about their agreement and the wager which they had made.
"I am not much taken with your wager," replied the King, "although it is your own money that you are staking. I suspect that the drink must have gone to your heads; and I think you would do well to give it up, especially if Guest agrees.""My wish is," replied Guest, "that the whole agreement should stand.""It looks to me, Guest," said the King, "as if it was my men rather than you whose tongues have got them into trouble; but we will soon put it to the test."After that they left him and went to drink; and when the drinking tables were removed, the King summoned Guest and spoke to him as follows:
"Now is the time for you to produce the gold if you have any, so that I can decide your wager."
"As you will, Sire!" replied Guest.
Then he felt in a pouch which he had with him, and took out of it a fob which he untied, and then handed something to the King.
The King saw that it was a piece of a saddle-buckle and that it was of exceedingly fine gold. Then he bade them bring the ring Hnituth; and when they did so, the King compared the ring and the piece of gold and said:"I have no doubt whatever that the gold which Guest has shown us is the finer, and anyone who looks at it must think so too."
Everybody agreed with the King. Then he decided the wager in Guest's favour, and the other guests came to the conclusion that they had made fools of themselves over the business.
Then Guest said: "Take your money and keep it yourselves, for I don't need it; but don't make any more wagers with strangers, for you never know when you may hit upon someone who has both seen and heard more than you have.—I thank you, Sire, for your decision!"
Then the King said: "Now I want you to tell me where you got that gold from, which you carry about with you."
Guest replied: "I am loth to tell you, because no-one will believe what I have to say about it.""Let us hear it all the same," said the King, "for you promised before that you would tell us your story."
"If I tell you the history of this piece of gold," replied Guest, "I expect you will want to hear the rest of my story along with it."
"I expect that that is just what will happen," said the King.
|4. Gestr segir frá Völsungum||Chapter 4.|
"Þá mun ek segja frá því, er ek fór suðr í Frakkland. Vilda ek
forvitnast um konungs siðu ok mikit ágæti, er fór frá Sigurði
Sigmundarsyni um vænleik hans ok þroska. Varð þá ekki til tíðenda, fyrr
en ek kom til Frakklands ok til móts við Hjálprek konung. Hann hafði
mikla hirð um sik. Þar var þá Sigurðr Sigmundarson, Völsungssonar, ok
Hjördísar Eylimadóttur. Sigmundr fell í orrustu fyrir Hundings sonum, en
Hjördís giftist Hálfi, syni Hjálpreks konunngs. Vex Sigurðr þar upp í
barnæsku ok allir synir Sigmundar konungs. Váru þeir um fram alla menn
um afl ok vöxt, Sinfjötli ok Helgi, er drap Hunding konung, ok því var
hann Hundingsbani kallaðr. Þriði hét Hámundr. Sigurðr var þó allra þeira
bræðra framast. Er mönnum þat ok kunnigt, at Sigurðr hefir verit
göfgastr allra herkonunga ok bezt at sér í fornum sið.
Þá var ok kominn til Hjálpreks konungs Reginn, sonr Hreiðmars. Hann var hverjum manni hagari ok dvergr á vöxt, vitr maðr, grimmr ok fjölkunnigr. Reginn kenndi Sigurði marga hluti ok elskaði hann mjök. Hann sagði þá frá foreldrum sínum ok svá atburðum undarligum, er þar höfðu gerzt.
Ok er ek hafða skamma stund þar verit, gerðumst ek þjónustumaðr Sigurðar sem margir aðrir. Allir elskuðu hann mjök, því at hann var bæði blíðr ok lít
IV. "Then I will tell you how once I went south into the land of the Franks. I wanted to see for myself what sort of a prince Sigurth the son of Sigmund was, and to discover if the reports which had reached me of his great beauty and courage were true. Nothing happened worth mentioning until I came to the land of the Franks and met King Hjalprek. He had a great court around him. Sigurth, the son of Sigmund, the son of Völsung, and of Hjördis, the daughter of Eylimi, was there at that time. Sigmund had fallen in battle against the sons of Hunding, and Hjördis had married Alf the son of King Hjalprek. There Sigurth grew up together with all the other sons of King Sigmund. Among these were Sinfjötli and Helgi, who surpassed all men in strength and stature. Helgi slew King Hunding, thereby earning the name Hundingsbani. The third son was called Hamund. Sigurth, however, outstripped all his brothers, and it is a well-known fact that he was the noblest of all warrior princes, and the very model of a king in heathen times.
At that time, Regin, the son of Hreithmar, had also come to King Hjalprek. He was a dwarf in stature, but there was no-one more cunning than he. He was a wise man, but malign and skilled in magic. Regin taught Sigurth many things and was devoted to him. He told him about his birth and his wondrous adventures.
And when I had been there a little while, I entered Sigurth's service like many others. He was very popular with everybody, because he was friendly and unassuming, and generous to all.
|5. Frá Hundingssonum||Chapter 5.|
Þat var einn dag, at vér kómum til húsa Regins, ok var Sigurði þá vel fagnat. Þá kvað Reginn vísu þessa:
"Kominn er hingat
seggr inn snarraði,
til sala várra,
megn hefir mikit,
en ek maðr gamall,
er mér fangs ván
af frekum úlfi."
