Legendary Sagas of the Northland
in English Translation
The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok and his Sons
See Also: Þáttr af Ragnars Sonum /The Tale of Ragnars Sons
The Heroic Saga on the Rök-Runestone
and its relationship to the Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok
Ragnars Saga Loðbrókar
ok sona hans
The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok
and his sons
|Guðni Jónsson text||Translated by Chris Van Dyke © 2003|
I. Heimir í Hlymdölum spyrr nú þessi tíðendi, at dauðr er
Sigurðr ok Brynhildr. En Áslaug, dóttir þeira, en fóstra Heimis, var þá
þrévetr. Veit hann nú, at eptir mun leitat at týna meyjunni ok ætt
hennar. Er honum svá mikill harmr eptir Brynhildi, fóstru sína, at hann
gætti ekki ríkis síns né fjár, sér nú, at hann fær eigi meyjunni þar
leynt; lætr nú gera eina hörpu svá mikla, at þar lét hann meyna Áslaugu
í koma ok margar gersimar í gulli ok silfri ok gengr á brott síðan víða
um lönd ok um síðir hingat á Norðrlönd. Svá var harpa hans hagliga ger,
at hana mátti taka í sundr ok saman at fellingum, ok var hann því vanr
um daga, þá er hann fór í hjá vatnföllum ok hvergi í nánd bæjum, at hann
tók hörpuna í sundr ok þó meyjunni, ok hann hafði vínlauk einn ok gaf
henni at eta. En þat er náttúra þess lauks, at maðr má lengi lifa, þótt
hann hafi enga aðra fæðu. Ok þá er mærin grét, sló hann hörpuna, ok
þagnaði hún þá, fyrir því at Heimir var vel at íþróttum búinn, þeim er
þá váru tíðar. Hann hafði ok mörg klæði dýrlig hjá henni í hörpunni ok
||In Hlymdalir, Heimir heard the tidings of the death of Sigurð and Brynhild. Áslaug, their daughter and his foster child, was then three winters old. He knew that there would be an attempt to destroy the girl and end her line. So great was his grief for Brynhild, his fosterling, that he did not care for either his kingdom or his goods. When he realized that he could not keep the girl hidden there, he had a harp made which was so large that he could place the maiden Áslaug within it along with many treasures of gold and silver, and then he went abroad throughout the lands and afterwards through the regions of the North-lands. His harp was so skillfully made that it could be taken apart and put together at the joints, and, on the days when he came beside a waterfall that was nowhere near a farm, he would take the harp apart and bathe the little girl. He had one vinlauk [wine-leek], which he gave to her to eat. It was the nature of this leek that a man could live long though he had no other food. And when the girl wept, he played the harp and then she would fall silent, since Heimir was well versed in the iðrottir [sports] that were customary at the time. He had many glorious clothes with her in the harp, and much gold.|
Aslaug and the Harp by August Malmstöm (1856)
|Ok nú ferr hann þangat til, unz hann kemr í Noreg ok kemir til eins býjar lítils, þess er heitir á Spangareiði, ok bjó þar karl sá, er Áki hét. Hann átti konu, ok hét hún Gríma. Þar var eigi fleira manna en þau. Þann dag var karl farinn í skóg, en kerling var heima, ok heilsar hún Heimi ok spyrr, hvat manna hann væri. Hann kveðst vera einn stafkarl ok bað kerlingu húsa. Hún segir, at eigi kæmi þar fleira en svá, at hún kveðst mundu vel við honum taka, ef hann þættist þurfa þar at vera. En er á leið, þá segir hann, at honum þætti þat mest beinabót, at eldr væri kveyktr fyrir honum ok síðan væri honum fylgt til svefnhúss, þar er hann skyldi sofa. Ok þá er kerling hafði kveykt eldinn, þá setr hann hörpuna upp í set hjá sér, en kerling var óðamálug. Opt varð henni litit til hörpunnar, fyrir því at trefr á einu dýrligu klæði kómu út á hörpunni. Ok er hann bakaðist við eldinn, þá sér hún einn dýrligan gullhring koma fram undan tötrum hans, því at hann var illa klæddr. Ok er hann hafði bakazt sem hann kunni sér þörf til, þá hafði hann náttverð. En eptir þat bað hann kerlingu fylgja sér þangat til, sem hann skyldi sofa um nóttina. Þá segir kerling, at honum mundi betra vera úti en inni, -- "því at vit karl minn erum opt málug, er hann kemr heim." Hann biðr hana ráða, gengr nú út ok svá hún. Hann tekr hörpuna ok hefir með sér. Kerling gengr út ok ferr þar til, er bygghlaða ein er, ok fylgir honum þar til ok mælti, at hann skyldi þar um búast, ok kveðst þess vænta, at hann mundi þar njóta svefns síns. Ok nú gengr kerling í brott ok annast þat, er hún þurfti, en hann gerir sér svefn.||
Then he went from there out until he came to Noreg,* and he came
to a small farm, which was called Spangarheið, and there lived a poor
man called Áki. He had a wife and she was called Gríma. There were no
others than themselves. One day, the poor man had gone into the woods
and the poor woman was at home. She greeted Heimir and asked what kind
of man he might be. He said he was a beggar, and asked the poor woman to
give him lodgings. She said that not many came there, so she could
easily take him in, if he thought it was necessary. Then it came about
that he said it seemed to him the greatest comfort would be if a fire
might be lit before him, and therefore he was accompanied to the
sleeping hall where he might sleep. And then when the poor woman had
kindled thefire, he sat the harp beside himself, and the poor woman was
not very talkative. Often her eyes were drawn to the harp, since the
fringes of one of the glorious dresses stuck out of the harp. And when
he rubbed his limbs before the fire, she saw one glorious gold ring
showing from under his rags, since he was badly clothed. And when he had
warmed himself as much as he thought was needed, then he had supper.
After that he told the poor woman to guide him to where he should sleep
during the night. The poor woman said that it might be better for him to
be outside than inside, “since my husband and I often talk when he comes
home.” He told her to make the decision. Then he went out along with
her. He took the harp and kept it with him. The poor woman went out
until she came to a barn and accompanied him into it, and said that he
should stay there, and said that he might expect to enjoy his sleep
there. And then the poor woman went on her way and busied herself with
her daily tasks, and he himself went to sleep.
* Noreg – modern day Norway
|Karl kemr heim, er aptanninn líðr, en kerling hefir fátt unnit þat, er hún þurfti, en hann var móðr, er hann kom heim, ok illr viðskiptis, er allt var óbúit þat, er hún skyldi annazt hafa. Sagði karl, at mikill væri munr sælu, er hann vann hvern dag meira en hann mátti, en hún vildi til einkis taka þess, er gagn var at. "Ver eigi reiðr, karl minn," sagði hún, "fyrir því at þat kann at vera, at þú mættir nú skamma stund vinna til þess, at vit værim sæl alla ævi." "Hvat er þat?" segir karl. Kerling svarar: "Hér er kominn til herbergis okkars einn maðr, ok ætla ek, at hann hafi allmikit fé með at fara, ok er hniginn á efra aldr ok mun verit hafa inn mesti kappi ok er nú þó móðr mjök, ok eigi þykkjumst ek hans maka sét hafa, ok þó ætla ek hann mæddan ok syfjaðan." Þá segir karl: "Þat sýnist mér óráðligt at svíkja þá ina fá, sem hér koma." Hún svarar: "Því muntu lengi lítill fyrir þér, at þér vex allt í augu, ok ger nú annathvárt, at þú drep hann, eða ek tek hann mér til manns, ok munu vit reka þik í brott. Ok segja kann ek þér þá ræðu, er hann mælti við mik í gærkveld, en lítils mun þér þykkja um vert. Hann mælti kvensamliga við mik, ok þat mun mitt ráð vera at taka hann mér til manns, en reka þik í brott eða drepa, ef þú vill eigi eptir því gera, sem ek vil." Ok er þat sagt, at karl hafði kvánríki, ok telr hún um þangat til, er hann lætr at eggjan hennar, tekr öxi sína ok snarbrýnir mjök. Ok er hann er búinn, fylgir kerling honum þar til, er Heimir sefr, ok var þar hrytr mikill. Þá mælti kerling til karls, at hann skyldi láta verða tilræði sem bezt, -- "ok skunda brott með hlaupi, því at ekki máttu standast lát hans ok óp, ef hann fær þik höndum tekit." Hún tekr hörpuna ok hleypr á brott með. Nú gengr karl þar til, er Heimir sefr. Hann höggr til hans, ok verðr þat mikit sár, ok verðr honum laus öxin. Hann hleypr þegar í brott sem hann mátti hraðast. Nú vaknar hann við áverkann, ok vannst honum at fullu. Ok þat er sagt, at svá mikill gnýr varð í hans fjörbrotum, at undan gengu súlur í húsinu ok ofan fell húsit allt ok varð landskjálfti mikill, ok lýkr þar hans ævi.||The poor man came home when evening had fallen, but the poor woman had done little of what she needed to do. And he was weary when he came home, and difficult to deal with when all was not done which she should have done. The poor man said that there must be a great difference in their happiness when he worked each day more than he could, but she did not get on with those things which needed to be done. “Do not be angry, husband,” she said, “because it may be that you might, with a short while’s work, insure that we will be happy for all time.” “What is this?” said the poor man. The poor woman answered: “A man came here to our farm, and I think that he has much wealth with him for traveling—he is bowed by old age, but he must have been a great hero, though now he is very weary. I do not think I have seen his equal, but I think he is tired and sleepy.” The poor man said, “It seems inadvisable to me to betray one of those few who have come here.” She answered: “This is why you will for a long time be a little man, for all grows large in your eyes; you must now do one of two things—either you kill him, or I will take him as my husband, and we will drive you away. And I can tell you of how it happened when he spoke with me earlier this evening, and it will seem unpleasant to you. He spoke lustfully with me, and it is my plan to take him as my husband and drive you away or kill you, if you will not do what I want.” And it is said that the poor man had a domineering wife, and she went on until he gave into her goading, took up his axe, and whetted it keenly. And when he was done, his wife led him there to where Heimir slept and was then snoring greatly. Then the poor woman told the poor man that he should make an attack as best he could, “and then leap away quickly, since you will not be able to withstand it if he gets his hands on you.” She then took the harp and went away with it. Then the poor man went to where Heimir slept. He struck at him, and gave him a great wound, but he dropped his axe. He at once leapt away as quickly as he could. Then Heimir woke at the blow, which was his bane. And it is said that so great a din arose in his death-throes that the pillars of the house collapsed and all the house fell down and a great earthquake occurred, and there his life ended.|
Áslaug in the Harp by M.E. Winge (1862)
|Nú kom karl þar, sem kerling var, segir nú, at hann hefir drepit hann, -- "ok þó var þat of hríð, er ek vissa eigi, hvé fara mundi, ok þessi maðr var furðu mikill fyrir sér, en þó væntir mik, at hann sé nú í helju." Kerling mælti, at hann skyldi hafa þökk fyrir verkit, -- "ok væntir mik, at nú hafim vit ærit fé, ok skulum vit reyna, hvart ek hefi satt sagt." Nú kveykja þau eld, en kerling tekr hörpuna ok vildi upp koma ok mátti eigi annars kostar en hún varð at brjóta, því at hún hafði eigi hagleik til. Ok nú fær hún upp komit hörpunni, ok þar sér hún eitt meybarn, at hún þóttist ekki slíkt sét hafa, ok þó var mikit fé í hörpunni. Nú mælti karl: "Þat mun nú verða sem opt, at illa mun gefast at svíkja þann, er honum trúir. Sýnist mér sem komin muni ómegð á hendr okkr." Kerling svarar: "Eigi er þetta eptir því, sem ek ætla, en þó skal nú ekki um sakast." Ok nú spyrr hún, hverrar ættar hún væri. En þessi in unga mær svarar engu, svá sem hún hefði eigi mál numit. "Nú ferr sem mik varði, at okkart ráð mundi illa fara," segir karl. "Vit höfum unnit glæp mikinn. Hvat skulum vit sjá fyrir barni þessu?" "Auðvitat er þat," sagði Gríma. "Hún skal eptir móður minni heita Kráka." Nú mælti karl: "Hvat skulum vit sjá fyrir barni þessu?" Kerling svarar: "Ek sé gott ráð til: Vit skulum segja hana okkra dóttur ok upp fæða." "Því mun engi trúa," sagði karl. "Miklu er barn þetta geðsligra en vit. Erum allóvæn bæði, ok munu engi líkendi á þykkja, at vit munum eiga því líkt barn, svá endemlig sem vit erum bæði." Nú mælti kerling: "Eigi veiztu, nema ek hafa í nokkur brögð, at þetta megi eigi óvænt þykkja. Ek mun láta gera henni koll ok ríða í tjöru ok öðru, er vænst er, at sízt komi hár upp. Hún skal eiga hött síðan. Eigi skal hún ok vel klædd vera. Mun þá saman draga vár yfirlit. Má vera, at menn trúi því, at ek hafa mjök væn verit, þá er ek var ung. Hún skal ok vinna þat, er verst er." En þat hugðu þau karl ok kerling, at hún mætti ekki mæla, er hún svarar þeim aldri. Nú er þat gert, sem kerling hefir fyrir hugat. Nú vex hún þar upp í miklu fátæki.||
Then the poor man went to where the poor woman was, and said
that he had killed him—“but nevertheless, for a while I was not certain
how it would go, as this man was terribly powerful, but I expect that he
might now be in Hel!” The poor woman said that he should have thanks for
the deed, “and it gives me hope, that now we will have sufficient money,
and we shall see whether what I said was true.” Then they lit a fire,
and the poor woman took the harp and wanted to open it up, but was not
able to do it any other way than breaking it, since she had no skill in
the craft. And then she went and opened up the harp, and there she saw a
girl-child, such as she thought she had not seen before, along with much
money in the harp. Then the poor man spoke: “Now it must happen as it
often does, that it will turn out badly for those who betray one who
trusts them. It seems to me that a dependant has come into our hands.”
The poor woman said: “This is not as I expected, but no harm will come
about.” And then she asked what the girl’s family-line might be. But the
young girl did not answer, as if she had not yet begun to talk. “Now it
has come about as I expected, that our plan goes badly,” said the poor
man. “We have committed a great crime. How shall we provide for this
child?” “That is clear,” said Gríma. “She shall be called Kráka*, after
my mother.” Then the poor man said: “How shall we provide for this
child?” The poor woman answered: “I see a good plan: we shall call her
our daughter, and raise her up.” “No one will believe that,” said her
husband, “as this child is much more pleasing than we are. We are both
born very ugly, and people will not think it likely that we would have a
child like this, as uncommonly ugly as we both are.” Then the poor woman
spoke: “You do not know that I have a cunning plan, so that this might
not seem unlikely. I will shave her head, and rub in tar and other
things when it is expected that her hair will come back in. She shall
then have a hat. She shall not be well clothed. We will all look alike
then. It may be that men will believe that I had great beauty when I was
young. And she shall do all the worst work.” And the poor man and poor
woman thought that she was unable to speak, because she never answered
them. Then it came about as the woman had first suggested. She grew up
there, and was very poor.
* Kráka – crow.
|II. Herruðr hét jarl ríkr ok ágætr á Gautlandi. Hann var kvángaðr. Dóttir hans hét Þóra; hún var allra kvenna fríðust sýndum ok kurteisust at sér um alla hluti, þat er til handa má bera ok betra er at hafa en án vera. Þat var hennar kenningarnafn, at hún var kölluð borgarhjörtr, fyrir því at svá bar hún af öllum konum at fegrð sem hjörtr af öðrum dýrum. Jarlinn unni mikit dóttur sinni. Hann lét gera henni eina skemmu skammt frá höll konungs, ok um þá skemmu var skíðgarðr. Þat lagði jarl í vanda sinn at senda dóttur sinni hvern dag nokkut til skemmtanar, en þat mælti hann, at því mundi hann fram halda. Frá því er sagt, at hann lét færa henni lítinn lyngorm einnhvern dag, ákafliga fagran, ok þessi ormr þótti henni góðr ok lét hann í sitt eski ok bar undir hann gull. Skamma stund var hann þar, áðr hann óx mikit ok svá gullit undir honum. Þar kemr, at eigi hefir hann rúm í eskinu, ok liggr nú í hring um eskit utan. Ok þar kemr of síðir, at eigi hefir hann rúm í skemmunni, ok gullit vex undir honum jafnt sem ormrinn sjálfr. Nú liggr hann utan um skemmuna, svá at saman tók höfuð ok sporðr, ok illr gerist hann viðreignar, ok þorir engi maðr at koma til skemmunnar fyrir þessum ormi nema sá einn, er honum færir fæðslu, ok oxa þarf hann í mál. Jarli þykkir mikit mein á þessu ok strengir þess heit, at hann mun þeim manni gefa dóttur sína, hvat manna sem hann er, ef at bana yrði orminum, ok gull þat, er undir honum er, skal vera hennar heimanfylgja. Þessi tíðendi spyrjast víða of land, en þó treystist engi til at ráða fyrir þessum mikla ormi.||
II. There was an Earl called Herruð, who was mighty and famous
in Gautland.* He was married. His daughter was called Þóra, and she was
the most beautiful of all women in appearance, and was most courteous in
all things which were better to have than not to have. It was her
nickname that she was called Borgarhjört,† since she stood out from all
women in beauty as the hart does from all other animals. The earl loved
his daughter very much. He had a bower made for her a short ways from
the king’s hall, and about the bower was a wooden fence. The earl made
it his custom to send his daughter something every day for her
amusement, and he said that he would go on with this custom. This is
said about that, that he had his daughter sent a little heather-snake
one day, which was excessively beautiful; the snake seemed good to her,
and she kept it in an ashen box and placed gold under it. It was there
but a short while before it grew large, as did the gold under it. It
came about that the snake did not have room in the ashen box, and then
lay outside of it in a ring about the box. And it afterwards came about
that it did not have room in the bower, and the gold grew beneath it
precisely as the snake itself did. Then it lay outside around the bower,
so that its head and tail could touch together, and it became hard to
deal with. No man dared to come to the bower on account of this snake
save one, who brought it food, and it needed an ox as its meal. To the
earl this seemed a great harm and he spoke this vow: that he would give
his daughter to that man, whoever he might be, who killed the snake, and
that gold which was under him would be her dowry. These tidings became
known throughout the land, but nevertheless no one trusted himself to
overpower the great snake.
*The land of the Gautar, a people who lived in what would now be southern Sweden.
†Borgarhjört – “Hart-of-the-village.”
|III. Í þann tíma réð fyrir Danmörku Sigurðr hringr. Hann var ríkr konungr ok er frægr orðinn af þeiri orrostu, er hann barðist við Harald hilditönn á Brávelli ok fyrir honum fell Haraldr, sem kunnigt er orðit of alla norðrálfu heimsins. Sigurðr átti einn son, er Ragnarr hét. Hann var mikill vexti, vænn yfirlits ok vel viti borinn, stórlyndr við sína menn, en grimmr sínum óvinum. Þegar hann hafði aldr til, fær hann sér liðs ok herskipa, ok gerist hann inn mesti hermaðr, svá at varla fæst hans maki. Hann spyrr þetta, er Herruðr jarl hafði um mælt; gefr hann at engan gaum ok lætr sem hann viti eigi. Hann lætr gera sér föt með undarligum hætti, þat eru loðbrækr ok loðkápa, ok nú er ger eru, þá lætr hann þau vella í biki. Síðan hirðir hann þau. Þat er eitthvert sumar, er hann heldr her sínum til Gautlands ok leggr í leynivág einn skip sitt ok var skammt þaðan, þat er jarl réð fyrir. Ok er Ragnarr hafði þar eina nótt verit, vaknar hann snemma um morgininn, ríss upp ok tekr þessi in sömu vápnföt, er áðr var frá sagt, ok ferr í ok tekr spjót mikit í hönd sér ok gengr af skipunum einn saman ok þar, er sandr er, ok nú veltist hann í sandinum. Ok áðr hann gengr í brott, tekr hann geirnagla ór spjóti sínu ok ferr nú einn frá skipunum til borgarhliðs jarls ok kemr þar snemma dags, svá at allir menn váru í svefni. Nú stýrir hann til skemmunnar. Ok er hann kemr í skíðgarðinn, þar sem ormrinn var, leggr hann til hans með spjóti sínu, ok þá kippir hann at sér spjótinu. Ok annat sinn leggr hann. Þat lag kemr í hrygg orminum, ok nú vinzt hann við hratt, svá at spjótit gekk af skaptinu, ok verðr svá mikill gnýr í hans fjörbrotum, at skemman skelfr öll. Ok nú snýr Ragnarr á brott. Þá kemr blóðbogi milli herða honum, ok þat sakar hann eigi, svá hlífa honum klæði þau, sem hann lét gera. En þeir, er í skemmunni váru, vakna við gnýinn ok ganga út ór skemmunni. Nú sér Þóra ganga einn mann mikinn frá skemmunni ok spyrr hann at nafni eða hvern hann vili nú finna. Hann nemr staðar ok kvað vísu þessa:||
III. At that time Sigurð Hring had power over Danmörk. He was a
powerful king, and was famous from that one war, when he battled with
Harold Hilditön* at Brávella and Harold fell before him, as has become
known throughout all of the northern regions. Sigurð had one son, who
was called Ragnar. He was a large man, fair in appearance and with good
intelligence, generous with his men, but stern with his foes. Soon after
he had come of age, he got himself troops and warships, and he became
one of the greatest warriors, so that hardly anyone was his match. He
heard what Earl Herruð had spoken, but he gave it no heed and let on as
if he did not know about it. He had made for himself garments in a
wondrous fashion: they were shaggy-breeches and a fur-coat, and when
they were done, he had them boiled in pitch. Afterwards he kept them
stored away. One summer he took his war host to Gautland, and he
anchored his ships in a hidden creek, which was a short distance from
where the earl ruled. And when Ragnar had been there one night, he woke
early in the morning, rose up and took the same armor which was
mentioned before, put on the armor and took a great spear in his hand
and went off the ship alone. And there, where the sand was, he rolled in
the sand. And before he went on his way, he took the nail holding the
spear-head to the shaft out of his spear and then went from the ship to
the earl’s gate and came there early in the day, so that when he came,
all the men were still asleep. Then he turned towards the bower. And
when he came to the wooden fence where the snake was, he attacked it
with his spear; he thrust the spear at it and then pulled it back to
himself, and then he attacked again. That thrust struck the snake’s
spine, and then he twisted the spear so that the spearhead came off the
shaft; there was such a great din at the snake’s death-throes that all
the bower shook. And then Ragnar turned away. Then a jet of blood came
and struck him between his shoulders, but that did not harm him, since
his clothes that he had made protected him. And those who were in the
bower woke with the din and went out of the bower. Then Þóra saw a great
man going from the bower and asked him his name and whom he wanted to
find. He stopped and he spoke this verse:
"Hætt hefik leyfðu lífi,
I have risked my famous life,
*Harold Hilditön – “Harold Battle-Tooth.”
