Legendary Sagas of the Northland
Sörla Þáttur eða
Héðins Saga ok Högna
How Freyja obtained her necklace Brisingamen
Sörla Þáttur eða
Héðins Saga ok Högna
The Tale of Hogni and Hedinn
Eirikur Magnusson & William Morris
The Saga of Hedin & Hogni
1. Frá Freyju ok dvergum
Of Freyia and the Dwarfs.
1. Of Freyja and the Dwarves
Fyrir austan Vanakvísl í Asía var kallat Asíaland eða
Asíaheimr, en þat fólk var kallat Æsir, er þar byggðu, en
höfuðborgina kölluðu þeir Ásgarð. Óðinn var þar nefndr konungr
yfir. Þar var blótstaðr mikill. Njörð ok Frey setti Óðinn
blótgoða. Dóttir Njarðar hét Freyja. Hún fylgdi Óðni ok var
Menn þeir váru í Asía, er einn hét Álfrigg, annarr Dvalinn,
þriði Berlingr, fjórði Grérr. Þeir áttu heima skammt frá höll
konungs. Þeir váru menn svá hagir, at þeir lögðu á allt gerva
hönd. Þess háttar menn, sem þeir váru, kölluðu menn dverga. Þeir
byggðu einn stein. Þeir blönduðust þá meir við mannfólk en nú.
Óðinn unni mikit Freyju, enda var hún allra kvenna fegrst í
þann tíma. Hún átti sér eina skemmu. Hún var, bæði fögr ok
sterk, svá at þat segja menn, at ef hurðin var aftr ok læst, at
engi maðr mætti koma í skemmmuna án vilja Freyju.
Þat var einn dag, er Freyju varð gengit til steinsins, hann
var þá opinn. Dvergarnir váru at smíða eitt gullmen. Þat var þá
mjök fullgert. Freyju leist vel á menit. Dvergunum leist ok vel
á Freyju. Hún falaði menit at dvergunum, bauð í móti gull ok
silfr ok aðra góða gripi. Þeir kváðust ekki féþurfi, sagðist
hverr vilja sjálfr sinn part selja í meninu ok ekki annat fyrir
vilja hafa en hún lægi sína nótt hjá hverjum þeira. Ok hvárt sem
hún lét at þessu komast betr eða verr, þa keyptu þau þessu. Ok
at liðnum fjórum náttum ok enduðum öllum skildaga, afhenda þeir
Freyju menit. Fór hún heim í skemmu sína ok lét kyrrt yfir sér,
sem ekki hefði í orðit.
East of Vanaquisl in Asia was the
land called Asialand or Asiahome, but the folk that dwelt there
was called Æsir, and their chief town was Asgard. Odin was the
name of the king thereof, and therein was a right holy place of
sacrifice. Niord and Frey Odin made Temple-priests thereover:
but the daughter of Niord was Freyia, and she was fellow to Odin
and his concubine.
Now there were certain men in Asia, whereof one was called
Alfrigg, the second Dwalin, the third Berling, the fourth Grerr:
these had their abode but a little space from the King's hall,
and were men so wise in craftsmanship, that they laid skilful
hand on all matters; and such-like men as they were did men call
dwarfs. In a rock was their dwelling, and in that day they
mingled more with menfolk than as now they do.
Odin loved Freyia full sore, and withal she was the fairest
woman of that day: she had a bower that was both fair arid
strong; insomuch, say men, that if the door were shut to, none
might come into the bower aforesaid without the will of Freyia.
Now on a day went Freyia afoot by that rock of the dwarfs, and
it lay open: therein were the dwarfs a-smithying a golden
collar, and the work was at point to be done: fair seemed that
collar to Freyia, and fair seemed Freyia to the dwarfs.
Now would Freyia buy the collar of them, and bade them in return
for it silver and gold, and other good things. They said they
lacked not money, yet that each of them would sell his share of
the collar for this thing, and for nought else—that she should
lie a night by each of them: wherefore, whether she liked it
better or worse, on such wise did she strike the bargain with
them; and so the four nights being outworn, and all conditions
fulfilled, they delivered the collar to Freyia; and she went
home to her bower, and held her peace hereof, as if nought had
East of Vanakvisl
in Asia there was a place called Asialand or Asiaheim. And the
people who lived there were called Aesir, and they called the
chief town Asgard. Odin was the name of the king who reigned
there. There was a great shrine there. Odin appointed Njord and
Frey as high-priests. Njord’s daughter was called Freyja. She
accompanied Odin and was his lover.
There were some men in Asia, one called Alfrigg, the next
Dvalin, then Berling and Grer. They had their home not far from
the king’s hall. They were such skilled craftsmen they could
turn their hand to anything and do well. Men such as these were
called dwarves. They lived in a certain stone. They mixed with
people more in those days than now.
Odin loved Freyja a lot, and indeed she was the fairest of all
women then living. She had a bower, both fair and strong—so
strong, it is said, that when the door was shut and locked, no
one could come in unless Freyja wanted them to.
One day Freyja was walking and happened to come to the rock. It
was open. The dwarves were forging a gold necklace. It was
nearly done. Freyja liked the looks of the necklace. The dwarves
liked the looks of Freyja too. She asked to buy the necklace,
offered gold and silver for it, and good treasures besides. They
said they weren’t short of money, but each would sell his share
of the necklace for one thing, and they didn’t want anything
else, except for her to lie a night with each of them. And,
whether this was gladly done on her part or otherwise, that’s
the deal they struck. And four nights later, when these
conditions had been met, they handed over the necklace to
Freyja. She went home to her bower, and kept quiet, as if
nothing has happened.
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2. Sáttmál Óðins ok Freyju
II. Of the Stealing of Freyia's Collar, and how she may
have it again.
2. Odin and Freyja’s Deal
Maðr hét Fárbauti. Hann var
karl einn ok átti sér kerlingu þá, er Laufey er nefnd. Hún var
bæði mjó ok auðþreiflig; því var hún Nál kölluð. Þau áttu sér
einn son barna. Sá var Loki nefndr. Hann var ekki mikill vöxtum,
orðskár var hann snemma ok skjótligr í bragði. Hann hafði fram
yfir aðra menn visku þá, er slægð heitir. Hann var mjök kyndugr
þegar á unga aldri, því var hann kallaðr Loki lævíss.
Hann réðst til Óðins í Ásgarð
ok gerðist hans maðr. Óðinn mælti hvatvetna eftir honum, hvat
sem hann tók til, enda lagði hann oft stórar þrautir fyrir hann,
ok leysti hann þær allar vánu betr af höndum. Hann varð ok
náliga alls víss, þess er við bar, sagði hann ok allt Óðni, þat
er hann vissi.
Þat er ok sagt, at Loki varð
víss, er Freyja hafði fengit menit ok svá, hvat hún hafði móti
gefit; sagði hann þetta Óðni. En er Óðinn varð þess víss, sagði
hann, at Loki skyldi ná meninu ok fá sér. Loki kvað þat óvænligt
sakir þess, at engi maðr má í skemmuna komast fyrir utan vilja
Freyju. Óðinn sagði, at hann skyldi fara verða ok eigi aftr
koma, fyrr en hann hefði nát meninu. Loki sneri þá í brottu
æpandi. Flestir urðu við þat kátir, er Loka gekk lítt til.
Hann gengr til skemmu Freyju,
ok var hún læst. Hann leitaði við inn at komast ok gat eigi.
Kuldaveðr var úti mikit, ok tók honum fast at kólna.
Hann varð þá at einni flugu.
Hann flökti þá um alla lása ok með öllum fellum ok gat hvergi
loft fundit, svá at hann mætti inn komast. Uppi allt hjá
burstinni ok þó eigi meiri boru fann hann en sem stinga mætti í
nál; þá boru bograr hann inn. En er hann kom inn, var hann
flenneygr mjök ok hugði at, ef nokkurir vekti, en hann gat þat
sét, at allt svaf í skemmunni. Hann ferr þá innar at sænginni
Freyju ok skynjar þá, at hún hefir menit á hálsi sér ok at
nistin horfðu niðr á. Loki verðr þá at einni fló. Hann sest á
kinn Freyju ok höggr svá, at Freyja vaknar ok snerist við ok
sofnar aftr. Þá dregr Loki af sér flóar haminn, lokkar þá af
henni menit, lýkr þá upp skemmunni ok ferr í burt ok færir Óðni.