Ok enn kvað hann:
"Ek mun fræða
Nú er Yngva konr
með oss kominn.
Sjá mun ræsir
ríkstr und sólu,
frægr um lönd
öll með lofi sínu."
Sigurðr var þá jafnan með Regin, ok hann sagði honum margt af Fáfni, er hann lá á Gnitaheiði í orms líki ok at hann var undarliga mik
"Hátt munu hlæja
þeir er Eylima
ef mik tegar
meir at sækja
en hefna föður."
V. It chanced one day that we came to Regin's house and Sigurth was made welcome there. Then Regin spoke these verses:
The son of Sigmund cometh to our hall,
A valiant warrior.
It must needs befall
That I, less doughty and oppressed with age,
Shall fall a victim to his wolfish rage.
But I will cherish Yngvi's valorous heir,
Since Fate hath sent him hither to our care,
Train him to be, in valour and in worth,
The mightiest and most famous prince on earth.
At this time, Sigurth was constantly in Regin's company. Regin told him much about Fafnir—how he dwelt upon Gnitaheith in the form of a serpent, and also of his wondrous size. Regin made for Sigurth a sword called Gram. It was so sharp that when he thrust it into the River Rhine it cut in two a flock of wool which he had dropped into the river and which was drifting down stream, cutting it just as clean as it did the water itself. Later on, Sigurth clove Regin's stithy with the sword. After that Regin urged Sigurth to slay his brother Fafnir and Sigurth recited this verse:
The sons of Hunding would laugh loud and high,
Who shed the life-blood of King Eylimi,
If that his grandson bold should more desire
Rings of red gold than vengeance for his sire.
After that Sigurth made ready an expedition to attack the sons of Hunding; and King Hjalprek gave him many men and some warships. Hamund, Sisurth's brother, was with him on this venture, and so was Regin the dwarf. I was present too, and they called me Nornagest. King Hjalprek had got to know me when he was in Denmark with Sigmund the son of Völsung. At that time, Sigmund was married to Borghild, but they parted because Borghild killed Sinfjötli the son of Sigmund by poison. Then Sigmund went south to the land of the Franks and married Hjördis, the daughter of King Eylimi. The sons of Hunding slew him, so Sigurth had both his father and grandfather to avenge.
Helgi, the son of Sigmund, who was called Hundingsbani, was the brother of Sigurth who was afterwards called Fafnisbani. Helgi, Sigurth's brother, had slain King Hunding and three of his sons, Eyjulf, Hervarth, and Hjörvarth, but Lyngvi and his two remaining brothers, Alf and Heming, escaped. They were exceedingly famous for exploits and accomplishments of every kind; but Lyngvi surpassed all his brothers. They were very skilled in magic. They had reduced many petty kings to subjection, and slain many champions, and burnt many cities. They had worked the greatest havoc with their raids in Spain and in the land of the Franks. But at that time the Imperial Power had not yet been transferred to the regions north of the Alps. The sons of Hunding had seized the realm which had belonged to Sigurth in the land of the Franks, and they had very large forces there.
|6. Sigurðr felldi Hundingssonu||
Nú er at segja frá því, er Sigurðr bjóst til bardaga í mót Hundings
sonum. Hann hafði mikit lið ok vel vápnat. Reginn hafði mjök ráðagerð
fyrir liðinu. Hann hafði sverð þat, er Rið
"Hverir ríða hér
Eru segl yður
vind of standask."
Reginn kvað í móti:
á sjá komnir.
Er oss byrr gefinn
við bana sjálfan.
Fellr brattr breki
Hverr spyrr at því?"
þá er hugin gladdi
Völsungr víða ok
Nú máttu kalla
karl á bjargi
Feng eða Fjölni.
Far vil ek þiggja."
Þá vikum vér at landi, ok lægði skjótt veðrit, ok bað Sigurðr karl ganga út á skipit. Hann gerði svá. Þá fell þegar veðrit, ok gerði inn bezta byr.
Karl settist niðr fyrir kné Sigurði ok var mjök makráðr. Hann spurði, ef Sigurðr vildi nokkut ráð af honum þiggja. Sigurðr kveðst vilja, sagðist þat ætla, at hann mundi verða ráðdrjúgr, ef hann vildi mönnum gagn
alls þú hvárttveggja veizt,
Hverjar eru beztar,
ef berjast skal,
ef gumnar vitu
hygg ek ins dökkva vera
af hrottameiði hrafns.
Þat er annat,
ef þú ert út of
kominn ok til
Tvá þú lítr
á tái standa
Þat er it þriðja,
ef þú þjóta heyrir
úlf und asklimum.
þér af hjálmstöfum,
ef þú lítr
þá fyrr fara.
gumna í gegn
vega síð skínandi
Þeir sigr hafa, er sjá kunnu,
eða hamalt fylkja.