*foldar fiski – “fish of the land,” a kenning for “dragon.”
†Hringleginn heiðar lax – “ringed salmon-of-the-heath,” another kenning for “dragon.”
|Ok nú gengr hann á brott ok mælti ekki fleira við hana. En spjótit stóð í sárinu eptir, en hann hefir skaptit með sér. Nú er hún hefir þessa vísu heyrða, skildi hún, hvat hann sagði til um sitt erendi ok svá hvé gamall hann var. Ok nú hyggr hún at fyrir sér, hverr hann mundi vera, ok þykkist hún eigi vita, hvárt hann er mennskr maðr eða eigi, fyrir því at henni þykkir vöxtr hans vera svá mikill sem sagt er frá óvættum á þeim aldri, sem hann hafði, ok snýr hún inn í skemmuna ok sofnar. Ok er menn koma út um morgininn, verða menn þess varir, at ormrinn var dauðr ok hann var lagðr með einu miklu spjóti ok þat stóð fast í sárinu. Nú lætr jarl þat í brott taka þaðan, ok var þat svá mikit, at fám var vápnhæft. Nú íhugar jarl, hvat hann hafði um mælt við þann mann, er orminum yrði at bana, ok þykkist eigi vita, hvárt mennskr maðr veldr þessu eða eigi, ok réðst nú um við vini sína ok dóttur, hvé hann skal eptir leita, ok þykkir á því líkendi, at sá mun eptir leita at hafa verðkaupit, er til hefir unnit. Þat réð hún at láta kveðja þings fjölmenns, -- "ok bið þá svá, at þangat komi allir þeir menn, er eigi vilja hafa reiði jarls ok nokkurs kostar mega sækja þingstefnu, ok ef sá er nokkurr, er við gengr banasári ormsins, skal hafa þat spjótskapt þangat, er fylgt hefir spjótinu." Þetta lízt jarli vænligt ok lætr nú þings kveðja. Ok er at þeim degi kemr, er vera skal þingit, kemr jarl ok margir höfðingjar aðrir. Þar verðr mikit fjölmenni.||And then he went on his way and did not speak more with her. And the spear-head stood in the wound afterwards, but he had the shaft with him. When she had heard this verse, she understood what he had said to her about his errand and thus how old he was. And then she wondered to herself who he might be, and she thought she did not know whether he was a human being or not, since it seemed to her that his growth was as large as it said about monsters at the age that he was. Then she turned into the bower and went to sleep. And when men came out in the morning, they became aware that the snake was dead, and it was stabbed with a large spear, and the spearhead stood fast in the wound. Then the earl had the spearhead removed, and it was so large that few could have used it as a weapon. Then the earl considered what he had said about that man who killed the snake, and he thought he didn’t know whether a human being had done this or not, and he then discussed with his friends and daughter how he should search after him; it seemed likely, that that man who had won it would afterwards seek to have the reward. She advised him to have a large þing [Legal Assembly] summoned—“and command those who do not want to have the earl’s anger and are in any way able to attend the þing to come here. If any is the man who gave the snake its death wound, he shall then have the spearshaft which goes with the spearhead.” That seemed promising to the earl, and then he had a þing called. And when the day came, when the þing was to take place, the earl came and many other chieftains. Many men came.|
|IV. Þetta spyrst til skipa Ragnars, at þaðan skammt var þing stefnt. Ok nú ferr Ragnarr frá skipum náliga með allan her sinn til þingsins. Ok er þeir koma þar, nema þeir staðar nakkvat frá öðrum mönnum, því at Ragnarr sér nú, at komit var fjölmenni mikit frá því, sem vani var til. Þá stendr jarl upp ok kveðr sér hljóðs ok talar, biðr menn hafa þökk fyrir, er vel hafa skipazt við hans orðsending, ok segir síðan atburð þann, sem orðinn er, fyrst frá því, hversu hann hafði um mælt við þann mann, er orminum yrði at bana, síðan, at -- "ormrinn er nú dauðr, ok sá hefir látit eptir standa spjótit í sárinu, er unnit hefir þetta frægðarverk. Ok ef nokkurr er sá hér kominn til þingsins, er þat skapt hafi, er þessu spjóti hæfi, beri hann þat fram ok sanni svá sögn sína, þá skal ek þat allt enda, er ek hefi um mælt, hvárt sem hann er af meirum stigum eða minnum." Ok lýkr hann svá sínu máli, at hann lætr bera spjótit fyrir hvern mann, er á er þinginu, ok biðr sér segja, hverr sá er, er við þessu gengr eða þat skapt hefir, er hér hæfir til. Nú er svá gert. Eigi finnst sá né einn, er þat skapt hafi. Nú er komit þar, sem Ragnarr er, ok sýnt honum spjótit, ok gengr hann við, at hann mun eiga, ok þar hæfir hvárt eptir öðru, skaptit ok spjótit. Nú þykkjast menn vita, at hann mun hafa orðit orminum at bana, ok verðr hann af þessu verki harðla mjök frægr of öll Norðrlönd, ok biðr hann nú Þóru, dóttur jarls, ok hann tekr því vel, ok nú er hún honum gift, ok er fengit at mikilli veizlu með inum beztum föngum í því ríki. At þessi veizlu kvángast Ragnarr. Ok er lokit er veizlunni, ferr Ragnarr til ríkis síns ok réð fyrir ok ann mikit Þóru. Þau eiga tvá sonu; hét Eirekr inn ellri, en Agnarr inn yngri. Þeir váru miklir vexti ok fríðir sýnum. Sterkari váru þeir miklu en aðrir menn flestir, er þá váru uppi. Þeir námu alls konar íþróttir. Þat var eitthvert sinn, at Þóra kenndi sér sóttar, ok andast hún ór þessi sótt. En Ragnari þótti þetta svá mikit, at hann vill eigi ráða ríkinu ok tekr aðra menn til at ráða ríkinu með sonum sínum. En hann tekr nú til iðnar sinnar innar sömu, sem hann hafði fyrr haft, ok ræðst nú í hernað, ok hvar sem hann ferr, fær hann sigr.||IV. It became known at Ragnar's ship that there was a þing to be held shortly. Then Ragnar went from his ship with nearly all his men to the þing. And when they came there, they stood somewhat away from other men, since Ragnar saw that very many more men had come than was customary. Then the earl stood up and asked for their silence and spoke— first he asked those men who had responded well to his summons to accept his thanks; then he spoke of what had occurred; then he spoke about what he had sworn regarding the man who would kill the snake. Then afterwards he said, “The snake is now dead, and the man who did this famous deed left the spear standing in the wound. And if anyone who came here to the þing is he who has the shaft which held the spearhead and which was borne away and thus may prove his claim, then I shall fulfill that which I have sworn, whoever he is, of either great or lowly rank.” And when he ended his speech, he had the spearhead brought before each man who was at the þing, and commanded him who would claim the deed, or who had the spear-shaft which fitted the spearhead, to speak. It was so done. None was found to be the one who had the shaft. When the spearhead came to where Ragnar was and was shown to him, then he acknowledged that it was his; each fitted the other, the spear and shaft. Then men then thought that they knew that he must have killed the snake, and he became very famous in all the northern lands on account of this deed, and he then asked for Þóra, the earl’s daughter, and the earl received this offer gladly. Then she was given to him, and it happened that they had the largest feast with the best provisions in the kingdom. At this feast Ragnar was married. And when the feast was over, Ragnar went to his kingdom and ruled over it and he loved Þóra greatly. They had two sons: the elder was called Eirek, and the younger was called Agnar. They grew large and were handsome in appearance. They were very strong and were taller than the other men who were around. They knew all the kinds of iðrottir. It happened one time that Þóra fell ill, and she died from this illness. To Ragnar this seemed so grave that he would not rule his kingdom, and gave other men the ruling of his lands along with his sons. And then he took to performing his same deeds as he had before; he set out on a raiding expedition, and wherever he went he gained victory.|
Ragnar and Thora
by Lorenz Frölich
|V. Nú er þat eitt sumar, at hann heldr skipum sínum til Noregs, því at hann átti þar marga frændr ok vini ok vill þá hitta. Hann kemr skipum sínum um kveldit í höfn eina litla, en þar var bær skammt þaðan, er hét á Spangarheiði, ok lágu þeir þar í höfn þá nótt. Ok er morginn kom, skyldu matsveinar fara á land at baka brauð. Þeir sjá, at bær er skammt frá þeim, ok þótti þeim sér þat betr gegna at fara til húss ok vera þar at. Ok er þeir kómu til þess ins litla bæjar, þá hitta þeir einn mann at máli, ok er þat kerling, ok spurðu, hvárt hún væri húsfreyja eða hvat hún héti. Hún segir, at hún sé húsfreyja, -- "ok nafn mitt óvant, ek heiti Gríma, eða hverir eru þér?"||V. It was during the summer that he turned his ships to Noreg, because he had many kinsmen and friends there and he wanted to visit them. He came in his ships during the evening into a little harbor; there was a farm a short distance from there which was called Spangarheið, and they lay there in the harbor that night. And when morning came, the cooks went to land to bake bread. They saw that a farm that was not far off, and it seemed to them that it would suit them better to go to the house and be there and do their work there. And when they came to this one little farm, they found someone to speak to—it was a poor woman, and they asked whether she was a housewife and what she was called. She said that she was a housewife, “and you will not lack my name. I am called Gríma, but who are you?”|
|Þeir sögðu, at þeir væri þjónustumenn Ragnars loðbrókar, ok vilja þeir færa fram sýslu sína, -- "ok viljum vér, at þú vinnir með oss." Kerling svarar, at hendr hennar váru stirðar mjök. "En verit hafði þat fyrrum, at ek kunna bjargvel sýslu mína, ok á ek mér dóttur þá, er at mun vera með yðr ok mun heim koma brátt ok heitir Kráka. Er nú svá komit, at ek kem trautt ráði við hana." Ok nú er Kráka at fé farin um myrgininn ok sér, at skip váru komin við land mörg ok stór, ok nú tekr hún ok þvær sér. En kerling hafði henni þat bannat, því at hún vildi eigi, at menn sæi fegrð hennar, því at hún var allra kvenna vænst, en hár hennar var svá mikit, at tók jörð um hana, ok svá fagrt sem silki þat, er fegrst verðr. Ok nú kemr Kráka heim. En þeir matsveinar höfðu gert eld, ok nú sér Kráka, at þar eru menn komnir, þeir er hún hefir eigi fyrr sét. Hún hyggr at þeim ok svá þeir at henni.||They said that they were the liege-men of Ragnar Loðbrok, and they wanted to carry out their work, “and we want that you work with us.” The poor woman answered that her hands were very stiff. “But in the past I have been able to do my own work very well; but I have myself a daughter, who can work with you and who will come home soon and is called Kráka. But it has now come about that I scarcely have control over her.” And Kráka had gone out with the animals in the morning and had seen that many large ships had come to land, and then she went and washed herself. But the poor woman had forbidden her to do that, because she did not want men to see her beauty, because she was the most beautiful of all women, and her hair was so long that it went down to the ground, and as beautiful as the most beautiful silk. And then Kráka came home. The cooks had started a fire, and Kráka saw that men had come there, whom she had not seen before. She looked at them and they at her.|
Ok nú spyrja þeir Grímu: "Hvárt er sjá þín dóttir, in fagra
"Eigi er til þess logit," segir Gríma, "at sjá er mín dóttir."
"Furðu ólíkar máttu þit verða," segja þeir, "svá illilig sem þú ert. En vér höfum eigi jafnvæna mey sét, ok enga sjám vér hana hafa þína mynd, því at þú ert it mesta ferlíki."
Gríma svarar: "Eigi má nú á mér sjá. Brugðit er nú mínum yfirlitum ór því, sem var." Nú ræða þeir þetta, at hún vinni með þeim.
Hún spyrr: "Hvat skal ek vinna?"
And then they asked Gríma: “Is this your daughter we see, this
“It is not a lie,” said Gríma. “That is my daughter you see.”
“You two must be very unlike,” they said, “since you are so monstrous. We have not seen a girl as beautiful, and we see that she in no way has your looks, because you are most hideous.”
Gríma said, “You can’t notice it in me now. My appearance is now changed from how it was.”
Then they agreed that she would work with them. She asked: “What shall I do?”
|Þeir kváðust vilja, at hún teygði brauð, en þeir mundi baka eptir. Ok tekr hún síðan til sinnar iðju, ok vinnst henni vel. En þeir horfðu á hana ávallt, svá at þeir gáðu eigi sýslu sinnar ok brenndu brauðit. Ok er þeir höfðu lokit verki sínu, fóru þeir til skipa. Ok þá er þeir skyldu brjóta upp vistir sínar, mæltu allir, at þeir hefði aldri jafnilla unnit ok væri hegningar fyrir vert. Ok nú spyrr Ragnarr, hví þeir hefði þanninn matbúit. Þeir kváðust sét hafa konu svá væna, at þeir gáðu eigi sinnar sýslu, ok ætluðu þeir, at engi mundi henni vænni vera í veröldu. Ok er þeir tóku svá mikit af of hennar fegrð, þá segir Ragnarr ok kveðst þat vita, at sjá mundi eigi jafnvæn sem Þóra hafði verit. Þeir kváðu hana eigi óvænni. Þá mælti Ragnarr:||They said they wanted her to roll out the bread, and they would afterwards bake it. And she then went to work, and she worked well. But they all kept looking at her constantly, so they did not mind their work and the bread was burned. And when they had finished their work they went back to the ships. And there, when they brought out the meal, everyone said that they had never been given anything so terrible, and the cooks deserved to be punished for it. Then Ragnar asked why they had done the cooking thus. They said that they had seen a woman so beautiful that they did not mind their work, and they thought that there was not a more beautiful woman in the entire world. And when they had said so much of her beauty, then Ragnar spoke and said that he thought that there could not be one equal to the beauty which Þóra had possessed. They said she was no uglier. Then Ragnar spoke:|
"Nú mun ek senda þá menn, er gerla kunni at sjá. Ef svá er sem þér segið, þá er þetta athugaleysi yðr upp gefit, en ef konan er at nokkurum hlut óvænni en þér segið frá, munu þér taka hegning mikla á yðr."
Ok nú sendir hann menn sína til fundar við þessa ina fögru mey, en andviðri var svá mikit, at þeir máttu eigi fara þann dag, ok mælti Ragnarr við sína sendimenn:
"Ef yðr lízt þessi in unga mær svá væn sem oss er sagt, biðið hana fara á minn fund, ok vil ek hitta hana; vil ek, at hún sé mín. Hvárki vil ek, at hún sé klædd né óklædd, hvárki mett né ómett, ok fari hún þó eigi ein saman, ok skal henni þó engi maðr fylgja."
“Now I must send men there, who know how to look well. If it is thus as you have said, then your heedlessness will be forgiven of you. But if the woman is in any way uglier than you said, then you shall take a great punishment upon yourselves.”And then he sent his men to find this beautiful maiden, but the headwind was so strong that they could not leave that day, and Ragnar spoke with his messengers:
“If this young maiden seems to you as beautiful as has been told, tell her to come to meet with me as I want to speak to her; I want her to be mine. I want her to be neither dressed nor undressed, neither fed nor unfed, and moreover she must not be all alone, but nevertheless no man may accompany her.”
|Nú fóru þeir, þar til er þeir koma til húss, ok hyggja at Kráku vandliga, ok lízt þeim sjá kona svá væn, at þeir hugðu enga aðra jafnvæna. Ok nú segja þeir orð herra síns, Ragnars, ok svá, hversu hún skyldi búin vera. Kráka hugði at, hversu konungr hafði mælt ok hvé hún skyldi búast, en Grímu þótti engan veg svá mega vera ok kveðst vita, at sjá konungr mundi eigi vera vitr. Kráka segir:||Then they traveled until they came to the house, and they looked closely at Kráka, and it seemed to them they saw such a beautiful woman that they thought they had never before seen one as beautiful. And then they told her the words of their lord, Ragnar, and thus how she should be prepared. Kráka thought about that, how the king had spoken and how she should prepare herself, but Gríma thought that it could not be done, and said that she thought such a king would not be wise. Kráka said:|
|"Því mun hann svá mælt hafa, at svá mun vera mega, ef vér skiljum eptir því, sem hann ætlar til. En víst eigi má ek í yðarri ferð vera þenna dag, en ek mun koma snemma á morgin til yðarra skipa."||“He must have spoken thus because it can be done if we have the skill to discover what he was thinking. However, I know that I cannot go with you today, but I will come early in the morning to your ship.”|
|Nú fóru þeir í brott ok segja Ragnari svá búit, at hún mundi koma til fundar þeira. Ok nú er hún heima þá nótt. En um myrgininn snemma segir Kráka karli, at þá mundi hún fara á fund Ragnars. "En þó mun ek verða at breyta búnaði mínum nokkut; þú átt aurriðanet, ok mun ek þat vefja at mér, en þar yfir utan læt ek falla hár mitt, ok mun ek þá hvergi ber. En ek mun bergja á einum lauk, ok er þat lítill matr, en þó má þat kenna, at ek hefi bergt. Ok ek mun láta fylgja mér hund þinn, ok fer ek þá eigi ein saman, en þó fylgir mér engi maðr." Ok er kerling heyrir hennar fyrirætlan, þykkir henni hún mikit vit hafa. Ok er Kráka er búin, ferr hún leiðar sinnar, þar til er hún kemr til skipa, ok var fögr tilsýndar, er hár hennar var bjart ok sem á gull eitt sæi. Ok nú kallar Ragnarr á hana ok spyrr, hver hún væri eða hvern hún vildi finna. Hún svarar ok kvað vísu:||
Then they went away and told Ragnar what had happened, and that
she would come to the meeting. And she was at home that night. And in
the early morning, Kráka told the poor man that she would go to meet
with Ragnar. “But I want to alter my dress somewhat: you have a
trout-net, and I want to wrap that around me, and I shall let my hair
hang down over it, and I will thus be bare in no place. And I will taste
of one leek—that is little food, but it will be known that I have eaten.
