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Saga of King Hrolf Kraki

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Title: Saga of King Hrolf Kraki


1
Saga of King Hrolf Kraki
Interlaced human figures (6k), from St. Gall
Cathedral Library, MS 1395, 8th century.
  • Like Gautrekssaga, Hrolfs saga kraka is one of
    the legendary sagas, or fornaldar sagas.
  • Hrolfssaga was written in prose in fourteenth-
    century Iceland, but represents events said to
    have taken place in the fifth- or sixth-century
    Denmark, during the late Völkerwanderung.
  • Hrolfssaga has close affinities to the
    Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, written in England
    sometime before the 10th century A.D.

2
Beowulf
  • Beowulf describes the adventures of a great
    warrior of the sixth century and is the oldest
    surviving epic in English literature.
  • Beowulf exists in only one manuscript. This copy
    survived both the wholesale destruction of
    religious artifacts during the dissolution of the
    monasteries by Henry VIII and a disastrous fire
    which destroyed the library.
  • The poem still bears the scars of the fire. The
    manuscript is now housed in the British Library,
    London.

3
Beowulf
The first page of the Beowulf manuscript. Dama
ge by the fire can be seen in the upper left han
d corner.
4
Beowulf
  • Beowulf and Hrolfssaga descend (probably)
    independently from a tradition of story-telling
    in England and Scandinavia, and reflect the
    shared oral traditions of these countries in the
    early medieval period.
  • Both epics recount events that take place in the
    Danish kingdom of the Skjoldungs (Old English
    Scyldinga).
  • Both epics describe a voyage from Gautland in
    Sweden to Denmark and the exploits of a great,
    bear-like hero Bjarki and Beowulf.

5
Beowulf
  • Overly Simplified Plot of Beowulf
  • Hrothgar son of Healfdan rules Denmark from a
    great hall called Heorot.
  • A sinister creature called Grendel comes from a
    nearby fen one night and attacks Hrothgars men
    while they are sleeping in the hall, killing 30
    men, whom he carries off and devours.
  • Grendel returns in subsequent nights, killing and
    feasting on Hrothgars men no one can stand
    against the monstrously strong beast.

6
Hrothgar the friend of Beowulf and king of
Sjælland (Zealand) belonged to the royal house
founded by Scyld Scefing. The royal house was
known as the Scyldings. Hrothgar was the son of
Healfdene and grandson of Beow.
Hrothgar's capital was called Heorot, but the
monster Grendel menaced his great hall, killing
and devouring many of his thane. Heorot was the
centre of the Beowulf's first adventure.
7
Beowulf
  • Beowulf of the tribe of the Geats in Southern
    Sweden hears of the monster Grendel and decides
    to slay the beast for his own glory.
  • Beowulf takes a select party of 14 men to
    Hrothgars hall, makes a grand entrance, boasts
    of previous adventures, makes friends and
    enemies.
  • Since Grendel fights with bare arms, Beowulf
    declares that he too will fight the demon without
    a weapon in bear-like fashion?

8
Beowulf
  • Grendel attacks that night, killing one of
    Beowulfs men, but Beowulf then seizes his arms
    and begins a desperate fight.
  • Beowulf manages to tear one of Grendels arms
    from his body, mortally wounding the demon.
    Grendel flees in agony back to his lair beneath a
    lake.
  • Beowulf has Grendels arm to prove his victory,
    and there is great rejoicing in Heorot.

9
Beowulf
  • A bard (Anglo-Saxon Scop) sings a poem praising
    Beowulfs great deed, comparing him to the great
    Germanic hero Siegemund (Sigmund).
  • Sigmund and his adventures are recorded in the
    Norse epic, the Volsungasaga, and were later
    reworked by Richard Wagner in his Ring-Cycle
    operas.
  • The Sigmund legend was combined in the
    Volsungasaga and the German Nibelungenlied with
    material from the Völkerwanderung, Theoderic of
    Verona and Attila the Hun.

10
Beowulf
  • Beowulf is rewarded with precious treasures for
    his bravery in slaying Grendel.
  • The poem hints that King Hrothgars nephew,
    Hrothulf (Norse Hrolf Kraki) will one day betray
    his uncle and take his throne (meaning of the
    reference debated).
  • While the men sleep, Grendels mother, uglier and
    meaner than her son, makes a surprise appearance,
    kills one of Hrothgars men in vengeance then
    leaves for her watery lair.

