The human race, or at least the Teutonic race, springs, according to the myth, from a single pair, and has accordingly had a centre from which their descendants have spread over that world which was embraced by the Teutonic horizon. The story of the creation of this pair has its root in a myth of ancient Aryan origin, according to which the first parents were plants before they became human beings. The Iranian version of the story is preserved in Bundehesh, chap. 15. There it is stated that the first human pair grew at the time of the autumnal equinox in the form of a rheum ribes with a single stalk. After the lapse of fifteen years the bush had put forth fifteen leaves. The man and woman who developed in and with it were closely united, forming one body, so that it could not be seen which one was the man and which one the woman, and they held their hands close to their ears. Nothing revealed whether the splendour of


Ahuramazda — that is to say, the soul — was yet in them or not. Then said Ahuramazda to Mashia (the man) and to Mashiana (the woman): “Be human beings; become the parents of the world!” And from being plants they got the form of human beings, and Ahuramazda urged them to think good thoughts, speak good words, and do good deeds. Still, they soon thought an evil thought and became sinners. The rheum ribes from which they sprang had its own origin in seed from a primeval being in human form, Gaya Maretan (Gayomert), which was created from perspiration (cp. Vafthrudnersmal, xxxiii, 1-4), but was slain by the evil Angra Mainyu. Bundehesh then gives an account of the first generations following Mashia and Mashiana, and explains how they spread over the earth and became the first parents of the human race.

The Hellenic Aryans have known the myth concerning the origin of man from plants. According to Hesiodus, the men of the third age of the world grew from the ash-tree (ek meleon); compare the Odyssey, xix. 163.

From this same tree came the first man according to the Teutonic myth. Three Asas, mighty and worthy of worship, came to Midgard (at húsi, Völusp., 16; compare Völusp., 4, where Midgard is referred to by the word salr) and found á landi Ask and Embla. These beings were then “of little might” (lítt megandi) and “without destiny” (örlögslausir); they lacked önd, they lacked ódr, they had no or læti or litr goda, but Odin gave them önd, Honer gave them ódr, Loder gave them and litr goda. In reference to the meaning of these words I


refer my readers to No. 95, simply noting here that litr goda, hitherto defined as “good colour” (gódr litr), signifies “the appearance (image) of gods.” From looking like trees Ask and Embla got the appearance which before them none but the gods had assumed. The Teutons, like the Greeks and Romans, conceived the gods in the image of men.

Odin’s words in Havamál, 43 refer to the same myth.

The passage explains that when the Asa-god saw the modesty of the new-made human pair he gave them his own divine garments to cover them. When they found themselves so beautifully adorned it seems to indicate the awakening sense of pride in the first human pair. The words are: “In the field (velli at) I gave my clothes to the two wooden men (tveim tremönnum). Heroes they seemed to themselves when they got clothes. The naked man is embarrassed.”

Both the expressions á landi and velli at should be observed. That the trees grew on the ground, and that the acts of creating and clothing took place there is so self-evident that these words would be meaningless if they were not called for by the fact that the authors of these passages in Havamál and Völuspa had in their minds the ground along the sea, that is, a sea-beach. This is also clear from a tradition given in Gylfaginning, chapter 9, according to which the three Asas were walking along the sea-beach (med sævarströndu) when they found Ask and Embla, and created of them the first human pair.

Thus the first human pair were created on the beach of an ocean. To which sea can the myth refer? The


question does not concern the ancient Aryan time, but the Teutonic antiquity, not Asia, but Europe; and if we furthermore limit it to the Christian era there can be but one answer. Germany was bounded in the days of Tacitus, and long before his time, by Gaul, Rhoetia, and Pannonia on the west and south, by the extensive territories of the Sarmatians and Dacians on the east, and by the ocean on the north. The so-called German Ocean, the North Sea and the Baltic, was then the only body of water within the horizon of the Teutons, the only one which in the days of Jordanes, after the Goths long had ruled north of the Black Sea, was thought to wash the primeval Teutonic strands. The myth must therefore refer to the German Ocean. It is certain that the borders of this ocean where the myth has located the creation of the first human pair, or the first Teutonic pair, was regarded as the centre from which their descendants spread over more and more territory. Where near the North Sea or the Baltic was this centre located?

Even this question can be answered, thanks to the mythic fragments preserved. A feature common to all well-developed mythological systems is the view that the human race in its infancy was under the special protection of friendly divinities, and received from them the doctrines, arts, and trades without which all culture is impossible. The same view is strongly developed among the Teutons. Anglo-Saxon documents have rescued the story telling how Ask’s and Embla’s descendants received the first blessings of culture from the benign gods. The story has come to us through Christian hands, which,


however, have allowed enough of the original to remain to show that its main purpose was to tell us how the great gifts of culture came to the human race. The saga names the land where this took place. The country was the most southern part of the Scandinavian peninsula, and especially the part of it bordering on the western sea. Had these statements come to us only from northern sources, there would be good reason for doubting their originality and general application to the Teutonic tribes. The Icelandic-Norwegian middle-age literature abounds in evidence of a disposition to locate the events of a myth and the exploits of mythic persons in the author’s own land and town. But in this instance there is no room for the suspicion that patriotism has given to the southernmost part of the Scandinavian peninsula a so conspicuous prominence in the earliest history of the myth. The chief evidence is found in the traditions of the Saxons in England, and this gives us the best clue to the unanimity with which the sagas of the Teutonic continent, from a time prior to the birth of Christ far down in the middle ages, point out the great peninsula in the northern sea as the land of the oldest ancestors, in conflict with the scholastic opinion in regard to an emigration from Troy. The region where the myth located the first dawn of human culture was certainly also the place which was regarded as the cradle and centre of the race.

The non-Scandinavian sources in question are: Beowulf’s poem, Ethelwerdus, Willielmus Malmesburiensis, Simeon Dunelmensis, and Matthæus Monasteriensis. A closer examination of them reveals the fact that they have


their information from three different sources, which again have a common origin in a heathen myth. If we bring together what they have preserved of the story we get the following result:*

One day it came to pass that a ship was seen sailing near the coast of Scedeland or Scani,** and it approached the land without being propelled either by oars or sails. The ship came to the sea-beach, and there was seen lying in it a little boy, who was sleeping with his head on a sheaf of grain, surrounded by treasures and tools, by glaives and coats of mail. The boat itself was stately and beautifully decorated. Who he was and whence he came nobody had any idea, but the little boy was received as if he had been a kinsman, and he received the most constant and tender care. As he came with a sheaf of grain to their country the people called him Scef, Sceaf.*** (The Beowulf poem calls him Scyld, son of Sceaf, and gives Scyld the son Beowulf, which originally was another name of Scyld.) Scef grew up among this people, became their benefactor and king, and ruled most honourably for many years. He died far advanced in age. In accordance with his own directions, his body was borne down to the strand where he had landed as a child. There in a little harbour lay the same boat in which he had come. Glittering

* Geijer has partly indicated its significance in Svea Rikes Häfder, where he says: “The tradition anent Sceaf is remarkable, as it evidently has reference to the introduction of agriculture, and shows that it was first introduced in the most southern part of Scandinavia.”

** The Beowulf poem has the name Scedeland (Scandia): compare the name Skâdan in De origine Longobardorum. Ethelwerd writes: “Ipse Skef cum uno dromone advectus est in insulam Oceani, quæ dicitur Scani, armis circumdatus,” &c.

*** Matthæus Westmonasteriensis translates this name with frumenti manipulus, a sheaf.


from hoar-frost and ice, and eager to return to the sea, the boat was waiting to receive the dead king, and around him the grateful and sorrowing people laid no fewer treasures than those with which Scef had come. And when all was finished the boat went out upon the sea, and no one knows where it landed. He left a son Scyld (according to the Beowulf poem, Beowulf son of Scyld), who ruled after him. Grandson of the boy who came with the sheaf was Healfdene-Halfdan, king of the Danes (that is, according to the Beowulf poem).

The myth gives the oldest Teutonic patriarchs a very long life, in the same manner as the Bible in the case of Adam and his descendants. They lived for centuries (see below). The story could therefore make the culture introduced by Scef spread far and wide during his own reign, and it could make his realm increase with the culture. According to scattered statements traceable to the Scef-saga, Denmark, Angeln, and at least the northern part of Saxland, have been populated by people who obeyed his sceptre. In the North Götaland and Svealand were subject to him.

The proof of this, so far as Denmark is concerned, is that, according to the Beowulf poem, its first royal family was descended from Scef through his son Scyld (Skjold). In accordance herewith, Danish and Icelandic genealogies make Skjold the progenitor of the first dynasty in Denmark, and also make him the ruler of the land to which his father came, that is, Skane. His origin as a divinely-born patriarch, as a hero receiving divine worship, and as the ruler of the original Teutonic country, appears also in


Fornmannasögur, v. 239, where he is styled Skáninga god, the god of the Scanians.

Matthæus Westmonasteriensis informs us that Scef ruled in Angeln.

According to the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, the dynasty of Wessex came from Saxland, and its progenitor was Scef.

If we examine the northern sources we discover that the Scef myth still may be found in passages which have been unnoticed, and that the tribes of the far North saw in the boy who came with the sheaf and the tools the divine progenitor of their celebrated dynasty in Uppsala. This can be found in spite of the younger saga-geological layer which the hypothesis of Odin’s and his Trojan Asas’ immigration has spread over it since the introduction of Christianity. Scef’s personality comes to the surface, we shall see, as Skefill and Skelfir.

In the Fornaldar-sagas, ii. 9, and in Flateyarbók, i. 24, Skelfir is mentioned as family patriarch and as Skjold’s father, the progenitor of the Skjoldungs. There can, therefore, be no doubt that Scef, Scyld’s father, and through him the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, originally is the same as Skelfir, Skjold’s father, and progenitor of the Skjoldungs in these Icelandic works.

But he is not only the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, but also of the Ynglings. The genealogy beginning with him is called in the Flateyarbók, Skilfinga ætt edr skjöldunga ætt. The Younger Edda also (i. 522) knows Skelfir, and says he was a famous king whose genealogy er köllut skilvinga ætt. Now the Skilfing race in the


oldest sources is precisely the same as the Yngling race both from an Anglo-Saxon and from a heathen Norse standpoint. The Beowulf poem calls the Swedish kings scilfingas, and according to Thjodulf, a kinsman of the Ynglings and a kinsman of the Skilfing, Skilfinga nidr, are identical (Ynglingatal, 30). Even the Younger Edda seems to be aware of this. It says in the passage quoted above that the Skilfing race er í Austrvegum. In the Thjodulf strophes Austrvegar means simply Svealand, and Austrkonungur means Swedish king.

Thus it follows that the Scef who is identical with Skelfir was in the heathen saga of the North the common progenitor of the Ynglinga and of the Skjoldunga race. From his dignity as original patriarch of the royal families of Sweden, Denmark, Angeln, Saxland, and England, he was displaced by the scholastic fiction of the middle ages concerning the immigration of Trojan Asiatics under the leadership of Odin, who as the leader of the immigration also had to be the progenitor of the most distinguished families of the immigrants. This view seems first to have been established in England after this country had been converted to Christianity and conquered by the Trojan immigration hypothesis. Wodan is there placed at the head of the royal genealogies of the chronicles, excepting in Wessex, where Scef is allowed to retain his old position, and where Odin must content himself with a secondary place in the genealogy. But in the Beowulf poem Scef still retains his dignity as ancient patriarch of the kings of Denmark.