And I will have your dog accompany me—I will thus not go all alone, even
though no man accompanies me.” And when the poor woman heard her plan,
she thought that she had great cunning. And when Kráka had made herself
ready, she went on her way, until she came to the ship, and she was fair
to see, as her hair was bright and looked like gold. And then Ragnar
called to her and asked who she was and whom she wanted to find. She
answered and spoke this verse:
"Þorik eigi boð brjóta,
I have not dared to violate your bidding,
Kraka by M.E Winge, 1862
Ragnar meets Kraka by M.E. Winge
|Nú sendir hann menn at móti henni ok lætr fylgja henni á skip sín. En hún kveðst eigi fara vilja, nema henni sé grið gefin ok förunaut hennar. Nú er henni fylgt á konungs skip, ok er hún kemr í fyrirrúm, seilist hann í mót henni, en hundrinn beit í hönd honum. Þeir menn hans hlaupa til ok drepa hundinn ok reka bogastreng at hálsi honum, ok fær hann af því bana, ok er eigi betr griðum haldit við hana en svá. Nú leggr Ragnarr hana í lypting hjá sér ok hjalar við hana, ok varð honum vel í skap við hana ok var blíðr við hana. Hann kvað vísu:Nú sendir hann menn at móti henni ok lætr fylgja henni á skip sín. En hún kveðst eigi fara vilja, nema henni sé grið gefin ok förunaut hennar. Nú er henni fylgt á konungs skip, ok er hún kemr í fyrirrúm, seilist hann í mót henni, en hundrinn beit í hönd honum. Þeir menn hans hlaupa til ok drepa hundinn ok reka bogastreng at hálsi honum, ok fær hann af því bana, ok er eigi betr griðum haldit við hana en svá. Nú leggr Ragnarr hana í lypting hjá sér ok hjalar við hana, ok varð honum vel í skap við hana ok var blíðr við hana. Hann kvað vísu:||Then he sent men to meet her, and had them accompany her to his ship. But she said she did not wish to go, unless a promise of peace might be given to her and her companion. Then she was led to the king’s ship, and when she came to the foredeck he reached towards her and the dog bit him on the hand. His men leapt at it and struck the dog and tied a bowstring around its neck and it died from this—no better did those men hold with the promise of peace for her! Then Ragnar set her on the deck near himself, and spoke with her, and she answered him well and he was pleased and happy with her. He spoke this verse:|
"Mundi víst, ef væri
If the precious lady was merciful
|Hún kvað:||She said:|
"Vammlausa skalt, vísi,
If you will honor our treaty,
Ragnar Lodbrok takes Kraka-Aslaug as his wife
by August Malmström (1880)
|VI. Nú segir hann, at honum lízt vel á hana ok ætlar víst, at hún skyli með honum fara. Þá kvað hún eigi svá vera mega. Þá kvaðst hann vilja, at hún væri þar um nótt á skipi. Hún segir, at eigi skal þat vera, fyrr en hann kemr heim ór þeiri ferð, sem hann hafði ætlat, -- "ok má vera, at þá sýnist yðr annat." Þá kallar Ragnarr á féhirði sinn ok bað hann taka serk þann, er Þóra hefir átt ok var allr gullsaumaðr, ok færa sér. Þá býðr Ragnarr Kráku á þá lund:||VI. Then he said that he liked her well and that he thought for certain that she should come with him. But she said it could not be thus. Then he said he wanted her to stay there during the night on the ship. She said that would not happen before he had come home from the journey as he had planned,—“and it may be, that the matter will seem different to you.” Then Ragnar called for his treasurer and told him take that shirt, which Þóra had owned and which was all embroidered with gold, and bring it to him. Then Ragnar offered it to Kráka in this manner: .|
"Viltu þenna þiggja,
Will you receive this shirt
|Kráka kvað á móti:||Kráka spoke in reply:|
"Þorik eigi þann þiggja,
I dare not accept the shirt
*Kráka – crow. Wretched clothes (ælig klæði) are appropriate as their coloring of soot-black (kolsvörtum) matches the color of the crow, from which her name is derived.
|"Ok vil ek víst eigi taka við serknum," segir hún. "Vil ek ekki í skraut búast, meðan ek em hjá karli. Kann vera, at yðr lítist betr á mik, ef ek búumst betr, ok vil ek nú fara heim. En þá máttu gera menn eptir mér, ef þér er þá samt í hug ok vilir þú, at ek fara með þér." Ragnarr segir, at eigi mun hugr hans skipast, ok ferr hún heim. En þeir fóru, sem þeir höfðu ætlat, þegar þeim gaf byr, ok lýkr hann sínum erendum, eptir því sem hann hafði ætlat. Ok er hann ferr aptr, kemr hann sér í ina sömu höfn, sem hann hafði fyrr haft, þá er Kráka kom til hans. Ok þat it sama kveld sendir hann menn á fund hennar at segja orð Ragnars, at hún færi nú alfari. En hún segir, at hún mun eigi fara fyrr en um morgininn. Ríss Kráka upp snemma ok gengr til rekkju þeira karls ok kerlingar ok spyrr, hvárt þau vaki. Þau kváðust vaka ok spurðu, hvat hún vildi. En hún segir, at hún ætlaði á brott ok vera þar ekki lengr. "En ek veit, at þit drápuð Heimi, fóstra minn, ok á ek engum manni verra at launa en ykkr. Ok fyrir þá sök vil ek ykkr ekki illt gera láta, at ek hefi lengi með ykkr verit, en nú vil ek þat um mæla, at annarr dagr sé ykkr öðrum verri, er yfir ykkr kemr, en inn síðasti verstr, ok munu vér nú skilja." Þá gengr hún leiðar sinnar til skipa, ok er þar vel við henni tekit. Gefr þeim vel veðr. Þann aptan inn sama, er menn skulu rekkja undir sér, þá segir Ragnarr, at hann vill, at þau Kráka hvíli bæði saman. Hún segir, at eigi mátti svá vera, -- "ok vil ek, at þú drekkir brúðlaup til mín, þá er þú kemr í ríki þitt, ok þykki mér þat mín virðing sem þín ok okkarra erfingja, ef vit eigum nokkura. Hann veitti henni sína bæn, ok ferst þeim vel. Kemr Ragnarr nú heim í land sitt, ok er dýrlig veizla búin í mót honum, ok nú er bæði drukkit fagnaðaröl í móti honum ok brúðlaup hans. Ok inn fyrsta aptan, er þau koma í eina rekkju, vill Ragnarr eiga hjúskaparfar við konu sína, en hún biðst undan, því at hún segir, at á baki mundi bera nokkut, ef hún réði eigi. Ragnarr kvaðst ekki trúa mundu á þat, kvað þau ekki framvís karl ok kerlingu. Hann spurði, hvé lengi svá skyldi vera. Þá kvað hún:||“And I will certainly not take this shirt,” she said. “I will not be arrayed in fine clothes while I am with the poor man. It may be that you would consider me fairer if I were adorned more fairly, but I will now go home. And then you may send men after me, if the matter is the same in your mind and you want me to go with you.” Ragnar said that he would not change his mind, and she went home. And they went, as they had intended, as soon as they had wind, and he set about his errand after the fashion he had intended. And when he came back he came into the same harbor as he had before when Kráka had come to him. And that same evening he sent men to find her and speak Ragnar’s words—that she then prepare to depart for good. But she said that she could not leave before the morning. Kráka rose up early and went to the bed of the poor man and woman and asked whether they were awake. They said they were awake and asked what she wanted. She said that she wished to leave and be there no longer. “And I know that you killed Heimir, my foster-father, and I have no one to reward with more ill than you. But I have been with you a long time, and for this reason I will not let evil be done to you; but I will now declare that each day will be worse for you than the one that came before it, but the last will be the worst of all—and now I will depart.” Then she went and proceeded to the ship, and there she was well received. They were given good weather. Then in the same evening, when men prepared their beds, Ragnar said that he wanted Kráka and him to sleep together. She said it could not be thus, “and I want you to drink a wedding feast for me, when you come to your kingdom; for that seems more fitting to my honor and to you and our offspring, if we have any.” He granted her request, and they traveled well. Ragnar then came home to his land, and a glorious feast was prepared for his return; then there was joyful drinking for both his return and his wedding. And thefirst evening, when they came to one bed, Ragnar wished to consummate their marriage, but she asked to avoid that, because she said that some evil might afterwards be born out of it if her advice was ignored. Ragnar said that could not be true, and he said that the poor man and women were not prophetic. He asked how long it should be so. Then she said:|
"Þrjár vit skulum þessar,
Three nights shall thus pass,
|Ok þó hún kvæði þetta, gaf Ragnarr at því engan gaum ok brá á sitt ráð.||And although she said that, Ragnar gave it no heed, and followed his own advice.|
|VII. Nú líða stundir fram, ok var samför þeira góð ok miklar ástir. En Kráka kennir sér sóttar ok verðr léttari ok elr sveinbarn, ok var sveinninn vatni ausinn ok nafn gefit ok kallaðr Ívarr. En sá sveinn var beinlauss ok sem brjósk væri þar, sem bein skyldu vera. Ok þá er hann var ungr, var hann vexti svá mikill, at engir váru hans jafningjar. Hann var allra manna fríðastr sýnum ok svá vitr, at eigi er víst, hverr meiri spekingr hefir verit en hann. Þeim verðr enn fleiri barna auðit. Annarr sonr þeira hét Björn, inn þriðji Hvítserkr, inn fjórði Rögnvaldr. Þeir váru miklir menn allir ok inir fræknustu, ok þegar þeir máttu nokkut at hafast, námu þeir alls konar íþróttir. Ok hvert sem þeir fóru, lét Ívarr bera sik á stöngum, því at hann mátti eigi ganga, ok skyldi hann hafa ráð fyrir þeim, hvat sem þeir höfðust at. Nú eru þeir Eirekr ok Agnarr, synir Ragnars, miklir menn fyrir sér, svá at trautt finnast þeira jafningjar, ok búa þeir á herskipum hvert sumar ok eru ágætir af sínum hernaði. Ok nú er þat einn dag, at Ívarr ræðir við bræðr sína, Hvítserk ok Björn, hvé lengi svá skal fram fara, at þeir skyli heima sitja ok leita sér engrar frægðar. En þeir segja, at þeir skyli hans ráðum fram fara um þat sem annat. "Nú vil ek," segir Ívarr, "at vér biðim, at oss sé fengin skip ok lið, svá at þau sé vel skipuð, ok síðan vil ek, at vér aflim oss fjár ok ágætis, ef svá vill upp takast." Ok er þeir höfðu þetta ráðit með sér, segja þeir Ragnari, at þeir vilja, at hann fái þeim skip ok skipi liði því, er reynt sé at herfangi ok búit vel fyrir alls sakir. Ok gerir hann þat eptir því, sem þeir beiddu. Ok nú er þetta lið er búit, fara þeir ór landi. En þar sem þeir berjast við menn, fá þeir meira hlut ok fá sér nú bæði mikit lið ok fé. Ok nú segir Ívarr, at hann vildi, at þeir heldi þar til, er meira ofrefli er fyrir, ok reyndi svá sinn hraustleik. Ok nú spyrja þeir, hvar hann vissi þess ván. Ok nú nefnir hann einn stað, þann er heitir Hvítabær, en þar höfðu verit blót, -- "ok margir hafa til leitat at vinna, ok hafa engir sigrazt," ok hafði Ragnarr komit þar ok varð frá at hverfa ok fekk ekki at gert. "Hvárt er þat lið svá mikit," segja þeir, "ok svá harðfengt, eða eru þar önnur torveldi?" Ívarr segir, at bæði var fjölmenni mikit ok blótstaðr mikill ok þat hafði öllum fyrir komit ok engir höfðu staðizt. Ok nú mæla þeir, at hann skyldi fyrir ráða, hvárt þeir skyldu þangat halda eða eigi. En hann segir, at hann vill heldr hætta á, hvárt meira má þeim harðfengi eða blótskapr landsmanna.||
VII. A little while passed, and their marriage was good, and
full of love. Then Kráka knew herself to be pregnant, and it progressed
until she gave birth to a boy-child, and the boy was sprinkled with
water and given a name and called Ívar. The boy was boneless and there
was cartilage where his bones should have been, but when he was young,
he grew so strong that none was his match. He was of all men most
handsome in appearance and so wise that none was known who was a wiser
councilor than he. It happened that more children were granted them.
Another son they called Björn,* the third Hvítserk,† the fourth
Rögnvald. They were all great men, very valiant, and as soon as they
could learn them, they became well versed in all the iðrottir. And
wherever they went, Ívar had himself borne on staves, as he could not
walk, and he had advice for them in whatever they did. Eirek and Agnar,
Ragnar’s sons, were such great men themselves that their like could
hardly be found, and they went in their war-ships every summer and were
renowned for their harrying. And then it happened one day that Ívar
asked his brothers, Hvítserk and Björn, how long might pass by while
they sat at home rather than having their renown increased. And they
said that they would act on his advice in that as in other things. Ívar
said, “Now I want us to ask to have ships prepared for us, and troops
enough to man them, and then I want us to gain gold and glory for
ourselves, if it is possible.” And when they had decided upon that plan
amongst themselves, they told Ragnar that they wanted him to get them
ships and veteran troops who were experienced in the seizing of
treasure, and well prepared for anything. And he gave this to them as
they asked. And then, when their troops were prepared, they traveled
from that land. And wherever they fought with men, they got the best of
them and got for themselves both many troops and much treasure. And then
Ívar said that he wanted them to continue on until a more powerful force
was before them, and thus they might test their prowess. And then they
asked where he knew to find such a force. And then he named a place,
which was called Hvitabær, where pagan sacrifices were held—“and many
have sought to win it, but have not been victorious,” and Ragnar had
come there but had to fall back without having achieved his goal. “Are
the forces there so great,” they asked, “and so hardy, or are there
other difficulties?” Ívar said both that the thronging troops were great
and the place of sacrifice was powerful, so all that had gone against it
had not been victorious. And then they said that he should advise
whether they should set a course for there or not. And he said that he
desired greatly to discover what might be the greater: their own
hardiness, or the magical powers of the people there.
* Björn – A common name, meaning “the bear.”
† Hvítserk – “white-shirt”
|VIII. Nú halda þeir þangat, ok er þeir koma þar í land, búast þeir til uppgöngu. Ok nú þykkir þeim þurfa, at liðit gæti sumt skipanna. En Rögnvaldr, bróðir þeira, var þá ungr, at þeim þótti hann eigi til færr vera í svá mikilli mannraun at vera sem þeim þótti líkligt, at vera mundi, ok láta hann gæta skipa með sumu liði. En áðr þeir færi frá skipum, segir Ívarr, at þeir borgarmenn eigu naut tvau, ok eru þat kvígendi, ok menn höfðu því frá horfit, at eigi mátti standast lát þeira ok tröllskap. Þá mælti Ívarr: "Verðið við sem bezt þótt yðr bjóði nokkurn ótta, því at eigi mun til saka." Nú fylkja þeir liði sínu. Ok er þeir nálgast borgina, verða þeir varir við, er byggja staðinn, taka nú at leysa út naut þessi, er þeir trúðu á. Ok er kvígendin eru laus látin, hlaupa þau hart ok láta illa. Nú sér Ívarr þetta, þar sem hann er borinn á skildi, ok biðr fá sér boga, ok svá var gert. Nú skýtr hann þessi in illu kvígendi, svá at hvárttveggja fekk bana, ok var nú af hendi leystr þessi ófriðr, er mönnum þótti mestr ótti at. Nú tekr Rögnvaldr til orða at skipum ok mælti við lið sitt, at þeir menn væri sælir, er slíka skemmtan skyldu hafa sem þeir bræðr hans hafa. "Ok gengr þeim ekki annat til, er ek skylda eptir vera, en þeir einir vilja hafa virðing af. Nú skulu vér ganga upp gervallir." Ok nú gera þeir svá. Ok þá er þeir koma eptir liðinu, gengr Rögnvaldr hart fram í bardagann, ok lýkr svá, at hann fellr. En þeir komast í borgina bræðr, ok tekst nú bardagi af nýju, ok lýkr svá, at borgarmenn komast á flótta, en þeir reka flóttann. Ok er þeir hverfa aptr til borgarinnar, kveðr Björn vísu:||VIII. They set a course for that place, and when they came to that land they prepared to disembark. And they thought it necessary that some of the troops keep guard over the ships. And Rögnvald, their brother, was so young that they thought him to be unready for such great peril as there would likely be, and they had him guard the ships with some of the troops. And after they went from the ships, Ívar said that the garrison had two cattle, which were young geldings, and men turned and fled before them, as they could not stand their bellowing and their troll-like form. Then Ívar said: “Bear yourselves as best you can, although you feel some fear, because nothing will harm you.” Then they departed with their troops. And when they drew near the fortress, it happened that they who lived in that place became aware of them, and they loosed the cattle that they had great faith in. And when the geldings were let loose, they leapt forward fiercely and roared terribly. Then Ívar saw them from where he was borne upon a shield, and he told his men to bring his bow, and it was done. Then he shot at the evil geldings, so that they both received their deaths, and then the battle that the men had most feared was ended. Then Rögnvald began to speak back at the ships, and he said to the troops that those men were fortunate who should have such entertainment as his brothers had. “And there is no other reason that I should remain behind except that they wished to have all the glory. But now we shall all go ashore.” And then they did so. And when they came upon the troops, Rögnvald went fiercely into the fray, and it happened thus that he fell. And the brothers came to the fortress, and they took to the fray anew. It happened then that the men of the fortress took to flight, and the brothers pursued the fleeing host. And when they returned afterwards to the fortress, Björn spoke this verse:|
"Upp hrundu vér ópi,
We fell with a cry
|Ok er þeir koma aptr í borgina, taka þeir allt lausafé, en brenna hvert hús, er í var borginni, ok brjóta alla borgarveggi. Ok nú halda þeir skipum sínum þaðan.||Then when they came back to the fort, they took all the treasure and burned what houses were in the fortress, and broke down all the battlements. And then they sailed their ships thence.|
IX. Eysteinn hefir konungr heitit, er réð fyrir Svíþjóðu.
Hann var kvángaðr ok átti eina dóttur. Sú hét Ingibjörg. Hún var allra
kvenna fríðust ok vænst sýnum. Eysteinn konungr var ríkr ok fjölmennr,
illgjarn ok þó vitr. Hann hafði atsetu at Uppsölum. Hann var blótmaðr
mikill, ok at Uppsölum váru blót svá mikil í þann tíma, at hvergi hafa
verit meiri á Norðrlöndum. Þeir höfðu átrúnað mikinn á einni kú, ok
kölluðu þeir hana Síbilju. Hún var svá mjök blótin, at menn máttu eigi
standast lát hennar. Ok því var konungr vanr, þá er hers var ván, at
þessi kýr in sama var fyrir fylkingum, ok svá mikill djöfuls kraptr
fylgdi henni, at óvinir hans urðu svá ærir, þegar þeir heyrðu til
hennar, at þeir börðust sjálfir ok gáðu sín eigi, ok fyrir þá sök var
óherskátt á Svíþjóð, at menn treystust eigi við slíkt ofrefli at etja.
Eysteinn konungr átti vingott við marga menn ok höfðingja, ok er þat
sagt, at í þann tíma var vinátta mikil með þeim Ragnari ok Eysteini
konungi ok þeir váru því vanir, at sitt sumar skyldi sækja veizlu hvárr
þeira til annars.
IX. There was a king called Eystein, who ruled over Svíþjóð.* He
was married and had one daughter. She was called Ingibjörg. She was the
prettiest of all women and beautiful to behold. King Eystein was
powerful and had many followers. He was ill-tempered, though wise. He
had settled himself at Uppsala. He was a great sponsor of sacrifices,
and there were so many sacrifices at Uppsala at that time that nowhere
in the Northlands were there more. They had great faith in one cow, and
they called her Síbilja. She had been sacriced to so much that men could
not stand before her bellowing. The king was wont, when an overwhelming
army was expected, to send this cow in front of the host; such great
devilish power filled her that all his foes became so maddened as soon
as they heard her that they fought among themselves and cared not for
their own safety. Because of this, Svíþjóð was unharried by assaults,
for men dared not contend against such power. King Eystein had
friendship with many men and chieftains, and it is said that at that
time there was a great friendship between the Kings Eystein and Ragnar,
and this was their custom—that they should, alternating each summer,
prepare a feast for the other.