Freyja vaknar um morgininn ok
sér, at opnar eru dyrrnar, en ekki brotit, en menit var í brottu
it góða. Hún þykkist vita, hver brögð í munu vera, gengr inn í
höllina, þegar hún er klædd, fyrir Óðin konung ok talar um, at
hann hafi illa látit gera at stela frá henni góðgrip hennar ok
biðr hann fá sér aftr góðgrip sinn.
Óðinn segir, at hún skal þat
aldri fá, svá at eins hefir hún at því komist, - "nema þú orkir
því, at þeir konungar tveir, at tuttugu konungar þjóna hvárum,
verði missáttir ok berist nieð þeim álögum ok atkvæðum, at þeir
skulu jafnskjótt upp standa ok berjast sem þeir áðr falla, utan
nokkurr maðr kristinn verði svá röskr ok honum fylgi svá mikil
gifta síns lánardrottins, at hann þori at ganga í bardaga þeira
ok vega með vápnum þessa menn. Þá it fyrsta skal þeira þraut
lyktast, hverjum höfðingja sem þat verðr lagit at leysa þá svá
ór ánauð ok erfiði sinna fárligra framferða."
Freyja játtaði því ok tók við
Here was a man called Farbauti, which carl had to wife a carline
called Laufey; she was both slim and slender, therefore was she
called Needle. One child had these, a son called Loki; nought
great of growth was he, but betimes shameless of tongue and
nimble in gait; over all men had he that craft which is called
cunning; guileful was he from his youth up, therefore was he
called Loki the Sly.
He betook himself to Odin at Asgard and became his man.
- Ever had Odin a good word for him, whatsoever he turned to;
yet withal he oft laid heavy labours upon him, which forsooth he
turned out of hand better than any man looked for: moreover, he
knew wellnigh all things that befell, and told all he knew to
So tells the tale that Loki knew how that Freyia had gotten the
collar, yea and what she had given for it; so he told Odin
thereof, and when Odin heard of it he bade Loki get the collar
and bring it to him. Loki said it was not a likely business,
because no man might come into Freyia's bower without the will
of her; but Odin bade him go his ways and not come back before
he had gotten the collar. Then Loki turned away howling, and
most of men were glad thereof whenas Loki throve nought.
But Loki went to Freyia's bower, and it was locked; he strove to
come in, and might not; and cold it was without, so that he fast
began to grow a-cold.
So he turned himself into a fly, and fluttered about all the
locks and the joints, and found no hole therein whereby he might
come in, till up by the gable-top he found a hole, yet no bigger
than one might thrust a needle through; none the less he
wriggled in thereby. So when he was come in he peered all about
to see if any waked, but soon he got to see that all were asleep
in the bower. Then in he goeth unto Freyia's bed, and sees that
she hath the collar on her with the clasp turned downward.
Thereon Loki changed himself into a flea, and sat on Freyia's
cheek, and stung her so that she woke and turned about, and then
fell asleep again. Then Loki drew from off him his flea's shape,
and undid the collar, and opened the bower, and gat him gone to
Next morn awoke Freyia and saw that the doors were open, yet
unbroken, and that the goodly collar was gone. She deemed she
knew what guile had wrought it, so she goeth into the hall when
she is clad, and cometh before Odin the king, and speaketh to
him of the evil he has let be wrought against her in the
stealing of that dear thing, and biddeth him give her back her
Odin says that in such wise hath she gotten it. that never again
shall she have it. "Unless forsooth thou bring this to pass,
that two kings, each served of twenty kings, fall to strife, and
fight under such weird and spell, that they no sooner fall adown
than they stand up again and fight on: always unless some
christened man be so bold of heart, and the fate and fortune of
his lord be so great, that he shall dare go into that battle,
and smite with weapons these men: and so first shall their toil
come to an end, to whatsoever lord it shall befall to loose them
from the pine and trouble of their fell deeds."
Hereto said Freyia yea, and gat her collar again.
There was a man called Farbauti. He was a simple farmer and had
a wife named Laufey. She was both slim and slight, so they
called her Needle. They had a child, a son named Loki. He wasn’t
great of growth. He soon had a sharp tongue though. Nimble and a
fast mover. He outdid other men in that sort of wisdom which is
called guile. He was very crafty, even from a young age, so they
called him Loki Laeviss, Sly-as-Venom.
He set out for Asgard to find Odin and became his man. Odin
always spoke according to Loki’s counsel, whatever he did. Of
course, Odin also set him difficult tasks, but Loki pulled these
off better than expected. He knew near enough everything that
went on, and he told it all to Odin, whatever he knew.
Now it’s said that Loki got wise to Freyja and her necklace: how
she’d come by it, and what she’d paid. He told Odin. And when
Odin learnt this, he said Loki should get hold of that necklace
and bring it to him. Not likely, said Loki, as no man could
enter the bower unless Freyja wanted. Odin said that he must go
away and not come back till he’d got the necklace. Loki slunk
away then howling. Most folks smiled when Loki got nowhere.
He went to Freyja’s bower and it was locked. He tried to get in,
but couldn’t. It was freezing outside and he began to get very
Then he turned into a fly. He flapped around all the locks and
joints but couldn’t find a gap to get in anywhere, except one,
right up under the gable top, and even that was no bigger than
you could stick a needle through, but he burrows in. And when he
came inside, his eyes opened very wide, and he wondered if
anyone was awake, but he could see they were all asleep in the
bower. So he goes further in towards Freyja’s bed and spots that
she has the necklace around her neck, but with the clasp
underneath. So Loki turns into a flea. He settles on Freyja’s
cheek and bites so that Freyja wakes up and turns over and goes
back to sleep. Then Loki takes off the flea-form, teases the
necklace off her, unlocks the bower and goes off back to Odin.
Freyja wakes that morning and sees that the door is open, but
unbroken, and the good necklace was gone. She thinks she knows
what trickery’s behind it, and marches into the hall, the moment
she’s dressed, to see King Odin and tells him he’s done wrong to
have her precious treasure stolen from her and asks him to give
her treasure back.
Odin says she’ll never get it back, not after the way she got
it, “unless you fix it so that two kings, each served by twenty
kings, are set at odds and fight each other under such spells
and curses that they stand up and carry on fighting as soon as
they fall, that is unless some Christian man should be so bold,
and accompanied by such great luck of his lord, that he dares to
go into their battle and strike these men with weapons. Only
then will their toil be done—thanks to whatever chief it may
fall to to release them thus from the bonds and struggle of
their baleful doings.”
Freyja agreed, and received the necklace.
3. Frá Sörla víkingi
III. Of King Erling, and Sorli his Son.
3. Of the Viking Sorli
Í þann tíma, er liðnir váru frá falli
Frið-Fróða fjórir vetr ok tuttugu, réð sá konungr Upplöndum í
Noregi, at Erlingr hét. Hann átti sér drottningu ok tvá sonu.
Hét Sörli sterki inn ellri, en Erlendr inn yngri. Þeir váru
efniligir menn. Sörli var þeira sterkari. Þeir lögðu í hernað,
þegar þeir höfðu aldr til. Þeir börðust við Sindra víking
Sveigisson, Hákasonar sækonungs í Elfarskerjum, ok fell þar
Sindri víkingr ok allt lið hans. Í þeiri orrostu fell ok Erlendr
Erlingsson. Eftir þat helt Sörli í it Eystra salt ok herjaði þar
ok vann svá mörg stórvirki, at seint er öll at skrifa.
In those days, when four-and-twenty winters were worn away from
the death of Peace-Frodi, a king ruled over the Uplands in
Erling. He had a queen and two sons; Sorli the Strong the elder,
and Erlend the younger: hopeful were they both, but Sorli was
the stronger. They fell to warfare so soon as they were of age
thereto; they fought with the viking Sindri, son of Sveigr, the
son of Haki, the sea-king, at the Elfskerries; and there fell
the viking Sindri and all his folk; there also fell Erlend
Erlingson. Thereafter Sorli sailed into the East-salt-sea, and
harried there, and did so many doughty deeds that late it were
ere all were written down.