From England this same distortion of the myth comes


to the North in connection with the hypothesis concerning the immigration of the “Asiamen,” and is there finally accepted in the most unconcerned manner, without the least regard to the mythic records which were still well known. Skjold, Scef’s son, is without any hesitation changed into a son of Odin (Ynglingasaga, 5; Foreword to Gylfag., 11). Yngve, who as the progenitor of the Ynglings is identical with Scef, and whose very name, perhaps, is or has been conceived as an epithet indicating Scef’s tender age when he came to the coast of Scandia — Yngve-Scef is confounded with Freyr, is styled Yngve-Freyr after the appellation of the Vanagod Ingunar Freyr, and he, too, is called a son of Odin (Foreword to Gylfag., c. 13), although Freyr in the myth is a son of Njord and belongs to another race of gods than Odin. The epithet with which Ari Fródi in his Schedæ characterises Yngve, viz., Tyrkjakonungr, Trojan king, proves that the lad who came with the sheaf of grain to Skane is already in Ari changed into a Trojan.



But in one respect Ari Fródi or his authority has paid attention to the genuine mythic tradition, and that is by making the Vana-gods the kinsmen of the descendants of Yngve. This is correct in the sense that Scef-Yngve, the son of a deity transformed into a man, was in the myth a Vana-god. Accordingly every member of the Yngling


race and every descendant of Scef may be styled a son of Freyr (Freys áttungr), epithets applied by Thjodulf in Ynglingatal in regard to the Uppsala kings. They are gifts from the Vana-gods — the implements which point to the opulent Njord, and the grain sheaf which is Frey’s symbol — which Scef-Yngve brings with him to the ancient people of Scandia, and his rule is peaceful and rich in blessings.

Scef-Yngve comes across the ocean. Vanaheim was thought to be situated on the other side of it, in the same direction as Ægir’s palace in the great western ocean and in the outermost domain of Jörmungrund (see 93). This is indicated in Lokasenna, 34, where Loke in Ægir’s hall says to the Van Njord: “You were sent from here to the East as a hostage to the gods” (thu vart austr hedan gisl um sendr at godum). Thus Njord’s castle Nóatún is situated in the West, on a strand outside of which the swans sing (Gylfag., 23). In the faded memory of Scef, preserved in the saga of the Lower Rhine and of the Netherlands, there comes to a poverty-stricken people a boat in which there lies a sleeping youth. The boat is, like Scef’s, without sails or oars, but is drawn over the billows by a swan. From Gylfaginning, 16, we learn that there are myths telling of the origin of the swans. They are all descended from that pair of swans which swim in the sacred waters of Urd’s fountain. Thus the descendants of these swans that sing outside of the Vana-palace Noatun and their arrival to the shores of Midgard seem to have some connection with the coming of the Van Scef and of culture.


The Vans most prominent in the myths are Njord, Freyr, and Heimdal. Though an Asa-god by adoption, Heimdal is like Njord and Freyr a Vana-god by birth and birthplace, and is accordingly called both áss and vanr (Thrymskv., 15). Meanwhile these three divinities, definitely named Vans, are only a few out of many. The Vans have constituted a numerous clan, strong enough to wage a victorious war against the Asas (Völusp.). Who among them was Scef-Yngve? The question can be answered as follows:

(1) Of Heimdal, and of him alone among the gods, it is related that he lived for a time among men as a man, and that he performed that which is attributed to Scef — that is, organised and elevated human society and became the progenitor of sacred families in Midgard.

(2) Rigsthula relates that the god Heimdal, having assumed the name Rig, begot with an earthly woman the son Jarl-Rig, who in turn became the father of Konr-Rig. Konr-Rig is, as the very name indicates and as Vigfusson already has pointed out, the first who bore the kingly name. In Rigsthula the Jarl begets the king, as in Ynglingasaga the judge (Dómarr) begets the first king. Rig is, according to Ynglingasaga, ch. 20, grandfather to Dan, who is a Skjoldung. Heimdal-Rig is thus the father of the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, and it is the story of the divine origin of the Skjoldungs Rigsthula gives us when it sings of Heimdal as Jarl’s father and the first king’s grandfather. But the progenitor of the Skjoldungs is, according to both Anglo-Saxon and the northern sources above quoted, Scef. Thus Heimdal and Scef are identical.


These proofs are sufficient. More can be presented, and the identity will be established by the whole investigation.

As a tender boy, Heimdal was sent by the Vans to the southern shores of Scandinavia with the gifts of culture. Hyndla’s Lay tells how these friendly powers prepared the child for its important mission, after it was born in the outermost borders of the earth (vid jardar thraum), in a wonderful manner, by nine sisters (Hyndla’s Lay, 35; Heimdallar Galdr., in the Younger Edda; compare No. 82, where the ancient Aryan root of the myth concerning Heimdal’s nine mothers is pointed out).

For its mission the child had to be equipped with strength, endurance, and wisdom. It was given to drink jardar magn, svalkaldr sær and Sónar dreyri. It is necessary to compare these expressions with Urdar magn, svalkaldr sær and Sónar dreyri in Gudrunarkvida in forna 21, a song written in Christian times, where this reminiscence of a triple heathen-mythic drink reappears as a potion of forgetfulness allaying sorrow. The expression Sónar dreyri shows that the child had tasted liquids from the subterranean fountains which water Ygdrasil and sustain the spiritual and physical life of the universe (cp. Nos. 63 and 93). Són contains the mead of inspiration and wisdom. In Gylfaginning, which quotes a satire of late origin, this name is given to a jar in which Suttung preserves this valuable liquor, but to the heathen skalds Són is the name of Mimer’s fountain, which contains the highest spiritual gifts, and around whose rush-bordered edge the reeds of poetry grow (Eilif Gudrunson, Skaldskaparmal).


The child Heimdal has, therefore, drunk from Mimer’s fountain. Jardar magn (the earth’s strength) is in reality the same as Urdar magn, the strength of the water in Urd’s fountain, which keeps the world-tree ever green and sustains the physical life of creation (Völusp.). The third subterranean fountain is Hvergelmer, with hardening liquids. From Hvergelmer comes the river Sval, and the venom-cold Elivágar (Grimner’s Lay, Gylfaginning). Svalkaldr sær, cool sea, is an appropriate designation of this fountain.

When the child has been strengthened in this manner for its great mission, it is laid sleeping in the decorated ship, gets the grain-sheaf for its pillow, and numerous treasures are placed around it. It is certain that there were not only weapons and ornaments, but also workmen’s tools among the treasures. It should be borne in mind that the gods made on the Ida-plains not only ornaments, but also tools (tangir skópu ok tol gördu). Evidence is presented in No. 82 that Scef-Heimdal brought the fire-auger to primeval man who until that time had lived without the blessings produced by the sacred fire.

The boy grows up among the inhabitants on the Scandian coast, and, when he has developed into manhood, human culture has germinated under his influence and the beginnings of classes in society with distinct callings appear. In Rigsthula, we find him journeying along “green paths, from house to house, in that land which his presence has blessed.” Here he is called Rigr — it is true of him as of nearly all mythological persons, that he has


several names — but the introduction to the poem informs us that the person so called is the god Heimdal (einhverr af asum sá er Heimdallr het). The country is here also described as situated near the sea. Heimdal journeys fram med sjofarströndu. Culture is in complete operation. The people are settled, they spin and weave, perform handiwork, and are smiths, they plough and bake, and Heimdal has instructed them in runes. Different homes show different customs and various degrees of wealth, but happiness prevails everywhere. Heimdal visits Ai’s and Edda’s unpretentious home, is hospitably received, and remains three days. Nine months thereafter the son Träl (thrall) is born to this family. Heimdal then visits Afi’s and Amma’s well-kept and cleanly house, and nine months thereafter the son Karl (churl) is born in this household. Thence Rig betakes himself to Fadir’s and Moder’s elegant home. There is born, nine months later, the son Jarl. Thus the three Teutonic classes — the thralls, the freemen, and the nobility — have received their divine sanction from Heimdal-Rig, and all three have been honoured with divine birth.

In the account of Rig’s visit to the three different homes lies the mythic idea of a common fatherhood, an idea which must not be left out of sight when human heroes are described as sons of gods in the mythological and heroic sagas. They are sons of the gods and, at the same time, from a genealogical standpoint, men. Their pedigree, starting with Ask and Embla, is not interrupted by the intervention of the visiting god, nor is there developed by this intervention a half-divine, half-human


middle class or bastard clan. The Teutonic patriarch Mannus is, according to Tacitus, the son of a god and the grandson of the goddess Earth. Nevertheless he is, as his name indicates, in the full physical sense of the word, a man, and besides his divine father he has had a human father. They are the descendants of Ask and Embla, men of all classes and conditions, whom Völuspa’s skald gathered around the seeress when she was to present to them a view of the world’s development and commanded silence with the formula: “Give ear, all ye divine races, great and small, sons of Heimdal.” The idea of a common fatherhood we find again in the question of Fadir’s grandson, as we shall show below. Through him the families of chiefs get the right of precedence before both the other classes. Thor becomes their progenitor. While all classes trace their descent from Heimdal, the nobility trace theirs also from Thor, and through him from Odin.

Heimdal-Rig’s and Fadir’s son, begotten with Módir, inherits in Rigsthula the name of the divine co-father, and is called Rig Jarl. Jarl’s son, Konr, gets the same name after he has given proof of his knowledge in the runes introduced among the children of men by Heimdal, and has even shown himself superior to his father in this respect. This view that the younger generation surpasses the older points to the idea of a progress in culture among men, during a time when they live in peace and happiness protected by Heimdal’s fostering care and sceptre, but must not be construed into the theory of a continued progress based on the law and nature of things,


a theory alike strange to the Teutons and to the other peoples of antiquity. Heimdal-Rig’s reign must be regarded as the happy ancient age, of which nearly all mythologies have dreamed. Already in the next age following, that is, that of the second patriarch, we read of men of violence who visit the peaceful, and under the third patriarch begins the “knife-age, and axe-age with cloven shields,” which continues through history and receives its most terrible development before Ragnarok.

The more common mythical names of the persons appearing in Rigsthula are not mentioned in the song, not even Heimdal’s. In strophe 48, the last of the fragment, we find for the first time words which have the character of names — Danr and Danpr. A crow sings from the tree to Jarl’s son, the grandson of Heimdal, Konr, saying that peaceful amusement (kyrra fugla) does not become him longer, but that he should rather mount his steed and fight against men; and the crow seeks to awaken his ambition or jealousy by saying that “Dan and Danp, skilled in navigating ships and wielding swords, have more precious halls and a better freehold than you.” The circumstance that these names are mentioned makes it possible, as shall be shown below, to establish in a more satisfactory manner the connection between Rigsthula and other accounts which are found in fragments concerning the Teutonic patriarch period.

The oldest history of man did not among the Teutons begin with a paradisian condition. Some time has elapsed between the creation of Ask and Embla, and Heimdal’s coming among men. As culture begins with


Heimdal, a condition of barbarism must have preceded his arrival. At all events the first generations after Ask and Embla have been looked upon as lacking fire; consequently they have been without the art of the smith, without metal implements, and without knowledge of agriculture. Hence it is that the Vana-child comes across the western sea with fire, with implements, and with the sheaf of grain. But the barbarous condition may have been attended with innocence and goodness of heart. The manner in which the strange child was received by the inhabitants of Scandia’s coast, and the tenderness with which it was cared for (diligenti animo, says Ethelwerd) seem to indicate this.