*Svíþjóð – modern day Sweden.
|Nú kemr at því, at Ragnarr skal sækja veizlu til Eysteins konungs. Ok er hann kemr til Uppsala, var honum vel fagnat ok liði hans. Ok þá er þeir drekka inn fyrsta aptan, lætr konungr dóttur sína byrla sér ok Ragnari. Ok þat mæltu menn Ragnars með sér, at engi væri annarr til en hann bæði dóttur Eysteins konungs, en hann ætti eigi lengr karlsdóttur. Ok nú verðr til einnhverr hans manna at tjá þetta fyrir honum, ok því lýkr svá, at honum er heitit konunni, ok skyldi hún þó sitja í festum mjök lengi. En þá er þeiri veizlu var lokit, býst Ragnarr heim, ok ferst honum vel, ok er ekki sagt frá ferð hans, fyrr en hann á skammt til borgarinnar, ok liggr leið hans um skóg einn. Þeir koma í eitt rjóðr, er var í skóginum. Þá lætr Ragnarr nema staðar lið sitt ok kvaddi sér hljóðs ok biðr þá menn alla, er í hans ferð höfðu verit til Svíþjóðar, at engi skyldi segja hans fyrirætlan, er stofnuð var um ráðahag við dóttur Eysteins konungs. Nú leggr hann svá ríkt við þetta, ef sá er nokkurr, er of þetta geti, at hann skal engu fyrir týna nema lífinu. En nú er hann hafði talað slíkt er hann vildi, fór hann heim til bæjarins. Ok nú verða menn fegnir, er hann kemr aptr, ok þá var drukkit fagnaðaröl í móti honum.||Then it came about that Ragnar was to go to a feast of King Eystein’s. And when he came to Uppsala, there was a good welcome for him and his men. And when they drank together on the first evening, the king had his daughter fill the cups for himself and Ragnar. And Ragnar’s men said amongst themselves that it would not be otherwise than that he would ask for King Eystein’s daughter, if only he no longer was married to the poor man’s daughter. And then it happened that one of his men brought this to his attention; and thus in the end it happened that the princess was promised to the king, but she would stay as his betrothed for a long time. And then when their feast was ended, Ragnar journeyed homeward, and it went well for him—but nothing is said of his journey before he came a short distance from his fortress, and his path lay through a wood. They came to a clearing in the forest. Then Ragnar brought his troops to a halt and asked for their silence and told all his men, who had been with him on his journey to Svíþjóð, that they should say nothing of his intent to enter into marriage with King Eystein’s daughter. Then he laid so strict a penalty on this that whosoever spoke of that would receive nothing less than the loss of his life. And when he had spoken what he had wanted, he went home to the town. And then it happened that men rejoiced when he came back, and there was drinking and a joyous banquet in his honor.|
|Ok er hann kemr í hásætit ok hefir setit eigi lengi, áðr Kráka kemr í höllina fyrir Ragnar ok sezt í kné honum ok leggr hendr um háls honum ok spyrr: "Hvat er tíðenda?" En hann kveðst engi kunna at segja. Ok er á leið kveldit, taka menn til drykkju, ok síðan fara menn til svefns. Ok er þau koma í eina rekkju Ragnarr ok Kráka, spyrr hún hann enn tíðenda, en hann kveðst engi vita. Nú vill hún hjala margt, en hann kveðst vera syfjaðr mjök ok farmóðr. "Nú mun ek segja þér tíðendi," segir hún, "ef þú vilt mér engi segja." Hann spyrr, hver þau væri. "Þat kalla ek tíðendi," segir hún, "ef konungi er heitit konu, en þat er þó sumra manna mál, at hann eigi sér aðra áðr." "Hverr sagði þér þetta?" segir Ragnarr. "Halda skulu menn þínir lífi ok limum, því at engi sagði mér þinna manna," segir hún. "Þér munduð sjá, at fuglar þrír sátu í trénu hjá yðr. Þeir sögðu mér þessi tíðendi. Þess bið ek, at þú vitir eigi ráða þessa, sem ætlat er. Nú mun ek segja þér, at ek em konungs dóttir, en eigi karls, ok faðir minn var svá ágætr maðr, at eigi fekkst hans jafningi, en mín móðir var allra kvenna fríðust ok vitrust, ok hennar nafn mun uppi, meðan veröldin stendr." Nú spyrr hann, hverr faðir hennar var, ef hún væri eigi dóttir þess ins fátæka karls, er á Spangarheiði var. Hún segir, at hún var dóttir Sigurðar Fáfnisbana ok Brynhildar Buðladóttur. "Þat þykki mér allólíkligt, at þeira dóttir mundi Kráka heita eða þeira barn mundi í slíku fátæki upp vaxa sem á Spangarheiði var."||And then he came to the high-sea. He had not been sitting there long when Kráka came into the hall before Ragnar and sat on his knee and laid her arms about his neck and asked: “What are your tidings?” But he said he knew of nothing to tell her. And when the evening came, men took to drinking, and afterwards men went to sleep. And when Ragnar and Kráka came into the same bed, she asked him yet again for tidings, and he said he did not know any. Then she wished to converse more, but he said he was very sleepy and weary from traveling. “Now I can tell you tidings,” she said, “if you will not tell them to me.” He asked what they might be. “I call it tidings,” she said, “if a woman is promised to a king, although some men say that he already has another.” “Who told you this?” asked Ragnar. “Your men will keep their lives and limbs, since none of those men told this to me,” she said. “You remember how three birds sat in a tree near you. They told me these tidings. I ask this of you—that you not stay fixed on this course of action as you intend. Now I shall tell you that I am the daughter of a king and not of a poor man, and my father was such a great man that none have proved themselves his equal, and my mother was the most beautiful of all women and the wisest. Her name shall be lifted up as long as the world is standing.” Then he asked who her father was, if she was not the daughter of the poor man who was living at Spangarheið. She said that she was the daughter of Sigurð Fáfnisbana and Brynhild Buðladóttur. “It seems to me very unlikely that their daughter would be called Kráka and their child might wind up in such poverty as there was at Spangarheið.”|
|Þá svarar hún: "Saga er til þess," ok nú segir hún ok hefr þar upp sögu, sem þau hittust á fjallinu Sigurðr ok Brynhildr ok hún var byrjuð. "Ok er Brynhildr varð léttari, var mér nafn gefit, ok var ek kölluð Áslaug." Ok nú segir hún allt, sem farit hafði frá því, er þau karl hittust. Þá svarar Ragnarr: "Þessum mun ek við bregða Áslaugar órunum, er þú mælir." Hún svarar: "Þú veizt, at ek em eigi heill maðr, ok mun þat vera sveinbarn, er ek geng með, en á þeim sveini mun vera þat mark, at svá mun þykkja sem ormr liggi um auga sveininum. Ok ef þetta gengr eptir, bið ek þess, at þú komir eigi til Svíþjóðar þeirar tíðar, at þú fáir dóttur Eysteins konungs. En ef þetta rýfst, far þú með sem þú vilt. En ek vil, at sjá sveinn sé heitinn eptir feðr mínum, ef í hans auga er þetta frægðarmark, sem ek ætla, at vera muni." Nú kemr at þeiri stundu, er hún kennir sér sóttar ok verðr léttari ok elr sveinbarn. Nú tóku þjónustukonur sveininn ok sýndu henni. Þá mælti hún, at bera skyldi til Ragnars ok láta hann sjá. Ok nú er svá gert, at sá inn ungi maðr var borinn í höllina ok lagðr í skikkjuskaut Ragnars. En er hann sér sveininn, var hann spurðr, hvat heita skyldi. Hann kvað vísu:||She answered thus: “This is the story,” and then she spoke and brought forth the tale of Sigurð and Brynhild meeting on the mountain and how she was begotten. “And when Brynhild was delivered, a name was given me, and I was called Áslaug.” And then she spoke of everything that had happened until she met the poor man. Then Ragnar answered: “I am surprised by these mad-ramblings about Áslaug which you speak.” She answered: “You know that I am with child. It will be a male child that I have, and this mark will be on the boy: that it will seem that a snake lies within the boy’s eyes. And if this comes about, I ask this—that you do not go to Svíþjóð at the time that you would receive the daughter of King Eystein. But if this fails to come about, go if you want. But I want the boy to be called after my father if in his eyes is that mark of glory, as I think there will be.” Then it came to the time when she knew herself to be in labor, and she delivered a boy-child. Then the serving women took the boy and sprinkled him with water. Then she said that they should bear him to Ragnar and let him see him. And then this was done, and thus the young man was borne unto the hall and laid in the lap of Ragnar’s cloak. And when he saw the boy, he was asked what he should be called. He spoke a verse:|
"Sigurðr mun sveinn of heitinn,
Sigurð will the boy be called—
|Nú dregr hann gull af hendi sér ok gefr sveininum at nafnfesti. Ok þá er hann réttir höndina með gullinu, kemr við bak sveininum, en þat virðir Ragnarr svá sem hann vildi hata gullinu. Ok nú kvað hann vísu:||Then he pulled a ring from off his hand and gave it to the boy as a nafnfestr. But as he reached forth his hand with the gold, it touched the back of the boy, and Ragnar deemed that to mean that he would hate gold. And then he spoke a verse:|
"Brynhildar lízt brögnum
He will be pleasing to heroes,*
*pleasing because of his
generosity with gold.
† brunsteinn – “brow-stones,” a kenning for “eyes.”
‡ undleygs boði – “the messenger of the sword,” a kenning for warrior, i.e. Sigurð.
|Ok enn kvað hann:||And again he spoke:|
"Sá ek engum sveini
I have never seen bridles§
§ tuama – “bridles,” a kenning for “snakes.”
¶ brunsteinn – same as above, “eyes.”
**barðhjarls bruna – “beard-slopes of the brow.” “Beard-slopes” is a kenning for cheeks, and “cheeks of the brow” means “eye sockets.” Thus the first helming (the first four line section) literally translates: “I have never seen snakes in the eyes of an eye-socket, save in Sigurð alone.”
†† i.e. a hunter, i.e. Sigurð.
|Nú mælti hann, at þann svein skyldi bera í skemmu út. En þá var því lokit, at hann mundi til Svíþjóðar fara. Ok nú kemr upp ætt Áslaugar, svá at þat veit hverr maðr, at hún er dóttir Sigurðar Fáfnisbana ok Brynhildar Buðladóttur.||Then Ragnar said that they should bear the boy out to the bower. And that was the end of his going to Svíþjóð. And then the family-line of Áslaug came out, and every man knew that she was the daughter of Sigurð Fáfnisbana and Brynhild Buðladóttur.|
|X. Nú er sú stund var liðin, er á var kveðit, at Ragnarr skyldi veizluna sækja til Uppsala ok kom hann eigi, þótti Eysteini konungi ger til sín svívirðing ok dóttur sinnar, ok nú var lokit vinfengi þeira konunganna. Ok þá er þeir Eirekr ok Agnarr, synir Ragnars, spyrja þetta, þá ræddu þeir með sér, at þeir mundu fá sér lið mikit, sem þeir mætti mest, ok mundu herja á Svíþjóð. Ok nú draga þeir saman lið mikit ok búa skip sín, en þótti mikit undir, at vel tækist til, þá er skip skyldi fram setja. Nú verðr þat, at skip Agnars skauzt af hlunni, ok varð þar maðr fyrir, ok fær sá bana, ok kölluðu þeir þat hlunnroð. Nú þótti þeim eigi vel til takast í fyrstu ok vildu ekki láta standa þat fyrir ferð sinni. Ok þá er lið þeira var búit, fara þeir með lið sitt til Svíþjóðar, ok þar, er þeir koma fyrst í ríki Eysteins konungs, fóru þeir herskildi yfir.||X. When that time had passed when it had been agreed that Ragnar would go to the wedding at Uppsala and he had not come, it seemed to King Eystein that it brought dishonor upon himself and his daughter; and then the friendship between the kings was ended. And when Eirek and Agnar, Ragnar’s sons, heard that, they then plotted between themselves to go with as many troops as they might muster, that they might harry in Svíþjóð. And then they gathered together many troops and readied their ships, and it seemed to them very important that all went well when the ships set forth. Then it happened, that Agnar’s ship shot off the launch rollers, and a man was in the way, and received thus death: and they called that “the reddening of the rollers.” This seemed to them not to be a good beginning, but they would not let that stand in the way of their journey. And when their troops were prepared, they traveled with their troops to Svíþjóð, and there, when they came quickly to King Eystein’s kingdom, they traveled across it with war-shields.|
|En landsmenn urðu varir við ok fóru til Uppsala ok segja Eysteini konungi, at herr var kominn í landit. En konungrinn lætr fara örvarboð um ríki sitt ok dregr svá mikinn her saman, at furða var at. Ok þann her flytr hann, þar til er hann kemr í skóg einn, ok setr þar sínar herbúðir, ok hefir hann nú með sér kúna Síbilju, ok mjök er hún nú blótin, áðr en hún vildi fara. Ok er þeir eru í skóginum, mælti Eysteinn konungr: "Frétt hefi ek til," segir hann, "at synir Ragnars eru á völlunum fyrir framan skóginn, en þat er mér sannliga sagt, at þeir hafi eigi einn þriðjung liðs við oss. Nú skulu vér skipa várar fylkingar til at berjast, ok skal þriðjungr liðs várs fara í mót þeim, ok eru þeir svá harðfengnir, at þeir munu þykkjast hafa ráð várt í hendi, ok þegar eptir skulum vér öllum megin koma at þeim, ok kýrin skal fara fyrir liðinu, ok væntir mik, at eigi skuli þeir haldast við fyrir lát hennar."||But the men of that land became aware of them and went to Uppsala and told King Eystein that they had come to the land. And the king had a message send in the form of an arrow throughout his kingdom and thus gathered so many men together that it was wondrous. And then he traveled with them until he came to a forest, and they there set up their camp. He then had with him the cow Síbilja, and many were the sacrifices to her before she would travel. And when they were in the forest, King Eystein spoke: “I have news,” he said, “that Ragnar’s sons are on the field beside this forest, and it was said to me truly that they do not have a third of our troops. Now we shall arrange our host for battle, and a third of our troops shall go to meet them first, and they are so unflinching that they will think they have us in their power. Immediately afterwards we shall come at them with all our might, and the cow shall go before our troops, and it seems to me that they will not hold before her bellowing.”|
|Ok nú er svá gert. Ok þegar er þeir bræðr sjá lið Eysteins konungs, þótti þeim sér ekki ofrefli við at eiga ok ætla eigi meira liðit vera munu. Ok þegar hér eptir kemr allt liðit ór skóginum, ok kýrin er laus látin, ok hleypr hún fyrir liðinu ok lætr grimmliga, ok varð svá mikill gnýr at þeim hermönnum, er heyrðu, at þeir börðust sjálfir, nema þeir bræðr tveir fengu staðizt. En sú in illa vættr vá með hornum sínum margan mann þann dag. Ok þótt synir Ragnars væri miklir fyrir sér, þá máttu þeir eigi bæði standast ofrefli fjölmennis ok blótskap, ok þó veittu þeir harða viðtöku ok vörðust vel ok drengiliga ok af mikilli frægð. Þeir Eirekr ok Agnarr váru í öndverðri fylkingu þann dag, ok opt gengu þeir í gegnum fylkingar Eysteins konungs. Ok nú fell Agnarr. Nú sér Eirekr þat ok berst nú allra fræknligast ok hirðir nú eigi, hvárt hann kemst í brott eða eigi. Ok nú verðr hann ofrliði borinn ok handtekinn. Ok nú mælti Eysteinn, at stöðva skyldi bardagann, ok bauð Eireki grið. "Ok þat mun ek til leggja," segir hann, "við þik, at ek mun gifta þér dóttur mína." Eirekr segir ok kvað vísu:||And then it was so done. And as soon as the brothers saw King Eystein’s troops they thought that their foes did not have power greater than theirs, and it did not occur to them that there might be more troops. And soon after all the troops came from the forest and the cow was set loose, and she leapt before the troops and went about fiercely. So great a din arose that the warriors who heard it fought among themselves, except for the two brothers holding their ground. But the evil creature struck many a man with her horns that day. But Ragnar’s sons, though they were powerful in themselves, thought they might not stand against both the great crowd and the pagan sacrificial-magic. However, they faced it unflinchingly and guarded themselves well and bravely and with great renown. They, Eirek and Agnar, were at the front of the host that day, and often they went against the host of King Eystein. But then Agnar fell. Eirek saw that and then bore himself most boldly and did not care whether he came away or not. Then he was overborne by the great force and seized. And then Eystein declared that the battle should stop, and offered Eirek peace. “And I will lay this offer before you,” he said, “that I will give you my daughter.” Eirek replied, and spoke this verse:|
"Vilkat boð fyr bróður
I will not hear an offer for my brother,
|Nú segir hann, at hann vill, at þeir menn hafi grið ok fari hvert er þeir vilja, er þeim hafa fylgt. "En ek vil, at spjót sé tekin sem flest ok sé stungit spjótunum í völl niðr, ok þar vil ek mik láta hefja á upp, ok þar vil ek láta lífit." Nú segir Eysteinn konungr, at eptir því skal gera, sem hann beiðir, þótt hann kjósi þat, er verr gegnir hvárumtveggjum. Nú eru spjótin niðr sett, ok kvað Eirekr vísu:||Then he said that he wanted the men who had followed them to have peace to go wherever they wished. “And I wish to have as many spears as possible taken up, then have the spears set up in the ground, and I wish myself to be lifted up upon them—there I want to leave life.” Then King Eystein said that that would be done thus, as he asked, though he chose that which went worse with them both. Then the spears were set up, and Eirek spoke a verse:|
"Munat eins konungs efni,
I think that no king’s son
|Ok nú gengr hann þar til, er spjótin eru niðr sett, ok tekr hring af hendi sér ok kastar til þeira, er honum höfðu fylgt ok þá váru grið gefin, ok sendir þá til Áslaugar ok kvað visu:||And then he went to where the spears were set up and he took a ring off his hand and cast it to those who had followed him and who had been given peace, and he commended it to Áslaug and spoke a verse:|
"Þau berið orð it efra,
Bear you my last words,
|Ok nú er hann hafinn upp á spjótin. Þá sér hann, hvar hrafn flýgr, ok enn kvað hann:||And then he was heaved up on the spears. Then he saw where the raven flew, and again he spoke:|
"Hlakkar már of höfði
The sea-mew* rejoices over the head
† Unda valr – “wound hawk,” a kenning for “raven.”