At that time, four and twenty years from the fall of
Peace-Frodi, there ruled over Oppland in Norway a king called
Erling. He had a queen and two sons. Sorli the Strong was the
eldest, and Erlend the youngest. They were promising men. Sorli
was the stronger of them. They set out raiding as soon as they
were old enough. They fought Sindri the Viking, the son of
Sveigir, the son of Haki the Sea-King, in the Elfar Skerries,
and Sindri fell there with all his band. In that battle Erlend
Erlingsson also fell. After that Sorli sailed to the eastern
Baltic and harried there and did so many great deeds that it
would take a long time to write them all.
4. Frá Sörla ok Högna konungi
IV. Sorli slayeth King Halfdan.
4. Of Sorli and King Hogni
konungr heitit. Hann réð fyrir Danmörk. Hann sat í stað, er
Hróiskelda heitir. Hann átti Hveðnu ina ellri. Þeira synir váru
þeir Högni ok Hákon. Þeir váru afburðarmenn á vöxt ok afl ok
alla atgervi. Þeir lögðu í hernað, þegar þeir váru þroskaðir.
Nú er þar til at
taka, at Sörli er, at á einu hausti heldr hann til Danmerkr.
Hálfdan konungr hafði þá ætlat í konungastefnu. Hann var þá mjök
hniginn í efra aldr, er sjá saga gerðist. Hann átti dreka svá
góðan, at eigi fannst annarr slíkr á Norðrlöndum sakir
sterkleika ok alls hagleiks. Hann flaut um strengi í höfninni,
en Hálfdan konungr var á landi ok hafði látit heita fararmungát
sitt. En er Sörli sá drekann, rann í hjarta hans eigingirnd
mikil, svá at hann vildi drekann eiga fyrir hvern mun ok einn,
enda er þat ok flestra manna sögn, at eigi hafi betri gripr
verit í skipi en í þessu at fráteknum drekanum Elliða ok Gnoð ok
Orminum langa á Norðrlöndum.
Hann talaði þá við
menn sína, at þeir skyldu búast til bardaga, - "því at vér
skulum drepa Hálfdan konung, en eignast drekann."
Máli hans svarar sá maðr, er Sævarr hét; hann var stafnbúi hans
ok stallari: "Þat er eigi ráð, herra," segir hann, "því at
Hálfdan er höfðingi mikill ok frægr maðr. Hann á ok sonu þá tvá,
er ráðnir eru til hefnda, því at þeir eru nú einir hverir
"Þó at þeir sé goðunum fremri," sagði Sörli, "þá skal ek einn
veg berjast ok áðr."
Búast þeir nú til bardaga. Kemr nú njósn Hálfdani konungi.
Bregðr hann við ok ferr til skipa ok menn hans allir, búast
þegar til bardaga. Lögðu þat sumir menn til með Hálfdani, at
honum væri óráð í at berjast ok hann skyldi flýja sakir
liðsmunar. Konungr sagði, at fyrr skyldi hverr falla um annan
þveran en hann skyldi flýja Búast nú hvárirtveggju til orrostu,
ok slær nú í inn harðasta bardaga, ok lýkr með því, at Hálfdan
konungr fellr ok allt lið hans. Síðan tók Sörli drekann ok allt
þat, er á honum var fémætt.
Síðan spurði Sörli, at Högni var kominn ór hernaði ok lá við
Óðinsey. Þangat heldr Sörli skipum sínum, ok þegar þeir finnast,
sagði hann honum fall Hálfdanar, föður síns, ok býður honum
sættir ok sjálfdæmi ok þar með fóstbræðralag, en Högni neitaði
því öllu. Síðan börðust þeir, sem segir í Sörlastikka. Gekk
Hákon allvel fram ok drap Sævar, merkjamann Sörla ok stafnbúa.
Eftir þat drap Sörli Hákon, en Högni drap Erling konung, föður
Sörla. Síðan börðust þeir Högni ok Sörli, ok fell Sörll fyrir
Högna af mæði ok sárum, ok lét Högni síðan græða hann, ok
svörðust þeir í fóstbræðralag ok heldu þat vel, meðan þeir lifðu
báðir. En Sörli lifði þeira skemmr ok fell í Austrvegi fyrir
víkingum, sem segir í Sörlastikka ok hér segir:
Fell inn forsnjalli
fyrst inn víglysti
ýgr í Austrvegi
allr á helpalla,
dauðr um dalreyðar
beit at brandmóti
En sem Högni frétti fall Sörla, herjaði hann í Austrveg á sama
sumri ok hafði alls staðar sigr ok varð þar konungr yfir, ok
segja menn svá, at tuttugu konungar urðu skattgildir undir Högna
konung ok heldu af honum ríki. Högni varð svá frægr af sínum
stórvirkjum ok hernaði, at hans nafn var jafnvel kunnigt norðr
við Finnabú sem út í parís ok allt þar í milli.
Here was a king hight Halfdan, who
ruled over Denmark, and abode in a stead called Roi's-well; he
had to wife Hvedna the old, and their-sons were Hogni and Hakon,
men peerless of growth and might, and all prowess: they betook
them to warfare so soon as they were come to man's estate.
Now cometh the tale on Sorli again, for on an autumntide he
sailed to Denmark. King Halfdan was minded as at this time to go
to an assembly of the kings; he was well stricken in years when
these things betid. He had a dragon so good that never was such
another ship in all Norway for strength's sake, and all
craftsmanship. Now was this ship lying moored in the haven, but
King Halfdan was a-land and had let brew his farewell drink. But
when Sorli saw the dragon, so great covetise ran into his heart
that he must needs have her: and forsooth, as most men say, no
ship so goodly hath ever been in the Northlands, but it were the
dragon Ellida, or Gnod, or the Long Worm.
So Sorli spake to his men, bidding them array them for battle;
"for we will slay King Halfdan and have -away his dragon."
Then answered his word a man called Saevar, his Forecastle-man
and Marshal: "Ill rede, lord," saith he; "for King Halfdan is a
mighty lord of great renown, and hath two sons to avenge him,
who are either of them full famous men."
"Let them be mightier than the very Gods," said Sorli, "yet
shall I none the less join battle."
So they arrayed them for the fight.
Now came tidings hereof to King Halfdan, and he started up and
fared down to the ships with all his men, and they got them
ready for battle.
Some men set before King Halfdan that it was ill rede to fight,
and it were best to flee away because of the odds; but the king
said that they should fall every one across the other's feet or
ever he should flee. So either side arrayed them, and joined
battle of the fiercest; the end whereof was such that King
Halfdan fell and all his folk, and Sorli took his dragon and all
that was of worth.
Thereafter heard Sorli that Hogni was come from warfare, and lay
by Odins-isle; so thitherward straight stood Sorli, and when
they met he told him of the fall of Halfdan his father, and
offered him atonement and selfdoom, and they to become
foster-brethren. But Hogni gainsayed him utterly: so they fought
as it sayeth in Sorli's Song. Hakon went forth full fairly, and
slew Saevar, Sorli's Banner-bearer and Forecastle-man, and
therewith Sorli slew Hakon, and Hogni slew Erling the king,
Then they fought together, Hogni and Sorli, and Sorli fell
before Hogni for wounds and weariness' sake: but Hogni let heal
him, and they swore the oath of brotherhood thereafter, and held
it well whiles they both lived. Sorli was the shortest-lived of
them; he fell in the Eastsea before the vikings, as it saith in
the Sorli-Song, and here saith:—
"Fell there the fight-greedy,
Foremost of war-host,
Eager in East-seas,
All on Hells' hall-floor;
Died there the doughty
In dale-fishes joy-tide,
With byrny-rod biting
The vikings in brand-thing"
But when Hogni heard of the fall of Sorli, he went a warring in
the Eastlands that same summer, and had the victory in every
place, and became king thereover; and so say men that twenty
kings paid tribute to King Hogni, and held their realms of him.
Hogni won so great fame from his doughty deeds and his warfare
that he was as well known by name north in the Finn-steads, as
right away in Paris-town; yea, and all betwixt and between.
Halfdan was another king. He ruled Denmark. His royal
seat was at Roskilde. He married Hvedna the Elder. Their sons
were Hogni and Hakon. They were outstanding men in strength and
stature and every talent. They set out raiding as soon as they
were fully grown.