When Scef-Heimdal had performed his mission, and when the beautiful boat in which he came had disappeared beyond the western horizon, then the second mythic patriarch-age begins.



Ynglingasaga, ch. 20, contains a passage which is clearly connected with Rigsthula or with some kindred source. The passage mentions three persons who appear in Rigsthula, viz., Rig, Danp, and Dan, and it is there stated that the ruler who first possessed the kingly title in Svithiod was the son of a chief, whose name was Judge (Dómarr), and Judge was married to Drott (Drótt), the daughter of Danp.

That Domar and his royal son, the latter with the


epithet Dyggvi, “the worthy,” “the noble,” were afterwards woven into the royal pedigree in Ynglingasaga, is a matter which we cannot at present consider. Vigfusson (Corpus Poet. Bor.) has already shown the mythic symbolism and unhistorical character of this royal pedigree’s Vísburr, the priest, son of a god; of Dómaldr-Dómvaldr, the legislator; of Dómarr, the judge; and of Dyggvi, the first king. These are not historical Uppsala kings, but personified myths, symbolising the development of human society on a religious basis into a political condition of law culminating in royal power. It is in short the same chain of ideas as we find in Rigsthula, where Heimdal, the son of a god and the founder of culture, becomes the father of the Jarl-judge, whose son is the first king. Dómarr, in the one version of the chain of ideas, corresponds to Rig Jarl in the other, and Dyggvi corresponds to Kon. Heimdal is the first patriarch, the Jarl-judge is the second, and the oldest of kings is the third.

Some person, through whose hands Ynglingasaga has passed before it got its present form in Heimskringla, has understood this correspondence between Dómarr and Rig-Jarl, and has given to the former the wife which originally belonged to the latter. Rigsthula has been rescued in a single manuscript. This manuscript was owned by Arngrim Jonsson, the author of Supplementum Historiæ Norvegiæ, and was perhaps in his time, as Bugge (Norr. Fornkv.) conjectures, less fragmentary than it now is. Arngrim relates that Rig Jarl was married to a daughter of Danp, lord of Danpsted. Thus the representative of the Jarl’s dignity, like the representative


of the Judge’s dignity in Ynglingasaga, is here married to Danp’s daughter.

In Saxo, a man by name Borgar (BorcarusHist. Dan., 336-354) occupies an important position. He is a South Scandinavian chief, leader of Skane’s warriors (Borcarus cum Scanico equitatu, p. 350), but instead of a king’s title, he holds a position answering to that of the Jarl. Meanwhile he, like Skjold, becomes the founder of a Danish royal dynasty. Like Skjold he fights beasts and robbers, and like him he wins his bride, sword in hand. Borgar’s wife is Drott (Drotta, Drota), the same name as Danp’s daughter. Skjold’s son Gram and Borgar’s son Halfdan are found on close examination (see below) to be identical with each other, and with king Halfdan Berggram in whom the names of both are united. Thus we find:

(1) That Borgar appears as a chief in Skane, which in the myth is the cradle of the human race, or of the Teutonic race. As such he is also mentioned in Script. rer. Dan. (pp. 16-19, 154), where he is called Burgarus and Borgardus.

(2) That he has performed similar exploits to those of Skjold, the son of Scef-Heimdal.

(3) That he is not clothed with kingly dignity, but has a son who founds a royal dynasty in Denmark. This corresponds to Heimdal’s son Rig-Jarl, who is not himself styled king, but whose son becomes a Danish king and the progenitor of the Skjoldungs.

(4) That he is married to Drott, who, according to Ynglingasaga, is Danp’s daughter. This corresponds


to Heimdal’s son Rig-Jarl, who takes a daughter of Danp as his wife.

(5) That his son is identical with the son of Skjold, the progenitor of the Skjoldungs.

(6) That this son of his is called Halfdan, while in the Anglo-Saxon sources Scef, through his son Scyld (Skjold), is the progenitor of Denmark’s king Healfdene.

These testimonies contain incontestible evidence that Skjold, Borgar, and Rig-Jarl are names of the same mythic person, the son of the ancient patriarch Heimdal, and himself the second patriarch, who, after Heimdal, determines the destiny of his race. The name Borgarr is a synonym of Skjöldr. The word Skjöldr has from the beginning had, or has in the lapse of past ages acquired, the meaning “the protecting one,” “the shielding one,” and as such it was applied to the common defensive armour, the shield. Borgarr is derived from bjarga (past. part. borginn; cp. borg), and thus has the same meaning, that is, “the defending or protecting one.” From Norse poetry a multitude of examples can be given of the paraphrasing of a name with another, or even several others, of similar meaning.

The second patriarch, Heimdal’s son, thus has the names Skjold, Borgar, and Rig Jarl in the heathen traditions, and those derived therefrom.

In German poems of the middle age (“Wolfdieterich,” “König Ruther,” and others) Borgar is remembered by the name Berchtung, Berker, and Berther. His mythic character as ancient patriarch is there well preserved.


He is der grise mann, a Teutonic Nestor, wears a beard reaching to the belt, and becomes 250 years old. He was fostered by a king Anzius, the progenitor of the Amelungs (the Amalians). The name Anzius points to the Gothic ansi (Asagod). Borgar’s fostering by “the white Asa-god” has accordingly not been forgotten. Among the exercises taught him by Anzius are daz werfen mit dem messer und schissen zu dem zil (compare Rig Jarl’s exercises, Rigsthula, 35). Like Borgar, Berchtung is not a king, but a very noble and greatly-trusted chief, wise and kind, the foster-father and counsellor of heroes and kings. The Norse saga places Borgar, and the German saga places Berchtung, in close relation to heroes who belong to the race of Hildings. Borgar is, according to Saxo, the stepfather of Hildeger; Berchtung is, according to “Wolfdieterich,” Hildebrand’s ancestor. Of Hildeger Saxo relates in part the same as the German poem tells of Hildebrand. Berchtung becomes the foster-father of an Amalian prince; with Borgar’s son grows up as foster-brother Hamal (Helge Hund., 2; see Nos. 29, 42), whose name points to the Amalian race. The very name Borgarr, which, as indicated, in this form refers to bjarga, may in an older form have been related to the name Berchter, Berchtung.



The Identity of Gram, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson.

In the time of Borgar and his son, the third patriarch,


many of the most important events of the myth take place. Before I present these, the chain of evidence requires that I establish clearly the names applied to Borgar in our literary sources. Danish scholars have already discovered what I pointed out above, that the kings Gram Skjoldson, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson mentioned by Saxo, and referred to different generations, are identical with each other and with Halfdan the Skjoldung and Halfdan the Old of the Icelandic documents.

The correctness of this view will appear from the following parallels:*

* The first nine books of Saxo form a labyrinth constructed out of myths related as history, but the thread of Ariadne seems to be wanting. On this account it might be supposed that Saxo had treated the rich mythical materials at his command in an arbitrary and unmethodical manner; and we must bear in mind that these mythic materials were far more abundant in his time than they were in the following centuries, when they were to be recorded by the Icelandic authors. This supposition is however, wrong. Saxo has examined his sources methodically and with scrutiny, and has handled them with all due reverence, when he assumed the desperate task of constructing, by the aid of the mythic traditions and heroic poems at hand, a chronicle spanning several centuries — a chronicle in which fifty to sixty successive rulers were to be brought upon the stage and off again, while myths and heroic traditions embrace but few generations, and most mythic persons continue to exist through all ages. In the very nature of the case, Saxo was obliged, in order to solve this problem, to put his material on the rack; but a thorough study of the above-mentioned books of his history shows that he treated the delinquent with consistency. The simplest of the rules he followed was to avail himself of the polyonomy with which the myths and heroic poems are overloaded, and to do so in the following manner:

Assume that a person in the mythic or heroic poems had three or four names or epithets (he may have had a score). We will call this person A, and the different forms of his name A', A'', A'''. Saxo’s task of producing a chain of events running through many centuries forced him to consider the three names A', A'', and A''' as originally three persons, who had performed certain similar exploits, and therefore had, in course of time, been confounded with each other, and blended by the authors of myths and stories into one person A. As best he can, Saxo tries to resolve this mythical product, composed, in his opinion, of historical elements, and to distribute the exploits attributed to A between A', A'', and A'''. It may also be that one or more of the stories applied to A were found more or less varied in different sources. In such cases he would report the same stories with slight variations about A', A'', and A'''. The similarities remaining form one important group of indications which he has furnished to guide us, but which can assure us that our investigation is in the right course only when corroborated by indications belonging to other groups, or corroborated by statements preserved in other sources.

But in the events which Saxo in this manner relates about A', A'', and A''', other persons are also mentioned. We will assume that in the myths





Prose Edda:
Fornald. S.:

Gram slays king Sictrugus, and marries Signe, daughter of Sumblus, king of the Finns.
Halfdan Skjoldung slays king Sigtrygg, and marries Almveig with the consent of Eymund.
Halfdan the Old slays king Sigtrygg, and marries Alveig, daughter of Eyvind.
Halfdan the Old slays king Sigtrygg, and marries Alfny, daughter of Eymund.



Prose Edda:

Gram, son of Skjold, is the progenitor of the Skjoldungs.
Halfdan Skjoldung, son or descendant of Skjold, is the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, Ynglings, Odlungs, &c.
Halfdan the Old is the progenitor of the Hildings, Ynglings, Odlungs, &c.
Halfdan Borgarson is the progenitor of a royal family of Denmark.




Gram uses a club as a weapon. He kills seven brothers and nine of their half-brothers.
Halfdan Berggram uses an oak as a weapon. He kills seven brothers.
Halfdan Borgarson uses an oak as a weapon. He kills twelve brothers.

and heroic poems these have been named B and C. These, too, have in the songs of the skalds had several names and epithets. B has also been called B', B'', B'''. C has also been styled C', C'', C'''. Out of this one subordinate person B, Saxo, by the aid of the abundance of names, makes as many subordinate persons — B', B'', and B''' — as he made out of the original chief person A — that is, the chief persons A', A'', and A'''. Thus also with C, and in this way we get the following analogies:

A'    is to B'   and C'   as
A'' B'' C''   and as
A''' B''' C'''

By comparing all that is related concerning these nine names, we are enabled gradually to form a more or less correct idea of what the original myth has contained in regard to A, B, and C. If it then happens — as is often the case — that two or more of the names A', B', C', &c., are found in Icelandic or other documents, and there belong to persons whose adventures are in some respects the same, and in other respects are made clearer and more complete, by what Saxo tells about A', A'', and A''', &c., then it is proper to continue the investigation in the direction thus started. If, then, every new step brings forth new confirmations from various sources, and if a myth thus restored easily dovetails itself into an epic





Gram secures Groa and slays Henricus on his wedding-day.
Halfdan Berggram marries Sigrutha, after having slain Ebbo on his wedding-day.
Halfdan Borgarson marries Guritha, after having killed Sivarus on his wedding-day.


Combined sources:

Gram, who slew a Swedish king, is attacked in war by Svipdag.
Halfdan Berggram, who slew a Swedish king, is attacked by Ericus.