‡ Ekkil – The name of a famous sækonungur (sea-king), here taken as “the sea-king,” i.e. Eirek.
|Nú lætr hann líf sitt með mikilli hreysti. En sendimenn hans fóru heim ok létta eigi fyrr en þeir koma þar, er Ragnarr átti atsetu. Ok þá var hann farinn í konungastefnu. Þeir váru ok eigi heim komnir synir Ragnars ór hernaði. Nú eru þeir þar þrjár nætr, áðr þeir gangi til fundar við Áslaugu. Ok þá er þeir koma fyrir hásætit Áslaugar, kveðja þeir hana virðuliga, ok tekr hún kveðju þeira, ok hafði hún einn líndúk fyrir knjám sér ok ætlaði at kemba sér, ok hárit hafði hún leyst. Nú spyrr hún, hverir þeir væri, fyrir því at hún hafði þá eigi fyrr sét. Sá, er orð hafði fyrir þeim, sagði, at þeir höfðu verit liðsmenn þeira Eireks ok Agnars, sona Ragnars. Þá kvað hún vísu:||Then he gave up his life with great valor. And his messengers went home and did not let up until they came to where Ragnar had residence. And then Ragnar’s sons had not come home from raiding. They were there for three nights before they went to meet with Áslaug. And when they came before Áslaug in her high-seat, they greeted her worthily; she received their greeting. She had one linen handkerchief upon her knee, and she had unloosed her hair, and she intended to comb it. Then she asked who they were, since she had not seen them before. He who had spoke on their behalf said that they had been among the troops of Eirek and Agnar, the sons of Ragnar. Then she spoke a verse:|
"Hvat segið ér ór yðru,
What is said by you,
|Hann kvað vísu í mót:||He spoke a verse in reply:|
"Þér segjum vér, þínum,
There is need, woman,
|Nú spyrr hún, hvé farit hafði. Ok nú kvað hann þá vísu, er Eirekr hafði kveðit, er hann sendi henni hringinn. Nú sjá þeir, at hún felldi tár, en þat var sem blóð væri álits, en hart sem haglkorn. Þat hafði engi maðr sét, at hún hefði tár fellt, hvárki áðr né síðan. Nú segir hún, at hún má ekki til hefnda sýsla, fyrr en heim koma aðrir hvárir, Ragnarr eða synir hans. "En þér skuluð vera hér þar til, en ekki skal af spara at eggja til hefnda, jafnt sem þeir væri mínir synir." Nú eru þeir þar. En svá gefr til, at þeir Ívarr koma fyrri heim en Ragnarr, ok eru þeir eigi lengi heima, áðr Áslaug ferr at finna sonu sína, en Sigurðr var þá þrévetr. Hann ferr með móður sinni. Ok þá er hún kemr í höll þá, er þeir réðu fyrir bræðr, fagna þeir henni vel, ok spyrja hvárir aðra tíðenda, ok segja þeir fyrri fall Rögnvalds, sonar hennar, ok frá þeim atburðum, er þar höfðu orðit. En ekki fær henni þat mikils ok kvað:||Then she asked how that had happened. And then he spoke the verse, which Eirek had spoken, when he had sent her the ring. They say that she then let a tear fall, and it had the appearance of blood, but it was as hard as a hailstone. No man had seen that—that she had let fall a tear—either before or after. Then she said that she might not pursue vengeance before they came back home: that is, Ragnar or his sons. “And you shall be here until then; I shall not hold off spurring on vengeance as if they had been my own sons.” Then they stayed there. And it so happened that Ívar and the brothers came home before Ragnar, and they were not home long before Áslaug went to nd her sons. Sigurð was then three winters old. He went with his mother. And then when she came into the hall, where the brothers were discussing, they received her well. Each asked the other for tidings, and they spoke first of the fall of Rögnvald, her son, and of the circumstances, and how it had happened. But that did not seem grave to her, and she said:|
"Kaga létu mik mínir
My sons leave me by myself
"Eigi mundi yðar
You would not be
|"Eigi er víst," segir Ívarr, "hvárt þat stoðar nakkvat, þótt þú kveðir aðra vísu at annarri, eða hvé gerla veiztu, hverr fastgarðr þar er fyrir?" "Eigi veit ek þat víst," segir hún, "eða hvat kanntu at segja, hver torveldi þar er á?" Ívarr segir, at þar er blótskapr svá mikill, at hvergi kvaðst hann spurdaga hafa, at þvílíkr mundi vera. "Ok sá konungr er bæði ríkr ok illgjarn." "Hvat er þat, er hann trúir mest á í blótum?" Hann segir: "Þat er kýr ein mikil, ok er hún kölluð Síbilja. Hún er svá mjök mögnuð, at þegar er menn heyra lát hennar, hafa óvinir hans engir staðizt, ok er trautt sem berjast skuli við menn at eins, heldr má til þess ætla, at fyrri skal tröllskapnum mæta en konunginum, ok vil ek hvárki hætta þar til mér né liði mínu." Hún segir: "Á hitt máttu líta, at þú munt eigi bæði mega heita mestr maðr ok vinna ekki til." Ok nú er henni þykkir fyrir ván komit, ætlar hún í brott; þótti henni þeir eigi mikils meta sín orð. Þá mælti Sigurðr ormr í auga: "Segja má ek þér, móðir," segir hann, "hvat mér er í hug, en eigi má ek ráða þeira svörum." "Heyra vil ek þat," segir hún.||
"It is not certain,” Ívar said, “whether the matter will stand
differently, even if you speak one verse after another. However, do you
know clearly what strongholds there are before us?” “I do not know for
certain.” she said. “However, what can you say of the difficulties there
might be?” Ívar said that there was very great pagan sacrificial magic,
and he said that no man has ever heard of its like. “And the king is
both powerful and ill-natured.” “What does he have the most faith in
when making sacrifices?” He said: “That is a great cow, and she is
called Síbilja. She is so great in might that as soon as men hear her
bellowing his foes are unable to stand, it is scarcely as if the battle
is fought with men at all. It rather seems that they must face beings of
troll-like form before they face the king, and I will risk neither
myself or my troops there.” She said: “One might think that you cannot
both be called a great man and not strive to be one.” And when it then
seemed to her that matters were beyond hope, she decided to leave, she
thought they did not value her words. Then Sigurð Ormr í Auga* spoke: “I
will tell you, mother,” he said, “how it seems to me, though I might not
affect their answers.” “I wish to hear that,” she said.
*Ormr í Auga – “Snake in Eyes.”
|Nú kvað hann vísu:||Then he spoke a verse:|
"Þat skal þriggja nátta,
If you grieve, mother,
|Ok er hann hafði þessa vísu kveðit, skipast nokkut hugr þeira bræðra. Ok nú mælti Áslaug: "Yfir lýsir þú nú, sonr minn, at þú vilt gera minn vilja. En þó má ek eigi yfir sjá, at vit komim þessu á leið, ef vit höfum eigi fullting bræðra þinna, en þat mætti svá verða, at mér mætti bezt þykkja, at þessa yrði hefnt, ok vel þykki mér þér fara, sonr minn." Ok nú kvað Björn vísu:||
And when he had spoken that verse, the brothers rethought their plans somewhat. And then Áslaug said: “You now declare rightly, my son, that you shall do my will. And yet I cannot see how we might make this to come to pass if we do not have your brothers’ assistance. It may happen as it seems best to me—that this vengeance of yours will come about—and it seems to me that you proceed rightly my son.” And then Björn spoke a verse:
"Duga mun hugr ok hjarta
Though little is said in speech,
|Ok nú kvað Hvítserkr vísu:||And then Hvítserk spoke a verse:|
"Hyggjum at, áðr heitim,
at hefnt megi verða,
látum ýmsa illu,
Agnars bana, fagna;
skjótum húf á hrannir,
höggum ís fyr barði,
sjám á hitt, hvé snekkjur
snemmst vér fáim búnar."
Let Agnar’s bane
now rejoice little;
but we must think before
we say that there might be vengeance.
We must push out a ship onto the waves,
Break up the ice before the stern;
We must see which ships
might be swiftly prepared.
|En Hvítserkr ræddi því um þat, at ís skyldi höggva, at frost váru á mikil, ok váru skip þeira inni frerin. Ok nú tók Ívarr til orða ok segir, at þá var þar komit, er hann mundi nokkurn hlut í eiga, ok nú kvað hann visu:||And Hvítserk spoke of this, that the ice must be broken, for the frost was then great, and their ships were in ice. And then Ívar began to speak and said that it had come to the point when he must take some part in it, and then he spoke a verse:|
"Hafið ofrhuga ærinn
You have both honor and
|Ok er hitt nú til," segir Ívarr, "at vér leggjum á slíkan hug sem vér megum of skipabúnað ok um samdrátt herliðs, því at vér munum þess við þurfa at spara ekki af, ef vér skulum sigrast." Nú gengr Áslaug í brott.||“And now," said Ívar, “we must devise the best plans we may for gathering warships and warriors, as we must not spare in this if we are to conquer.” Then Áslaug went away.|
XI. Sigurðr hefir átt sér einn fóstra, ok annast sá fyrir hans
hönd bæði skip at búa ok lið til at fá, svá at þau væri öll skipuð. Ok
nú gengr þeim svá skjótt, at þat lið, er Sigurðr skyldi búit hafa, var
búit, er þrjár nætr váru liðnar, ok hafði hann fimm skip ok öll vel
skipuð. Ok þá er fimm nætr váru liðnar, hafði Hvítserkr ok Björn búin
fjórtán skip, en Ívarr hafði tíu skip ok Áslaug önnur tíu, þá er sjau
nætr váru liðnar frá því, er þau höfðu við ræðzt ok þeir höfðu heitit
ferðinni. Nú hittast þau öll saman, ok segir hvárt þeira öðru, hvé mikit
lið hvert hafði fengit. Ok nú segir Ívarr, at hann hafði sent landveg
riddaralið. Áslaug segir:
XI. Sigurd had a foster-father, and he gathered for his
foster-son both ships and troops which were well prepared. And then that
was done so quickly that the troops which Sigurð was to have prepared
were readied when three nights had passed; he also had five ships, all
well prepared. And then when five nights had passed, Hvítserk and Björn
had prepared fourteen ships. When seven nights were passed from that
time when they had conceived and declared their voyage, Ívar had ten
ships and Áslaug another ten. Then they all spoke together, and told
each other how many troops they had gathered. And then Ívar said that he
had sent mounted troops by land.* Áslaug said:
|"Ef ek vissa, at þat lið mætti til gagns komast, er land færi, þá mætta ek mikit lið hafa sent." "Ekki skal nú at því dveljast," segir Ívarr, "með þetta lið skal nú fara, sem vér höfum saman dregit." Nú segir Áslaug, at hún vill fara með þeim, -- "ok veit ek þá gerst, hver stund á er lögð at hefna þeira bræðra." "Þat er víst," segir Ívarr, "at þú kemr eigi á vár skip. Hitt skal vera, ef þú vill, at þú ráðir fyrir því liði, er landveg ferr." Hún kvað svá vera skulu. Nú er breytt nafni hennar ok er nú kölluð Randalín. Nú ferr liðit hvárttveggja, ok kvað Ívarr á áðr, hvar þau skyldu finnast. Nú ferst þeim vel hvárumtveggjum ok hittast þar, sem ákveðit er. Ok hvar sem þau koma við Svíþjóð í ríki Eysteins konungs, fara þeir herskildi yfir, svá at þeir brenndu allt þat, er fyrir varð, drápu hvert mannsbarn, ok því jóku þeir við, at þeir drápu allt þat, er kvikt var.||“If I had known for certain that troops which went by land might have been useful, I might have sent some troops as well.” “We shall not delay for that,” said Ívar. “We shall now go with those troops which we have gathered together.” Then Áslaug said that she would go with them, “for I know best what pains must be taken to bring about vengeance for brothers.” “This is certain,” said Ívar, “that you will not come in our ships. If you so desire, you may command the troops which go by land.” She said it would be thus. Then her name was changed, and she was called Randalín. Then the troops both left, but before they did Ívar told them where they should meet. Then both parties fared well, and they met as they had decided. And when they had thus come to Svíþjóð and the kingdom of King Eystein, they traveled across the land with war-shields. Thus they burned all that was before them, killed every man’s son, and moreover killed all those who were living.|
|XII. Nú er þat eitthvert sinn, at menn komast undan á fund Eysteins konungs ok segja honum, at í ríki hans var kominn mikill herr ok svá illr viðskiptis, at þeir létu ekki ógert ok þeir höfðu eytt allt þar, er þeir höfðu yfir farit, ok ekki hús stóð upp. Nú er Eysteinn konungr heyrir þessi tíðendi, þykkist hann vita, hverir þeir víkingar munu vera. Ok nú lætr hann fara örvarboð um allt sitt ríki ok stefnir öllum til, þeim er hans menn eru ok honum vilja lið veita ok skildi megu valda.||XII. And then it happened that men escaped and found King Eystein and told him that to his kingdom had come an army which was powerful and thus difcult to deal with, and which would not leave anything unharmed. They had pillaged all which they had come across so that no house was still standing. When King Eystein heard these tidings, he thought he knew who these vikings might be. And then he had a summons sent by arrow throughout his entire kingdom, and he summoned all those who were his men and who wished to give him troops and might bear shields.|
"Vér skulum hafa með oss kúna Síbilju, goð várt, ok láta hana
hlaupa fyrir liðinu, ok væntir mik, at enn fari sem fyrr, at þeir megu
eigi standast lát hennar. Vil ek allt lið mitt þess eggja, at sem bezt
dugi, ok rekum af oss þenna inn mikla her ok inn illa."
Ok nú er svá gert, at Síbilja er laus látin. Ok nú sér Ívarr för hennar ok heyrir þau in grimmligu læti, er ór henni váru. Mælir hann, at allt liðit skyldi gera óhljóð mikit, bæði af vápnum ok herópi, at þeir heyri sem sízt rödd hennar, þess ins illa kykvendis, er fór í móti þeim. Ívarr mælti við sína burðarmenn, at þeir skyldu bera hann á móti, svá sem þeir mætti framast.
“We shall have with us our cow Síbilja, who is a god, and let
her leap before the troops. It seems to me that it will go as before,
that they will not be able to stand before her bellowing. I will
encourage all my troops to do their best, and thus drive off the large
and evil force.”
And then it was thus done, that Síbilja was let loose. And then Ívar saw her charge and heard the hideous bellowing which was coming out of her. He thought that all the troops should make a great noise, both with weapons and war-cry, so that they would barely hear the voice of that evil creature when she charged towards them. Ívar spoke with his carriers, telling them that they should bear him forward so that he might be closer to the front.
|"Ok þá er sjá kýr kemr at oss, kastið mér at henni, ok mun þá vera annathvárt, er ek skal láta mitt líf, eða hún skal fá bana. Nú skulu þér taka eitt tré mikit ok telgja á bogamynd ok skeyti með." Ok nú er honum færðr sjá bogi inn sterki ok þau in miklu skeyti, er hann hafði gera látit, en engum þótti sér vápnhæft annarra. Nú eggjar Ívarr hvern mann, at dugi sem bezt. Nú ferr lið þeira með miklum geysingi ok gný, en Ívarr var borinn fyrir fylkingum þeira.||“And when you see the cow come at us, cast me at her, and it shall go one way or the other—that I shall lose my life, or she shall have her bane. Now you must take one mighty elm-tree and carve it into the shape of a bow, along with arrows.” And when this strong bow was brought to him along with the great arrows that they had made, they did not seem to them usable as weapons to anyone. Then Ívar encouraged his men to do their best. Then the troops went with great impetuousness and noise, and Ívar was borne before their battle array.|
|Nú verðr svá mikill gnýr, er Síbilja beljar, at þeir heyrðu jafngerla sem þeir þegði ok stæði kyrrir. Nú bregðr þeim svá við þetta, at lið þeira vill berjast allt nema þeir bræðr. Ok er þessi endemi verða, sjá þeir þat, er Ívar báru, at hann dregr svá boga sinn sem hann hefði einn álmsveig veikan, ok við því þótti þeim búit, at hann drægi fyrir odd örvar sínar. Nú heyra þeir, at strengr gellr hans svá hátt, at hann heyrðu þeir aldrigi svá fyrri. Ok nú sjá þeir, at hans örvar flugu svá snart sem hann hefði skotit af inum sterkasta lásboga ok svá gegnt, at í sitt auga kom hvár örin Síbilju. Ok nú fellr hún, ok eptir þat ferr hún höfuðsteypu, ok nú eru læti hennar miklu verri en fyrri.||Such a great din arose when Síbilja bellowed that they heard it just as well as if they had been silent and standing still. Then that caused it to happen that the troops fought amongst themselves, all save the brothers. And when this wonder took place, those who bore Ívar saw that he drew his bow as if he held a weak elm branch, and it seemed as if he drew the arrow point back past his bow. Then they heard a louder twang from his bow than they had ever heard before. And then they saw that his arrows flew as swift as if he had shot a strong crossbow and they saw it happen that the arrows came to sit in each of Síbilja’s eyes. And then she fell, but after that she went on headfirst, and her bellowings were much worse than before.|
|Ok er hún kemr at þeim, biðr hann kasta sér at henni, ok verðr þeim hann svá léttr sem þeir kasti barni litlu, því at þeir váru eigi allnær kúnni, þá er þeir köstuðu honum. Ok þá kom hann á hrygg kúnni Síbilju, ok varð hann þá svá þungr sem bjarg eitt felli á hana, ok hvert bein brotnar í henni, ok fær hún af því bana. Nú biðr hann menn sik upp taka sem skjótast. Ok nú er hann upp tekinn, ok nú er rödd hans svá hvell, at svá þótti öllum herinum, er hann mælti, sem við sjálft væri, þótt fjarri væri staddir, ok it bezta hljóð væri til gefit hans erendis. Ok svá lýkr hann sinni tölu, at ófriðr sjá, nemst þegar af allr, er yfir þá hafði komit, ok þá sakaði ekki, því at lið þeira hafði skamma stund barizt.||And when she came at them, he commanded them to cast him at her, and he became to them as light as if they cast a little child, because they were not very near the cow when they cast him. And then he came down heavily upon the cow Síbilja, and he became then as heavy as a boulder when he fell on her, and every bone in her was broken, and she received her death. Then he commanded his men to take him up quickly. And then he was taken up, and his voice was ringing so that all heard when he spoke, and it seemed to all the army as if he was standing near each man, though he was far off. It became perfectly silent as he gave his orders. And he spoke to this end—that the warring, which they had come for, was soon to be all finished, and no harm was done when the troops had skirmished briefly amongst themselves.|
|Nú eggjar Ívarr, at þeir skyli vinna sem verst verk á þeim. "Ok nú þykki mér af inn ólmasti, er kýrin er drepin." Ok nú hafa hvárirtveggju fylkt liði sínu, ok sígr saman orrostan, ok er bardagi svá harðr, at þat mæltu allir Svíar, at þeir hefði aldri í slíkri mannraun verit. Nú ganga þeir svá hart fram bræðr, Hvítserkr ok Björn, at engi fylking stendr við. Ok nú fellr svá mjök lið Eysteins konungs, at minna stendr upp, en sumt kemr á flótta.||Then Ívar encouraged them to wreak great harm upon those they had fought. “And now it seems to me that the most violent of them is gone, since the cow is slain.” And then both armies had their troops drawn up, and together they clashed in battle, and the battle was so difficult that all the Swedes said that they never had had such a trial of their manhood. And then both brothers, Hvítserk and Björn, went at them so hard that no battle-array could stand against them. And then so many of King Eystein’s troops fell that a scant few remained standing, and some decided to flee.|
|Ok nú lýkr svá þeira bardaga, at Eysteinn konungr fellr, en þeir bræðr hafa sigr. Ok nú gefa þeir þeim grið, sem eptir váru. Ok nú segir Ívarr, at hann vildi eigi herja lengr í því landi, því at þat land var nú höfðingjalaust. "Ok vil ek heldr, at vit haldim þar til, er meira ofrefli er fyrir." En Randalín fór heim með sumt liðit.||
And their battle concluded thus—that King Eystein fell,
and the brothers had the victory. And then they gave quarter to those
that lived after the battle. And then Ívar said that he did not wish to
harry in that land, because that land was now lacking a leader. “And I
would that we hold course until a greater opposition is before us.” But
Randalín journeyed home with some troops.
*riddaralið – “riding troops,” often translated as “a band of knights.” This is another term borrowed from continental romances, as it is the term riddar (rider), the term used to denote a knight. However, I have not translated it as “knight,” simply because the connotations are not the same at all.
|XIII. Nú ráða þeir þat með sér, at þeir skulu herja í Suðrríki. En Sigurðr ormr í auga, sonr hennar, fór með bræðrum sínum í hverja herför síðan. Í þessi för leggja þeir til hverrar borgar, er mikil er, ok unnu svá, at ekki stóð við.||XIII. Then they decided among themselves that they should harry in the Southern Kingdom. And Sigurð Ormr í Auga, Randalín’s son, went with his brothers on every raid after that. In these raids they strove against every town which was strong, and they fought so that none could prevail against them.|
|Ok nú spyrja þeir til einnar borgar þeirar, at bæði var mikil ok fjölmenn ok harðger. Ok nú segir Ívarr, at hann vill þar til stefna. Ok þat var ok sagt, hvat sú borg hét ok hverr fyrir ræðr. En sá höfðingi var kallaðr Vífill. Af hans nafni var borgin kölluð Vífilsborg. Nú fara þeir svá herskildi yfir, at þeir eyða allar borgir, er fyrir urðu, þar til er þeir kómu til Vífilsborgar. Höfðinginn var eigi heima í borg sinni ok mikit lið með honum.||
And then they heard that there was one town that was both strong
and full of hardy men. And then Ívar said that he wanted to head for
there. And this is said of what the town was called and who ruled over
it: the chieftain was called Vífil*, and his namesake was a town called
Vífilsborg. Then they traveled with war-shields so that they desolated
all the towns that they happened upon, until they came to Vífilsborg.