Þat er fár mikit,
ef þú fæti drepr,
þá er at vígi vegr:
Tálar dísir standa þér á tvær hliðar Ok vilja þik sáran sjá. Kembdr ok þveginn skal kennast hverr ok at morgni mettr, því at óvíst er, hvat at aptni kemr. Illt er fyr he
Ok eptir þat sigldum vér suðr fyrir Holsetuland ok fyrir austan Frísland ok þar at landi. Þegar fregna Hundings synir um ferð vára ok safna liði ok verða brátt fjölmennir. Ok er vér finnumst, tekst harðr bardagi. Var Lyngvi þeira bræðra fremstr í allri framgöngu. Sóttu þó allir fast fram. Sigurðr sækir i móti svá hart, allt hrökk fyrir honum, því at Sverðit Gramr verðr þeim skeinuhætt, en Sigurði þarf eigi hugar at frýja. Ok er þeir Lyngvi finnast, skiptust þeir mörgum höggum við ok berjast alldjarfliga. Verðr þá hvíld á bardaganum, því at menn horfa á þetta einvígi. Þat var langa hríð, at hvárrgi þeira kom sári á annan, svá váru þeir vígfimir. Síðan sækja bræðr Lyngva fast fram ok drepa margan mann, en sumir flýjsta. Þá snýr Hámundr, bróðir Sigurðar, í móti þeim ok ek með honum. Verðr þá nokkur móttaka. En svá lýkr með þeim Sigurði ok Lyngva, at Sigurðr gerir hann handtekinn, ok var hann settr í járn. En er Sigurðr kom til vár, þá verða skjót umskipti. Falla þá Hundings synir ok allt lið þeira, enda myrkvir þá af nótt.
Ok þá er lýsti um morgininn, var Hnikarr horfinn ok sást eigi síðan. Hyggja menn, at þat hafi Óðinn verit. Var þá um þat talat, hvern dauða Lyngvi skyldi hafa. Reginn lagði þat til ráðs, at rísta skyldi blóðörn á baki honum. Tók Reginn þá við sverði sínu af mér ok reist með því bak Lyngva, svá at hann skar rifin frá hryggnum ok dró þar út lungun. Svá dó Lyngvi með mik
Þá kvað Reginn:
"Nú er blóðugr örn breiðum hjörvi bana Sigmundar á baki ristinn. Fár var fremri, sá er fold rýðr, hilmis nefi, ok hugin gladdi."
Þar var allmikit herfang. Tóku liðsmenn Sigurðar þat allt, því at hann vildi ekki af hafa. Var þar mikit fé í klæðum ok vápnum. Síðan drap Sigurðr þá Fáfni ok Regin, því at hann vildi svíkja hann.
Tók Sigurðr þá gull Fáfnis ok reið á burt með. Var hann síðan kallaðr Fáfnisbani. Eptir þat reið hann upp á Hindarheiði ok fann þar Brynhildi, ok fóru svá þeira skipti sem segir í sögu Sigurðar Fáfnisbana.
VI. Now I must tell you how Sigurth prepared for battle against the sons of Hunding. He had got together a large and well-armed host, and Regin was a mighty man in the councils of the force. He had a sword which was called Rithil and which he had forged himself. Sigurth asked Regin to lend him the sword. He did so, begging him to slay Fafnir when he should return from this adventure, and this Sigurth promised to do.
After that we sailed away south along the coast, and then we met with a great storm raised by witchcraft, and many believed that it had been stirred up by the sons of Hunding. After this we hugged the shore somewhat more closely, and then we saw a man on a rocky promontory which jutted out from the cliffs. He wore a green cloak and dark breeches, and had high laced boots on his feet, and carried a spear in his hand. This man addressed us in the following stanza:
What folk are ye who ride the sea-king's steed,
Mounting the lofty billows, and proceed
Athwart the tossing main? Drenched is your sail,
Nor can your ships against the wind prevail.
Hither come we with Sigurth o'er the foam,
Whom ocean breezes blow to our last home.—
Full soon the breakers, higher than the prow
Will sink our 'ocean-steeds'; but who art thou?
The man in the cloak replied:
Hnikar the name men did for me employ,
Young Völsung, when I gave the raven joy
Of carnage. Call me either of the two—
Fjölnir or Feng, but let me fare with you.
Then we steered towards the land and the wind fell immediately; and Sigurth bade the man come on board. He did so, and a fair breeze sprang up. The man sat down at Sigurth's feet and was very friendly, asking if Sigurth would like to hear some advice from him. Sigurth said that he would, and added that he had an idea that Hnikar could give people very helpful advice if he were willing to turn it to their advantage. Then Sigurth said to the man in the cloak:
O Hnikar, since you know the destiny
Of gods and men, declare this unto me.—
Which are the omens that should most delight
When swords are swinging and a man must fight?
Many propitious signs, if men could know,
Appear when swords are swinging to and fro.
I hold a warrior has a trusty guide
When a dark raven hovers at his side.
I hold it too for a propitious sign
If men to make a journey should design,
And, coming out of doors, see close at hand
Two gallant warriors in the pathway stand.
And if you hear beneath the rowan tree
A howling wolf, the sound spells luck to thee,
And luck shall helmed warriors bring to thee,
If thou such warriors art the first to see.
Facing the sinking and late shining light
Of the Moon's sister, warriors should not fight.
Victory is theirs who, eager for the fray,
Can clearly see to order their array.
I hold it no occasion for delight
When a man stumbles as he goes to fight;
For guileful spirits dog him on his way
With mischief-bearing looks throughout the fray
A man of wisdom, as each day goes past,
Washes, and combs his hair, and breaks his fast.