Svipdag is the slain Swedish king’s grandson (daughter’s son).
Ericus is the son of the daughter of the slain Swedish king.

These parallels are sufficient to show the identity of Gram Skjoldson, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson. A closer analysis of these sagas, the synthesis possible on the basis of such an analysis, and the position the saga (restored in this manner) concerning the third patriarch, the son of Skjold-Borgar, and the grandson of Heimdal, assumes in the chain of mythic events, gives complete proof of this identity.

cycle of myths, and there forms a necessary link in the chain of events, then the investigation has produced the desired result.

An aid in the investigation is not unfrequently the circumstance that the names at Saxo’s disposal were not sufficient for all points in the above scheme. We then find analogies which open for us, so to speak, short cuts — for instance, as follows:

A'    is to B'   and C'   as
A'' B' C''   and as
A''' B'' C'

The parallels given in the text above are a concrete example of the above scheme. For we have seen —

A = Halfdan, trebled in A' = Gram, A'' = Halfdan Beggram, A''' = Halfdan Borgarson.

B = Ebbo (Ebur, Ibor, Jöfurr), trebled in B' = Henricus, B'' = Ebbo, B''' = Sivarus.

C doubled in C' = Svipdag, and C'' = Ericus.



Saxo relates in regard to Gram that he carried away the royal daughter Groa, though she was already bound to another man, and that he slew her father, whereupon he got into a feud with Svipdag, an irreconcilably bitter foe, who fought against him with varying success of arms, and gave himself no rest until he had taken Gram’s life and realm. Gram left two sons, whom Svipdag treated in a very different manner. The one named Guthormus (Gudhormr) who was a son of Groa, he received into his good graces. To the other, named Hadingus, Hading, or Hadding, and who was a son of Signe, he transferred the deadly hate he had cherished towards the father. The cause of the hatred of Svipdag against Gram, and which could not he extinguished in his blood, Saxo does not mention but this point is cleared up by a comparison with other sources. Nor does Saxo mention who the person was from whom Gram robbed Groa, but this, too, we learn in another place.

The Groa of the myth is mentioned in two other places: in Grogalder and in Gylfaginning. Both sources agree in representing her as skilled in good, healing, harm-averting songs; both also in describing her as a tender person devoted to the members of her family. In Gylfaginning she is the loving wife who forgets everything in her joy that her husband, the brave archer Orvandel, has been saved by Thor from a dangerous adventure. In Grogalder


she is the mother whose love to her son conquers death and speaks consoling and protecting words from the grave. Her husband is, as stated, Orvandel; her son is Svipdag.

If we compare the statements in Saxo with those in Groagalder and Gylfaginning we get the following result:

King Sigtrygg has a daughter Groa.
Groa is married to the brave Orvandel.
Groa has a son Svipdag.
Groa is robbed by Gram-Halfdan.
Hostilities on account of the robbing of the woman.
Gram-Halfdan kills Groa’s father Sigtrygg.
Saxo: With Gram-Halfdan Groa has the son Gudhorm. Gram-Halfdan is separated froma Groa. He courts Signe (Almveig in Hyndluljod; Alveig in Skaldskaparmál), daughter of Sumbel, king of the Finns.
Groagaldur: Groa with her son Svipdag is once more with her first husband. Groa dies. Svipdag’s father Orvandel marries a second time. Before her death Groa has told Svipdag that he, if need requires her help, must go to her grave and wake her out of the sleep of death.

The stepmother gives Svipdag a task which he thinks surpasses his strength. He then goes to his mother’s grave. From the grave Groa sings protecting incantations over her son.
Saxo: Svipdag attacks Gram-Halfdan. After several conflicts he succeeds in conquering him and gives him a deadly wound.

Svipdag pardons the son Gram-Halfdan has had with Groa, but persecutes his son with Signe (Alveig).

In this connection we find the key to Svipdag’s irreconcilable conflict with Gram-Halfdan. He must revenge


himself on him on his father’s and mother’s account. He must avenge his mother’s disgrace, his grandfather Sigtrygg’s death, and, as a further investigation shows, the murder also of his father Orvandel. We also find why he pardons Gudhorm: he is his own half-brother and Groa’s son.

Sigtrygg, Groa, Orvandel, and Svipdag have in the myth belonged to the pedigree of the Ynglings, and hence Saxo calls Sigtrygg king in Svithiod. Concerning the Ynglings, Ynglingasaga remarks that Yngve was the name of everyone who in that time was the head of the family (Yngl., p. 20). Svipdag, the favourite hero of the Teutonic mythology, is accordingly celebrated in song under the name Yngve, and also under other names to which I shall refer later, when I am to give a full account of the myth concerning him.



With Gram-Halfdan the Teutonic patriarch period ends. The human race had its golden age under Heimdal, its copper age under Skjold-Borgar, and the beginning of its iron age under Halfdan. The Skilfinga-Ynglinga race has been named after Heimdal-Skelfir himself, and he has been regarded as its progenitor. His son Skjold-Borgar has been considered the founder of the Skjoldungs. With Halfdan the pedigree is divided into three through his stepson Yngve-Svipdag, the latter’s half-brother Gudhorm, and Gudhorm’s half-brother Hading


or Hadding. The war between these three — a continuation of the feud beween Halfdan and Svipdag — was the subject of a cycle of songs sung throughout Teutondom, songs which continued to live, though greatly changed with the lapse of time, on the lips of Germans throughout the middle ages (see Nos. 36-43).

Like his father, Halfdan was the fruit of a double fatherhood, a divine and a human. Saxo was aware of this double fatherhood, and relates of his Halfdan Berggram that he, although the son of a human prince, was respected as a son of Thor, and honoured as a god among that people who longest remained heathen; that is to say, the Swedes (Igitur apud Sveones tantus haberi coepit, ut magni Thor filius existimatus, divinis a populo honoribus donaretur ac publico dignus libamine censeretur). In his saga, as told by Saxo, Thor holds his protecting hand over Halfdan like a father over his son.

It is possible that both the older patriarchs originally were regarded rather as the founders and chiefs of the whole human race than of the Teutons alone. Certain it is that the appellation Teutonic patriarch belonged more particularly to the third of the series. We have a reminiscence of this in Hyndluljod, 14-16. To the question, “Whence came the Skjoldungs, Skilfings, Andlungs, and Ylfings, and all the free-born and gentle-born?” the song answers by pointing to “the foremost among the Skjoldungs” — Sigtrygg’s slayer Halfdan — a statement which, after the memory of the myths had faded and become confused, was magnified in the Younger Edda into the report that he was the father of eighteen sons, nine of


which were the founders of the heroic families whose names were at that time rediscovered in the heathen-heroic songs then extant.

According to what we have now stated in regard to Halfdan’s genealogical position there can no longer be any doubt that he is the same patriarch as the Mannus mentioned by Tacitus in Germania, ch. 2, where it is said of the Germans: “In old songs they celebrate Tuisco, a god born of Earth (Terra; compare the goddess Terra Mater, ch. 40), and his son Mannus as the source and founder of the race. Mannus is said to have had three sons, after whose names those who dwell nearest the ocean are called Ingævonians (Ingævones), those who dwell in the centre Hermionians (Hermiones, Herminones), and the rest Istævonians (Istævones).” Tacitus adds that there were other Teutonic tribes, such as the Marsians, the Gambrivians, the Svevians, and the Vandals, whose names were derived from other heroes of divine birth.

Thus Mannus, though human, and the source and founder of the Teutonic race, is also the son of a god. The mother of his divine father is the goddess Earth, mother Earth. In our native myths we rediscover this goddess — polyonomous like nearly all mythic beings — in Odin’s wife Frigg, also called Fjorgyn and Hlodyn. As sons of her and Odin only Thor (Völusp.) and Balder (Lokasenna) are definitely mentioned.

In regard to the goddess Earth (Jord), Tacitus states (ch. 40), as a characteristic trait that she is believed to take a lively interest and active part in the affairs of men and nations (eam intervenire rebus hominum, invehi


populis arbitrantur), and he informs us that she is especially worshipped by the Longobardians and some of their neighbours near the sea. This statement, compared with the emigration saga of the Longobardians (No. 15), confirms the theory that the goddess Jord, who, in the days of Tacitus, was celebrated in song as the mother of Mannus’ divine father, is identical with Frigg. In their emigration saga the Longobardians have great faith in Frigg, and trust in her desire and ability to intervene when the fate of a nation is to be decided by arms. Nor are they deceived in their trust in her; she is able to bring about that Odin, without considering the consequences, gives the Longobardians a new name; and as a christening present was in order, and as the Longobardians stood arrayed against the Vandals at the moment when they received their new name, the gift could be no other than victory over their foes. Tacitus’ statement, that the Longobardians were one of the races who particularly paid worship to the goddess Jord, is found to be intimately connected with, and to be explained by, this tradition, which continued to be remembered among the Longobardians long after they became converted to Christianity, down to the time when Origo Longobardorum was written.

Tacitus calls the goddess Jord Nerthus. Vigfusson (and before him J. Grimm) and others have seen in this name a feminine version of Njördr. Nor does any other explanation seem possible. The existence of such a form is not more surprising than that we have in Freyja a feminine form of Frey, and in Fjörgyn-Frigg a feminine form


of Fjörgynr. In our mythic documents neither Frigg nor Njord are of Asa race. Njord is, as we know, a Van. Frigg’s father is Fjörgynr (perhaps the same as Parganya in the Vedic songs), also called Annarr, Ánarr, and Ónarr, and her mother is Narfi’s daughter Night. Frigg’s high position as Odin’s real and lawful wife, as the queen of the Asa world, and as mother of the chief gods Thor and Balder, presupposes her to be of the noblest birth which the myth could bestow on a being born outside of the Asa clan, and as the Vans come next after the Asas in the mythology, and were united with them from the beginning of time, as hostages, by treaty, by marriage, and by adoption, probability, if no other proof could be found, would favour the theory that Frigg is a goddess of the race of Vans, and that her father Fjörgyn is a clan-chief among the Vans. This view is corroborated in two ways. The cosmogony makes Earth and Sea sister and brother. The same divine mother Night (Nótt), who bears the goddess Jord, also bears a son Udr, Unnr, the ruler of the sea, also called Audr (Rich), the personification of wealth. Both these names are applied among the gods to Njord alone as the god of navigation, commerce, and wealth. (In reference to wealth compare the phrase audigr sem Njördr — rich as Njord.) Thus Frigg is Njord’s sister. This explains the attitude given to Frigg in the war between the Asas and Vans by Völuspa, Saxo, and the author of Ynglingasaga, where the tradition is related as history. In the form given to this tradition in Christian times and in Saxo’s hands, it is disparaging to Frigg as Odin’s wife; but the pith of


Saxo’s narrative is, that Frigg in the feud between the Asas and Vans did not side with Odin but with the Vans, and contributed towards making the latter lords of Asgard. When the purely heathen documents (Völusp., Vafthr., Lokas.) describe her as a tender wife and mother, Frigg’s taking part with the Vans against her own husband can scarcely be explained otherwise than by the Teutonic principle, that the duties of the daughter and sister are above the wife’s, a view plainly presented in Saxo (p. 353), and illustrated by Gudrun’s conduct toward Atle.