11
Beowulf
  • Beowulf vows to kill Grendels mother too, tracks
    her to a lake and dives in, finding a vaulted
    chamber beneath the lake.
  • He fights with Grendels mother, but his weapon
    is useless eventually he sees a sword crafted by
    a giant, seizes it and slices off her head.
  • Beowulf locates the deceased Grendel and cuts off
    his head as a trophy. He returns to the surface
    of the lake with Grendels head.
  • Beowulf has successfully slain both Grendel and
    mother, and avenged the death of one of his men.

12
Beowulf
  • Back in Heorot there is great rejoicing and more
    celebration.
  • Beowulf announces his departure and is given more
    gifts from King Hrothgar and his wife.
  • Beowulf returns to Geatland, where, after many of
    his relatives have died, he is eventually made
    King of the Geats.
  • Beowulf rules Southern Sweden for 50 years as a
    very wise and powerful king.

13
Beowulf
  • Toward the end of Beowulfs reign, a slave
    happens to find a dragons hoard in a cave by the
    sea he steals a cup while the dragon sleeps a
    motif used by J. R. R. Tolkien in The Hobbit
    (Tolkien was a well-known Beowulf scholar).
  • The dragon awakes, smells the man and notices the
    missing cup, and in a rage he flies over the land
    breathing fire on towns and villages.
  • Dragons usually wingless in Norse legends
    original term related flying/fire-breathing
    beasts to lightning in the sky. Common mythical
    beast.

14
Beowulf
  • Old Beowulf still insists on single combat with
    the monster, takes a select band of warriors with
    him to act as witnesses of his heroism.
  • Beowulf advances against dragon in its lair, but
    his sword is useless and his shield is barely
    enough to protect him from the dragons fire.
  • All his men flee, except young Wiglaf, who rushes
    to Beowulfs aid. Together they attack.
  • Wiglaf plunges his sword through the dragons
    belly and Beowulf draws his dagger and finishes
    off the beast.

15
Beowulf
  • Sadly, the dragon had managed to pierce Beowulfs
    coat of mail with his teeth, biting him in the
    neck and shoulder. As the dragons poison takes
    effect, Beowulf realizes he is about to die.
  • He asks Wiglaf to show him the dragons treasure.
    He bestows a gold collar on the young hero and
    then expires.
  • Wiglaf mourns the dead Beowulf and rebukes the
    cowardly warriors who had fled earlier.
  • Wiglaf throws the dragon in the sea, burns
    Beowulf on a great pyre and buries the treasure.

16
Beowulf
17
Beowulf
18
Beowulf
19
Beowulf
20
Beowulf and The 13th Warrior
  • The primary addition of Michael Crichton (in
    Eaters of the Dead) is combining the character of
    Ibn Fadlan to a rationalized account of the
    Beowulf legend.
  • Ibn Fadlan was an Arab chronicler. In 921 A.D.,
    the Caliph of Baghdad sent him to the Bulgars of
    the Middle Volga. Ibn Fadlan wrote an account of
    his journeys with the embassy, called a Risala.
  • Ibn Fadlan's account is one of our principal
    sources for the history and culture of a number
    of tribes who populated Inner Asia.

21
Beowulf and The 13th Warrior
  • Ibn Fadlans account is of great value as a
    history, though it is clear in some places that
    inaccuracies and prejudices have slanted the
    account.
  • Ibn Fadlans description of the Volga Rus
    (Swedish Vikings who traded in Russia, south to
    the Black Sea) is one of the few outside accounts
    of these people.
  • Although Ibn Fadlan did not join a Viking warrior
    party, several of the scenes in the movie are
    taken from his account of the Rus

22
The 13th Warrior and Ibn Fadlan
  • Tall and strong, blond or red-headed
  • Weapons include sword, battle-axe and knife
  • Viking hygiene
  • Sexual practices (not shown in the film)
  • Cremation of a Chieftain
  • The angel of death
  • Intoxicating beverages
  • Sacrifice of slave girl with dead chieftain

23
Beowulf and The 13th Warrior
  • The book and film versions rationalize the
    fantasy elements of the epic
  • Grendel is not a monster, but a stone-age
    bear-tribe
  • Grendels mother is a sorceress, or an iconic
    statue of a fertility goddess served by the
    sorceress
  • The dragon is a fire-worm or glow-worm
    (fire-snake, fire-serpent) composed of a dense
    cavalry formation carrying torches