He knows not where by evening he may be.—
Stumbling is bad luck, boding ill to thee.
Then Lyngvi's brothers made a fierce attack and slew many of our men, while others took to flight. Then Hamund, Sigurth's brother, rushed to meet them, and I joined him, and then there was another encounter.
The end of the affair between Sigurth and Lyngvi was that Sigurth made him prisoner and had him fettered. And when Sigurth joined us, matters very soon changed. Then the sons of Hunding fell and all their host; but then night was coming on. And when day dawned, Hnikar had vanished, and he was never seen again. We came to the conclusion that it must in reality have been Othin.
A discussion then took place as to what death Lyngvi should suffer; Regin counselled that the 'blood eagle' should be carved on his back. Then I handed to Regin his sword and with it he carved Lyngvi's back till he had severed the ribs from the spine; and then he drew out the lungs. Thus died Lyngvi with great courage.
Then Regin said:
Full seldom has a bolder warrior
Reddened the earth than Sigmund's murderer.
Hugin he feasted. Now with biting sword
The 'bloody eagle' on his back is scored.
Afterwards Sigurth slew Fafnir, and Regin also, because Regin had intended to deal treacherously with him. Sigurth took Fafnir's gold and rode away with it, and from that time on he was called Fafnisbani.
After that he rode up to Hindarheith where he found Brynhild. What passed between them is told in the story of Sigurth Fafnisbani.
|7. Frá Sigurði ok Starkaði Stórverkssyni||Chapter 7.|
Síðan fær Sigurðr Guðrúnar Gjúkadóttur. Var hann
þá um hríð með Gjúkungum, mágum sínum. Ek var með Sigurði norðr í
Danmörk. Ek var ok með Sigurði, þá er Sigurðr konungr hringr sendi
Gandálfs sonu, mága sína, til móts við Gjúkunga, Gunnar ok Högna, ok
beiddi, at þeir mundi lúka honum skatt eða þola her ella, en þeir vildu
verja land sitt. Þá hasla Gandálfs synir Gjúkungum völl við landamæri ok
fara aptr síðan. En Gjúkungar biðja Sigurð Fáfnisbana fara til bardaga
með sér. Hann sagði svá vera skyldu. Ek var þá enn með Sigurði. Sigldum
vér þá enn norðr til Holtsetulands ok lendum þar, sem Járnamóðir heitir.
En skammt frá höfninni váru settar upp heslistengr, þar sem orrostan
Sjám vér þá mörg skip sigla norðan. Váru Gandálfs synir fyrir þeim. Sækja þá hvárirtveggja. Sigurðr hringr var eigi þar, því at hann varð at verja land sitt, Svíþjóð, því at Kúrir ok Kvænir herjuðu þangat. Sigurðr var þá gamall mjök. Síðan lýstr saman liðinu, ok verðr þar mikil orrosta ok mannskæð. Gandálfs synir gengu fast fram, því at þeir váru bæði meiri ok sterkari en aðrir menn. Í þeira liði sást einn maðr, mik
Eptir flótta Starkaðar flýja Gandálfs synir. Tókum vér þá mikit herfang, ok fóru síðan konungar heim í ríki sitt ok setjast þar um hríð.
VII. Later on Sigurth married Guthrun the daughter of King Gjuki
and then stayed for a while with his brothers-in-law, the sons of Gjuki.
I returned to the North with Sigurth and was with him in Denmark, and I
was also with him when Sigurth Hring sent his brothers-in-law, the sons
of Gandalf, to Gunnar and Högni, the sons of Gjuki, and demanded that
they should pay him tribute, threatening them with invasion in case they
refused. But they[pg
28]decided to defend their country. Thereupon
Gandalf's sons challenged the sons of Gjuki to a pitched battle on the
frontier, and then returned home; but the sons of Gjuki asked Sigurth
Fafnisbani to go to battle with them, and he agreed to do so. I was
still with Sigurth at that time. Then we sailed again northwards along
the coast of Holstein and landed at a place called Jarnamotha. Not far
from the landing place hazel-wood poles had been set up to mark where
the fight was to take place. Then we saw many ships sailing from the
north under the command of the sons of Gandalf. Then the two hosts
charged one another fiercely. Sigurth Hring was not there, because he
had to defend his own land, Sweden, against the inroads of the Kurir and
Kvænir. Sigurth was a very old man at that time. Then the forces came
into collision, and there was a great battle and much slaughter. The
sons of Gandalf fought bravely, for they were exceptionally big and
strong. In that host there appeared a big strong man who made such
slaughter of men and horses that no-one could withstand him, for he was
more like a giant than a man. Gunnar bade Sigurth go and attack the
scoundrel, adding that as things were, there would be no success. So
Sigurth made ready to encounter the mighty man, and some others went
with him, but most of them were far from eager. We quickly came upon the
mighty man, and Sigurth asked him his name and whence he came. He said
that he was Starkath, the son of Storverk, and that he came from the
North, from Fenhring in Norway. Sigurth said that he had heard reports[pg
29]of him and generally little to his credit,
adding that no mercy ought to be shown towards such people.
Starkath said: "Who is this man who casts insults in my teeth?" Sigurth told him who he was.
Starkath said: "Are you called Fafnisbani?"
