Sunday, 19 June 2016

Helgi And Yrsa

"...she waited his return to the news that she bore his child." (Hrolf Kraki's Saga, p. 81)

Should that not read: "...that she was his child"? Yrsa had borne Helgi's son, Hrolf, while Helgi was there. The news that he returns to now is not that she is pregnant again but that he has inadvertently married his own daughter - the reverse of Oedipus.

There is a belief that the Aesir would smite Denmark if one of its joint kings knowingly continued an incestuous marriage and, since this narrative is a fantasy based on a saga, the belief is probably correct.

Queen Olof had kept her daughter alive only because:

"'It may come in useful, somehow, someday...'" (p. 61)

- and the unwanted daughter has become a means of vengeance against Helgi.

Yrsa leaves with Olof. Helgi goes into a decline. Does the conflict between him and Olof continue? I do not remember. What a family! I am glad to have spent this afternoon with my daughter, her husband, his two sons from a previous marriage and four of their children.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, you seemed to have found a rare, awkwardly worded sentence by Poul Anderson, one which could have been reworded more clearly. If my memory is correct, we do see mention of how an infuriated King Helgi would be killing horses in his furious haste to return to Leidhra once the news of Queen Olof's malicious visit had reached him.

Parent and child, brother and sister marriage, are rightly forbidden by what I hold to be both natural law and divine revelation. So, it was more than understandable that the Danes feared what might happen if such a forbidden union was knowingly continued.