The chief was not at home in his town, and many of his troops were away
*Vífil – “beetle.” A name common amongst freedmen and slaves.
|Nú setja þeir upp búðir sínar á völlum þeim, er hjá borginni váru, ok eru í kyrrðum þann dag, er þeir kómu til borgarinnar, ok höfðu mál af borgarmönnum. Þeir buðu þeim, hvárt þeir vildu heldr gefa upp borgina, ok mundi þá friðr gefinn öllum mönnum, eða þeir ynni af sínu ofrefli ok harðfengi, ok munu þá engum mönnum grið gefin.||Then they set up their tents on the plains that were about the town. They were peaceful during the day when they came to the town, and they held a talk with the townsmen. Ragnar’s sons asked the townsmen whether they would rather give up the town, and in return they would all be granted peace, or rather test their forces and their hardihood, and their men would then receive no quarter.|
|En þeir leystu skjótt ór ok sögðu, at þá borg fengi þeir aldrigi unnit, svá at þeir gefi hana upp. "Ok munu þér verða fyrr at reyna yðr ok sýna oss yðvarn fræknleik ok kapp." Líðr nú sú nótt. Ok inn næsta dag eptir leita þeir til at vinna borgina ok fá ekki at gert. Sitja þeir um þá borg hálfan mánuð ok leita til hvern dag, at þeir geti þá borg unnit, ok með ýmsum brögðum.||But they responded quickly and said that the town would never be so overcome. “But before that happens, you must try us and show us your valor and zeal.” Then the night passed. And the very next day they went to strive against the town but could not overcome it. They sat around the town for half a moon and they strove every day with different strategies, that they might get the town.|
|En þat ferr því firr sem þeir hafa lengr við leitat, ok ætluðu nú frá at hverfa. Ok þá er borgarmenn verða við þat varir, at þeir ætla frá at hverfa, þá ganga þeir út á borgarveggi ok breiða guðvefjarpell of alla borgarveggina ok öll klæði þau, er fegrst váru í borginni, ok törruðu fyrir þeim gulli ok gersimum þeim, er mestar váru í borginni. Ok nú tekr einn til orða af liði þeira ok mælti:||But it happened that they were no nearer victory after a long while, and they then decided to turn away from there. And when the townsmen became aware that they were planning to turn away from there, then they went out to the town walls and spread out their valuable cloth and all those clothes, which were the nest in the town, over the town walls and they laid out their gold and their valuables, which were the most expensive in the town. And then one of their troop took to words and spoke:|
|"Vér hugðum, at þessir menn, synir Ragnars, ok lið þeira væri harðfengnir menn, en vér megum þat segja, at þeim hefir eigi nær farit en öðrum."||“We thought that these men, the sons of Ragnar, and their troops were hardy men, but we can see that they have not come nearer to victory than others.”|
|Nú eptir þetta æptu þeir á þá ok börðu á skjölduna ok eggjuðu at sér sem þeir máttu mest. Ok er Ívarr heyrir þetta, brá honum við mjök, svá at hann fær af þessu sótt mikla, svá at hann má hvergi hræra, ok verða þeir at bíða, at annathvárt batni honum ella hafi hann bana. Hann liggr þenna dag allan til kvelds, svá at hann mælti ekki orð. Ok þá mælti hann við þá menn, er hjá honum váru, at þeir skyldu segja þeim Birni, Hvítserki ok Sigurði, at hann vildi þeira fund hafa ok allra inna vitrustu manna.||Then after that they shouted at them and beat upon their shields and egged them on the best they could. And when Ívar heard that, he was so greatly startled that he fell into a great sickness, so that he might not stir, and they had to wait until it came about that he either recovered or he died. He lay there all that day until evening, and spoke not a word. And then he spoke with those men who were with him, saying that they should tell Björn, Hvítserk and Sigurð and all the wisest men that he wanted to hold a talk with them.|
|Ok nú er þeir koma allir í einn stað, er mestir höfðingjar eru í þeira liði, þá spyrr Ívarr þá eptir, ef þeir hefði nokkur ráð sét, þau er líkari væri til at sigrast en þau, er þeir höfðu fyrr haft. En þeir svara allir, at þeir hefði eigi vit til þess at sjá þau brögð, er þeim væri sigr í. "Er nú sem optar, at þinna ráða mun njóta verða."||And when they all came and were in one place, those who were the greatest leaders among the troops, then Ívar asked if they had devised any tactic which was likely to succeed more than those which they had tried before. But they all answered that they did not have such wit in these matters that they might devise a tactic which would be successful. “Now, as often, you are the one whose advice might be useful.”|
|Þá svarar Ívarr: "Mér hefir eitt ráð í hug komit, þat er vér höfum eigi freistat. Hér er skógr mikill eigi langt í brott, ok nú, er náttar, skulu vér fara ór tjöldum várum leyniliga til skógar, en herbúðir várar skulu standa eptir, ok er vér komum í mörkina, skal hverr maðr binda sér byrði. Ok er því er lokit, skulu vér fara at borginni öllum megin ok slá eldi í viðinn, ok mun þá gerast bál mikit, ok borgarveggir þeira munu þá láta lím sitt fyrir þeim eldi, ok skulu vér þá bera at valslöngur ok reyna, hvé harðger hún er."||Ívar answered thus: “One plan has come to me in my mind, which we have not tried. There is a large forest not far from here, and now, when night falls, we shall travel from our tents secretly to the forest, but we will leave our war-tents standing here, and when we come to the forest, each man shall bind branches for himself. And when that is done, we shall attack the town from all sides and strike fire in the wood, and there will then be a great blaze, and the town-walls will then lose their lime because of the fire. And we shall then bring up our war-slings and see how hardy they are.”|
|Ok nú er svá gert, at þeir fara til skógar, eru þar slíka hríð sem Ívari sýndist. Nú fara þeir at borginni eptir tilskipun hans, ok þá er þeir lustu eldi í viðinn inn mikla, varð bál svá mikit, at veggirnir megu eigi standast ok láta lím sitt, ok bera þeir þá valslöngur at borginni ok brjóta á hlið mörg, ok tekst nú bardagi. Ok þegar er þeir standa jafnt at vígi, þá fellr lið borgarmanna, en sumt flýr undan, ok svá lýkr þeira skiptum, at þeir drepa hvert mannsbarn, er í var borginni, ok taka brott allt fé, en brenna borgina, áðr þeir fari á brott.||And thus it was done: they traveled to the forest, and they were there as long as Ívar deemed necessary. Then they attacked to the town in accordance with his arrangements, and then when they had struck fire in the large pile of wood there was so great a blaze that the walls could not stand it and they lost their lime. Then Ívar’s troops brought their war-slings up to the town and broke a large gap in the walls, and a battle began. And as soon as the two forces stood evenly opposed in battle, then the troops of townsmen fell, and some fled before them, and some, in the end, fled to their ships. They killed every man’s child who was in the town, and they took all the goods and burnt the town before they went on their way.|
|XIV. Nú halda þeir í brott þaðan, þar til er þeir koma í þá borg, er Lúna hét. Þá höfðu þeir hverja borg ok hvern kastala brotit náliga í öllu Suðrríki, ok nú eru þeir svá frægir of allan heim, at ekki var svá lítit barn, at eigi kynni nafn þeira. Nú ætla þeir at létta eigi fyrr en þeir koma til Rómaborgar, af því at sú borg var þeim bæði sögð mikil ok fjölmenn ok ágæt ok auðig. En þat vissu þeir eigi gerla, hvé löng leið þangat er, en þeir höfðu svá mikit lið, at eigi fengust vistir.||
XIV. Now they held course from there until they came to the town
called Lúna. By then they had broken nearly every town and every castle
in all the Southern Kingdom, and they were then so famous in all that
region that there was no child, however young, that did not know their
name. Then they planned not to let up until they had come to Rómaborg,*
because that town was then both very mighty and full of men, and famous
and rich. But they did not quite know how long a distance it was to that
town, and they had such a large troop that they could not supply
provisions for them.
*Rómaborg – “Town of the Romans,” i.e. Rome.
Ok nú eru þeir í þeiri borg Lúna ok ræða með sér of ferð sína.
Nú kemr þar maðr einn, gamall ok geðsligr. Þeir spyrja, hvat manna hann
væri, en hann segir, at hann sé einn stafkarl ok hafi alla ævi farit
"Þú munt margt kunna tíðenda at segja oss, þat er vér viljum vita."
And when they were at the town of Lúna they discussed the
journey amongst themselves. Then there came a man, who was old and
cunning. They asked what sort of man he was, and he said that he was a
poor beggar and had, for all his life, journeyed across the land.
“You must then know many things you can tell us, which we want to know.”
Inn gamli maðr svarar: "Eigi veit ek þat víst, af hverjum löndum
þér vilið spyrja, þess er ek veit eigi at segja yðr."
"Þat viljum vér, at þú segir oss, hvé löng leið er heðan til Rómaborgar."
Hann svarar: "Ek kann segja yðr nokkut til merkja. Þér meguð hér sjá þessa járnskó, er ek hefi á fótum mér, þeir eru nú fornir, ok þá aðra, er ek hefi á baki mér, þeir eru nú ok slitnir. En þá er ek fór þaðan, batt ek þessa á fætr mér ina slitnu, er ek hefi nú á baki mér, ok váru þá nýir báðir, ok á þeiri leið hefi ek verit ávallt síðan."
The old man answered: “I do not know of anything that I will be
unable to tell you, whatever land you want to ask of.”
“We want you to tell us how far it is to Rómaborg from here.”
He answered: “I can show you something to indicate that. You may see here these ancient iron shoes, which I have on my feet, and these others, which I carry on my back, which are now worn out. But when I set out from there, I bound these worn-out ones on my feet, which I now have on by back, and at that time both sets were new. I have been on the road ever since.”
|En er inn gamli maðr hafði þetta mælt, þykkjast þeir sjá, at þeir megu eigi þessu á leið koma, er þeir hafa fyrir sér ætlat, til Róms at fara. Ok nú snúa þeir frá með her sinn ok unnu margar borgir, þær er aldri höfðu unnar verit fyrr, ok þess jarteinir sjást enn í dag.||And when the old man had said that, they thought that they could not continue on the way to Rome, as they had intended amongst themselves. And then they turned away with their warriors and captured many towns which had never been captured before, and proof of this can be seen to this day.|
XV. Nú er þar til máls at taka, er Ragnarr sitr heima í ríki
sínu ok hann veit eigi, hvar synir hans eru né Randalín, kona hans. Ok
þat heyrði hann hvern tala af sínum mönnum, at engir mætti jafnast við
sonu hans, ok hugðist honum svá at, at engir væri jafnfrægir þeim.
Nú hyggr hann at því, hverrar frægðar hann mætti þess leita, er eigi væri skemmr uppi. Nú hyggr hann ráð sitt ok fær sér smiða ok lætr fella mörk til tveggja skipa mikilla, ok þat skildu menn, at þat váru knerrir tveir svá miklir, at engir höfðu slíkir verit gervir á Norðrlöndum, ok þar með lætr hann hafa of allt sitt ríki mikinn vápnabúnað. Ok með þessi breytni skilja menn þat, at hann mun ætla nokkura herferð fyrir sér ór landinu.
XV. Now the story tells us that Ragnar was sitting at home in
his kingdom and he did not know where his sons were, or Randalín, his
wife. But he heard tales from all his men that said that none might be
equal to his sons, and it seemed to him that none were as famous as
Then he wondered how he might gain fame that would not be any less long lived. Then he thought about this to himself, and then he sent for his craftsmen and had them fell wood for two large ships, and men heard that these two merchant vessels were so large that such ships had never been made in the North-lands. Then he gathered from all his kingdom a large mass of arms. And from these actions, men discerned that he had decided on some war-expedition away from his land.
|Þetta spyrst víða á lönd þau, er næst váru. Ok nú ugga menn þat ok allir konungar, er fyrir landi réðu, at þeir mundu eigi í löndum sínum eða ríkjum vera mega. Ok nú lætr hverr þeira vera varðhöld um lönd sín, ef nokkur beri hann at. Þat er eitt sinn, er Randalín spurði Ragnar, hverja för hann ætlaði fyrir sér. Hann segir henni, at hann ætlaði til Englands ok hafa eigi fleiri skip en tvá knörru ok þat lið, sem á þeim má fara.||
This became known across all of the lands that were nearby. And
then all the men and the kings who ruled those lands feared that they
might not be able to remain in their lands. And they all had watches set
up across their lands, in case he might attack them. One day Randalín
asked Ragnar where he was intending on journeying. He told her that he
intended to go to England* with no more ships than two merchant vessels,
and as many troops as they might ferry.
*England, the land of the Englar. One of the few proper place names to need no translation.
Þá segir Randalín: "Sú för lízt mér óvarlig, er nú ætlar
þú. Mér þætti þér ráðligra at hafa fleiri skip ok smæri."
"Þat er ekki ágæti" segir hann, "þótt menn fái unnit land með mörgum skipum. En til þessa eru eigi dæmi, at með tveimr skipum hafi unnit verit slíkt land sem England er. En ef ek fæ ósigr, þess betr sem ek hefi færi skip ór landi."
Then Randalín said: “This journey which you are planning seems
very imprudent to me. I have a mind to advise you to have more boats,
and smaller ones.”
“There is no glory,” he said, “if men conquer a land with many ships. But there is no tale of any that have conquered such a land as England with two ships. And if I suffer defeat, it is better that I have taken few ships from this land.”
|Þá svarar Randalín: "Mér sýnist sjá eigi minni fékostnaðr, áðr þessi skip sé búin, en þótt þú hefðir langskip mörg til þessarar ferðar. En þú veizt þat, at illt er skipum at halda at Englandi, ok ef svá verðr, at skip þín týndist, þótt menn komist á land, þá eru þeir þegar upp gefnir, ef landherr kemr at, en betra er at halda langskipum til hafna en knörrum. Nú kveðr Ragnar vísu:||Then Randalín answered: “It seems to me no less expensive to build these two ships than to have more long-ships for this journey. And you know that it is difcult for ships to hold course to England, and if it happens that your ships are lost, then even if your men make it to land they will then be lost if the lord of the land comes. It is better to hold course to harbors in long-ships than in merchant vessels!” Then Ragnar spoke this verse:|
"Spari manngi röf Rínar,
No bold man may spare the
*röf Rínar – “amber of the Rhine,” a kenning for gold.
† jöfra – “boars,” used poetically to mean chieftains. The term comes from the old practice of chieftains wearing helms adorned with the head of a boar. Normally I would simply translate this as “chieftain”—it is not really a kenning—but Ragnar’s use of the terms “boar” and “young-boar” to refer to himself and his sons seems to justify such literalism, and even adds a hint of foreshadowed irony.
|Nú lætr hann skip sín búa ok fær sér lið, svá at þeir knerrir eru mjök skipaðir. Nú er fjölrætt um hans fyrirætlan. Ok enn kvað hann vísu:||Then he had his ships readied and his men gathered, so that the merchant vessels were fully loaded. There was much discussion about his plans. But he spoke this one verse:|
"Hvat er þats baugs ór björgum
What is it that I, the breaker of rings,*
*bauga... brjótr –
“breaker of rings.” This phrase refers to the king’s role as provider of
wealth to his champions, signified by the “breaking,” i.e. distributing,
of rings. It is a kenning for “king,” which here refers to Ragnar.
†mundelds meiðir – “distributor of the fire of the hand.” Mundelds means “fire (eldr) of the hand (mund),” a kenning for “gold.” Once again, the phrase “distributor of gold” is a kenning for “king,” and again denotes Ragnar.
‡ mars sviðr ófní – “the difficult serpents of the sea.” Ófni is the name of a serpent from the poetic Edda, here used as a kenning for simply “serpent.” Ófni mars (serpents of the sea) is a kenning for “ships.”
§ægir alnar leygjar – “scatterer of the fore-arm layings.” The “forearm layings” are bracelets of gold which adorn the fore-arm, and thus “the scatterer of gold” is once again a kenning for Ragnar.
¶þorn-Bil – “lady Bil.” þorn means ‘thorn,’ ‘pin,’ or ‘brooch.’ The latter usage is often combined into a kenning for “woman:” þornleið (brooch-field), þorn-grund (brooch-ground), etc. Here it is apparenlty used as a kenning for “woman” in its own right. Bil is the name of a goddess, and the entire construction, þorn-Bil, is a kenning which refers to Randalín.
|Ok er skip hans eru búin ok þat lið, er honum skyldi fylgja, ok þá er þat veðr kemr, er honum þótti sér vel koma, segir Ragnarr, at þá mundi hann fara til skipa. Ok er hann var búinn, leiddi hún hann til skipa. Ok áðr þau skiljast, kjeðst hún mundu launa honum serk þann, er hann hafði gefit henni. Hann spyrr, með hverjum hætti þat væri. En hún kvað vísu:||And when his ships and those troops that would accompany him were ready, and when it seemed as if good weather would come, Ragnar said that he would go to the ships. And when he was ready, Randalín accompanied him to the ships. But before they parted, she said that she would reward him for that shirt which he had given her. He asked what manner of reward it would be, and she spoke a verse:|
"Þér annk serk inn síða
I sewed for you
|Hann segir, at hann vill þessi ráð þiggja. En þá er þau skildust, var auðsætt, at henni þótti mikit fyrir þeira skilnaði.||He said that he would accept this aid. And then when they parted, it was evident that their parting seemed very difficult for her.|
|Nú heldr Ragnarr skipum sínum til Englands, sem hann hafði ætlat. Honum gaf byri hvassa, svá at við England brýtr hann báða knörru sína, en á land komst allt lið hans, ok heldu klæðum sínum ok vápnum. Ok þar, sem hann kemr við þorp ok borgir ok kastala, þá vinnr hann. En konungr sá hét Ella, er þá réð Englandi. Hann hafði haft fréttir til Ragnars, er hann fór ór landi. Hann hafði sett menn fyrir, at hann skyldi þegar vita, er herrinn kæmi við land. Nú fóru þeir menn til fundar við Ellu konung ok segja honum hersögu. Nú lætr hann senda boð um allt sitt ríki ok bað til sín koma hvern mann, er skildi má valda ok hesti ríða ok þori at berjast, ok dregr hann saman svá mikinn her, at furða var at. Nú búast þeir til bardaga Ella konungr.||Then Ragnar held course in his ships to England, as he had planned. He received a bitter wind, so that he broke both his merchant-vessels against England, but all his troops came to land and they kept their clothes and weapons. And there, whenever he came to farms and towns and castles, he conquered them. And there was a king called Ella, who then ruled England. He had heard reports when Ragnar had left his own land. Ella had sent forth men, so that he might know as soon as Ragnar came to land. Then these men journeyed to meet with King Ella, and told him war-tidings. Then he had a summons sent throughout all his land and commanded every man come to him who could wield a shield and ride a horse and who dared to fight. He gathered so many together there that it was a wondrous thing. Then King Ella and his men prepared for battle.|
|Þá mælti Ella konungr við lið sitt: "Ef vér sigrumst í bardaga þessum ok verði þér við þat varir, at Ragnarr er kominn, þá skulu þér eigi bera vápn á hann, því at hann á þá sonu eptir, er aldri munu af oss ganga, ef hann fellr."||Then King Ella spoke with his troops: “If we gain victory in this battle, and it happens that you know that it is Ragnar who has come against us, then you shall not bear weapons against him, because he has sons who would never again leave us be if he fell.”|
Ragnarr býst nú til bardaga, ok hann hafði þat klæði, er Randalín hafði
gefit honum at skilnaði, fyrir brynju ok þat spjót í hendi, er hann vann
at orminum, er lá um sal Þóru, ok engi þorði annarra, ok hann hafði enga
hlíf nema hjálm.
En þá er þeir hittast tókst bardagi. Ragnarr hafði miklu minna lið. Bardaginn hafði eigi lengi verit, áðr lið Ragnars fell mjök. En þar, sem hann fór, varð rýrt fyrir, ok gekk hann í gegnum fylkingar þann dag, ok þar, sem hann hjó eða lagði í skjöldu, brynjur eða hjálma, þá váru svá stór högg hans, at ekki vetta stóð við, en aldri var svá til hans höggvit eða skotit, at né eitt vápn yrði honum at meini, ok fekk hann aldri sár, en hann drap mikinn fjölda af liði Ellu konungs. En þó lauk svá bardaga þeira, at allt lið Ragnars fell, en at honum váru bornir skildir ok svá handtekinn.
At the same time, Ragnar prepared for battle, and he had that
piece of clothing which Randalín had given him at their parting on over
his mail, and in his hand was that spear with which he had vanquished
the snake which lay about Þóra’s bower and which no one else had dared
to face, and he had no protection save his helm.
And when they met, the battle began. Ragnar had many fewer troops. The battle had not been going long before most of Ragnar’s troops fell. But wherever he went that day, the army cleared away before him. He struck at their shields or mail or helms, and so great were his hewings that none could stand before them. It happened with all who shot or hewed at him that not one weapon did him any harm, and he never received a wound—but he killed a great multitude of King Ella’s troops. However, the battle ended so that all of Ragnar’s troops fell, and he was overborne with shields and seized.
Nú var hann spurðr, hvat manna hann var, en hann þagði við ok svaraði
engu. Þá mælti Ella konungr:
"Sjá maðr mun verða at koma í meiri mannraun, ef hann vill eigi segja oss, hverr hann er. Nú skal kasta honum í einn ormgarð ok láta hann þar sitja mjök lengi, ok ef hann mælir nakkvat þat, er vér megim skilja, at hann sé Ragnarr, þá skal hann í brott taka sem skjótast."
Nú er honum þangat fylgt, ok hann sitr þar mjök lengi, svá at hvergi festast ormar við hann. Þá mæltu menn:
"Þessi maðr er mikill fyrir sér; hann bitu eigi vápn í dag, en nú granda honum eigi ormar."
Þá mælti Ella konungr, at hann væri flettr af klæði því, er hann hafði yst, ok nú var svá gert, ok hengu ormar öllum megin á honum. Þá mælti Ragnarr:
"Gnyðja mundu nú grísir, ef þeir vissi, hvat inn gamli þyldi."
Ok þótt hann mælti slíkt, þá vissu þeir eigi at gerr, at Ragnarr væri þat heldr en annarr konungr. Nú kvað hann vísu:
Then he was asked who he was, but he was silent and did not
answer. Then King Ella spoke:
“This man may thus come to a greater trial if he will not tell us who he is. Now he shall be cast into a snake pit, and let him sit there a very long while. But if he says anything by which we might know he is Ragnar, then he shall be taken out as quickly as possible.”