Thus it is proved that the god who is the father of the Teutonic patriarch Mannus is himself the son of Frigg, the goddess of earth, and must, according to the mythic records at hand, be either Thor or Balder. The name given him by Tacitus, Tuisco, does not determine which of the two. Tuisco has the form of a patronymic adjective, and reappears in the Norse Tívi, an old name of Odin, related to Dios divus, and devas, from which all the sons of Odin and gods of Asgard received the epithet tívar. But in the songs learned by Saxo in regard to the northern race-patriarch and his divine father, his place is occupied by Thor, not by Balder, and “Jord’s son” is in Norse poetry an epithet particularly applied to Thor.

Mannus has three sons. So has Halfdan. While Mannus has a son Ingævo, Halfdan has a stepson Yngve, Inge (Svipdag). The second son of Mannus is named Hermio. Halfdan’s son with Groa is called Gudhormr. The second part of this name has, as Jessen has already pointed out, nothing to do with ormr. It may be that


the name should be divided Gud-hormr, and that hormr should be referred to Hermio. Mannus’ third son is Istævo. The Celtic scholar Zeuss has connected this name with that of the Gothic (more properly Vandal) heroic race Azdingi, and Grimm has again connected Azdingi with Hazdiggo (Haddingr). Halfdan’s third son is in Saxo called Hadingus. Whether the comparisons made by Zeuss and Grimm are to the point or not (see further, No. 43) makes but little difference here. It nevertheless remains as a result of the investigation that all that is related by Tacitus about the Teutonic patriarch Mannus has its counterpart in the question concerning Halfdan, and that both in the myths occupy precisely the same place as sons of a god and as founders of Teutonic tribes and royal families. The pedigrees are:


The mythic ancient history of the human race and of the Teutons may, in accordance with the analysis above


given, be divided into the following epochs: — (1) From Ask and Embla’s creation until Heimdal’s arrival; (2) from Heimdal’s arrival until his departure; (3) the age of Skjold-Borgar; (4) Halfdan’s time; (5) The time of Halfdan’s sons.

And now we will discuss the events of the last three epochs.

In the days of Borgar the moral condition of men grows worse, and an event in nature takes place threatening at least the northern part of the Teutonic world with destruction. The myth gives the causes of both these phenomena.

The moral degradation has its cause, if not wholly, yet for the greater part, in the activity among men of a female being from the giant world. Through her men become acquainted with the black art, the evil art of sorcery, which is the opposite of the wisdom drawn from Mimer’s holy fountain, the knowledge of runes, and acquaintance with the application of nature’s secret forces for good ends (see Nos. 34, 35).

The sacred knowledge of runes, the “fimbul-songs,” the white art, was, according to the myth, originally in the possession of Mimer. Still he did not have it of himself, but got it from the subterranean fountain, which he guarded beneath the middle root of the world-tree (see No. 63) — a fountain whose veins, together with the deepest root of the world-tree extends to a depth which not even Odin’s thought can penetrate (Havam., 138). By self-sacrifice in his youth Odin received from Beistla’s brother (Mimer; see No. 88) a drink from the precious


liquor of this fountain and nine fimbul-songs (Havam., 140; cp. Sigrdr., 14), which were the basis of the divine magic of the application of the power of the word and of the rune over spiritual and natural forces, in prayer, in sacrifices and in other religious acts, in investigations, in the practical affairs of life, in peace and in war (Havam., 144 ff.; Sigrdr., 6 ff.). The character and purpose of these songs are clear from the fact that at the head is placed “help’s fimbul-song,” which is able to allay sorrow and cure diseases (Havam., 146).

In the hands of Odin they are a means for the protection of the power of the Asa-gods, and enable them to assist their worshippers in danger and distress. To these belong the fimbul-song of the runes of victory; and it is of no little interest that we, in Havamál, 156, find what Tacitus tells about the barditus of the Germans, the shield-song with which they went to meet their foes — a song which Ammianus Paulus himself has heard, and of which he gives a vivid description. When thee Teutonic forces advanced to battle the warriors raised their shields up to a level with the upper lip, so that the round of the shield formed a sort of sounding-board for their song. This began in a low voice and preserved its subdued colour, but the sound gradually increased, and at a distance it resembled the roar of the breakers of the sea. Tacitus says that the Teutons predicted the result of the battle from the impression the song as a whole made upon themselves: it might sound in their ears in such a manner that they thereby became more terrible to their enemies, or in such a manner that they were overcome by despair. The


above-mentioned strophe of Havamál gives us an explanation of this: the warriors were roused to confidence if they, in the harmony of the subdued song increasing in volume, seemed to perceive Valfather’s voice blended with their own. The strophe makes Odin say: Ef ek skal til orrostu leida langvini, undir randir ek gel, en their med ríki fara heilir hildar til, heilir hildi frá — “If I am to lead those to battle whom I have long held in friendship, then I sing under their shields. With success they go to the conflict, and successfully they go out of it.” Völuspa also refers to the shield-song in 47, where it makes the storm-giant, Hrymr, advancing against the gods, “lift his shield before him” (hefiz lind fyrir), an expression which certainly has another significance than that of unnecessarily pointing out that he has a shield for protection. The runes of victory were able to arrest weapons in their flight and to make those whom Odin loved proof against sword-edge and safe against ambush (Havam., 148, 150). Certain kinds of runes were regarded as producing victory and were carved on the hilt and on the blade of the sword, and while they were carved Tyr’s name was twice named (Sigrdr., 6).

Another class of runes (brimrúnar, Sigrdr., 10; Havam., 150) controlled the elements, purified the air from evil beings (Havam., 155), gave power over wind and waves for good purposes — as, for instance, when sailors in distress were to be rescued — or power over the flames when they threatened to destroy human dwellings (Havam., 152). A third kind of runes (málrúnar) gave speech to the mute and speechless, even to those


whose lips were sealed in death (see No. 70). A fourth kind of runes could free the limbs from bonds (Havam., 149). A fifth kind of runes protected against witchcraft (Havam., 151). A sixth kind of runes (ölrúnar) takes the strength from the love-potion prepared by another man’s wife, and from every treachery mingled therein (Sigrdr., 7, 8). A seventh kind (bjargrúnar and limrúnar) helps in childbirth and heals wounds. An eighth kind gives wisdom and knowledge (hugrúnar, Sigrdr., 13; cp. Havam., 159). A ninth kind extinguishes enmity and hate, and produces friendship and love (Havam., 153, 161). Of great value, and a great honour to kings and chiefs, was the possession of healing runes and healing hands; and that certain noble-born families inherited the power of these runes was a belief which has been handed down even to our time. There is a distinct consciousness that the runes of this kind were a gift of the blithe gods. In a strophe, which sounds as if it were taken from an ancient hymn, the gods are beseeched for runes of wisdom and healing: “Hail to the gods! Hail to the goddesses! Hail to the bounteous Earth (the goddess Jord). Words and wisdom give unto us, and healing hands while we live!” (Sigrdr., 4).

In ancient times arrangements were made for spreading the knowledge of the good runes among all kinds of beings. Odin taught them to his own clan; Dáinn taught them to the Elves; Dvalinn among the dwarfs; Ásvinr (see No. 88) among the giants (Havam., 143). Even the last-named became participators in the good gift, which, mixed with sacred mead, was sent far and wide,


and it has since been among the Asas, among the Elves, among the wise Vans, and among the children of men (Sigrdr., 18). The above-named Dvalinn, who taught the runes to his clan of ancient artists, is the father of daughters, who, together with dises of Asa and Vana birth, are in possession of bjargrúnar, and employ them in the service of man (Fafnism., 13).

To men the beneficent runes came through the same god who as a child came with the sheaf of grain and the tools to Scandia. Hence the belief current among the Franks and Saxons that the alphabet of the Teutons, like the Teutons themselves, was of northern origin. Rigsthula expressly presents Heimdal as teaching runes to the people whom he blessed by his arrival in Midgard. The noble-born are particularly his pupils in runic lore. Of Heimdal’s grandson, the son of Jarl-Borgar, named Konr-Halfdan, it is said:

En Konr ungr
kunni runar
ok aldrrunar.
Meir kunni hann
monnum bjarga,
eggjar deyfa,
ægi legia,
klok nam fugla,
kyrra ellda,
sæva ok svefia,
sorgir lægia.
But Kon the young
Taught himself runes,
runes of eternity
and runes of earthly life.
Then he taught himself
men to save,
the sword-edge to deaden,
the sea to quiet
bird-song to interpret,
fires to extinguish,
to soothe and comfort,
sorrows to allay

The fundamental character of this rune-lore bears distinctly the stamp of nobility. The runes of eternity united with those of the earthly life can scarcely have any


other reference than to the heathen doctrines concerning religion and morality. These were looked upon as being for all time, and of equal importance to the life hereafter. Together with physical runes with magic power — that is, runes that gave their possessors power over the hostile forces of nature — we find runes intended to serve the cause of sympathy and mercy.



But already in the beginning of time evil powers appear for the purpose of opposing and ruining the good influences from the world of gods upon mankind. Just as Heimdal, “the fast traveller,” proceeds from house to house, forming new ties in society and giving instruction in what is good and useful, thus we soon find a messenger of evil wandering about between the houses in Midgard, practising the black art and stimulating the worst passions of the human soul. The messenger comes from the powers of frost, the enemies of creation. It is a giantess, the daughter of the giant Hrimnir (Hyndlulj., 32), known among the gods as Gulveig and by other names (see Nos. 34, 35), but on her wanderings on earth called Heidr. “Heid they called her (Gulveig) when she came to the children of men, the crafty, prophesying vala, who practised sorcery (vitti ganda), practised the evil art, caused by witchcraft misfortunes, sickness, and


death (leikin, see No. 67), and was always sought by bad women.” Thus Völuspa describes her. The important position Heid occupies in regard to the corruption of ancient man, and the consequences of her appearance for the gods for man, and for nature (see below), have led Völuspa’s author, in spite of his general poverty of words, to describe her with a certain fullness, pointing out among other things that she was the cause of the first war in the world. That the time of her appearance was during the life of Borgar and his son shall be demonstrated below.

In connection with this moral corruption, and caused by the same powers hostile to the world, there occur in this epoch such disturbances in nature that the original home of man and culture — nay, all Midgard — is threatened with destruction on account of long, terrible winters. A series of connected myths tell of this. Ancient artists — forces at work in the growth of nature — personifications of the same kind as Rigveda’s Ribhus, that had before worked in harmony with the gods, become, through the influence of Loke, foes of Asgard, their work becoming as harmful as it before was beneficent, and seek to destroy what Odin had created (see Nos. 111 and 112). Idun, with her life-renewing apples, is carried by Thjasse away from Asgard to the northernmost wilderness of the world, and is there concealed. Freyja, the goddess of fertility, is robbed and falls into the power of giants. Frey, the god of harvests, falls sick. The giant king Snow and his kinsmen Thorri (Black Frost), Jökull (the Glacier), &c., extend their sceptres over Scandia.


Already during Heimdal’s reign, after his protégé Borgar had grown up, something happens which forebodes these terrible times, but still has a happy issue.

28 A.


In Saxo’s time there was still extant a myth telling how Heimdal, as the ruler of the earliest generation, got himself a wife. The myth is found related as history in Historia Danica, pp. 335-337. Changed into a song of chivalry in middle age style, we find it on German soil in the poem concerning king Ruther.