Now the story goes that Sorli set course one autumn
for Denmark. King Halfdan was thinking then of going to the
Assembly of Kings. He was very advanced in years by now, when
these things transpired. He owned a dragon-ship so good that its
like was not to be found in the Northlands, thanks to its
strength and craftsmanship. It was moored in the harbour, but
King Halfdan was on land and had summoned guests to his farewell
feast. But when Sorli saw the dragon-ship, a great envy flooded
his heart, so that he wanted to own the dragon-ship at any cost,
and have it all for himself—and indeed, as most admit, there’s
never been a better bit of ship than this in the all the north,
with the exception of the dragon-ships Ellidi and Gnod and The
He talked to his men then, telling them to prepare for battle,
“Because we must kill King Halfdan and have his ship.”
A man called Saevar answered his speech—he was Sorli’s
forecastleman and marshal. “That’s not a good idea, lord,” he
said, “Halfdan is a great chief and a man of renown. He also has
two sons who are bound to take vengeance, since they’re now each
of them men of the greatest renown.”
“Be they bolder than gods,” said Sorli, “I shall fight them all
Now they prepare for battle.
Now King Halfdan gets wind of this. He jumps up and makes for
his ships along with all his men, readying themselves for
battle. Some men put it to Halfdan that he wouldn’t be wise to
fight, and that he should flee, because of the difference in
numbers. The king said they’d lie in heaps first, their dead
stacked one on top of another before he fled. Both sides prepare
for battle now, and it ends up with King Halfdan dead and all
his men. Then Sorli took the dragon-ship and everything on board
that was of value.
Then Sorli heard that Hogni had come back from raiding and lay
at anchor by the island of Odinsey. Sorli heads that way with
his ships, and as soon as they meet, he told him of the death of
his father Halfdan, and offered him a settlement, and he could
set the terms, and offered to be his sworn brother, but Hogni
rejected everything. Then they fought, as it says in Sorli’s
Piece. Hakon went forward boldly and killed Saevar, Sorli’s
standard-bearer and forecastleman. After that, Sorli killed
Hakon, and Hogni killed King Erling, Sorli’s father. Then Hogni
and Sorli fought, the two of them, and Sorli fell before Hogni
from wounds and weariness, and after that Hogni had him healed,
and they swore oaths of brotherhood and they held fast to that
as long as they both lived. But Sorli died first and fell in the
east to vikings, as it says in Sorli’s Piece, and here it says:
Fell first out eastward,
fierce, to hell’s hall-floor,
o’er Baltic assaulting,
down, the deed-famous
one dead that summer
(the snakes’ soft season),
sliced mail-spike at vikings.
But when Hogni learnt of Sorli’s death, he went raiding in the
east that same summer and had victory everywhere and became king
there and, so they say, twenty kings became subject to Hogni and
paid him tribute. Hogni became so famous from his exploits and
raiding that his name was known equally well from Finnabu to
Paris and everywhere in between.
5. Heðinn spyrr til Högna konungs
V. Hedinn heareth tell of King
Hogni, and cometh to the Northlands.
5. Hedin Learns of King Hogni
Hjarrandi hefir konungr heitit. Hann réð fyrir Serklandi.
Hann átti sér drottningu ok einn son, þann er Heðinn er nefndr.
Hann var snemma afreksmaðr at afli, vexti ok atgervi. Hann lagði
í hernað á æskualdri ok gerðist sækonungr ok herjaði víða um
Spanía ok Græcia ok öll nálæg ríki, svá at hann skattgildi undir
sik tuttugu konunga, svá at allir heldu af honum land ok lén.
Heðinn sat á vetrum heima í Serklandi.
Þat er sagt einhvern tíma, at Heðinn fór á skóg með hirð
sinni. Hann varð staddr í rjóðri einn sinna manna. Hann sá konu
sitja á stóli í rjóðrinu, mikla vexti ok fríða sjónum. Hún
kvaddi Heðin kurteisliga. Hann spurði hana at nafni, en hún
nefndist Göndul. Síðan talast þau við, spyrr hún hann at
stórvirkjum sínum, en hann sagði henni allt af létta ok spurði
hana, hvárt hún vissi nokkurn konung sér jafnan at hreysti ok
harðræði, frægðum ok framkvæmdum.
Hún kveðst þann vita, er ekki skyrti við hann ok eigi þjónuðu
síðr tuttugu konungar en honum, ok kvað hann Högna heita ok
sitja norðr í Danmörk.
"Þat veit ek," sagði Heðinn, "at þat skulum vit reyna, hvárr
okkar fremri er."
"Mál mun þér," segir Göndul, "til manna þinna; þeir munu
Síðan skilja þau, ferr hann til manna sinna, en hún sat þar
Þegar at várdögum býr Heðinn ferð sína, hefir einn dreka ok á
þrjú hundruð manna. Hann heldr norðr í heima; hann siglir þat
sumar ok þann vetr. At várdögum kom hann í Danmörk.
Hiarandi as the name of a king who ruled over Serkland; a queen
he had, and one son named Hedinn, who from his youth up was
peerless of growth, and strength, and prowess: from his early
days he betook him to warfare, and became a Sea-king, and
harried wide about Spain and the land of the Greeks, and all
realms thereabout, till twenty kings paid tribute to him, and
held of him land and fief.
On a winter abode Hedinn at home in Serkland, and it is said
that on a time he went into the wood with his household; and so
it befell him to be alone of his men in a certain wood-lawn, and
there in the wood-lawn he saw a woman sitting on a chair, great
of growth and goodly of aspect: he asked her of her name, and
she named herself Gondul.
Then fell they a-talking, and she asked him of his doughty
deeds, and lightly he told her all, and asked her if she wotted
of any king who was his peer in daring and hardihood, in fame
and furtherance; and she said she wotted of one who fell nowise
short of him, and who was served of twenty kings no less than
he, and that his name was Hogni, and his dwelling north in
"Then wot I," said Hedinn, "that we shall try it which of us
twain is foremost."
"Now will it be time for thee to go to thy men," said Gondul;
"they will be seeking thee."
So they departed and he fared to his men, but she was left
But so soon as spring was come Hedinn arrayed his departure, and
had a dragon and three hundred men thereon: he made for the
Northlands, and sailed all that summer and winter, and came to
in the Springtide.
There was a king called Hjarrandi. He ruled over Serkland. He
had a queen and a son called Hedin. Hedin soon grew to be an
outstanding man in strength, stature and abilities. He took to
raiding in his youth and became a sea-king and raided widely in
Spain and Greece and all the lands nearby, so that he made
twenty kings subject to him, so that they paid tribute and held
their lands under him.
Hedin spent the winter at home in Serkland. It’s said that one
time Hedin went hunting with his retinue. He wound up alone in a
clearing. He saw a woman sitting on a chair in the clearing,
tall and fair to see. She greeted him courteously. He asked her
name, and she called herself Gondul. After this they spoke
together. She asked him about his exploits, and he was happy to
tell her everything, and he asked her if she knew of any king as
bold and hardy as he, or as famous and successful. She said she
did know one, every bit his equal, and twenty kings served him,
“No less than yourself.” And she said he was called Hogni and
that he lived in Denmark in the north.
“This much I know,” said Hedin, “that we must test which of us
“It’s probably time for you to go to your men,” says Gondul,
“They’ll be looking for you.”
After that they part. He goes to his men, but she stayed sitting
there. As soon it was spring, Hedin gets ready to leave. He has
one dragon-ship and on it three hundred men. He sails north
through the world. He sails that summer and winter. In the
spring, he came to Denmark.
6. Heðin ok Högni reyndu íþróttir
VI. Hogni and Hedinn meet, and swear Brotherhood
to each other.
6. Hedin and Hogni Tested their Skills
Högni konungr sat þá heima. Ok er
hann spyrr, at ágætr konungr er þar við land kominn, býðr hann
honum heim til ágætrar veislu. Heðinn þekktist þat. Ok er þeir
sátu við drykk, spurði Högni, hvert eyrendi Heðinn hefði, er
hann fýstist svá langt norðr í heima. Heðinn sagði þat sitt
eyrendi, at þeir reyndi með sér hug ok hreysti, íþróttir ok alla
atgervi. Högni lést þess búinn. Ok annan dag árla fóru þeir á
sund ok í skotbakka. Þeir frömdu ok burtreið ok vápnfimi ok
allar íþróttir ok váru svá jáfnir á alla atgervi, at engi
þóttist mega í milli sjá, hvárr fremri væri.