24
Beowulf and The 13th Warrior
  • The film keeps the central plot elements, but
    rearranges them, placing them into different
    contexts or different sequences
  • The monster takes the heads of the warriors as
    trophies, cannibalism practiced
  • Grendels mother found underground, beneath a
    lake in a cave, with a connection to the sea
  • The hero is bitten in the shoulder by a serpent,
    dies of poison here poisoned by the sorceress,
    dies after defeating his final enemy

25
Beowulf and The 13th Warrior
  • The bear connection
  • Both Beowulf and Bothvar Bjarki have important
    associations with bears bears as their fetch?
  • A berserkr was a kind of warrior who fought in
    a state of frenzy without armormeaning disputed
    bare-shirt or bear-shirt the latter more
    likely.
  • A berserkr then would adopt the mantle of a bear,
    a shamanistic ritual in which wearing a bear skin
    (shirt) imparts the strength and ferocity of a
    bear.
  • Evidence suggests that berserkrs belonged to a
    warrior cult worshipping Odin. Battle magic.

26
Beowulf and The 13th Warrior
  • A few scattered comments
  • The landscape has mountains and fjords, obviously
    not Denmark but Norway (British Columbia).
  • Court intrigues mentioned in Beowulf are recast
    somewhat differently.
  • One of the warriors cites Havamal in the evening
    before the monsters attack.
  • Odd reversal that the hero was concerned about
    having his story recorded in writing by a
    foreigner, since he came from a culture with a
    very well developed tradition of oral narration!

27
Beowulf and Hrolf Kraki
Hrolfs Saga Skjöldunga Saga Gesta
Danorum Beowulf Aðils Adillus Athislus Eadgils
Böðvarr Bjarki Bodvarus Biarco Beowulf Froði
Frodo Frotho Froda Halfdan Halfdanus Halda
nus Healfdene Helgi Helgo Helgo Halga H
roarr Roas Roe Hroðgar Hrolfr Kraki Rolfo Kra
ke Roluo Krake Hroðulf
Skjöldr Skioldus Skioldus Sculd
Scefing Yrsa Yrsa Vrsa Yrse prob
able associations
28
Hrolfs saga kraka
  • Written down in Iceland around 400 years after
    Beowulf, it contains many of the same elements,
    which are also known from other sources.
  • Icelanders venerated their heathen past more and
    more openly than any other country in
    Scandinavia they had a reputation as master
    poets and story tellers, and were often guests at
    royal courts in England and Norway.
  • Matter-of-fact style of Icelandic sagas is often
    at odds with the fabulous or mythical subject
    matter of Hrolfs saga.

29
Hrolfs saga kraka
  • This saga is a collection of smaller tales
    compiled around the central figure of King Hrolf
    Kraki in Denmark.
  • Like King Arthur or Charlemagne, Hrolf plays a
    relatively minor role in most of the adventures,
    compared with the exploits of his warriors and
    kinsmen.
  • The saga contains elements of European romance as
    well as elements of Norse mythology.

30
Hrolfs saga kraka
  • Transformation of oral poetry and history into
    written, literary prose.
  • Poetic form of the subject matter, Bjarkamal, a
    heroic lay from the mid 10th century, cited by
    Snorri in his Edda and by Saxo (translated into
    Latin) in his Danish History.
  • In Saint Olafs Saga, this poem was supposedly
    recited by King Olafs bard on the morning of the
    Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 A.D. (p. xiv).
  • Inspirational power of the poem tapped at a
    decisive moment in Norwegian history!

31
Hrolfs saga kraka
  • The saga can be divided into 5 separate tales
  • (chapters 1-4) the legendary and divine ancestry
    of Hrolf Kraki.
  • (chapters 5-13) the adventures of Helgi and
    Hroar, Hrolfs father and uncle the adventures
    of his parents.
  • (chapters 14-16) Hrolfs champion Svipdag
  • (chapters 16-24) the tale of Bjorn the Man-Bear
  • (chapters 24-34) Hrolfs own struggles with his
    adversary, King Adils of Sweden.

32
History and Hrolfs saga kraka
  • Frodi, Halfdan, Helgi and others probably
    preserve the memory of Danish chieftains in the
    Migration period, 5th to 6th century A.D.
  • They belonged to the dynasty of the Skjoldungs,
    which was founded by Skjold (Shield) or by
    Scyld Scefing in Beowulf.
  • According to the Saga of the Skjoldungs, Skjold
    was descended from Odinus or Othinus divine
    origin such as for the Volsungs in Norway or
    (Freyr) the Ynglings in Sweden.
  • Euhemerism with Odin, or attribution to Dan.

