Thursday, 23 June 2016



"...set up his swine-array..." (Hrolf Kraki's Saga, p. 131), taught by Odin to Hadding (see here);

laid down "...caltrops in the long grass." (ibid.);

said "'All men must dree their weirds.'" (p. 132);

saw his men slain in windrows and lost an eye in battle;

with help from his brothers, defeated the exiled berserkers who had led vikings against Svithjodh;

withdrew from the service of Adhils when he realized that the latter wanted him killed;

thus also did the right thing by Queen Yrsa who had endangered herself by supporting him;

went instead to serve the Danish King Hrolf.

At last we understand how Svipdag becomes part of Hrolf Kraki's Saga - and that is as far as I can take the story tonight.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

At first I was surprised by the bit you quoted from HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA about Svipdag using caltrops. I had thought that was a Medieval invention till i looked it up and found out it goes back to about 331 BC. So, I'm not surprised knowledge of caltrops spread from the Greeks and Romans to the barbarians.


S.M. Stirling said...

One thing Poul shows well there is how professional warriors in the ancient Germanic world were a mobile class -- moving around to attach themselves to famous chiefs or kings, "ring-givers". In "Burnt Finnsburg" and "Beowulf" the (very incomplete) saga that details the lives of the legendary founders of England, Hengist and Hrosa, were wanderers of that sort. They served several lords, then made Europe too hot for them and ended up in Kent serving the post-Roman British king Vortigern as mercenaries before turning on him.

S.M. Stirling said...

I suspect that such movement, and the associated mobile poets (scops, skalds) or "praise-singers" were important for a long time in preserving cultural links between the various parts of the Germanic-speaking area. Hence you get details from the Ostrogothic kingdom in the Ukraine ending up in Icelandic sagas.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I agree that makes sense. Free lance warriors like Hengist, Horsa, Svipdag, etc., were mercenaries offering their services to "ring givers" willing to take them on. And skalds, scops, wandering "praise singers" also did their bit to preserving Germanic cultural links. That would explain how bits from Ostrogothic history or legends ended up in Icelandic sagas.