Sigurth said he was.
Then Starkath sought to escape, but Sigurth pursued him and swung aloft the sword Gram and struck him on the jaw with the hilt so hard that two molars fell out of his mouth; it was a stunning blow.
Then Sigurth bade the cur take himself off, and Starkath went away, and I picked up one of the teeth and carried it off with me. It is now used on a bell-rope at Lund in Denmark and weighs seven ounces; and people go and look at it there as a curiosity.
As soon as Starkath had run away, the sons of Gandalf took to flight, and we captured great booty; and after that Sigurth went home to his realm and remained there for a while.
|8. Hversu Gestr eignaðist gullit||Chapter 8.|
Litlu síðar heyrðum vér getit níðingsvígs
Starkaðar, er hann hafði drepit Ála konung í laugu. Var þat einn dag, at Sigurðr Fáfnisbani reið til
einhverrar stefnu, þá reið hann í einhverja veisu, en hestrinn Grani
hljóp upp svá hart, at í sundr stökk brjóstgjörðin ok fell niðr
hringjan. En er ek sá, hvar at hún glóaði í leirinum, tók ek upp ok
færða ek Sigurði, en hann gaf mér. Hafi þér nú fyrir litlu sét þetta
sama gull. Þá stökk Sigurðr af baki, en ek strauk hest hans, ok þó ek
leir af honum, ok tók ek einn lepp ór tagli hans til sýnis vaxtar hans."
Sýndi Gestr þá leppinn, ok var hann sjau álna hár.
Óláfr konungr mælti: "Gaman mikit þykki mér at
sögum þínum." Lofuðu nú allir frásagnir hans ok frækleik. Vildi
konungr, at hann segði miklu fleira um atburði frænda sinna. Segir Gestr
þeim marga gamansamliga hluti allt til aptans. Fóru menn þá at sofa.
En um morgininn eptir lét konungr kalla Gest ok v
Konungr mælti: "Segja skaltu víst."
A short time after, we heard that Starkath had committed a foul murder, slaying King Ali in his bath. It chanced one day that as Sigurth Fafnisbani was riding to some gathering or other, he rode into a muddy pool, and his horse Grani leapt up so wildly that his saddle-girth burst asunder and the buckle fell to the ground. And when I saw where it lay shining in the mud, I picked it up and handed it to Sigurth; but he said that I might keep it. It was that very piece of gold that you were looking at a short time ago. Then Sigurth got down from his horse, and I rubbed it down and washed the mud off it; and I[pg 30]pulled a lock of hair out of its tail as a proof of its great size." Then Guest showed the lock and it was seven ells long. King Olaf said: "I think your stories are very entertaining." Everybody praised his stories and his talent. Then the King wanted him to tell them much more about the adventures he had met with on his travels. So Guest told them many amusing stories till late in the evening. It was then time to go to bed; but next morning the King sent for Guest, and wanted to talk to him still further. The King said: "I can't quite make out your age and how you can be old enough to have been present when these events took place. You will have to tell another story so as to make us better acquainted with things of this kind." Guest replied: "I suspected before that you would want to hear another of my stories, if I told you what had happened about the gold." "You must certainly tell me some more," replied the King.
|9. Frá Brynhildi ok Loðbrókarsonum||Chapter 9|
"Þá er nú enn at segja," segir Gestr, "at ek fór
norðr til Danmerkr, ok settumst ek þar at föðurleifð minni, því at hann andaðist
skjótt. Ok litlu síðar frétta ek dauða Sigurðar ok svá Gjúkunga, ok þótti mér
þat mikil tíðendi."
Konungr mælti: "Hvat varð Sigurði at bana?"
Gestr svarar: "Sú er flestra manna sögn, at Guttormr Gjúkason legði hann sverði í gegnum sofanda í sæng Guðrúnar. En þýðverskir menn segja Sigurð drepinn hafa verit úti á skógi. En igðurnar sögðu svá, at Sigurðr ok Gjúka synir hefði riðit til þings nokkurs ok þá dræpi þeir hann. En þat er alsagt, at þeir vágu at honum liggjanda ok óvörum ok sviku hann í tryggð."
En hirðmaðr einn spyrr: "Hversu fór Brynhildr þá með?"
Gestr svarar: "Þá drap Brynhildr sjau þræla sína ok fimm ambáttir, en lagði sik sverði í gegnum ok bað sik aka með þessa menn til báls ok brenna sik dauða. Ok svá var gert, at henni var gert annat bál, en Sigurði annat, ok var hann fyrri brenndr en Brynhildr. Henni var ekit í reið einni, ok var tjaldat um guðvef ok purpura, ok glóaði allt við gull, ok svá var hún brennd."
Þá spurðu menn Gest, hvárt Brynhildr hefði nokkut kveðit dauð.
Hann kvað þat satt vera. Þeir báðu hann kveða, ef hann kynni. Þá mælti Gestr: "Þá er Brynhildi var ekit til brennunnar á helveg, ok var farit með hana nær hömrum nokkurum. Þar bjó ein gýgr. Hún var úti fyrir hellis dyrum ok var í skinnkyrtli ok svört yfirlits.