33
History and Hrolfs saga kraka
  • Was there really a center of Danish power at
    Hleidargard (Hrolfs saga) or at Heorot
    (Beowulf)?
  • Danish historians since the late middle ages
    associated the village of Lejre on the island of
    Sjælland with the great hall mentioned in the
    sagas.
  • Archaeologists have found two great halls on the
    island, one dating to Viking times (850 A.D.) and
    one to the late Migration age (660 A.D.).

34
Hrolfs saga kraka
  • A rambling tale of the early Norse world, from
    Denmark and Sweden to Norway and the far north,
    where Sami and Finns live.
  • Tales of cruelty, vengeance, rape, incest,
    betrayal and slaughter. Something for everyone.
  • Magical spells, witches and sorceresses,
    visitations by gods, transformations and mythical
    beings, elves, beserkrs and man-beasts.
  • A great and noble king, his loyal champions and
    their glorious exploits, culminating in a great
    battle between good and evil.

35
Hrolfs saga kraka 1
  • The Ancestry of Hrolf Kraki is portrayed in the
    opening chapters.
  • Two brothers, easy-going Halfdan and greedy
    Frodi, who was jealous and invaded Halfdans
    kingdom in Denmark.
  • Frodi burned everything and killed his brother,
    but his two nephews Helgi and Hroar escaped.
  • Brothers were hidden on an island with trusted
    freeman Vifil, who keeps them underground.
  • King Frodi is afraid of vengeance, calls on
    witches and wizards to locate the boys.

36
Hrolfs saga kraka 2
  • Sorcerers think the boys are on the island
    Vilfil feels the magic, tells the boys to hide in
    the underbrush if a search party comes.
  • Frodis men searched the island twice, but found
    no sign of the boys.
  • Frodi decides to search personally the third
    time Vifil warns the boys that calling to his
    dogs is a warning to hide underground.
  • King Frodi is displeased with Vifil, but cannot
    find the boys and leaves.

37
Hrolfs saga kraka 3
  • Hroar is 12 and Helgi is 10 when they left the
    island, calling themselves Ham and Hrani.
  • They went to stay with Jarl Saevil, a friend and
    in-law of their fathers, but did not reveal
    their identity and kept cloaks over their heads
    people thought them beggars, but tolerated them.
  • Once while riding unruly horses, their cloaks
    fell down and Signy, the Jarls wife, recognized
    her lost brothers.
  • They all attend a feast at King Frodis hall,
    where he has a seeress brought in to locate the
    boys.

38
Hrolfs saga kraka 3
  • The seeress, named Heid, practices Seiðr, a
    shamanistic form of magic, to find the boys (see
    p. 6f.).
  • Signy then throws a gold ring to the seeress, who
    loses her concentration and lies to the king to
    keep the ring.
  • The king threatens Heid, who continues with her
    trance. She knows where the boys are, but warns
    them and then flees herself from the hall (p.
    7).
  • The boys hide in the woods outside the hall, but
    are already plotting revenge on Frodi.

39
Hrolfs saga kraka 3
  • Frodi commands a fruitless search, then decides
    to spend the night drinking, because the boys
    will be too concerned with flight to threaten him
    at the moment.
  • Regin, the boys foster-father, gets the men in
    the hall drunk, then rides to the woods and
    through a charade tells the hiding boys to attack
    the hall he cannot say anything out loud
    because he has been forced to swear allegiance to
    the new king.
  • Jarl Saevil and his friends escaped the hall,
    then the boys set fire to it.

40
Hrolfs saga kraka 4
  • King Frodi has an ominous dream, awakes to find
    his hall aflame.
  • Frodi offers a truce with the boys, saying it
    goes against natures order that among us kinsmen
    each man should want to be the killer of the
    other (10).
  • The boys do not trust him, prevent him escaping,
    and he and all his men are burned.
  • Sigrid, the mother of the boys Helgi and Hroar,
    chooses not to leave the hall and she is killed
    too.

41
Hrolfs saga kraka 5,6
  • King Helgi rules Denmark, while King Hroar
    travels to England and marries Ogn.
  • Helgi hears of a warrior queen named Olof in
    Saxland (northern Germany) beautiful, yet cruel
    and arrogant and determines to marry her.
  • Helgi invades the country and invites Queen
    Olof to provide him a feast she cannot refuse.
  • At the feast, Helgi makes a quick marriage
    proposal (p. 12f.). That night, things do not go
    as Helgi had planned. Helgi leaves in disgrace.