Saxo relates that a certain king Alf undertook a perilous journey of courtship, and was accompanied by Borgar. Alf is the more noble of the two; Borgar attends him. This already points to the fact that the mythic figure which Saxo has changed into a historical king must be Heimdal, Borgar’s co-father, his ruler and fosterer, otherwise Borgar himself would be the chief person in his country, and could not be regarded as subject to anyone else. Alf’s identity with Heimdal is corroborated by “King Ruther,” and to a degree also by the description Saxo makes of his appearance, a description based on a definite mythic prototype. Alf, says Saxo, had a fine exterior, and over his hair, though he was young, a so remarkably white splendour was diffused that rays of light seemed to issue from his silvery locks (cujus etiam


insignem candore cæsariem tantus comæ decor asperierat, ut argenteo crine nitere putaretur). The Heimdal of the myth is a god of light, and is described by the colour applied to pure silver in the old Norse literature to distinguish it from that which is alloyed; he is hvíti áss (Gylfag., 27) and hvítastr ása (Thrymskvida, 5); his teeth glitter like gold, and so does his horse. We should expect that the maid whom Alf, if he is Heimdal, desires to possess belongs like himself to the divinities of light. Saxo also says that her beauty could make one blind if she was seen without her veil, and her name Alfhild belongs, like Alfsol, Hild, Alfhild Solglands, Svanhild Goldfeather, to that class of names by which the sun-dises, mother and daughter, were transferred from mythology to history. She is watched by two dragons. Suitors who approach her in vain get their heads chopped off and set up on poles (thus also in “King Ruther”). Alf conquers the guarding dragons; but at the advice of her mother Alfhild takes flight, puts on a man’s clothes and armour, and becomes a female warrior, fighting at the head of other Amazons. Alf and Borgar search for and find the troop of Amazons amid ice and snow. It is conquered and flies to “Finnia.” Alf and Borgar pursue them thither. There is a new conflict. Borgar strikes the helmet from Alfhild’s head. She has to confess herself conquered, and becomes Alf’s wife.

In interpreting the mythic contents of this story we must remember that the lad who came with the sheaf of grain to Scandia needed the help of the sun for the seed which he brought with him to sprout, before it could give


harvests to the inhabitants. But the saga also indicates that the sun-dis had veiled herself, and made herself as far as possible unapproachable, and that when Heimdal had forced himself into her presence she fled to northern ice-enveloped regions, where the god and his foster-son, sword in hand, had to fetch her, whereupon a happy marriage between him and the sun-dis secures good weather and rich harvests to the land over which he rules. At the first glance it might seem as if this myth had left no trace in our Icelandic records. This is, however, not the case. Its fundamental idea, that the sun at one time in the earliest ages went astray from southern regions to the farthest north and desired to remain there, but that it was brought back by the might of the gods who created the world, and through them received, in the same manner as Day and Night, its course defined and regularly established, we find in the Völuspa strophe, examined with so great acumen by Julius Hoffory, which speaks of a bewilderment of this kind on the part of the sun, occurring before it yet “knew its proper sphere,” and in the following strophe, which tells how the all-holy gods thereupon held solemn council and so ordained the activity of these beings, that time can be divided and years be recorded by their course. Nor is the marriage into which the sun-dis entered forgotten. Skaldskaparmal quotes a strophe from Skuli Thorsteinson where Sol* is called Glenr’s wife. That he whom the skald characterises by this epithet is a god is a matter of course. Glenr signifies “the shining one,” and this epithet was badly chosen

* Sol is feminine in the Teutonic tongues. —TR.


if it did not refer to “the most shining of the Asas,” hvítastr ása — that is, Heimdal.

The fundamental traits of “King Ruther” resemble Saxo’s story. There, too, it is a king who undertakes a perilous journey of courtship and must fight several battles to win the wondrous fair maiden whose previous suitors had had to pay for their eagerness by having their heads chopped off and fastened on poles. The king is accompanied by Berter, identical with Berchtung-Borgar, but here, as always in the German story, described as the patriarch and adviser. A giant, Vidolt — Saxo’s Vitolphus, Hyndluljod’s Vidolfr — accompanies Ruther and Berter on the journey; and when Vitolphus in Saxo is mentioned under circumstances which show that he accompanied Borgar on a warlike expedition, and thereupon saved his son Halfdan’s life, there is no room for doubt that Saxo’s saga and “King Ruther” originally flowed from the same mythic source. It can also be demonstrated that the very name Ruther is one of those epithets which belong to Heimdal. The Norse Hrútr is, according to the Younger Edda (i. 588, 589), a synonym of Heimdali, and Heimdali is another form of Heimdal (Isl., i. 231). As Hrútr means a ram, and as Heimdali is an epithet of a ram (see Younger Edda, i. 589), light is thrown upon the bold metaphors, according to which “head,” “Heimdal’s head,” and “Heimdal’s sword” are synonyms (Younger Edda, i. 100, 264; ii. 499). The ram’s head carries and is the ram’s sword. Of the age of this animal symbol we give an account in No. 82. There is reason for believing that Heimdal’s helmet has


been conceived as decorated with ram’s horns.* A strophe quoted in the Younger Edda (i. 608) mentions Heimdal’s helmet, and calls the sword the fyllir of Heimdal’s helmet, an ambiguous expression, which may be interpreted as that which fills Heimdal’s helmet; that is to say, Heimdal’s head, but also as that which has its place on the helmet. Compare the expression fyllir hilmis stóls as a metaphor for the power of the ruler.

28 B.


The danger averted by Heimdal when he secured the sun-dis with bonds of love begins in the time of Borgar. The corruption of nature and of man go hand in hand. Borgar has to contend with robbers (pugiles and piratæ), and among them the prototype of pirates — that terrible character, remembered also in Icelandic poetry, called Rodi (Saxo, Hist., 23, 345). The moderate laws given by Heimdal had to be made more severe by Borgar (Hist., 24, 25).

While the moral condition in Midgard grows worse, Loke carries out in Asgard a cunningly-conceived plan, which seems to be to the advantage of the gods, but is

* That some one of the gods has worn a helmet with such a crown can he seen on one of the golden horns found near Gallehuus. There twice occurs a being wearing a helmet furnished with long, curved, sharp pointed horns. Near him a ram is drawn, and in his hand he has something resembling a staff which ends in a circle, and possibly is intended to represent Heimdal’s horn.


intended to bring about the ruin of both the gods and man. His purpose is to cause enmity between the original artists themselves and between them and the gods.

Among these artists the sons of Ivalde constitute a separate group. Originally they enjoyed the best relations to the gods, and gave them the best products of their wonderful art, for ornament and for use. Odin’s spear Gungnir, the golden locks on Sif’s head, and Frey’s celebrated ship Skidbladner, which could hold all the warriors of Asgard and always had favourable wind, but which also could be folded as a napkin and be carried in one’s pocket (Gylfaginning), had all come from the workshop of these artists.

Ivalda synir
gengu i ardaga
Scidbladni at skapa,
scipa bezt,
scirom Frey,
nytom Njardar bur.

The sons of Ivalde
Went in ancient times
To make Skidbladner,
Among ships the best,
for the shining Frey,
Njord’s useful son.


Another group of original artists were Sindre and his kinsmen, who dwelt on the Nida-plains in the happy domain of the lower world (Völusp., 37; Nos. 93, 94). According to the account given in Gylfaginning, ch. 37, Loke meets Sindre’s brother Brokk, and wagers his head that Sindre cannot make treasures as good as the above-named gifts from Ivalde’s sons to the Asas. Sindre then made in his smithy the golden boar for Frey, the ring Draupner for Odin, from which eight gold rings of equal weight drop every ninth night, and the incomparable hammer Mjolner for Thor. When the treasures were finished, Loke cunningly


gets the gods to assemble for the purpose of deciding whether or not he has forfeited his head. The gods cannot, of course, decide this without at the same time passing judgement on the gifts of Sindre and those of Ivalde’s sons, and showing that one group of artists is inferior to the other. And this is done. Sindre’s treasures are preferred, and thus the sons of Ivalde are declared to be inferior in comparison. But at the same time Sindre fails, through the decision of the gods, to get the prize agreed on. Both groups of artists are offended by the decision.

Gylfaginning does not inform us whether the sons of Ivalde accepted the decision with satisfaction or anger, or whether any noteworthy consequences followed or not. An entirely similar judgment is mentioned in Rigveda (see No. 111). The judgment there has the most important consequences: hatred toward the artists who were victorious, and toward the gods who were the judges, takes possession of the ancient artist who was defeated, and nature is afflicted with great suffering. That the Teutonic mythology has described similar results of the decision shall be demonstrated in this work.

Just as in the names Alveig and Almveig, Bil-röst and Bif-röst, Arinbjörn and Grjótbjörn, so also in the name Ívaldi or Ívaldr, the latter part of the word forms the permanent part, corresponding to the Old English Valdere, the German Walther, the Latinised Waltharius.*

* Elsewhere it shall be shown that the heroes mentioned in the middle age poetry under the names Valdere, Walther, Waltharius manufortis, and Valthere of Vaskasten are all variations of the name of the same mythic type changed into a human hero, and the same, too, as Ivalde of the Norse documents (see No. 123).


The former part of the word may change without any change as to the person indicated: Ívaldi, Allvaldi, Ölvaldi, Audvaldi, may be names of one and the same person. Of these variations Ívaldi and Allvaldi are in their sense most closely related, for the prefixed Í (Id) and All may interchange in the language without the least change in meaning. Compare all-líkr, ílíkr, and idlíkr; all-lítill and ílítill; all-nóg, ígnóg, and idgnóg. On the other hand, the prefixes in Ölvaldi and Audvaldi produce different meanings of the compound word. But the records give most satisfactory evidence that Ölvaldi and Audvaldi nevertheless are the same person as Allvaldi (Ivaldi). Thjasse’s father is called in Harbardsljod (19) Allvaldi; in the Younger Edda (i. 214) Ölvaldi and Audvaldi. He has three sons, Ide, Gang, also called Urner (the Grotte-song), and the just-named Thjasse, who are the famous ancient artists, “the sons of Ivalde” (Ivalda synir). We here point this out in passing. Complete statement and proof of this fact, so important from a mythological standpoint, will be given in Nos. 113, 114, 115.

Nor is it long before it becomes apparent what the consequences are of the decision pronounced by the Asas on Loke’s advice upon the treasures presented to the gods. The sons of Ivalde regarded it as a mortal offence, born of the ingratitude of the gods. Loke, the originator of the scheme, is caught in the snares laid by Thjasse in a manner fully described in Thjodolf’s poem “Haustlaung,” and to regain his liberty he is obliged to assist him (Thjasse) in carrying Idun away from Asgard.

From an etching by Lorenz Frölich)

Thjasse was known as the storm-giant who having been born in deformity was ever seeking golden apples from Idun to cure his ugliness. Upon one occasion assuming the form of an eagle he interrupted a feast of Odin, Honer and Loke and when the latter attempted to strike the voracious bird with a stake found himself fastened to both stake and eagle and was borne away shrieking for mercy. Thjasse promised to release Loke if he would bring to him Idun and her golden apples. Loke in fulfillment of his promise beguiled Idun out of Asgard whereupon Thjasse in the form of an eagle seized the goddess in his talons and bore her away to his castle, Thrymheim. He was soon afterwards killed by the gods, and Idun was released.