Hún hefir í hendi sér skógarvönd langan ok mælti: "Þessu vil ek beina til brennu þinnar, Brynhildr, ok væri betr, at þú værir lifandi brennd fyrir ódáðir þínar þær, at þú lézt drepa Sigurð Fáfnisbana, svá ágætan mann, ok opt var ek honum sinnuð, ok fyrir þat skal ek ljóða á þik með hefndarorðum þeim, at öllum sér þú at leiðari, er slíkt heyra frá þér sagt."
Eptir þetta ljóðast þær á, Brynhildr ok gýgr. Gýgr kvað:
Þá æpti gýgr ógurligri röddu ok hljóp inn í bjargit.Þá sögðu hirðmenn konungs: "Gaman er þetta, ok segðu enn fleira."
Konungr mælti: "Eigi er nauðsyn at segja fleira frá þvílíkum hlutum."
Konungr mælti: "Vartu nokkut með Loðbrókar sonum?"
Gestr svarar: "Skamma stund var ek með þeim. Ek kom til þeira, þá er þeir herjuðu suðr at Mundíafjalli ok brutu Vífilsborg. Þá var allt við þá hrætt, því at þeir höfðu sigr, hvar sem þeir kómu, ok þá ætluðu þeir at fara til Rómaborgar. Þat var einn dag, at maðr nokkurr kom fyrir Björn konung járnsíðu ok heilsar honum. Konungr tekr honum vel ok spurði, hvaðan hann væri at kominn. Hann sagðist kominn sunnan frá Rómaborg.
Konungr spurði: "Hvé langt er þangat?"
"Hér máttu sjá, konungr, skó, er ek hefi á fótum." Tekr hann þá járnskó af fótum sér, ok váru allþykkir ofan, en mjök slitnir neðan. "Svá er löng leið heðan til Rómaborgar sem þér meguð nú sjá á skóm mínum, hversu hart at þeir hafa þolat."
Konungr mælti: "Furðu löng leið er þetta at fara, ok munum vér aptr snúa ok herja eigi á Rómaríki."
Konungr sagði: "Auðsýnt var þat, at helgir menn í Róma vildu eigi yfirgang þeira þangat, ok mun sá andi af guði sendr verit hafa, at svá skiptist skjótt þeira fyrirætlan at gera ekki spellvirki inum helgasta stað Jesú Kristí í Rómaborg."
IX. "I must tell you then," Guest began, "that I went north to Denmark and there settled down on my estate, for my father had died a short time before; and a little later I heard of the death of Sigurth and the sons of Gjuki, and I felt that that was news indeed."
"What was the cause of Sigurth's death?" asked the King.
Guest replied: "It is generally believed that Guthorm the son of Gjuki ran a sword through him[pg 31]while he was asleep in bed with Guthrun. On the other hand, Germans say that Sigurth was slain out in the forest. In the Guthrúnar-rætha again it is stated that Sigurth and the sons of Gjuki had ridden to a gathering and that they slew him then. But one thing is agreed by all—that they set on him when he was down and off his guard, and that they were guilty of gross treachery towards him."
Then one of the retinue asked:
"How did Brynhild behave then?"
Guest answered: "Brynhild then slew seven of her slaves and five handmaidens, and ran herself through with a sword, commanding that she should be taken to the pyre along with these people and burned beside Sigurth. This was done, one pile being made for Sigurth and another for Brynhild, and he was burned first, and then Brynhild. She was taken in a chariot with a canopy of velvet and silk which was all ablaze with gold, and thus was she burnt."
Then Guest was asked if Brynhild had chanted a lay after she was dead. He replied that she had, and they asked him to recite it if he could.
Then Guest said: "As Brynhild was being driven to the pyre on the way to Hell, she was brought near some cliffs where an ogress dwelt. The ogress was standing outside the doors of her cave and wore a skin kirtle and was of a blackish hue. She carried a long faggot in her hand and cried:
'This will I contribute to your burning, Brynhild. It would have been better if you had been burned while you were still alive, before you were guilty of getting such a splendid man as Sigurth Fafnisbani slain. I was always friendly to him and therefore I shall attack[pg 32]you in a reproachful song which will make you hated by everybody who hears what you have done.'
After that Brynhild and the ogress chanted to one another.
The ogress sang as follows:
Thou shalt not be suffered to pass through my courts
With their pillars of stone in my mansion drear,—
Better far wert thou busied at home with thy needle!
Not thine is the husband thou followest here.
Inconstant soul, why comest thou hither?
From the land of the Romans why visit'st thou me?
Full many a wolf hast thou made be partaker
Of the life-blood of men who were butchered by thee!
Then cried Brynhild:
Upbraid me no more from thy rock bound dwelling
For battles I fought in the days of old.—
Thou wilt not be deemed to be nobler of nature
Than I, wheresoever our story is told!
In an evil hour, O Buthli's daughter,In an evil hour wert thou brought to birth.—
The Sons of Gjuki thou gavest to slaughter,
Their noble dwellings thou rased'st to earth.
O thou lying soul, will I tell to thee;—
How empty of love and o'ershadowed by falsehood
The life that the Gjukings had destined for me!
Atli's daughter was I, yet the monarch bold-hearted
Assigned me a home neath the shade of the oak.
But twelve summers old, if thou carest to hearken,
Was this maid when her vows to the hero she spoke.