42
Hrolfs saga kraka 7
  • Helgi is outraged at his humiliation by Queen
    Olof and is determined to get vengeance.
  • He arrives secretly in Saxland with a large
    force, hides a treasure in the woods on the
    coast.
  • He pretends to be a beggar who has found the
    treasure, promises to deliver it to the greedy
    queen if she will come get it secretly.
  • The queen arrives alone and is captured by Helgi
    who now has no intention of marrying her
    honorably. He keeps her on his ship for many
    nights and then lets her return home.

43
Hrolfs saga kraka 7
  • Queen Olof gives birth to a daughter, Yrsa, whom
    she treats with neglect because she is Helgis
    child. The pretty girl is sent to herd animals
    when she is 12, and is not told of her true
    parentage because Queen Olof wants to hide her
    shame.
  • Helgi returns to Saxland out of curiosity when
    Yrsa is 13, is struck by the beauty of the young
    shepherdess, captures her, takes her home and
    marries her! (Queen Olof savors this odd turn of
    events, since it will shame Helgi).

44
Hrolfs saga kraka 7,8
  • Meanwhile, Helgis brother Hroar appears, asks
    for a ring of their fathers, and departs with it
    on friendly terms.
  • Jarl Saevil dies and his evil son Hrok assumes
    control of his lands. Hrok goes to Helgi and
    demands the ring or a third of his lands.
  • Hrok then goes to Hroar, who will not part with
    the ring, but lets Hrok take a look at it. Hrok
    throws the ring into the sea. Enmity ensues.
  • Hrok invades Hroars lands, attacks and kills him.

45
Hrolfs saga kraka 8
  • Evil Hrok then wants to marry Ogn, Hroars wife
    in England.
  • She manages to stall the wedding, because she is
    pregnant with dead Hroars child she sends word
    to King Helgi that she is being forced to marry
    Hrok but will not do so because of her
    pregnancy.
  • Helgi plots to avenge his dead brother Hroar.
  • Hrok suspects nothing.

46
Hrolfs saga kraka 9
  • Helgi defeats Hrok, but instead of killing him,
    he breaks his legs and arms and leaves him
    utterly ruined.
  • Queen Ogn gives birth to Hroars child, Agnar,
    who becomes a great warrior. He dives into the
    fjord where evil Hrok threw his fathers ring and
    pulls it up from the bottom.
  • Meanwhile, King Helgi continues his incestuous
    relationship with his daughter Yrsa and has a son
    with her named Hrolf.

47
Hrolfs saga kraka 10-11
  • Amazon Queen Olof is displeased to hear that her
    daughter Yrsa and Helgi are so happy together
    she travels to Yrsa and tells her the truth about
    her parentage (p. 20).
  • Yrsa cannot live with the shame and leaves Helgi,
    who suffers grievously from the loss of his
    wife/daughter.
  • King Adils of Sweden travels to visit Olof and
    asks for Yrsas hand in marriage. She is not
    eager, but he carries her off and marries her.
  • King Helgi hears about the wedding and mopes.

48
Hrolfs saga kraka 11
  • King Helgi is visited at Yuletime by a girl in
    rags who asks to sleep near his bed he is
    repelled by her appearance but thinks it is his
    duty to offer hospitality.
  • Filthy elf-girl is released from spell by his
    generosity she wants to leave but he wants to
    get married. They sleep together that night (p.
    22).
  • The elf-girl later brings their daughter back to
    the king, she is named Skuld guilt or debt. She
    shows a vicious temperament.

49
Hrolfs saga kraka 12-14
  • King Helgi brings an army to visit his
    daught/wife Yrsa now married to King Adils, who
    invites him to a feast.
  • King Adils has his beserkrs ambush King Helgi
    after the feast he fights valiantly but is
    slain. Here ends the tale of King Helgi (p.
    24).
  • King Adils becomes very boastful and arrogant
    after his victory, but Yrsa plots vengeance.
  • A young hero, Svipdag, decides to leave his
    dismal home in the mountains and make a name for
    himself. Wisdom and advice (p. 25f.).