Eftir þetta gert sverjast þeir í fóstbræðralag ok skyldu allt
eiga at helmingi. Heðinn var ungr ok ókvæntr, en Högni var
nokkuru ellri. Hann átti Hervöru Hjörvarðsdóttur, Heiðrekssonar
úlfhams. Högni átti dóttur, er Hildr hét. Hún var allra kvenna
vænst ok vitrust. Hann unni mikit dóttur sinni. Ekki átti hann
King Hogni sat at home this while, and when he heard tell how a
noble king is come to his land he bade him home to a glorious
feast, and that Hedinn took. And as they sat at the drink, Hogni
asked what errand Hedinn had thither, that had driven him so far
north in the world. Hedinn said that this was his errand, that
they twain should try their hardihood and daring, their prowess
and all their craftsmanship; and 1 logni said he was all ready
So betimes on the morrow fared they to swimming and shooting at
marks, and strove in tilting and fencing and all prowess; and in
all skill were they so alike that none thought he could see
betwixt them which was the foremost. Thereafter they swore
themselves fosterbiethren, and should halve all things between
Hedinn was young and unwedded, but Hogni was somewhat older, and
he had to wife Hervor, daughter of Hiorvard, who was the son of
Heidrek, who was the son of Wolfskin.
Hogni had a daughter, Hild by name, the fairest and wisest of
all women, and he loved his daughter much. No other child had
King Hogni was at home then. And when he learns that a notable
king has come to the land, he invites him home to a grand feast.
Hedin accepted. And as they sat drinking, Hogni asked on what
business Hedin had come, or what would make him want to travel
so far north in the world. Hedin told him his business, that he
wanted the two of them to test their courage and toughness
against each other, their skills and all their abilities. Hogni
said he was ready for that. And early the next day, they went
swimming and shooting at targets. They competed at jousting and
fencing and every sport and were so evenly matched in each skill
that no one could find any difference between them, or say who
was best. Afterwards they swear brotherhood and agree to share
everything equally. Hedin was young and unmarried, but Hogni
somewhat older. He was married to Hervor, daughter of Hjorvard,
the son of Heidrek Wolfskin. Hogni had a daughter who was called
Hild. She was the fairest and wisest of women. He loved his
daughter a lot. He had no other children.
7. Heðinn ginntr til illvirkja
Þat er sagt, at
nokkuru síðar færi Högni í hernað, en Heðinn sat eftir ok skyldi
geyma ríkis. Þat var einn dag, at Heðinn fór á skóg at skemmta
sér. Þá var blítt veðr. Honum varð enn vikit í burt frá mönnum
sínum. Hann kom í eitt rjóðr. Þar sá hann sitja konu á stóli þá
sömu, er hann sá fyrr á Serklandi, ok leist honum sem hún væri
nú allt fegri en fyrr. Hún kastaði enn orðum fyrr á hann ok
gerði sik blíða í máli.
Hún helt á einu horni, ok var lok
yfir. Konungi rann hugr til hennar. Hún bauð honum at drekka, en
konungr var þyrstr, því at honum var varmt orðit, tekr við ok
drekkr. En er hann hafði drukkit, brá honum mjök undarliga við,
því at hann mundi engan hlut þann, sem áðr hafði yfir gengit.
Hann settist þá niðr, ok töluðust þau við.
Hún spurði, hvárt honum hefði nokkut
svá reynst sem hún hafði sagt honum fyrr um íþróttir Högna ok
Heðinn sagði þat satt vera, - "því at
hann skorti ekki við mik neina atgervi, er vit reyndum, ok því
höfum vit kallast jafnir."
"Ekki eru þit þó jafnir," segir hún.
"Hvat finnr þú til þess?" segir hann.
"Þat finn ek til," segir hún, "at
Högni á sér drottningu af stórum ættum, en þú átt þér enga
Hann svarar: "Högni giftir mér þegar
Hildi, dóttur sína, er ek vil biðja, ok er ek þá ekki verr
kvæntr en hann."
"Minnkast þá metnaðr þinn" segir hún,
"ef þú biðr Högna mægða. Hitt væri heldr til, ef þik skyrti
hvárki hug né hreysti, sem þú lætr at sé, at nema Hildi í burtu,
en drepa drottningu með því móti at taka hana ok leggja hana
niðr fyrir barðit á drekanum ok láta hann sníða hana sundr, þá
er hann er fram settr."
Svá var Heðinn fanginn í illsku ok
óminni af öli því, er hann hafði drukkit, at honum sýndist ekki
annat ráð en þetta, ok ekki mundi hann til, at þeir Högni væri
Síðan skildu þau, ok fór Heðinn til
manna sinna. Þetta var at áliðnu sumri. Heðinn skipar þá mönnum
sínum at búa til drekann, því at hann kveðst heim vilja til
Serklands. Síðan gekk hann til skemmu ok tók sinni hendi hvára,
drottningu ok Hildi, ok gengr út með þær. Menn tóku klæði ok
gripi Hildar. Þeir einir váru menn í ríkinu, at ekki þorðu at
gera sakir Heðins ok manna hans, því at hann var mjök ófrýnligr.
Hildr spurði Heðin, hvat er hann
ætlaði, en hann sagði henni.
Hún bað hann eigi svá gera, - "því at
faðir minn mun gifta mik þér, ef þú vilt biðja mín."
"Eigi vil ek þat gera," segir Heðinn,
"at biðja þín."
"Ok þó at þat sé," segir hún, "at þú
vilir ekki annat en flytja mik í burt, þá munu þit faðir minn þó
sættast, en ef þú gerir svá illa ok ómannliga, at þú vinnir bana
móður minni, þá munu þit faðir minn aldri sættast, ok þessliga
hafa mér draumar gengit, sem þit munið berjast ok drepast niðr,
ok þó muni þar annat þyngra á koma, ok mun mér þat mikill harmr,
ef ek skal horfa upp á föður minn, at hann skuli standa undir
meingerðum ok miklum álögum, en mér er þó engi gleði í at sjá
þik í illendum ok erfiðismunum."
Heðinn kveðst aldri hirða, hvat er bak kæmi, ok sagðist gera
mundu sem áðr.
"Eigi máttu nú at gera," segir Hildr, "því at þér er eigi
Síðan gekk Heðinn til strandar. Var þá settr fram drekinn. Skaut
hann þá drottningu niðr fyrir barðit. Lét hún þar líf sitt, en
Heðinn gengr út á drekann.
Ok er hann er albúinn, fýsir hann at ganga á land einn sinna
manna ok í þann sama skóg, sem fyrr hafði hann gengit. Ok er
hann kom fram í rjóðrit, sá hann þar Göndul sitja á stóli. Þau
kvöddust kunnliga. Heðinn sagði henni frá framferðum sínum; hún
lét vel yfir. Hún hafði þar hornit þat, er hún fór fyrr með, ok
bauð honum at drekka af Hann tók við ok drakk, en er hann hafði
drukkit, seig at honum svefn, ok hallaði hann sér í kné henni.
En er hann var sofnaðr, fór hún undan höfði honum ok mælti: "Nú
vígi ek þik undir öll þau atkvæði ok skildaga, sem Óðinn fyrir
mælti, ok ykkr Högna báða ok allt lið ykkart."
Síðan vaknaði Heðinn ok sá svipinn af Göndul ok sýndist honum þá
svört ok mikil. Heðinn mundi nú allt ok þótti mikit slys sitt,
hugsar nú at fara nokkut langt í burt, svá at hann mætti eigi
dagliga heyra brigsli sinna vándra framferða, ferr nú til skips,
lætr skjótt ór landfestum, stendr byrr af landi, ok siglir svá í
burt með Hildi.
VII. The Beguiling of Hedinn, and of his Evil Deed.
The tale telleth that Hogni went a-warring a little hereafter,
and left Hedinn behind to ward the realm. So on a day went
Hedinn into the wood for his disport, and blithe was the
weather. And yet again he turned away from his men and came into
a certain wood-lawn, and there in the lawn beheld the same woman
sitting in a chair, whom he had seen aforetime in Serkland, and
him seemed that she was now gotten fairer than aforetime.