Hjalmgunnar the Old, of the Gothic nation,
Great chief, on the pathway to Hell did I speed;
And victory granted to Auth's young brother;
Then Othin's dread fury was roused at my deed.
Then a phalanx of bucklers did Othin set round me
On Skatalund's heights, shields crimson and white,—
Bade only that prince break the slumber that bound me
Who knew naught of terror, nor shrank from the fight.
And flames high towering and fiercely raging
Round my Southern hall did he set in a ring:
None other was destined to pass through in safety
Save the hero who treasure of Fafnir should bring.
The generous hero with treasure a-gleaming,
The Danish viking on Grani rode,—
Foremost champion in deeds of valour— Where my foster-father had his abode.
As brother with sister we slept together;
Eight nights' space he lay at my side.
There were we happy and slumbered idly,
Nor loving caresses did ever betide.
Yet Guthrun the daughter of Gjuki reviled me,
That I in the arms of her lover had slept.
O then was I 'ware of the thing I desired not—
The truth of my marriage from me had they kept.
All too long against storms of adversity struggling
Both women and men seek their fortunes to right;
But I with my Sigurth shall end my life's battle
At last. Now depart from me, daughter of Night!
Then the ogress gave a horrible shriek and leapt into the cliff."
Then the King's followers cried: "That's fine! Go on and tell us some more!"
Guest replied: "I was only with them for a short time; I joined them when they were making an expedition to the south in the neighbourhood of the Alps, and when they destroyed Vifilsborg. Panic spread everywhere at their approach, for they were victorious wherever they went. They were intending at the time to go to Rome. It chanced one day that a certain man came up to King Björn Ironside and saluted him. The King received him in a friendly way and asked him whence he came. He said that he had come from the south, from Rome.
The King asked him: 'How long is the journey there?'
He replied: 'You can see here, O King, the shoes which I am wearing.'
Then he took iron-bound shoes from his feet, and the tops of them were very thick, but underneath they were all torn.
'You can see now how severely my shoes have suffered,' said he, 'and tell by that what a long way it is from here to Rome.'
'It must be a very long way,' said the King; 'I shall turn back and give up the idea of attacking the territories of Rome.'
And the result was that they went no further on their way; and everyone thought it extraordinary that they should change their minds so suddenly at the word of one man, when they had all their plans laid. So after this the sons of Lothbrok went back to their homes in the north, and made no further raids in the south."[pg 35]
The King said: "It is clear that the saints in Rome would not allow them to make their way there. The man you spoke of must have been a Spirit sent from God to make them change their minds so quickly, so as not to bring destruction on Rome, the most holy place of Jesus Christ."
|10. Hvar Gesti þótti bezt hirðvist||Chapter 10|
Enn spurði konungr Gest: "Hvar hefir þú þess komit til konunga, er þér hefir bezt þótt?"
Gestr segir: "Mest gleði þótti mér með Sigurði ok Gjúkungum. En þeir Loðbrókar synir váru menn sjálfráðastir at lifa sem menn vildu. En með Eireki at Uppsölum var sæla mest. En Haraldr konungr hárfagri var vandastr at hirðsiðum allra fyrrnefndra konunga. Ek var ok með Hlöðvé konungi á Saxlandi, ok þar var ek prímsigndr því at ek mátti eigi þar vera elligar, því at þar var kristni vel haldin, ok þar þótti mér at öllu bezt."
Konungr mælti: "Mörg tíðendi muntu segja kunna, ef vér viljum spyrja." Konungr fréttir nú margs Gest. En Gestr segir þat allt greiniliga, ok um síðir talar hann svá: "Nú má ek segja yðr, hví at ek em Norna-Gestr kallaðr." Konungr sagðist þat heyra vilja.
X. Then the King asked Guest: "Amongst the kings whom you
have visited, whose was the court that you liked best?"
|11. Nornir spáðu Gesti||Chapter 11|
"Þar var, þá er ek var fæddr upp með föður mínum í þeim stað, er Græningr heitir. Faðir minn var ríkr at peningum ok helt ríkuliga herbergi sín. Þar fóru þá um landit völur, er kallaðar váru spákonur ok spáðu mönnum aldr. Því buðu menn þeim ok gerðu þeim veizlur ok gáfu þeim gjafir at skilnaði. Faðir minn gerði ok svá, ok kómu þær til hans með sveit manna, ok skyldu þær spá mér örlög. Lá ek þá í vöggu, er þær skyldu tala um mitt mál. Þá brunnu yfir mér tvau kertisljós. Þær mæltu þá til mín ok sögðu mik mikinn auðnumann verða mundu ok meira en aðra mína foreldra eða höfðingja syni þar í landi ok sögðu allt svá skyldu fara um mitt ráð. In yngsta nornin þóttist of lítils metin hjá hinum tveimr, er þær spurðu hana eigi eptir slíkum spám, er svá váru mikils verðar. Var þar ok mikil ribbalda sveit, er henni hratt ór sæti sínu, ok fell hún til jarðar.
Af þessu varð hún ákafa stygg. Kallar hún þá hátt ok reiðiliga ok bað hinar hætta svá góðum ummælum við mik, --"því at ek skapa honum þat, at hann skal eigi lifa lengr en kerti þat brennr, er upp er tendrat hjá sveininum."