Idun, who possesses “the Asas’ remedy against old age,” and keeps the apples which symbolise the ever-renewing and rejuvenating force of nature, is carried away by Thjasse to a part of the world inaccessible to the gods. The gods grow old, and winter extends its power more and more beyond the limits prescribed for it in creation. Thjasse, who before was the friend of the gods, is now their irreconcilable foe. He who was the promoter of growth and the benefactor of nature — for Sif’s golden locks, and Skidbladner, belonging to the god of fertility, doubtless are symbols thereof — is changed into “the mightiest foe of earth,” dolg ballastan vallar (Haustl., 6), and has wholly assumed the nature of a giant.

At the same time, with the approach of the great winter, a terrible earthquake takes place, the effects of which are felt even in heaven. The myth in regard to this is explained in No. 81. In this explanation the reader will find that the great earthquake in primeval time is caused by Thjasse’s kinswomen on his mother’s side (the Grotte-song) — that is, by the giantesses Fenja and Menja, who turned the enormous world-mill, built on the foundations of the lower world, and working in the depths of the sea, the prototype of the mill of the Grotte-song composed in Christian times; that the world-mill has a möndull, the mill-handle, which sweeps the uttermost rim of the earth, with which handle not only the mill-stone but also the starry heavens are made to whirl round; and that when the mill was put in so violent a motion by the angry giantesses that it got out of order, then the starry constellations were also disturbed. The ancient terrible winter


and the inclination of the axis of heaven have in the myth been connected, and these again with the close of the golden age. The mill had up to this time ground gold, happiness, peace, and good-will among men; henceforth it grinds salt and dust.

The winter must of course first of all affect those people who inhabited the extensive Svithiod north of the original country and over which another kinsman of Heimdal, the first of the race of Skilfings or Ynglings, ruled. This kinsman of Heimdal has an important part in the mythology, and thereof we shall give an account in Nos. 89, 91, 110, 113-115, and 123. It is there found that he is the same as Ivalde, who, with a giantess, begot the illegitimate children Ide, Aurnir, and Thjasse. Already before his sons he became the foe of the gods, and from Svithiod now proceeds, in connection with the spreading of the fimbul-winter, a migration southward, the work at the same time of the Skilfings and the primeval artists. The list of dwarfs in Völuspa has preserved the record of this in the strophe about the artist migration from the rocks of the hall (Salar steinar) and from Svarin’s mound situated in the north (the Völuspa strophe quoted in the Younger Edda; cp. Saxo., Hist., 32, 33, and Helg. Hund., i. 31, ii. to str. 14). The attack is directed against aurvanga sjöt, the land of the clayey plains, and the assailants do not stop before they reach Jöruvalla, the Jara-plains, which name is still applied to the south coast of Scandinavia (see No. 32). In the pedigree of these emigrants —


their er sóttu
frà Salar steina (or Svarins haugi)
aurvanga sjot
til Jöruvalla —
occur the names Álfr and Yngvi, who have Skilfing names; Fjalarr, who is Ivalde’s ally and Odin’s enemy (see No. 89); Finnr, which is one of the several names of Ivalde himself (see No. 123); Frosti, who symbolises cold; Skirfir, a name which points to the Skilfings; and Virfir, whom Saxo (Hist. Dan., 178, 179) speaks of as Huyrvillus, and the Icelandic records as Virvill and Vifill (Fornalders., ii. 8; Younger Edda, i. 548). In Fornalders. Vifill is an emigration leader who married to Logi’s daughter Eymyrja (a metaphor for fire — Younger Edda, ii. 570), betakes himself from the far North and takes possession of an island on the Swedish coast. That this island is Oland is clear from Saxo, 178, where Huyrvillus is called Holandiæ princeps. At the same time a brother-in-law of Virfir takes possession of Bornholm, and Gotland is colonised by Thjelvar (Thjálfi of the myth), who is the son of Thjasse’s brother (see Nos. 113, 114, 115). Virfir is allied with the sons of Finnr (Fyn — Saxo, Hist., 178). The saga concerning the emigration of the Longobardians is also connected with the myth about Thjasse and his kinsmen (see Nos. 112-115).

From all this it appears that a series of emigration and colonisation tales have their origin in the myth concerning the fimbul-winter caused by Thjasse and concerning the therewith connected attack by the Skilfings and Thjasse’s kinsmen on South Scandinavia, that is, on the clayey


plains near Jaravall, where the second son of Heimdal, Skjold-Borgar, rules. It is the remembrance of this migration from north to south which forms the basis of all the Teutonic middle-age migration sagas. The migration saga of the Goths, as Jordanes heard it, makes them emigrate from Scandinavia under the leadership of Berig. (Ex hac igitur Scandza insula quasi officina gentium aut certe velut vagina nationum cum rege suo Berig Gothi quondam memorantur egressi — De Goth. Orig., c. 4. Meminisse debes, me de Scandzæ insulæ gremio Gothos dixisse egressos cum Berich suo rege — c. 17.) The name Berig, also written Berich and Berigo, is the same as the German Berker, Berchtung, and indicates the same person as the Norse Borgarr. With Berig is connected the race of the Amalians; with Borgar the memory of Hamal (Amala), who is the foster-brother of Borgar’s son (cp. No. 28 with Helge Hund., ii.). Thus the emigration of the Goths is in the myth a result of the fate experienced by Borgar and his people in their original country. And as the Swedes constituted the northernmost Teutonic branch, they were the ones who, on the approach of the fimbul-winter, were the first that were compelled to surrender their abodes and secure more southern habitations. This also appears from saga fragments which have been preserved; and here, but not in the circumstances themselves, lies the explanation of the statements, according to which the Swedes forced Scandinavian tribes dwelling farther south to emigrate. Jordanes (c. 3) claims that the Herulians were driven from their abode in Scandza by the Svithidians, and that the Danes are of Svithidian


origin — in other words, that an older Teutonic population in Denmark was driven south, and that Denmark was repeopled by emigrants from Sweden. And in the Norse sagas themselves, the centre of gravity, as we have seen, is continually being moved farther to the south. Heimdal, under the name Scef-Skelfir, comes to the original inhabitants in Scania. Borgar, his son, becomes a ruler there, but founds, under the name Skjold, the royal dynasty of the Skjoldungs in Denmark. With Scef and Skjold the Wessex royal family of Saxon origin is in turn connected, and thus the royal dynasty of the Goths is again connected with the Skjold who emigrated from Scandza, and who is identical with Borgar. And finally there existed in Saxo’s time mythic traditions or songs which related that all the present Germany came under the power of the Teutons who emigrated with Borgar; that, in other words, the emigration from the North carried with it the hegemony of Teutonic tribes over other tribes which before them inhabited Germany. Saxo says of Skjold-Borgar that omnem Alamannorum gentem tributaria ditione perdomuit; that is, “he made the whole race of Alamanni tributary.” The name Alamanni is in this case not to be taken in an ethnographical but in a geographical sense. It means the people who were rulers in Germany before the immigration of Teutons from the North.

From this we see that migration traditions remembered by Teutons beneath Italian and Icelandic skies, on the islands of Great Britain and on the German continent, in spite of their wide diffusion and their separation in time,


point to a single root: to the myth concerning the primeval artists and their conflict with the gods; to the robbing of Idun and the fimbul-winter which was the result.

The myth makes the gods themselves to be seized by terror at the fate of the world, and Mimer makes arrangements to save all that is best and purest on earth for an expected regeneration of the world. At the very beginning of the fimbul-winter Mimer opens in his subterranean grove of immortality an asylum, closed against all physical and spiritual evil, for the two children of men, Lif and Lifthrasir (Vafthr., 45), who are to be the parents of a new race of men (see Nos. 52, 53).

The war begun in Borgar’s time for the possession of the ancient country continues under his son Halfdan, who reconquers it for a time, invades Svithiod, and repels Thjasse and his kinsmen (see Nos. 32, 33).



The main outlines of Halfdan’s saga reappear related as history, and more or less blended with foreign elements, in Saxo’s accounts of the kings Gram, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson (see No. 23). Contributions to the saga are found in Hyndluljod (str. 14, 15, 16) and in Skaldskaparmal (Younger Edda, i. 516 ff.), in what they tell about Halfdan Skjoldung and Halfdan the Old. The juvenile adventures of the hero have, with some modifications, furnished the materials for both


the songs about Helge Hundingsbane, with which Saxo’s story of Helgo Hundingicida (Hist., 80-110) and Volsungasaga’s about Helge Sigmundsson are to be compared. The Grotte-song also (str. 22) identifies Helge Hundingsbane with Halfdan.

For the history of the origin of the existing heroic poems from mythic sources, of their relation to these and to each other, it is important to get the original identity of the hero-myth, concerning Halfdan and the heroic poems concerning Helge Hundingsbane, fixed on a firm foundation. The following parallels suffice to show that this Helge is a later time’s reproduction of the mythic Halfdan:

Halfdan-Gram, sent on a warlike expedition, meets Groa, who is mounted on horseback and accompanied by other women on horseback (Saxo, 26, 27). Helge Hundingsbane, sent on a warlike expedition, meets Sigrun, who is mounted on horseback and is accompanied by other women on horseback (Helge Hund.. i. 16; Volsunga-saga, c. 9).
The meeting takes place in a forest (Saxo, 26). The meeting takes place in a forest (Vols., c. 9).
Halfdan-Gram is on the occasion completely wrapped in the skin of a wild beast, so that even his face is concealed (Saxo, 26). Helge is on the occasion disguised. He speaks frá úlfidi “from a wolf guise” (Helge Hund., i. 16), which expression finds its interpretation in Saxo, where Halfdan appears wrapped in the skin of a wild beast.
Conversation is begun between Halfdan-Gram and Groa. Halfdan pretends to be a person who is his brother-at-arms (Saxo, 27). Conversation is begun between Helge and Sigrun. Helge pretends to be a person who is his foster-brother (Helge Hund., ii. 6).


Groa asks Halfdan-Gram:
Quis, rogo, vestrum
dirigit agmen,
quo duce signa
bellica fertis?
(Saxo, 27.)
Sigrun asks Helge:
Hverir lata fljota
fley við backa?
hvar, hermegir
heima eigud?
(Helge Hund., ii. 5.)
Halfdan-Gram invites Groa to accompany him. At first invitation is refused (Saxo, 27). Helge invites Sigrun to accompany him. At first the invitation is rebuked (Helge Hund., i. 16-17).
Groa’s father had already given her hand to another (Saxo, 26). Sigrun’s father had already promised her to another (Helge Hund., i. 18).
Halfdan-Gram explains that this rival ought not to cause them to fear (Saxo, 28). Helge explains that this rival should not cause them to fear (Helge Hund., i., ii.).
Halfdan-Gram makes war on Groa’s father, on his rival, and on the kinsmen of the latter (Saxo, 32). Helge makes war on Sigrun’s father, on his rival, and on the kinsmen of the latter (Helge Hund., i., ii.).
Halfdan-Gram slays Groa’s father and betrothed, and many heroes who belonged to his circle of kinsmen or were subject to him (Saxo, 32). Helge kills Sigrun’s father and suitors, and many heroes who were the brothers or allies of his rival (Helge Hund., ii.).
Halfdan-Gram marries Groa (Saxo, 33). Helge marries Sigrun (Helge Hund., i. 56).
Halfdan-Gram conquers a king Ring (Saxo, 32). Helge conquers Ring’s sons (Helge Hund., i. 52).
Borgar’s son has defeated and slain king Hunding (Saxo, 362; cp. Saxo, 337). Helge has slain king Hunding, and thus gotten the name Hundingsbane (Helge Hund., i. 10).