Yet again she first cast a word at him, and became kind in
speech to him; she held a horn in her hand shut in with a lid,
and the king's heart yearned toward her.
She bade the king drink, and he was thirsty, for he was gotten
warm; so he took the horn and drank, and when he had drunk, lo a
marvellous change came over him, for he remembered nought of all
that was betid to him aforetime, and he sat him down and talked
with her. She asked whether he had tried, as she had bidden him,
the prowess of Hogni and his hardihood.
Hedinn said that sooth it was: "For he fell short of me in
nought in any mastery we tried: so now are we called equal."
"Yet are ye nought equal," said she.
"Whereby makest thou that?" said he.
"In this wise," said she; "that Hogni hath a queen of high
kindred, but thou hast no wife."
He answers: "Hogni will give me Hild, his daughter, so soon as I
ask her; and then am I no worse wedded than he."
"Minished were thy glory then," she said, "wert thou to crave
Hogni of alliance. Better were it, if forsooth thou lack neither
hardihood nor daring according to thy boast, that thou have away
Hild, and slay the Queen in this wise: to wit, to lay her down
before the beak of that dragon-ship, and let smite her asunder
therewith in the launching of it."
Now so was Hedinn ensnared by evil heart and forgetfulness,
because of the drink he had drunken, that nought seemed good to
him save this; and he clean forgat that he and Hogni were
So they departed, and Hedinn fared to his men; and this befell
when summer was far spent.
Now Hedinn ordained his men for the arraying of the dragon,
saying that he would away for Serkland. Then went he to the
bower, and took Hild and the queen, one by either hand, and went
forth with them; and his men took Hild's raiment and fair
things. Those men only were in the realm, who durst do nought
for Hedinn and his men; for full fearful of countenance was he.
But Hild asked Hedinn what he would, and he told her; and she
bade him do it not: "For," quoth she, "my father will give me to
thee if thou woo me of him."
"I will not do so much as to woo thee," said Hedinn. "And
though," said she, "thou wilt do no otherwise than bear me away,
yet may my father be appeased thereof: but if thou do this evil
deed and unmanly, doing my mother to death, then never may my
father be appeased: and this wise have my dreams pointed, that
ye shall fight and lay each other a-low; and then shall yet
heavier things fall upon you: and great sorrow shall it be to
me, if such a fate must fall upon my father that he must bear a
dreadful weird and heavy spells: nor have I any joy to see thee
sorehearted under bitter toil."
Hedinn said he heeded nought what should come after, and that he
would do his deed none the less.
"Yea, thou mayest none other do," said Hild, "for not of thyself
dost thou it."
Then went Hedinn down to the strand, and the dragon was thrust
forth, and the queen laid down before the beak thereof; and
there she lost her life.
So went Hedinn aboard the dragon: but when all was dight he
would fain go a-land alone of his men, and into the self-same
wood wherein he had gone aforetime: and so, when he was come
into the wood-lawn, there saw he Gondul sitting in a chair: they
greeted each the other friendly, and then Hedinn told her of his
deeds, and thereof was she well content. She had with her the
horn whereof he had drunk afore, and again she bade him drink
thereof; so he took it and drank, and when he had drunk sleep
came upon him, and he fell tottering into her lap: but when he
slept she drew away from his head and spake: "Now hallow I thee,
and give thee to lie under all those spells and the weird that
Odin commanded, thee and Hogni, and all the hosts of you."
Then awoke Hedinn, and saw the ghostly shadow of Gondul, and
him-seemed she was waxen black and over big; and all things came
to his mind again, and mighty woe he deemed it. And now was he
minded to get him far away somewhither, lest he hear daily the
blame and shame of his evil deed.
So he went to the ship and they unmoored speedily: the wind blew
off shore, and so he sailed away with Hild.
7. Hedin Tricked
It’s said that after a little while Hogni went out raiding, but
Hedin stayed behind to watch over his kingdom. One day Hedin
rode in the forest for fun. It was fine weather. Again he was
separated from his men. He came to a clearing. There he saw
sitting on a chair the same woman that he’d seen before in
Serkland, and she seemed to him even more beautiful than before.
Once again she said the first word, speaking pleasantly to him.
She held out a horn with a lid. The king’s heart was filled with
yearning for her. She invited him to drink, and the king was
thirsty as he’d got hot, so he takes it and drinks. But when
he’d drunk he was strangely altered, for he remembered nothing
of what had gone before. He sat down and they spoke together.
She asked whether he’d found the toughness and skill of Hogni to
be as she’d told him. Hedin said it was true, “for there wasn’t
a single skill we tested in which he fell short of me, and so we
counted ourselves equal.”
“But you’re not equal,” says she.
“How do you figure that?” he says.
“I figure it like this,” she says, “Hogni has a queen of great
lineage, but you have no wife at all.”
He answers, “Hogni would give me his daughter if I ask, and then
I’ll be no less distinguished in marriage than him.”
“Your glory will be less then,” she says, “if you ask to marry
into Hogni’s family. It would be better—if, as you say, you’re
not short on courage or toughness—to carry off Hild and kill the
queen in the following way: by taking her and laying her down in
front of the prow of the dragon-ship, and letting it cut her in
two as it’s launched.”
Hedin was so ensnared in evil and forgetfulness from that ale
he’d drunk, that he saw no other choice, and it never entered
his mind that he and Hogni were sworn brothers.
parted, and Hedin went to his men. It was late summer.
sets his men to work now fitting out the dragon-ship, as he said
he wanted to go home to Serkland. When this was done he went to
the bower and took Hild and the queen, one in each arm, and goes
out with them. His men took the clothes and treasures of Hild.
There was no one in the realm who dared challenge Hedin and his
men, so fierce he looked.
Hild asked Hedin what he planned to
do, and he told her. She begged him not to do it, “because my
father will give me to you if you only ask.”
“I don’t want to do that,” says Hedin, “to ask for you.”
“Even so,” she says, “even if nothing will dissuade you from
carrying me off, my father will still forgive you, so long as
you don’t do such an evil and unmanly thing as to cause my
mother’s death, because then my father will never forgive you.
And this is how my dreams have gone: that you will fight and
kill each other. But even grimmer things will come to pass, and
it will bring me great grief if I see my father subjected to
harm and mighty spells, and it saddens me to see even you
labouring under such spite.”
Hedin said he didn’t care what might follow, and said he would
do exactly what he said he would.
“You can’t do anything about it now,” says Hild, “because you’re
not in control of yourself.”
Then Hedin went to the shore. Then the dragon-ship was launched.
He thrust the queen down in front of the prow. She lost her life
there, and Hedin walks out onto the ship. And when it’s all
fitted out and ready to go, he’s eager to land in that place
where he’d been before and to go up onto the shore alone and
into that same wood. And when he stepped forward into the
clearing, there he saw Gondul sitting on her chair. They
exchanged a friendly greeting. Hedin told her of his deeds. She
was pleased at this. She had the horn that she’d used before,
and invited him to drink from it. He took it and drank. And when
he had drunk, sleep came over him and he sank into her lap. And
when he was asleep, she slipped out from under his head and
said, “Now with my power I compel you under all those terms and
conditions that Odin decreed, cursing you with these spells, you
and Hogni both, and all your men.”
Then Hedin woke up and saw a glimpse of Gondul, and now she
seemed black and big. Hedin now remembered everything, and his
misfortune seemed great, and he thinks of going away somewhere
so that he won’t have to hear himself blamed every day for his
evil deeds. He goes to his ship, quickly undoes the moorings—a
fair wind is blowing seawards—and so sails off with Hild.
Nú kemr Högni heim, verðr nú víss ins sanna, at Heðinn hefir
siglt í brott með Hildi ok drekann Hálfdanarnaut, en drottning
lá dauð eftir. Högni varð við þetta mjök reiðr ok bað menn við
bregða þegar ok sigla eftir Heðni. Gera þeir nú ok svá ok fá inn
besta byr, koma æ þar at kveldi á þær hafnir, sem Heðinn hafði
burt siglt áðr um morgininn.
Þat var einn dag, er Högni helt til hafnar, at þá váru segl
Heðins at sjá við hafi. Þá halda þeir Högni þegar eftir. Þat er
sannliga sagt, at þá fekk Heðinn andviðri í móti sér, en Högna
helst inn sami byrr. Heðinn leggr þá upp at eyju þeiri, er Há
heitir, ok leggr þar í lægi.