Eptir þetta tók in ellri völvan kertit ok slökkti ok biðr móður mína varðveita ok kveykja eigi fyrr en á síðasta degi lífs míns. Eptir þetta fóru spákonur í burt ok bundu ina ungu norn ok hafa hana svá í burt, ok gaf faðir minn þeim góðar gjafir at skilnaði. Þá er ek em roskinn maðr, fær móðir mín mér kerti þetta til varðveizlu. Hefi ek þat nú með mér."
Konungr mælti: "Hví fórtu nú hingað til vár?"
Gestr svarar: "Þessu sveif mé í skap. Ætlaða ek mik af þér nokkura auðnu hljóta mundu, því at þér hafið fyrir mér verit mjök lofaðr af góðum mönnum ok virtum." Konungr sagði: "Viltu nú taka helga skírn?"
Gestr svarar: "Þar vil ek gera at yðru ráði."
Var nú svá gert, ok tók konungr hann í kærleika við sik ok gerði hann hirðmann sinn. Gestr varð trúmaðr mikill ok fylgdi vel konungs siðum. Var hann ok vinsæll af mönnum.
XI. Guest began: "I was brought up at my father's home at a place called Groening. My father was a wealthy man and kept house in great style. At that time wise women used to go about the country. They were called 'spae-wives,' and they[pg 36]foretold people's futures. For this reason people used to invite them to their houses and gave them hospitality and bestowed gifts on them at parting.
My father did the same, and they came to him with a great following to foretell my fate. I was lying in my cradle when the time came for them to prophesy about me, and two candles were burning above me. Then they foretold that I should be a favourite of Fortune, and a greater man than any of my kindred or forbears—greater even than the sons of the chief men in the land; and they said that all would come to pass just as it has done. But the youngest Norn thought that she was not receiving enough attention compared with the other two, since they were held in high account yet did not consult her about these prophecies. There was also a great crowd of roughs present, who pushed her off her seat, so that she fell to the ground. She was much vexed at this and called out loudly and angrily, telling them to stop prophesying such good things about me:
'For I ordain that the boy shall live no longer than that candle burns which is alight beside him.'
Then the eldest spae-wife took the candle and extinguished it and bade my mother take charge of it and not light it until the last day of my life. After that the spae-wives went away, and my father gave them good gifts at parting. When I was full-grown, my mother gave me the candle to take charge of: I have it with me now."
The King said: "Why have you come here to me now?"
The King said: "Will you receive holy baptism now?"
Guest replied: "Yes, I will, since you advise it."
So it came to pass; and the King took him into his favour and made him one of his retinue. Guest became a very good Christian and loyally followed the King's rules of life. He was also popular with everybody.
|12. Dauði Gests||Chapter 12|
Þat var einn dag, at konungr spurði Gest: "Hversu
lengi vildir þú nú lifa, ef þú réðir?"
Gestr svarar: "Skamma stund heðan af, ef guð vildi þat."
Konungr mælti: "Hvat mun líða, ef þú tekr nú kerti þitt?"
Gestr tók nú kerti sitt ór hörpustokki sínum. Konungr bað þá kveykja, ok svá var gert. Ok er kertit var tendrat, brann þat skjótt.
Konungr spurði Gest: "Hversu gamall maðr ertu?"
Gestr svarar: "Nú hefi ek þrjú hundruð vetra."
"Allgamall ertu," sagði konungr.
Gestr lagðist þá niðr. Hann bað þá ólea sik. Þat lét konungr
XII. It happened one day that the King asked Guest: "How much longer would you live if you could choose?"
Guest replied: "Only a short time, please God!"
The King said: "What will happen if you take your candle now?"
Thereupon Guest took his candle out of the frame of his harp. The King ordered it to be lighted, and this was done. And when the candle was lighted it soon began to burn away.
Then the King said to Guest: "How old are you?"
And Guest replied: "I am now three hundred years old."
"You are an old man," observed the King.
Then Guest laid himself down and asked them to anoint him with oil. The King ordered it to be done, and when it was finished there was very little of the candle left unburnt. Then it became clear that Guest was drawing near to his end, and his spirit passed just as the torch flickered out; and they all marvelled at his passing. The King also set great store by his stories and held that the account which he had given of his life was perfectly true.
INTRODUCTION TO THE THÁTTR OF NORNAGEST
This story occurs as an episode in the
long Saga of Olaf Tryggvason—to be distinguished from the shorter Saga of Olaf
Tryggvason contained in theHeimskringla and translated by Morris and Magnússon
in the Saga Library1.
The best known manuscript (F) of the longer saga is the Flateyjarbók which comes
from the island of Flatey in Breithifjörth off the west of Iceland, and was
written between 1386 and 1394. The second (S) is the Codex Arn. Magn. 62 in the
Royal Library (at Copenhagen), which, like the former, contains a fragment only
of the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, but includes the Tháttr of Nornagest. This ms.
dates, in all probability, from shortly after the middle of the fourteenth
century. Finally, besides several paper mss. (comparatively late and
unimportant), there is a ms. A (number 2845 of the Royal Library at Copenhagen)
dating from the fifteenth century, in which the tháttr stands by itself.