50
Hrolfs saga kraka 14
  • Svipdag arrives in King Adilss hall, behaves
    arrogantly and the kings beserkrs take
    offense.
  • A challenge is issued and the next day Svipdag
    kills 4 of the berserkrs. Queen Yrsa is
    thrilled.
  • A further fight ensues, and the king is so
    disappointed in his berserkrs that he outlaws
    (exiles) them (p. 28).
  • The berserkrs become vikings and raid the kings
    territory Svipdag is sent to kill them. He wins
    the first battle, but they gather more forces for
    a second battle.

51
Hrolfs saga kraka 14-16
  • Svipdag is greatly outnumbered, but his brothers
    come to his aid and his defeats the berserkrs.
  • Svipdag is insulted that King Adils did not
    support him in the battle and he decides to serve
    a more worthy monarch (p. 30).
  • Svipdag and his brothers ask their father for
    advice, and he tells them to join King Hrolf in
    Denmark (p. 31).
  • King Hrolf accepts Svipdag and his brothers.
  • King Hrolf intends to get his inheritance from
    his mother, Queen Yrsa in Sweden.

52
Hrolfs saga kraka 17-19
  • Widowed King Hring of Norway wants a wife, so he
    sends his men to the far north, where they find a
    beautiful Lapp (Sami) woman (HvitWhite) in
    hiding (p. 34f.).
  • They propose marriage to King Hring she agrees.
  • Hvit becomes overbearing, rules the land while
    her aged husband is absent.
  • Hvit lusts after young Bjorn (who loves a
    farmers daughter Bera). Bjorn scorns her
    advances, and she curses him to live as a bear
    (p. 36f.)!

53
Hrolfs saga kraka 20
  • Bjorn disappears and transforms into a bear,
    begins killing the kings cattle.
  • Bera recognizes Bjorn in the bears eyes, follows
    him to a cave where he assumes his human shape at
    night.
  • Hvit urges the king to hunt and kill the bear.
  • Bjorn knows he will die, tells Bera that she is
    pregnant, that she should get his treasure, but
    that she should not eat any of the bear meat! (p.
    38).
  • Queen Hvit forces Bera to eat the bear meat. A
    difficult pregnancy is followed by odd triplets

54
Hrolfs saga kraka 20-21
  • Elk-Frodi, half man and half elk (moosep. 40).
  • Thorir Hounds Foot (with the feet of a dog).
  • Bodvar, without blemish, loved most by Bera.
  • Eating the (bestial) flesh of her husband caused
    some sort of mutation in the developing boys.
  • Elk-Frodi is unhappy at court, Bera takes him to
    his fathers cave, where he gets his inheritance.
    He then takes to highway robbery (p. 40f.).
  • Thorir gets his inheritance, a battle-axe. He
    visits Frodi, but leaves to be king of the Gauts.

55
Hrolfs saga kraka 22-23
  • Bodvar, the third brother, asks his mother Bera
    about his father she tells him the truth and he
    plots vengeance against Hvit the witch.
  • Bodvar bursts into Hvits chamber, covers her
    head in a leather bag (so she cannot cast
    spells), beats her and drags her until dead (p.
    44).
  • Bodvar becomes king, but is dissatisfied, marries
    off his mother to a Yarl, and leaves for new
    adventures.
  • He takes his inheritance from the cave, a magic
    sword.

56
Hrolfs saga kraka 23
  • Bodvar visits Elk-Frodi, and the two wrestle
    before Frodi recognizes his brother.
  • Bodvar does not wish to stay in the mountains as
    a robber-baron, so Frodi advises him to join King
    Hrolf and serve with champions.
  • Frodi makes Bodvar drink some blood from his own
    body it makes Bodvar incredibly strong and
    courageous (p. 46).
  • Frodi stamps his foot into stone, tells Bodvar
    the mark will reveal his death earth for
    sickness, water for drowning, blood for battle
    (46).

57
Hrolfs saga kraka 23
  • Bodvar then visits Thorir-Hounds Foot, but is
    mistaken for his brother and put to bed with the
    queen! He tells her his identity and they behave
    honorably. Brother Thorir arrives and has some
    misgivings, but says nothing.
  • Bodvar continues to Hrolfs hall at Hleidargard,
    spends a night with parents of the miserable
    Hott, who is a mealtime bone target (p. 47f.).
  • Bodvar pulls Hott from his bone pile, washes him,
    seats him at the bench. A Viking food fight
    ensues. Bones fly, killing one of the kings men.