Bráðliga kemr Högni eftir, ok er þeir finnast, kveðr Heðinn hann
blíðliga. "Þat er þér at segja, fóstbróðir," segir Heðinn, "at
mik hefir hent svá mikit slys, at þat má engi bæta nema þú. Ek
hefi hertekit dóttur þína ok dreka, en veitt líflát drottningu
þinni ok þó eigi af eiginligri illsku minni, heldr af vándum
spám ok illum álögum. Vil ek nú, at þú skerir einn ok skapir
okkar í milli. Þat vil ek ok bjóða þér at leggja bæði af Hildi
ok drekann, menn alla ok fé, en fara svá langt út heima, at ek
koma aldri til Norðrlanda né þér í augsýn, meðan ek lifi."
Högni svarar: "Ek hefða gift þér Hildi, ef þú hefðir hennar
beðit. Nú þó ok, at þú hefðir hertekit Hildi, þá mættim vit þó
sættast fyrir þat. En nú, er þú hefir gert svá mikit óverkan, at
þú hefir níðst á drottningu ok drepit hana, er engi ván á, at ek
vili sættum taka. Skulu vér ok reyna þegar í stað, hvárir stærst
kunna at höggva."
Heðinn svarar: "Hitt er ráð, ef þú vilt ekki annat en berjast,
at vit reynim tveir með okkr, því at hér áttu við engan mann
sakir nema við mik. Dugir þat eigi, at ómakligir menn gjaldi
glæpa minna ok illgerða."
Fylgdarmenn þeira svöruðu allir sem eins munni, at þeir skyldu
fyrr falla hverr á fætr öðrum, heldr en þeir næði höggum við at
En er Heðinn sá, at Högni vildi ekki annat en berjast, þá bað
hann sína menn á land ganga. "Skal ek eigi lengr bila við Högna
né biðjast undan bardaga, ok dugi nú hverr eftir drengmennsku."
Ganga þeir nú á land ok berjast. Er Högni allæfr, en Heðinn bæði
vápnfimr ok stórhöggr. Þat er með sannendum sagt, at svá mikil
atkvæði ok illska fylgdi þessum álögum, at þó at þeir klyfist í
herðar niðr, þá stóðu þeir upp sem áðr ok börðust. Hildr sat í
einum lundi ok sá upp á þenna leik.
Þessi armæða ok ánauð gekk alla stund frá því, at þeir tóku til
at berjast, ok framan til þess, er Óláfr Tryggvason varð konungr
at Noregi. Segja menn, at þat væri fjórtán tigir ára ok þrjú ár,
áðr en þessum ágæta manni, Óláfi konungi, yrði þat lagit, at
hans hirðmaðr leysti þá frá þessu aumliga áfelli ok skaðligum
VIII. The Weird falleth on these twain, Hogni and
Now cometh Hogni home, and comes to wot the sooth, that Hedinn
hath sailed away with Hild and the dragon Halfdans-loom, and his
queen is left dead there. Full wroth was Hogni thereat, and bade
men turn about straightway and sail after Hedinn. Even so did
they speedily, and they had a wind of the best, and ever came at
eve to the haven whence Hedinn had sailed the morning afore.
But on a day whenas Hogni made the haven, lo the sails of Hedinn
in sight on the main; so Hogni, he and his, stood after them;
and most sooth is it told that a head-wind fell on Hedinn,
whiles the same fair wind went with Hogni.
So Hedinn brought-to at an isle called Ha, and lay in the
roadstead there, and speedily came Hogni up with him; and when
they met Hedinn greeted him softly: "Needs must I say,
foster-brother," saith he, "how evil hath befallen me, that none
may amend save thou: for I have taken from thee thy daughter and
thy dragon; and thy queen I have done to death. And yet is this
deed done not from my evil heart alone, but rather from wicked
witchcraft and evil spells; and now will I that thou alone shear
and shape betwixt us. But I will offer thee to forego both Hild
and the dragon, my men and all my wealth, and to fare so far out
in the world that I may never come into the Northlands again, or
thine eye-sight, whiles I live."
Hogni answered: "I would have given thee Hild, hadst thou wooed
her; yea, and though thou hadst borne away Hild from me, yet for
all that might we have had peace: but whereas thou hast now
wrought a dastard's deed in the laying down of my queen and
slaying of her, there is no hope that I may ever take atonement
from thee; but here, in this place, shall we try straightway
which of us twain hath more skill in the smiting of strokes."
Hedinn answered: "Rede it were, since thou wilt nought else but
battle, that we twain try it alone, for no man here is guilty
against thee saving I alone: and nowise meet it is that
guiltless men should pay for my folly and ill-doing."
But the followers of either of them answered as with one mouth,
that they would all fall one upon the other rather than that
they two should play alone.
So when Hedinn saw that Hogni would nought else but battle, he
bade his men go up a-land: "For I will fail Hogni no longer, nor
beg off the battle: so let each do according to his manhood."
So they go up a-land now and fight: full fierce is Hogni, and
Hedinn apt at arms and mighty of stroke.
Soothly is it said that such mighty and evil spells went with
the weird of these, that though they clave each other down to
the shoulders, yet still they stood upon their feet and fought
on: and ever sat Hild in a grove and looked on the play.
So this travail and torment went on ever from the time they
first fell a-fighting till the time that Olaf Tryggvison was
king in Norway; and men say that it was an hundred and forty and
three years before the noble man, King Olaf, brought it so about
that his courtman loosed them from this woeful labour and
miserable grief of heart.
8. The Battle of the Hjadnings
Now Hogni comes home and learns the truth, that Hedin has sailed
away with Hild and the dragon-ship Halfdan’s Gift, leaving the
queen dead in his wake. Hogni became very angry at this and
ordered his men to get a move on and sail after Hedin. They do
so too, and get the perfect breeze, and day in day out they
would come at evening to the very harbour that Hedin had left in
But one day as Hogni entered harbour, they could see Hedin’s
sails at sea. Hogni and his crew made straight for them. And,
strange but true, Hedin then got a head wind against him, but
Hogni the best of sailing breezes. Hedin puts in at the island
of Hoy and lays anchor in the harbour there. Hogni is soon upon
him and when they meet Hedin said respectfully, “I have to tell
you, my sworn brother,” says Hedin, “that such great misfortune
has befallen me that no one can amend it but you. I have carried
off your daughter and ship, and I caused the death of your
queen, but not from any cruelty of my own, but because of evil
prophesies and bad spells. Now I want you to set your own terms
and decide on how to make peace between us. And I will also
offer to give up to you both Hild and the ship with all my men
and property, and to go away so far in the world that I never
come again to the north or into your sight as long as I live.”
Hogni answers, “I would have given you Hild if you’d asked for
her. And even now that you have carried her off, still we could
have made peace for that. But now that you’ve done such evil and
acted so shamefully with my queen, there’s little chance I’ll
accept a settlement. We must find out right now which of us can
strike the strongest.”
Hedin answers, “If you won’t settle for anything less than
battle, then I suggest that we prove this issue between the two
of us, since you have no quarrel with anyone here but me. It’s
not right that innocent men should pay for my crimes and
But their followers all swore with one voice that they would
first fall at one another’s feet before the two of them would be
able to trade blows. When Hedin saw that Hogni would accept
nothing else but fighting, he ordered his men ashore. “I won’t
give way to Hogni any longer, or excuse myself from this fight.
And now each must look to his courage.”
They go ashore now and fight. Hogni is mad with rage, and Hedin
nimble and deals stiff blows. And strange to say, but true, such
great spells and evil attended this curse that even though they
clove down through one another’s shoulders, they got just as
before and fought on. Hild sat in a grove and watched this grim
game. This baleful bondage went on without stopping from the
moment they began to fight, and on till Olaf Tryggvason became
king of Norway. They say that it was 143 years before it would
be fated for that fine man, King Olaf, that one of his retainers
freed them from this wretched doom and bitter trial.
9. Létti Hjaðningavígum
Á fyrsta ári ríkis Óláfs konungs er sagt, at hann kæmi við
eyna Há ok lagði þar í lægi eitt kveld. Sá var þar vani við fyrr
sagða ey, at þar hurfu hverja nátt varðmenn, svá at engi vissi,
hvat af varð. Ívarr ljómi átti vörð at halda þessa nótt.