Halfdan-Gram has felled Svarin and many of his brothers. Svarin was viceroy under Groa’s father (Saxo, 32). Helge’s rival and the many brothers of the latter dwell around Svarin’s grave-mound. They are allies or subjects of Sigrun’s father.
Halfdan-Gram is slain by Svipdag, who is armed with an Asgard weapon (Saxo, 34, to be compared with other sources. See Nos. 33, 98, 101, 103). Helge is slain by Dag, who is armed with an Asgard weapon (Helge Hund., ii.).
Halfdan-Berggram’s father is slain by his brother Frode, who took his kingdom (Saxo, 320). Helge’s father was slain by his brother Frode, who took his kingdom (Rolf Krake’s saga).
Halfdan Berggram and his brother were in their childhood protected by Regno (Saxo, 320). Helge and his brother were in their childhood protected by Regin (Rolf Krake’s saga).
Halfdan Berggram and his brother burnt Frode to death in his house (Saxo, 323). Helge and his brothers burnt Frode to death in his house (Rolf Krake’s saga).
Halfdan Berggram as a youth left the kingdom to his brother and went warfaring (Saxo, 320 ff.). Helge Hundingsbane as a youth left the kingdom to his brother and went warfaring (Saxo, 80).
During Halfdan’s absence Denmark is attacked by an enemy, who conquers his brother in three battles and slays him in a fourth (Saxo, 325). During Helge Hundingsbane’s absence Denmark is attacked by an enemy, who conquers his brother in three battles and slays him in a fourth (Saxo, 82).
Halfdan, the descendant of Scef and Scyld, becomes the father of Rolf (Beowulf poem). Helge Hundingsbane became the father of Rolf (Saxo 83; compare Rolf Krake’s saga).


Halfdan had a son with his own sister Yrsa (Grotta-song 22; mon Yrsu sonr vid Halfdana hefna Froda; sa mun hennar heitinn vertha börr oc bróthir). Helge Hundingsbane had a son with his own sister Ursa (Saxo, 82). The son was Rolf (compare Rolf Krake’s saga).

A glance at these parallels is sufficient to remove every doubt that the hero in the songs concerning Helge Hundingsbane is originally the same mythic person as is celebrated in the song or songs from which Saxo gathered his materials concerning the kings, Gram Skjoldson, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson. It is the ancient myth in regard to Halfdan, the son of Skjold-Borgar, which myth, after the introduction of Christianity in Scandinavia, is divided into two branches, of which the one continues to be the saga of this patriarch, while the other utilises the history of his youth and tranforms it into a new saga, that of Helge Hundingsbane. In Saxo’s time, and long before him, this division into two branches had already taken place. How this younger branch, Helge Hundingsbane’s saga, was afterwards partly appropriated by the all-absorbing Sigurdsaga and became connected with it in an external and purely genealogical manner, and partly did itself appropriate (as in Saxo) the old Danish local tradition about Rolf, the illegitimate son of Halfdan Skjoldung, and, in fact, foreign to his pedigree; how it got mixed with the saga about an evil Frode and his stepsons, a saga with which it formerly had no connection; — all these are questions which I shall discuss fully in a second part of this work, and in a


separate treatise on the heroic sagas. For the present, my task is to show what influence this knowledge of Halfdan and Helge Hundingsbane’s identity has upon the interpretation of the myth concerning the antiquity of the Teutons.



The first strophes of the first song of Helge Hundingsbane distinguish themselves in tone and character and broad treatment from the continuation of the song, and have clearly belonged to a genuine old mythic poem about Halfdan, and without much change the compiler of the Helge Hundingsbane song has incorporated them into his poem. They describe Halfdan’s (“Helge Hundingsbane’s”) birth. The real mythic names of his parents, Borgar and Drott, have been retained side by side with the names given by the compiler, Sigmund and Borghild.

Ar var alda;
that er arar gullo,
hnigo heilog votn
af himinfjollum;
thá hafthi Helga
inn hugom stora
Borghildr borit
i Bralundi.
It was time’s morning,
eagles screeched,
holy waters fell
from the heavenly mountains;
Then was the mighty
Helge born
by Borghild
in Bralund.
Nott varth i bœ,
nornir qvomo,
ther er authlingi
It was night,
norns came,
they who did shape


aldr um scopo;
thann batho fylci
frægstan vertha
oc buthlunga
beztan ticcia.
the fate of the nobleman;
they proclaimed him
best among the Budlungs,
and most famed
among princes.
Snero ther af afli
tha er Borgarr braut
i Brálundi;
ther um greiddo
gullin simo
oc und manasal
mithian festo.
With all their might the threads
of fate they twisted,
when Borgar settled
in Bralund;
of gold they made
the warp of the web,
and fastened it directly
’neath the halls of the moon.
ther austr oc vestr
enda fálo,
thar átti lofdungr
land a milli;
brá nipt Nera
a nordrvega
einni festi,
ey bath hon halda.
In the east and west
they hid the ends,
there between
the chief should rule;
Nere’s* kinswoman
northward sent
one thread and bade it
hold for ever.
Eitt var at angri
Ylfinga nith
oc theirre meyjo
er nunuth fæddi;
hrafn gvath at hrafni
— sat a hám meithi
andvanr áto: —
“Ec veit noccoth!
One cause there was
of alarm to the Yngling (Borgar)
and also for her
who bore the loved one;
Hungry cawed
raven to raven
in the high tree:
“Hear what I know!
“Stendr i brynio
burr Sigmundar,
dœgrs eins gamall,
“In coat of mail
stands Sigmund’s son,
one day old,

* Urd, the chief goddess of fate. See the treatise “Mythen om Underjorden.”


nu er dagr kominn;
hversir augo
sem hildingar,
sa er varga vinr,
vith scolom teitir.”
now the day is come;
sharp eyes of the Hildings
has he, and the wolves’
friend he becomes
We shall thrive.”
Drótt thotti sa
dauglingr vera,
quado meth gumnom
god-ár kominn;
siafr gecc visi
or vig thrimo
ungum færa
itrlauc grami.
Drott, it is said, saw
in him a dayling,*
saying, “Now are good seasons
come among men;”
to the young lord
from thunder-strife
came the chief himself
with a glorious flower.

Halfdan’s (“Helge Hundingsbane’s”) birth occurs, according to the contents of these strophes, when two epochs meet. His arrival announces the close of the peaceful epoch and the beginning of an age of strife, which ever since has reigned in the world. His significance in this respect is distinctly manifest in the poem. The raven, to whom the battle-field will soon be as a well-spread table, is yet suffering from hunger (andvanr átu) but from the high tree in which it sits, it has on the day after the birth of the child, presumably through the window, seen the newcomer, and discovered that he possessed “the sharp eyes of the Hildings,” and with prophetic vision it has already seen him clad in coat of mail. It proclaims its discovery to another raven in the same tree, and foretells that theirs and the age of the wolves has come: “We shall thrive.”

The parents of the child heard and understood what

* Dayling = bright son of day or light.


the raven said. Among the runes which Heimdal, Borgar’s father, taught him, and which the son of the latter in time learned, are the knowledge of bird-speech (Konr ungr klök nam fugla — Rigsthula, 43, 44). The raven’s appearance in the song of Helge Hundingsbane is to be compared with its relative the crow in Rigsthula; the one foretells that the new-born one’s path of life lies over battlefields, the other urges the grown man to turn away from his peaceful amusements. Important in regard to a correct understanding of the song and characteristic of the original relation of the strophes quoted to the myth concerning primeval time, is the circumstance that Halfdan’s (“Helge Hundingsbane’s”) parents are not pleased with the prophecies of the raven; on the contrary they are filled with alarm. Former interpreters have been surprised at this. It has seemed to them that the prophecy of the lad’s future heroic and blood-stained career ought, in harmony with the general spirit pervading the old Norse literature, to have awakened the parents’ joy and pride. But the matter is explained by the mythic connection which makes Borgar’s life constitute the transition period from a happy and peaceful golden age to an age of warfare. With all their love of strife and admiration for warlike deeds, the Teutons still were human, and shared with all other people the opinion that peace and harmony is something better and more desirable than war and bloodshed. Like their Aryan kinsmen, they dreamed of primeval Saturnia regna, and looked forward to a regeneration which is to restore the reign of peace. Borgar, in the myth, established the community, was the


legislator and judge. He was the hero of peaceful deeds, who did not care to employ weapons except against wild beasts and robbers. But the myth had also equipped him with courage and strength, the necessary qualities for inspiring respect and interest, and had given him abundant opportunity for exhibiting these qualities in the promotion of culture and the maintenance of the sacredness of the law. Borgar was the Hercules of the northern myth, who fought with the gigantic beasts and robbers of the olden time. Saxo (Hist., 23) has preserved the traditions which tell how he at one time fought breast to breast with a giant bear, conquering him and bringing him fettered into his own camp.

As is well known, the family names Ylfings, Hildings, Budlungs, &c., have in the poems of the Christian skalds lost their specific application to certain families, and are applied to royal and princely warriors in general. This is in perfect analogy with the Christian Icelandic poetry, according to which it is proper to take the name of any viking, giant, or dwarf, and apply it to any special viking, giant, or dwarf, a poetic principle which scholars even of our time claim can also be applied in the interpretation of the heathen poems. In regard to the old Norse poets this method is, however, as impossible as it would be in Greek poetry to call Odysseus a Peleid, or Achilleus a Laertiatid, or Prometheus Hephæstos, or Hephæstos Dædalos. The poems concerning Helge Hundingsbane are compiled in Christian times from old songs about Borgar’s son Halfdan, and we find that the patronymic appellations Ylfing, Hilding, Budlung, and Lofdung are copiously


strewn on “Helge Hundingsbane.” But, so far as the above-quoted strophes are concerned, it can be shown that the appellations Ylfing, Hilding, and Budlung are in fact old usage and have a mythic foundation. The German poem “Wolfdieterich und Sabin” calls Berchtung (Borgar) Potelung — that is, Budlung; the poem “Wolfdieterich” makes Berchtung the progenitor of the Hildings, and adds: “From the same race the Ylfings have come to us” — von dem selbe geslehte sint uns die wilfinge kumen (v. 223).

Saxo mentions the Hilding Hildeger as Halfdan’s half-brother, and the tradition on which the saga of Asmund Kæmpebane is based has done the same (compare No. 43). The agreement in this point between German, Danish, and Icelandic statements points to an older source common to them all, and furnishes an additional proof that the German Berchtung occupied in the mythic genealogies precisely the same place as the Norse Borgar.

That Thor is one of Halfdan’s fathers, just as Heimdal is one of Borgar’s, has already been pointed out above (see No. 25). To a divine common fatherhood point the words: “Drott it is said, saw in him (the lad just born) a dayling (son of a god of light, a son divine).” Who the divine partner-father is, is indicated by the fact that a storm has broken out the night when Drott’s son is born. There is a thunder-strife, vig thrimo, the eagles screech, and holy waters fall from the heavenly mountains (from the clouds). The god of thunder is present, and casts his shadow over the house where the child is born.