Then he was led from there and he sat in the pit a very long while, but no snakes fastened onto him. Then the men said:
“This man is very strong: he was not bitten by a weapon all day, and now no snakes harm him.”
Then King Ella said that he was to be stripped of the outermost clothing that he had on; thus it was done, and all the snakes hung on him on all sides. Then Ragnar said:
“The young pigs would now squeal if they knew what the older one suffered.”
And though he spoke thus, they did not know for certain that it was Ragnar who was held rather than another king. Then he spoke a verse:
"Orrostur hefk áttar,
I have had fifty
|Ok enn kvað hann:||And he spoke another:|
"Gnyðja mundu grísir,
The young pigs would squeal
Ragnar Lodbrok's Death
by Hugo Hamilton
|Nú lætr hann líf sitt, ok er hann nú færðr á brott þaðan. En Ella konungr þykkist vita, at Ragnarr hefir líf sitt látit. Nú hyggr hann fyrir sér, hvé hann skyldi þess verða varr eða með fara, at hann mætti halda ríki sínu eða vita, hvé þeim brygði við sonum Ragnars, er þeir spyrja. Hann tekr þat til ráðs, at hann lætr búa skip eitt ok fær þann mann til fyrir at ráða, er bæði var vitr ok harðfengr, ok þar fær hann menn til, svá at þat skip var vel skipat, ok segir, at hann vill þá senda á fund Ívars ok þeira bræðra ok segja þeim fall föður þeira. En sjá för líst flestum óvænlig, svá at fáir vildu fara.||Then he gave up his life, and he was taken out of there. And King Ella thought he knew that it was Ragnar who had given up his life. Then he thought to himself how he could come to know this, and how he could hold his kingdom and how he could know in what way the Ragnarssons would react when they learned of it. He decided on a plan: he then readied a ship and chose a man to carry out that plan, who was both wise and hardy. Then he chose men, so that the ship was well manned, and said that he wanted to send a message to Ívar and the others to tell them of the fall of their father. But the journey seemed most hopeless, so that few wanted to go.|
Þá mælti konungr: "At því skulu þér vandliga hyggja, hversu hverjum
þeira bræðra bregðr við þessi tíðendi.
"Farit þá leiðar yðarrar síðan, er yðr gefr veðr."
Svá lætr hann búa ferð þeira, at þeir þurftu at engu annarra. Ok nú fara þeir, ok ferst þeim vel.
Then the king spoke:
“And you must attend closely to how each of the brothers reacts to these tidings. Then travel away afterwards, when you are given fair winds.”
So he had the journey prepared so that they wanted nothing. And then they journeyed, and they traveled well.
En synir Ragnars höfðu herjat of Suðrríki. Þá sneru þeir á Norðrlönd ok
ætluðu at vitja ríkis síns, þess er Ragnarr réð fyrir. En þeir vissu
eigi herför hans, hversu hún hafði orðit, ok þó er þeim mikil forvitni
á, hversu hún hafði orðit. Nú fara þeir sunnan of land. En hvarvetna, er
menn frétta til fara þeira bræðra, eyddu menn borgir sínar ok færðu fé
sitt á brott ok flýðu undan, svá at trautt fengu þeir liði sínu mat.
Þat er einn morgin, at Björn járnsíða vaknar ok kvað vísu:
And the sons of Ragnar had been harrying in the Southern
Kingdom. Then they turned their course to the Northern-Lands and planned
to visit their kingdom, where Ragnar ruled. But they did not know of his
battle-journey or how it had had turned out, but they were very curious
to know how it had turned out. Then they journeyed across the south of
the land. And everywhere, when men heard of the journey of the brothers,
men deserted their towns and ferried their belongings off and fled away
before them, so that the brothers could scarcely find food for their
One morning Björn Járnsíða woke and spoke a verse:
"Hér flýgr hverjan morgin
The heath-falcon* flies here
|Ok enn kvað hann:||And he spoke another:|
"Þat var fyrst, er fórum,
It was first that we journeyed
*heiðir vals –
“heath-falcon,” a kenning for “raven,” as it flies over the fields of
*dögg ór skýlihöggum – “dew from damaging blows.” A kenning for “blood.”
†dauðs manns dreyra – “the flowings/oozings from man’s deaths.” A kenning for “blood.”
‡Romaveldi – the kingdom of the Romans.
|XVI. Nú berr svá til, at þeir koma fyrri í Danaveldi en sendimenn Ellu konungs ok sitja nú kyrrir með lið sitt. En sendimenn koma með lið sitt til þeirar borgar, er synir Ragnars þiggja veizlu, ok ganga í þá höll, er þeir drekka, ok fyrir hásætit, er Ívarr liggr í. Sigurðr ormr í auga ok Hvítserkr hvati sitja at hneftafli, en Björn járnsíða skefr spjótskepti á hallargólfinu. Ok er sendimenn Ellu konungs koma fyrir Ívar, kveðja þeir hann virðuliga. En hann tekr kveðju þeira ok spyrr, hvaðan þeir sé eða hvat þeir segja tíðenda. Ok sá, er fyrir þeim var, segir, at þeir váru enskir menn ok þá hefir Ella konungr þangat senda með þau tíðendi at segja fall Ragnars, föður þeira. Hvítserkr ok Sigurðr láta þegar falla niðr taflit ok hyggja at vandliga þessi tíðenda sögn. Björn stendr á hallargólfinu ok studdist við spjótskepti sitt. En Ívarr spurði þá vandliga, með hverjum atburð líflát hans hafði verit.||XVI. They went on so that they came to Danmörk before the messengers of King Ella, and then they sat quietly with their troops. And when the messengers came with their troops to the town where the sons of Ragnar were being given a feast, they went into the hall where they were drinking, and went before the high-seat where Ívar was lying. Sigurð Ormr í Auga and Hvítserk sat playing hneftafl, and Björn Járnsiðr was carving a spear-shaft on the floor of the hall. And when the messengers of King Ella came before Ívar, they spoke to him respectfully. He received their greeting, and asked where they were from, and what tidings they bore. And the one, who was their leader, said that they were Englishmen, and that King Ella had sent them thither with tiding which spoke the fall of Ragnar, their father. Hvítserk and Sigurð quickly let the tafl-pieces fall from their hands, and they attended closely to the tiding-tale. Björn stood on the floor of the hall and leaned on his spear-shaft. But Ívar asked them exactly what the circumstances of Ragnar’s life-leaving had been.|
King Ælla's messengers before Ragnar Lodbrok's Sons
by August Malmstrom (1857)
sögðu allt sem farit hafði þaðan frá, er hann kom við England ok til
þess, er hann lét líf sitt. Ok nú er þessi sögu var þar komit, er hann
hafði þetta mælt: "Gnyðja mundu grísir," -- þokar Björn höndum sínum á
spjótskaptinu, ok svá hafði hann tekit fast, at handastaðinn sá á eptir.
Þá er sendimenn luku frásögn þessi, hristir Björn spjótit í sundr, svá
at stökk í tvá hluti. En Hvítserkr hélt töfl einni, er hann hafði
drepit, ok hann kreisti hana svá fast, at blóð stökk undan hverjum
nagli. En Sigurðr ormr í auga hafði haldit á knífi einum ok skóf nagl
sinn, er þessi tíðendi váru sögð, ok hugði svá vandliga at þessum
tíðendum, at hann kenndi eigi fyrr en knífrinn stóð í beini, ok brást
hann ekki við. En Ívarr spyrr at öllu sem gerst, en litr hans var
stundum rauðr, en stundum blár, en lotum var hann bleikr, ok hann var
svá þrútinn, at hans hörund var allt blásit af þeim grimmleik, er í
brjósti hans var. Nú tekr Hvítserkr til orða ok sagði, at svá mætti
hefndina bráðast upp hefja at drepa sendimenn Ellu konungs.
Ívarr segir: "Þat skal eigi vera. Þeir skulu fara í friði, hvert er þeir vilja, ok ef nokkurr hlutr er sá, at þá skorti, skulu þeir mér til segja, ok skal ek fá þeim."
And they told it all as it had happened, from the time he came
to England until the time he gave up his life. And then when the tale
came to when he had said “the young boars might grumble,” Björn squeezed
the spear-shaft with his hand, and he squeezed so strongly that the
print of his hand was seen on it afterwards. When the messengers ended
the recounting, Björn shook the spear asunder, so that it broke into two
pieces. And Hvítserk held a tafl-piece that he had been moving, and he
crushed it so strongly that blood spurted out from under each
fingernail. And Sigurð Ormr í Auga had been holding a knife and paring
his nails when the tidings were being told, and he listened so closely
to the tidings that he did not notice until the knife stood in the bone,
and he did not flinch at that. But Ívar asked how it all had happened,
and his color was now red, now livid, and he would suddenly become very
pale, and he was so swollen that his flesh was all mortified from the
anger that was in his breast. Then Hvítserk began to speak and said that
vengeance could be most quickly taken by killing the messengers of King
Ívar said: “That shall not be. They shall go in peace wherever they wish, and anything which they lack, they need only ask me for, and I shall secure it for them.”
Ok nú er þeir hafa lokit erendi sínu, snúa þeir utar eptir
höllunni ok til skips síns. Ok er þeim gefr byr, láta þeir í haf, ok
ferst þeim vel, þar til er þeir koma á fund Ellu konungs, ok segja honum
frá, hversu hverjum þeira hefir við brugðit þessa tíðenda sögn. Ok er
Ella konungr heyrir þetta, þá mælti hann:
"Þess er ván, at annathvárt munu vér Ívar þurfa at óttast eða engan ella, at því er þér segið frá honum, ok mundi þeim gott innan rifja, ok haldit munu vér fá ríki váru fyrir þeim."
Nú lætr hann varðhöld hafa um allt sitt ríki, svá at eigi mátti herr komast á óvart honum. En er sendimenn Ellu konungs váru brott farnir, ganga þeir bræðr á málstefnu, hversu þeir skyldu með fara of hefnd eptir Ragnar, föður sinn.
And when they ended their errand, they turned back out of the
hall and to their ships. And when they were given wind, they put out to
sea, and they traveled well until they came to a meeting with King Ella,
and they told him how each of the brothers had reacted to the
tiding-signs. And when King Ella heard that he spoke:
“It is certain that we will need fear either Ívar or else no one, because of what you say of him: thoughts of revenge do not run very deep in them, and we will manage to hold our kingdom against them.”
Then he had watchmen sent throughout all his kingdom, so that no army might come at him unknown. And when the messengers of King Ella had gone away, the brothers began to discuss how they should go about revenging Ragnar, their father.
Þá mælti Ívarr: "Engan hlut mun ek í eiga ok eigi fá lið til,
því at Ragnarr fór sem mik varði. Hann bjó illa sína sök til í upphafi.
Hann átti engar sakir við Ellu konung, ok hefir þat opt orðit, ef maðr
ætlar ofrkapp fyrir sér með rangendum, at hann hefir því óvirðuligar
niðr komit. Ok vil ek þiggja fébætr af Ellu konungi, ef hann vill til
leggja við mik."
En er þeir heyra þetta bræðr hans, verða þeir reiðir mjök ok segja, at aldri skyldu þeir svá at klækjum verða, þótt hann vildi svá. "Munu þat margir mæla, at oss sé mislagðar hendr í kné, ef vér skulum eigi hefna föður várs, en vér höfum víða farit um heim með herskildi ok drepit margan mann saklausan. Ok enn skal eigi þat verða, heldr skal búa hvert skip, er sæfært er í Danaveldi. Skal svá gersamliga safna liði, at hverr maðr, er skjöld má bera í mót Ellu konungi, skal fara."
Then Ívar spoke: “I will have no part in this—I shall not muster
troops, for it happened with Ragnar as I had thought it would. He
prepared badly for his action from the beginning. He had no grievance
with King Ella, and it often happens that if a man stubbornly decides to
act unjustly, he is brought down contemptibly in such a way. And I will
accept compensation from King Ella, if he will give it to me.”
But when the brothers heard that, they became very angry and said that they would never become so cowardly, although he wished to be. “Many might say that we wrongly rest our hands upon our knees, if we do not seek father-vengeance when before we have fared widely across the land with war-shields and killed many a guiltless man. But it shall not be so; rather every ship in Danmörk that is seaworthy shall be readied. The most skilled troops shall be gathered, so that every man who may bear a shield against King Ella shall travel with us.”
En Ívarr segir, at hann mundi eptir sitja ok þau skip, er hann á
fyrir at ráða, -- "nema þat eitt, er ek á sjálfr." Ok er þetta spyrst,
at Ívarr leggr enga stund á, fá þeir miklu minna lið ok fara þó eigi at
Ok þegar er þeir kómu við England, verðr Ella konungr varr við ok lætr þegar lúðr sinn við gjalla ok býðr til sín öllum mönnum, er honum vilja fylgja. Ok nú fær hann svá mikit lið, at engi maðr mátti tölu á koma, ok ferr í mót þeim bræðrum. Ok er þeir finnast, var Ívarr ekki í þeim bardaga. Ok svá lýkr þeira bardaga, at synir Ragnars koma á flótta, en Ella konungr hefir sigr. Ok er hann var at at reka flóttann, segir Ívarr, at hann ætlar ekki aptr at hverfa til lands síns, -- "ok vil ek reyna, hvárt Ella konungr vill mér nokkurrar sæmdar unna eða engrar, ok þykki mér sá betri at þiggja yfirbót af honum en fara slíkar ófarar fleiri sem nú fóru vér."
But Ívar said that he would leave behind all those ships that he
commanded,—“except for that one, which I will be upon myself.” And when
it was heard that Ívar would not take any part in the action, they
received many fewer troops, but they went none the less.
And when they came to England, King Ella became aware of it and quickly had his trumpets sounded and called to him all the men who wished to assist him. And then he went with so many troops that no one could say how many had come, and he went to meet the brothers. Then the armies met with each other, and Ívar was not there when they clashed in battle. And when the battle ended, it came about that the sons of Ragnar fled, and King Ella had the victory. And while the king was pursuing the fleeing host, Ívar told his brothers that he did not intend to turn back to his land—“and I desire to find out whether King Ella will do me any honor or not; it seems to me better to thus receive compensation from him than to fare often again as we have now fared.”
Hvítserkr segir, at eigi mátti hlut í eiga með honum ok hann
yrði at fara með sín efni sem hann vill, -- "en aldri skulu vér fé taka
eptir föður várn."
Ívarr segir, at þar mundi skilja með þeim, ok bað þá ráða ríki því, er þeir áttu allir saman, -- "en þér skuluð senda mér lausafé, sem ek kveð á." En er hann hafði mælt, bað hann þá vel fara. En hann snýr aptr sinni ferð á fund Ellu konungs. Ok er hann kemr fyrir hann, kveðr hann konunginn virðuliga ok hefr svá mál sitt: "Ek em kominn á fund yðarn, ok vil ek mæla til sætta við þik ok slíkrar sæmdar sem þú vilt gert hafa til mín. Ok nú sé ek þat, at ek hefi ekki við þér, ok þykki mér þat betra at þiggja af yðr slíka sæmd sem þú vilt mér veita en láta mína menn fleiri fyrir yðr eða sjálfan mik."
Þá svarar Ella konungr: "Þat kalla sumir menn, at eigi sé hægt at trúa þér ok þú mælir þá opt fagrt, er þú hyggr flátt, ok mun oss vera vant at sjá við þér eða bræðrum þínum."
"Ek mun til lítils mæla við þik, ef þú lætr þat til. Skal ek þat sverja þér á mót, at ek skal aldri vera í mót þér." Nú spyrr konungr, til hvers hann mælti of yfirbætr.
"Ek vil," segir Ívarr, "at þú gefir mér þat af landi þínu, er uxahúð tekr yfir, en þar utan um skal grundvöll gera, ok mun ek eigi til meira mæla við þik, ok þat sé ek, at þú vilt mér engrar sæmdar unna, ef þú vilt eigi þetta."
"Eigi veit ek," segir konungr, "at oss megi þetta at meini verða, þótt þú hafir þetta ór mínu landi, ok at vísu mun ek fá þér þetta, ef þú vilt þat sverja mér at berjast eigi í mót mér, ok eigi uggi ek bræðr þína, ef þú ert mér trúr."
Hvítserk said that he would not have dealings with him, and he
could go about his affairs as he wished,— “but we shall never take
payment for our father.”
Ívar said that he would part with them, and told them to rule the kingdom that they had all held together, “and you should send me my things, when I ask for them.” And when he had spoken, he bade them farewell. Then he turned away to meet with King Ella. And when he came before him, he greeted the king worthily, and spoke to him thus: “I have come to meet with you, and I want to come to an agreement with you on such compensation as you will prepare for me. And now I see that I have nothing compared to you, and it seems to me better to accept such compensation from you as you will grant me, rather than to lose my men or myself to you.”
Then King Ella answered: “Some men claim that it is not safe to trust you, and that you speak most fairly when you are thinking deceitfully. It would be difficult to defend against you and your brothers.”
“I will ask little of you. If you will grant it, I will swear to you in this manner: that I shall never be against you.” Then the king asked him to say what compensation he wanted.
Ívar said, “I want you to give me as much of your land as an ox-hide covers, and outside of that shall be the outer boundary. I will not ask more from you, and I think that you wish me little honor, if you will not grant me this.”
“I do not know,” said the king, “whether it might harm us if you have that much of my land, but I think I will give it to you, if you will swear not to bear arms against me. If you are true to me, I shall not fear your brothers.”
|XVII. Nú ráða þeir þetta með sér, at Ívarr sverr honum eiða, at hann skyldi eigi skjóta í mót honum ok eigi ráð leggja til meins honum, en hann skal eignast af Englandi þat, sem uxahúð tekr yfir, er hann fengi mesta til. Nú fær Ívarr sér öldungshúð eina, ok nú lætr hann hana bleyta, ok þrisvar lætr hann hana þenja. Nú lætr hann rista hana sem mjóst alla í sundr, ok þá lætr hann renna sér hvárt, háram eða holdrosu. Ok er þessu var lokit, var þvengr sjá svá langr, at furða var at, ok engum kom í hug, at svá mætti verða. Ok þá lætr hann breiða á einum velli, en þat var svá vítt land, at þat var mikil borgarvídd, ok þar fyrir utan lætr hann marka grundvöll sem til mikilla borgarveggja. Ok þá fær hann sér smiði marga ok lætr reisa hús mörg á þeim velli, ok þar lætr hann gera borg eina mikla, ok er sú kölluð Lundúnaborg. Hún er allra borga mest ok ágæzt of öll Norðrlönd.||
XVII. Then they discussed the matter between the two of them,
and Ívar swore him an oath that he would not strike against him and not
conspire to cause him harm, and he should have as much of England as an
ox-hide could cover, the largest he might find. Then Ívar took a hide
from an old bull and he had it softened, and then he had it stretched
three times. Then he cut it all asunder into strips, as narrowly as
possible, and then he let them be split in half, between the hair and
the flesh. And when this was done, the thong was so long that it was
marveled at, as it had not been thought that it might become so large.
And then he had it laid around a field, and there was as much space as
was within a large town, and there he had the foundation marked for a
large town-wall. And then he gathered to him many craftsmen and had many
houses raised on the field, and there he had a large town built, and it
was called Lundúnaborg.* It is the largest and most famous of all towns
in the Northern-Lands.
Ok nú er hann hafði borg þessa látit gera, hafði hann lausafé
upp gefit. En hann var svá örr, at hann gaf á tvær hendr, ok þótti svá
mikit um speki hans, at allir sóttu hann at sínum ráðum ok vandamálum.
Ok svá skipaði hann öllum málum sem hverjum þótti sér bezt gegna, ok
gerist hann vinsæll, svá at hann á undir hverjum manni vin, ok er Ellu
konungi mikit lið at honum fyrir landráða sakir, svá at konungr lætr
hann mörgum ráðum ok málum skipa ok þarf eigi til at koma sjálfr. Ok er
Ívarr hafði svá komit ráði sínu, at þar þykkir til allrar spektar at
sjá, sendir hann menn á fund bræðra sinna þess erendis, at þeir sendi
honum gull ok silfr svá mikit sem hann kvað á. En er þessir menn koma á
fund þeira bræðra, segja þeir sín erendi ok svá, hvar þá var komit hans
ráð, því at menn þóttust þat eigi vita, yfir hverjum brögðum hann bjó.
Ok svá skildu þeir bræðr, at hann hafði ekki skapsmuni eptir því, sem
hann var vanr. Nú senda þeir slíkt fé sem hann á kvæði. Ok er þeir koma
til Ívars, gefr hann þau öll fé inum stærstum mönnum í landinu ok dregr
svá lið undan Ellu konungi, ok allir hétu því, at kyrrir mundu sitja,
þótt hann gerði þangat herför.