En er allir menn váru sofnaðir á skipum, tók Ívarr sverðit,
er átt hafði Járnskjöldr, en Þorsteinn, sonr hans, hafði gefit
honum, ok öll herklæði sín ok gekk upp á eyna.
En er hann er upp kominn á eyna, sá hann mann ganga í mót
sér. Sá var mikill vexti ok allr blóðugr, með miklum
áhyggjusvip. Ívarr spurði þenna mann at nafni. Hann kvaðst
Heðinn heita ok vera Hjarrandason, kynjaðr utan ór Serklandi.
"Er þér þat satt at segja, at þó at hér hafi horfit vökumenn, at
þat er mér at kenna ok okkr Högna Hálfdanarsyni, því at vit erum
orðnir fyrir svá miklum atkvæðum ok ánauðum ok okkrir menn, at
vér berjumst bæði nætr ok daga, ok hefir þessu gengit marga
mannsaldra, en Hildr Högnadóttir sitr ok sér upp á. En Óðinn
hefir þetta lagit á oss ok ekki annat til undanlausnar en
nokkurr kristinn maðr berist við oss, þá skal sá eigi upp
standa, er hann drepr, ok þá er hverr sá leystr frá sinni ánauð.
Nú vilda ek biðja þik, at þú færir til bardaga með oss, því at
ek veit, at þú ert vel kristinn, svá ok, at konungr sá, er þú
þjónar, er mikillar hamingju. Segir mér ok svá hugr um, at vér
munum af honum ok hans mönnum nokkut gott hljóta."
Ivarr játtar at fara með honum.
Heðinn varð glaðr við þat ok mælti: "Þess skaltu varast at
ganga eigi framan at Högna ok þess annars at drepa mik eigi fyrr
en Högna sakar þess, at þat er einkis mennsks manns at ganga
framan at Högna eða drepa hann, ef ek er áðr dauðr, því at hann
hefir ægishjálm í augum ok hlífir engu vætta, ok því er þat eina
til, at ek gangi at honum framan ok berjumst ek við hann, en þú
gangir at baki honum ok veitir honum banatilræði, því at þér mun
lítit fyrir verða at bana mér, þó at ek lifi vár allra lengst."
Síðan ganga þeir til bardaga, ok sér Ivarr, at þetta er allt
satt, sem Heðinn hafði sagt honum. Gengr hann at baki Högna ok
höggr í höfuð honum ok klýfr hann í herðar niðr. Fellr Högni þá
dauðr ok stóð aldri upp síðan. Síðan drap hann þar þá menn alla,
er at bardaganum váru, en síðast Heðinn, ok varð honum lítit
fyrir því. Síðan gekk hann til skipa, ok varð þá lýst af degi.
Hann fór til konungs ok sagði honum. Konungr lét vel yfir verki
hans ok sagði honum giftuliga tekist hafa.
Eftir um daginn gengu þeir á land ok þar til, sem bardaginn
hafði verit, ok sá þar engan stað þeira tíðenda, er þar höfðu
verit, en sást blóð á sverði Ívars til merkja, ok aldri hurfu
þar varðhaldsmenn síðan. Konungr fór heim eftir þetta í ríki
Hogni and Hedinn are
loosed from their Weird.
So tells the tale, that in the first year of the reign King Olaf
he came to the Isle of Ha, and lay in the haven there on an eve.
Now such was the way of things in that isle, that every night
whoso watched there vanished away, so that none knew what was
become of them.
On this night had Ivar Gleam-bright to hold ward: so when all on
ship-board were asleep Ivar took his sword, which Iron-shield of
Heathwood had owned erst, and Thorstein his son had given to
Ivar, and all his war-gear he took withal, and so went up on to
But when he was gotten up there, lo a man coming to meet him,
great of growth, and all bloody, and exceeding sorrowful of
countenance. Ivar asked that man of his name; and he said he was
called Hedinn, the son of Hiarandi, of the blood of Serkland.
"Sooth have I to tell thee," said he, "that whereas the watchmen
have vanished away, ye must lay it to me and to Hogni, the son
of Halfdan; for we and our men are fallen under such sore weird
and labour, that we fight on both night and day; and so hath it
been with us for many generations of men; and Hild, the daughter
of Hogni, sitteth by and looketh on. Odin hath laid this weird
upon us, nor shall aught loose us therefrom till a christened
man fight with us; and then whoso he smiteth down shall rise up
no more; and in such wise shall each one of us be loosed from
his labour. Now will I crave of thee to go with me to the
battle, for I wot that thou art well christened; and thy king
also whom thou servest is of great goodhap, of whom my heart
telleth me, that of him and his men shall we have somewhat
Ivar said yea to going with him; and glad was Hedinn thereat,
and said: "Be thou ware not to meet Hogni face to face, and
again that thou slay not me before him; for no mortal man may
look Hogni in the face, or slay him if I be dead first: for he
hath the Ægis-helm in the eyes of him, nor may any shield him
thence. So there is but one thing for it, that I face him and
fight with him, whiles thou goest at his back and so givest him
his death-blow; for it will be but easy work for thee to slay
me, though I be left alive the longest of us all."
Therewith went they to the battle, and Ivar seeth that all is
sooth that Hedinn hath told him: so he goeth to the back of
Hogni, and smiteth him into his head, and cleaveth him down to
the shoulders: and Hogni fell dead, and never rose up again.
Then slew Ivar all those men who were at the battle, and Hedinn
last of all, and that was no hard work for him. But when he came
to the grove wherein Hild was wont to sit, lo she was vanished
Then went Ivar to the ship, when it was now daybreak, and he
came to the king and told him hereof: and the king made much of
his deed, and said that it had gone luckily with him.
But the next day they went a-land, and thither where the battle
had been, and saw nowhere any signs of what had befallen there:
but blood was seen on Ivar's sword as a token thereof; and never
after did the watchmen vanish away.
So after these things the king went back to his realm.
The End Of This Tale.
9. The End of the Battle
In the first year of King Olaf’s reign, it’s said that he came
to the Isle of Hoy and laid anchor there one evening. It was
normal on the aforementioned island for watchmen to go missing
every night, so that no one knew what had become of them. It was
Ivar Gleam’s duty to keep watch this night. But when everyone
had gone to sleep on board the ships, Ivar took his sword—which
Jarnskjold had owned, but which Thorstein, his son, had given to
Ivar—and put on all his armour and went up onto the island. But
when he’s come up onto the island, he saw a man walking towards
him. The man was great in size and all covered in blood, with a
very grave face. Ivar asked this man his name. He said he was
called Hedin and was the son of Hjarrandi, a Serklander by
“I tell you truly: if watchmen have vanished here you can blame
me and Hogni Halfdan’s son, for we are obliged by these spells
and curses that enslave us and our men to fight both night and
day, and so it has been these many generations, and Hogni’s
daughter Hild sits and looks on. But Odin has lain this doom on
us, and there can be no release unless some Christian man fights
with us, and then the man he slays shall not stand up again, and
then each of us will be freed from our curse. Now I would like
to ask you to go into battle with us, for I know you are a good
Christian, and also that the king you serve is a man of strong
luck. And so my mind tells me that we will get something good
from him and his men.”
Ivar agrees to go against him.
Hedin became glad at that and said, “You
must be careful not to go face-to-face Hogni, and also not to
kill me before he is down, because there is no human man who can
face Hogni and kill him, if I am already dead, for he has an
in his eyes, from which no one can protect themselves. And so
the only thing for it is for me to face him and fight with him,
and you go behind him and deliver his death-blow, for you will
have little trouble slaying me, even if I’m the only one left of
So they go into battle, and Ivar sees that it’s all true what
Hedin has told him. He steps behind Hogni and hews into his head
and cleaves him down to the shoulders. Hogni falls dead then and
never stood up again. Then he killed all the men who were at the
battle, and finally Hedin, and he was easy to kill. Afterwards
he went to the ships, and day was just dawning. He went to the
king and told him. The king was pleased at his night’s work, and
said he’d had some good luck there. The following day they went
ashore to where the battle had been and saw no trace of what had
gone on there, but blood was seen on Ivar’s sword as proof, and
no more watchmen went missing after that. Then the king went
home to his kingdom.
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