58
Hrolfs saga kraka 23
  • Bodvar becomes Hrolfs man, but insists Hott be
    seated in an honorable place on the bench.
  • Hott tells Bodvar of a beast that arrives every
    Yuletime and causes much damage. Weapons are
    useless against the greatest of trolls (p. 50)
  • Bodvar takes the cowardly Hott to fight the
    beast, using his magic sword he kills it (51).
  • Bodvar then insists that Hott drink the beasts
    blood and eat its heart after that they fight
    for some time and it is clear Hott has gained
    strength and courage from the beast.

59
Hrolfs saga kraka 23
  • Bodvar and Hott prop up the beast to make it
    appear alive.
  • The next morning, Bodvar volunteers the cowardly
    Hott for the task of killing the beast.
  • Hott so impresses the king that he gives him a
    new name, Hjalti, named after the kings own
    sword, Golden Hilt (p. 52).
  • And so ends this tale of Bodvar and his
    brothers.

60
Hrolfs saga kraka 24
  • The final chapters (24-34) revolve around the
    central figure of Hrolf Kraki and his conflicts
    with brother-in-law/step-father King Adils of
    Sweden and his illigitimate elf-daughter Skuld.
  • Bodvar confronts the berserkrs much as Svipdag
    had done earlier (ch. 15), but with greater
    confidence, challenging all of them (p. 54).
  • King Hrolf reconciles the two groups.
  • Hjalti earns the title of the Magnanimous
    because he refuses to taunt or kill those who
    previously threw bones at him.

61
Hrolfs saga kraka 25-26
  • Bodvar is the greatest of all the heroes, marries
    Hrolfs daughter Drifa.
  • Bodvar reminds King Hrolf that only one thing
    diminishes his honor the fact that King Adils
    has withheld his fathers inheritance (p.55).
  • Hrolf fears the black magic of King Adils, but
    agrees to the undertaking.
  • Their company comes to a farmstead owned by
    Hrani, where they plan to spend the night. Hrani
    is one the names often assumed by Odin.

62
Hrolfs saga kraka 26-27
  • Hrani tests the company three nights in a row
  • first with cold (p. 57)
  • then with thirst (p. 57)
  • finally with fire and heat (p. 57)
  • Each time Hrani suggests that they send home the
    warriors who cannot tolerate the tests placed
    before them. King Hrolf is left with only his 12
    greatest champions.
  • The chivalrous knights make a grand entrance in
    Sweden obvious insertion from continental
    tradition of medieval romance.

63
Hrolfs saga kraka 27
  • King Adils, upset at their arrogance, humiliates
    his guests by mutilating their horses (p. 58).
  • Svipdag, who briefly served Adils, enters first,
    careful to protect the identity of King Hrolf.
  • Svipdag asks for safe-conduct for the warriors
    with him, and Adils agrees.
  • The reception was a trap armed men emerge from
    behind tapestries and attack Hrolfs men.
  • Hrolfs champions cut down Adilss men like
    dogs and he calls an end to the fight (p. 60).

64
Hrolfs saga kraka 28
  • Parallels to Volsungasaga treacherous reception
    of visiting in-laws, battle in a hall. Queen
    between the two parties, opposing one.
  • King Adils builds a huge fire in the hall to find
    out which one is weakest, probably King Hrolf.
  • Hrolf endures the heat with his men, does not let
    himself be recognized.
  • Svipdag, Bodvar and Hjalti begin tossing Adils
    servants into the fire (p. 61f.). Kill his men.
  • King Adils is afraid of fire and Hrolf, uses
    sorcery to escape the hall.

65
Hrolfs saga kraka 28
  • Queen Yrsa belittles her husband and his conduct.
    Sends a servant, Vogg, to serve Hrolf.
  • Vogg gives Hrolf the name of Kraki (bean stalk)
    and is in return given a golden arm-ring Vogg
    swears to avenge Hrolf (if necessary) out of
    gratitude for the gift.
  • Vogg warns the champions that King Adils is a
    heathen sorcerer who is summoning a troll-boar to
    attack Hrolf and his men (p. 63).
  • The boar attacks, but Hrolfs hound Gram bites
    off its ears and it flees. Boar a symbol of Freyr.