Ok er Ívarr hefir svá lið dregit undir sik, þá sendir hann menn á fund bræðra sinna at segja þeim, at vildi hann, at þeir byði út leiðangri of þau lönd öll, er þeira ríki stóð yfir, ok þeir skoraði hverjum manni, er þeir fengi. Ok þá er þessi orðsending kom til þeira bræðra, kennast þeir við skjótt, skilja, at nú mundi honum þykkja mjök vænligt um, at nú mundi þeir fá sigr. Nú safna þeir liði um alla Danmörk ok Gautland ok öll þau ríki, er þeira völd váru yfir, ok draga óvígan her saman ok hafa almenning úti.
And when he had this town made, he had his movable property sent
over. And he was so liberal that he gave with two hands, and people
thought so much of his wisdom that all sought him to assist their
councils and difficult cases. He so arranged all the cases so that each
party though he got the best of it, and he became popular, so that he
had many friends about him. The king took much advice from him, and he
arranged the cases so that they did not come before the King. When Ívar
had proceeded with his plan until it seemed that peace was guaranteed
him, he sent men to find his brothers and tell them that they should
send him as much gold and silver as he asked for. And when these men
came to find the brothers, they told their errand and also what had come
of Ívar’s plan— namely, that men thought they did not know what cunning
he was preparing. And therefore the brothers thought that he did not
have the same disposition that he was wont to have. Then they sent such
goods as he had asked for. And when the goods came to Ívar, he gave all
the goods to the strongest men in the land and stole the troops out from
under King Ella. They all said that they would sit quiet, though he
might later prepare for a war-going.
And when Ívar had thus stolen the troops out from under the king, then he sent men to find his brothers and to say to them that he wanted them to send a levy throughout all the lands which their rule stretched over, and they should demand however many men they could get. And when this word-sending came to the bothers, they quickly figured out that he most likely thought it very promising that they might now gain victory. Then they summoned troops from all Danmörk and Gautland and all the kingdoms which they had power over, and an innumerable amount was gathered together when the assemblage was complete.
Þá halda þeir skipum sínum til Englands bæði nótt ok dag ok
vildu nú sem sízt láta fara njósn fyrir þeim. Nú er sjá hersaga sögð
Ellu konungi. Nú safnar hann sér liði ok fær lítit, fyrir því at Ívarr
hafði mikit lið undan honum dregit. Nú ferr Ívarr í mót Ellu konungi ok
segir, at hann mundi enda þat, er hann hafði svarit. "En eigi má ek ráða
tiltekju bræðra minna, en því má ek ráða at finna þá ok vita, ef þeir
vili stöðva her sinn ok gera eigi meira illt en þeir hafa áðr gert."
Nú ferr Ívarr á fund bræðra sinna ok eggjar þá nú mjök, at þeir skyldi sem bezt fram ganga ok sem bráðast láta bardaga verða, -- "því at konungr hefir miklu minna lið." En þeir svara, at eigi mundi hann þurfa at eggja þá ok þeim var it sama í hug sem fyrr. Nú ferr Ívarr ok hittir Ellu konung ok segir honum, at miklu váru þeir ákafari ok óðari en þeir vildi á hans orð hlýða. "Ok þá er ek vilda um grið leita yðar í milli, æptu þeir í gegn. Nú mun ek enda mína svardaga, at ek mun eigi berjast í móti þér, ok mun ek vera kyrr hjá ok mitt lið, en bardagi gengr með yðr sem verða má."
They then held course in their ships toward England both night
and day, for they wanted to let as little forewarning of their coming to
travel before them as possible. Then war-tidings were told to King Ella.
He summoned his troops but he gathered few men, because Ívar had stolen
many troops out from under him. Then Ívar went and met King Ella and
said that he wished to carry through on that which he had sworn. “But I
cannot influence my brothers’ doings. However, I can plan to find them
and know if they will stop their army and do no more ill than they have
Then Ívar went to meet his brothers and encouraged them greatly to go forth as best they could and let a battle come about as soon as possible, “because the king has very few troops.” And they answered that he did not need to encourage them, as their intent was the same as before. Then Ívar went and met King Ella and told him that they were too eager and enraged to listen to his words. “And when I wanted to bring peace between you, they shouted against it. Now I will carry through on my vow, that I would not war against you: I will be quiet along with my troops, and the battle with you may go as it will.”
|Nú sjá þeir Ella konungr lið þeira bræðra, ok ferr svá geyst, at furða var at. Þá mælti Ívarr: "Þat er nú til, Ella konungr, at þú fylkir liði þínu, en ek get þess, at þeir veiti þér harða atsókn nokkura hríð." En þegar þeira lið hittist, verðr bardagi mikill, ok ganga þeir hart fram synir Ragnars í gegnum fylkingar Ellu konungs, ok svá eru þeir ákafir, at þeir hyggja at því einu at gera at verkum sem mest, ok sú orrosta var bæði löng ok hörð. Ok hér lauk svá, at Ella konungr ok lið hans kom á flótta ok hann varð handtekinn.||Then King Ella saw the troops of the brothers, and they came so fiercely that it was wondrous. Then Ívar spoke: “Now is the time that you should prepare your troops, King Ella, and I think that they will press against you with a strong onslaught for a while.” And as soon as the troops met each other there was a great battle, and the sons of Ragnar came hard upon the army of King Ella. Their vehemence was so great that their only thoughts were how they might work the most damage, and the war was both long and hard. And the battle ended thus—King Ella and his troops took to fiight, but he was seized.|
Ok þá var Ívarr þar í nánd ok
mælti, at svá skyldi breyta um líflát hans: "Er nú þat ráð," segir hann,
"at minnast, hvern dauðdaga hann valdi föður várum. Nú skal sá maðr, er
oddhagastr er, marka örn á baki honum sem inniligast, ok þann örn skal
rjóða með blóði hans."
En sá maðr, er kvaddr var til þessarar sýslu, gerir sem Ívarr bauð honum, en Ella konungr var mjök sárr, áðr þessi sýslu lýkr. Lætr hann nú líf sitt, ok þykkjast þeir nú hefnt hafa föður síns, Ragnars. Ívarr segir, at hann vill þeim gefa ríki þat, er þeir áttu allir saman, en hann kveðst ráða vilja fyrir Englandi.
Ívar was then nearby, and he said that they should now bring
about his life-leaving. “Now is the time,” he said, “to remember the
manner of death which he inflicted on our father. Now a man who is most
skilled in woodcarving shall mark an eagle on his back so precisely that
the eagle shall redden with his blood.”
And that man, when he was called to this task, did as Ívar commanded him, and King Ella was in great agony before the task was ended. Then he gave up his life, and it seemed to them that they then had vengeance for their father, Ragnar. Ívar said that he wanted to give them the kingdom that they all held together, and he wished to rule over England.
XVIII. Eptir þetta fara þeir Hvítserkr ok Björn heim til ríkis síns ok
Sigurðr, en Ívarr er eptir ok ræðr Englandi. Þaðan frá halda þeir miðr
saman liði sínu ok herjuðu á ýmsi lönd. En Randalín, móðir þeira, varð
gömul kona. En Hvítserkr, sonr hennar, hafði herjat eitthvert sinn í
Austrveg, ok kom svá mikit ofrefli í mót honum, at hann mátti eigi rönd
við reisa, ok varð hann handtekinn. En hann kaus sér þann dauðdaga, at
bál skyldi gera af mannahöfðum; þar skyldi hann brenna, ok svá lét hann
Ok er Randalín spyrr þetta, þá kvað hún vísu:
|XVIII. After that, Hvítserk and Björn journeyed home to their kingdom along with Sigurð, but Ívar stayed behind and ruled England. From then on they kept their troops together less, and harried in various lands. And Randalín, their mother, became an old woman. And Hvítserk, her son, had gone raiding on his own in the Eastern Ways, but great powers came to meet him, that he could not raise his shield against, and he was seized. And he then chose his manner of death: that a pyre should be made of the heads of men, and there he would burn and thus give up his life. And when Randalín heard that, she spoke a verse:|
"Sonr beið einn, sás áttak,
One son which I had
|Ok enn kvað hún:||Then she spoke another:|
"Höfðum létu of hrundit
The tree of the people**bör folka – “the tree of the people.” “Tree” is a common kenning for “warrior” in skaldic poetry; the “tree of the people” is a king or leader, i.e. Hvítserk.
† i.e. under himself.
En frá Sigurði orm í auga er mikill ættbogi kominn. Hans dóttir hét
Ragnhildr, móðir Haralds ins hárfagra, er fyrstr réð öllum Noregi einn.
En Ívarr réð fyrir Englandi allt til dauðadags ok varð sóttdauðr. Ok þá er hann lá í banasótt, mælti hann, at hann skyldi þangat færa, er herskátt væi, ok þess kvaðst hann vænta, at þeir mundi eigi sigr fá, er þar kæmi at landinu. Ok er hann andast, var svá gert sem hann mælti fyrir, ok var þá í haug lagiðr. Ok þat segja margir menn, þá er Haraldr konungr Sigurðarson kom til Englands, at hann kæmi þar at, er Ívarr var fyrir, ok fellr hann í þeiri för. Ok er Vilhjálmr bastarðr kom í land, fór hann til ok braut haug Ívars ok sá Ívar ófúinn. Þá lét hann gera bál mikit ok lætr Ívar brenna á bálinu, ok eptir þat berst hann til landsins ok fær gagn.
Auga. His daughter was called Ragnhild, the mother of Harald
Hárfagra,‡ the first to rule over all of Noreg alone.
And Ívar ruled over England until his dying day, when he became deathly sick. And when he lay with that killing-illness, he said that he should be moved to that place which was most exposed to raiding, and he said that he expected that any who would land there would not gain victory. And when he breathed his last, it was done as he had said, and he was then laid in a howe.* And many men say that when King Harold Sígurðarson† arrived in England he arrived where Ívar was, and he fell on that expedition. And when Vilhjálm Bastarð‡ came to land, he went to and broke open Ívar’s how and saw Ívar unrotten. Then he had a great fire made and had Ívar burned in the fire, and after that he battled across the land and had victory.
‡ Harald Hárfagra – “Harold of the Fair-Hair.”
*howe, i.e. a cairn. I use this more archaic English term as it is a direct cognate of the Old Icelandic haug. † Harald Sígurðarson – “King Harold the son of Sígurð”
‡ Vilhjálm Bastarð – “William the Bastard,” better known to history as William the Conqueror.
En frá Birni járnsíðu er komit margt manna. Frá honum er komin mikil
ætt: Þórðr, er bjó at Höfða á Höfðaströnd, mikill höfðingi.
En þá er synir Ragnars váru allir líflátnir, dreifðist lið þeira á ýmsa vega, er þeim hafði fylgt, ok þótti þeim öllum, er verit höfðu með sonum Ragnars, einkis vert um aðra höfðingja. Þeir váru tveir menn, er fóru víða um lönd at leita, ef þeir fyndi nokkurn höfðingja þann, er þeim þætti sér eigi svívirðing í at þjóna, ok fóru þeir eigi báðir saman.
And from Björn Járnsíð have come many men. From him has come a
great family: Þórð, who farmed at Hófða in Hófðaströnd,§ was a great
leader at the þings . And then when the sons of Ragnar had all given up
their lives, their troops who had assisted them were dispersed far and
wide, and all of them who had been with the sons of Ragnar thought that
there was no worth in other princes. There were two men who traveled
widely across the land to discover if they could find any prince whom
they thought it would not be disgraceful for them to serve, but they did
not travel together.
§ Hófðaströnd – “Hófða’s strand”
|XIX. Sá atburðr hefir verit út í löndum, at einn konungr átti tvá sonu, ok tók hann sótt ok andaðist, en synir hans vilja drekka erfi eptir hann. Þeir bjóða til þessar veislu svá, at allir menn skyldu koma þangat, þeir er á þrimr vetrum inum næstum spyrja þetta. Nú spyrst þetta víða um lönd. Ok á þessum þrimr vetrum búast þeir við þessi veislu. Ok er þat sumar kemr, er erfi skyldi drekka, ok sú stund, er ákveðin var, þá verðr svá mikit fjölmenni, at engi vissi dæmi til, hvé mikit var, ok váru margar stórar hallir skipaðar ok mörg tjöld úti.||XIX. It came to pass one night that in this one land a certain king had two sons. He took sick and breathed his last, and his sons wished to drink a funeral feast for him. They decreed that all men could come there to the feast that had heard of it in the next three winters. Now this was heard widely throughout the land. And in these three winters they prepared the feast. And when the summer came when they would drink the funeral feast and the time which was appointed arrived, the feast turned out to be so very filled with men that none knew of its precedent it was so large, and many great halls were prepared and many tents set up outside.|
|Ok er leið mjök it fyrsta kveld, kemr maðr einn til hallar þessarar. Þessi maðr er mikill, svá at þar var engi jafnmikill, ok þat sá á búnaði hans, at hann hafði hjá tignum mönnum verit. Ok er hann kemr í höllina, gengr hann fyrir þá bræðrna ok kveðr þá ok spyrr, hvar þeir vísi honum til sætis. Þeim leist vel á hann ok báðu hann sitja á inn æðra bekk. Hann þurfti tveggja manna rúm. Ok þegar hann hafði niðr setst, var honum borin drykkja sem öðrum mönnum, ok ekki horn var svá mikit, at eigi drykki hann af í einum drykk, ok þat þóttust allir sjá, at honum þótti engis um vert um alla aðra.||And when the first evening was far on its way, a man came into the hall. This man was large that none were as large, and from his attire it could be seen that he had been with noble men. And when he came into the hall, he went before the brothers and spoke to them and asked where they would direct him to sit. He pleased them well and they told him to sit on the upper bench. He needed the space of two men. And as soon as he had sat down, drink was brought to him as to other men, but there was not a horn so large that he might not drink it off in one drink, and all thought they could discern that they were all as nothing compared to him.|
Svá verðr enn, at annarr maðr kemr til þessarar veislu. Sá var
heldr meiri en inn fyrri. Þessir menn hafa síða höttu. Ok er þessi maðr
kemr fyrir hásætit inna ungu konunga, kveðr hann þá listuliga ok biðr þá
vísa sér til sætis. Þeir mæltu, at þessi maðr skyldi innar sitja á inn
æðra bekk. Nú gengr hann til sætis síns, ok eru þeir svá miklir í rúmi
báðir saman, at fimm menn hafa upp risit fyrir þeim. En sá, er fyrr kom,
er þó minni drykkjumaðr. En inn síðari drakk svá skjótt, at hann hellti
náliga í sik af hverju horni, ok eigi finna menn þó, at hann verði
drukkinn, ok heldr lætr hann óþokkuliga við sínum sessunautum ok snýr
baki við þeim.
Sá, er fyrri kom, bað, at þeir skyldi eiga gaman saman, "ok mun ek fyrri."
Hann stakk við honum hendi ok kvað vísu:
Then it happened that another man came to the feast. He was
rather larger than the one before. Both men had low-hanging hoods. And
when this man came before the high-seat of the young kings, he spoke
handsomely and asked them to direct him to a seat. They said that this
man should sit farther in than the other on the bench. Now he went to
his seat, and together they took up so much room that five men had to
rise up for them. And he who came first was the smaller drinker. And the
second one drank so quickly that he poured nearly every horn into
himself, and men did not find that he became drunk, and it seemed he
held his seat-mates in contempt, and he turned his back to them.
He who came first said that they should have a game together—“and I will go first.”
He shoved the other with his hand and spoke a verse:
"Seg frá þegnsköpum þínum,
Speak of your great achievements,
|Nú þykkir þeim, er utar sat, til leitat við sik í slíku tilkvæði ok kvað vísu í móti:||Now it seemed to him who sat on the outside that he was challenged by such a direct verse, and he spoke a verse in reply:|
"Þegi heimdregi heitinn,
Be silent at once, you called a stay-at-home;
*sólar sækitík – “the
sun-seeking bitch,” a kenning for “wolf,” referring to the mythological
wolf Skoll, who chases after the sun and will, at the time of Ragnarok,
catch its prey.
†drykkju sverðs leiki – “drink of swords’ play,” a kenning for “blood.”
‡hálu hesti – “horses of the harbor,” a kenning for “ships.”
Nú svarar hinn, er fyrri kom:
|Now he who came first answered:|
"Hafs létum vér hesta
We let the strong cheek
§hlýr stinn hafs hesta
– “strong cheek of the horses of the sea.” The “horses of the sea” is a
kenning for “ships,” and thus the “strong cheek of ships” is the prow of
¶harð meldr hveðnu – “the hard meal/flour of the land of the fishes.’ “ I am not quite sure, but I take the “land of the fishes” to mean the sea, which makes sense, and then renders the phrase “the hard meal of the sea,” which is a kenning for “gold.”
|Ok nú kvað sá, er síðar kom:||Now he who came second spoke:|
"Alls engi sák yðarn,
þars upp lokinn fundum
Heita vang fyr hvítum
hesti máva rastar;
ok við lasi lúðrar
fyr landi vér undum
hallar ríka mollu
hrafns fyr rauðum stafni."
"Very little I saw of you
**hesti máva rastar
– “swift wading horses,” a kenning for “ships.”
††heitavang hvítum – “brewing white field,” a kenning for “the sea.”
*The second strophe is nearly incoherent—all commentators are unanimous in their puzzlement as to what it means, and I was forced to try to piece something together from the intelligible pieces.
|Ok enn kvað sá, er fyrr kom:||And then the one who came first spoke:|
"Samira okkr at öldrum
It does us no honor
|†brandahjort – “sword-stag,” or “the stag of swords,” a kenning for “ship.” It is unclear why it should denote a ship—perhaps the warriors brandishing swords comprise its antlers?|
|Nú svarar sá, er síðar kom:||Now he who came second answered:|
"Fylgdum Birni báðir
We were both companions
‡brandagný – “din of swords,” a
kenning for “battle.”
§bragnar börðust – “the beaks of heroes,” a kenning for “swords.”
|Enda kenndust þeir þá við of síðir ok váru þar síðan at veislu.||In the end they knew each other and were together there at the feast.|
|XX. Ögmundr er maðr nefndr, er kallaðr var ögmundr inn danski. Hann fór eitthvert sinn með fimm skipum ok lá við Sámsey í Munarvági. Þá er þat sagt, at matsveinar fóru á land at gera mat til, en aðrir menn fóru í skóg at skemmta sér, ok þar fundu þeir einn trémann fornan, ok var fertugr at hæð ok mosavaxinn, ok sá þó öll deili á honum, ok ræddu nú um með sér, hverr blótat mundi hafa þetta it mikla goð. Ok þá kveðr trémaðrinn:||XX. There was a man named Ögmund, who was called Ögmund Inn Danski.* He journeyed one day along with five ships, and lay anchor at Sámsey in Munarvág. Then it is said that the cooks went to land to prepare the meat, and other men went into the woods to entertain themselves. There they found an ancient tree-man, and it was forty feet in height and covered with moss, but they could still make out all of him, and they discussed among themselves who might have sacrificed to this great god. And then the tree-man spoke:|
"Þat var fyr löngu,
It was long ago
And thus the warriors,
They bade the man*
*Ögmund inn Danski – “Ögmund the Dane.”
† hlunnatungum – “roller’s tongues?” a kenning for “ship.” The modern Icelandic glosses this phrase as meaning “ships,” I can’t actually find the compound anywhere.
‡salta slóð birtinga – “the bright trail of salt,” a kenning for “the sea.”
*i.e. the tréman who is speaking.
|Ok þetta þótti mönnum undarligt ok sögðu síðan frá öðrum mönnum.||And that seemed wondrous to them, and afterwards they spoke of it to other men.|
See also: The Heroic Saga on the Rök-Runestone
and its relationship to the Saga of Ragnar Lódbrok
Þáttr af Ragnars Sonum /The Tale of Ragnars Sons
SCHOLARSHIP & COMMENTARY
|Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia, 1993:||"Ragnars saga loðbrókar ("The Saga of Ragnarr Hairy-breeches"), an Old Icelandic fornaldarsaga, survives in two major redactions: X, dating from around 1250, and preserved fragmentarily in AM 147 4to (ca 1490) with Krákumál incorporated in its text; and Y, dating from later in the 13th century, deriving largely from X, and preserved complete in NkS 1824b 4to (ca 1400) with Krákumál as an appendix. The existence of a third redaction, here called the "oldest" and composed independently of Krákumál may be deduced from the combined evidence of X and Ragnarssona þáttur, a mainly prose compilation preserved in Hauksbók. This oldest redaction was perhaps complete by 1230. Like Y, X appears to have been written as a sequel to Volsungasaga, but only Y has been preserved as such."|
Ragnar Lóthbrok and his Sons by Allen
Saga-Book of the Viking Society for Northern Research, 1907.