66
Hrolfs saga kraka 28-29
  • King Adils realizes he cannot defeat Hrolfs
    champions in open warfare, so he sets fire to his
    own hall with them trapped inside.
  • Hrolf and his men break through the walls and
    kill many of the enemy before Adilss men beg for
    mercy.
  • Hrolfs hawk returns, having killed Adils
    hawks.
  • Hjalti discovers that their horses are
    mutilated.
  • Queen Yrsa gives her son Hrolf his inheritance
    and much of King Adilss gold. They take Adilss
    horses and arms, and make ready to depart.

67
Hrolfs saga kraka 30
  • King Hrolf and his champions race out of Sweden,
    barely ahead of hordes of soldiers.
  • The king scatters gold over the road behind him
    the Swedes stop to fight each other for the gold
    and thus let the Danes escape.
  • Hrolf taunts King Adils I have made the
    greatest of the Swedes stoop like a swine (p.
    67).
  • Krakis seeda kenning for gold. Hrolf sowed
    the gold like seed on the ground. One must know
    the legend of Hrolf Kraki to grasp the kenning.

68
Hrolfs saga kraka 30
  • King Adils attacks Hrolf one final time, but has
    both his buttocks sliced off down to the bone,
    and will have to endure the shame (p. 68f.)
  • King Hrolf and his champions arrive back at
    Hranis (Odins) farm Hrani offered the king
    weapons, but the king refused, causing offense.
  • They depart, but realize the danger in offending
    Odinthey return, but the farmstead has vanished.

  • King Hrolf answered Fate rules each mans life
    and not that foul spirit (p. 69). Negative
    opinion of Odin on the part of the scribe of the
    saga!

69
Hrolfs saga kraka 31-32
  • Odin will no longer grant King Hrolf victory.
  • Hrolf and his champions live in peace and glory
    for a time after their adventure in Sweden.
  • Then Queen Skuld (illegitimate, half-elf daughter
    of King Helgi) plots with her husband to escape
    paying tribute to her half-brother Hrolf.
  • Skuld upbraids her husband for acting so cowardly
    and goads him into action against the king
    typical plot device in Icelandic sagas.
  • Queen Skuld and her husband King Hjorvard
    secretly raise an army to battle King Hrolf.

70
Hrolfs saga kraka 32
  • Hrolf and his men (and their mistresses) are busy
    drinking and celebrating Yule and do not see the
    enemy setting camp outside.
  • More interjections about the non-pagan beliefs
    of Hrolf and his champions (p. 71).
  • Hjalti is busy with his mistress and overlooks
    the enemy he later bites off her nose (for
    distracting him or for infidelity? (See p.
    71f.)
  • Hjalti the Magnanimous rouses the King and the
    troops with a magnificent speech (list on p.
    72).
  • King Hrolf himself gives one final speech (p. 73).

71
Hrolfs saga kraka 33
  • The Great Battle begins, Hrolf and his Champions
    slaughter the enemy mightily.
  • Bodvar Bjarki is oddly absent, though a great
    bear fights with unnatural savagery and strength
    (p. 74).
  • Hjalti seeks out Bodvar, asleep in Hrolfs
    chamberHjalti rouses him from his trance,
    thereby undoing the shamanistic magic assisting
    the king (p. 75). The savage bear disappears from
    the battle.
  • Queen Skuld now works her own magic, sending a
    hideous boar against Hrolfs forces worse yet,
    she animates fallen corpses to continue the fight
    (p.76).

72
Hrolfs saga kraka 33-34
  • Sensing that the magic allied against them is too
    much to overcome, Bodvar and Hjalti make final
    grand speeches about dying honorably and
    reuniting in Valhall (p. 76f.).
  • Oddly enough, Bodvar concludes his speech by
    denouncing Odin and wishing he could find the
    unfaithful son of the evil one and squeeze the
    life from that vile, poisonous creature. (p.
    77)!
  • Hrolf falls, the editor claims, because he had no
    knowledge of Christ to counter the vile magic
    that Skuld brought to bear in the battle (p. 78).

73
Hrolfs saga kraka 34
  • King Hrolf and the Champions all perish in the
    Great Battlecompare the battle to King Arthurs
    battle with his fiendish relative Mordred).
  • Elk-Frodi, as foretold to his brother Bodvar, saw
    his death in the footprint he had made and
    attacked Queen Skuld with an army composed of his
    men and those of Queen Yrsa, led by Vogg.
  • They countered Skulds witchcraft and killed and
    tortured her as a punishment for her crimes.
  • They built a mound for Hrolf Kraki and bury his
    famous sword Skofnung with him. Landnamabok xvii!
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