Völsunga saga

The Völsunga saga (often referred to in English as the Volsunga Saga or Saga of the Völsungs) is a legendary saga, a late 13th century poetic rendition in the Icelandic language of the origin and decline of the Völsung clan (including the story of Sigurd and Brynhild and destruction of the Burgundians).

The saga covers themes including the power struggles among Sigurd's ancestors; Sigurd's killing of the dragon Fafnir; and the influence of the cursed ring Andvaranaut.

The saga has given rise to operatic and literary adaptations including Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Henrik Ibsen's The Vikings at Helgeland, William Morris's The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs, and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.

Sigurd
Drawing of the Ramsund carving from c. 1030, illustrating the Völsunga saga on a rock in Sweden. At (1), Sigurd sits in front of the fire preparing the dragon's heart

Context and overview

Two of the main themes of the saga are the male responsibility of rewarding friends and punishing acts of shame, and the female responsibility of goading for revenge. Together these create much of the contention in the saga.

It is largely based on epic poetry of the historic Elder Edda. The earliest known pictorial representation of this tradition is the Ramsund carving, Sweden, which was created c. 1000 AD.

The origins of the material are considerably older, however, and it in part echoes real events in Central Europe during the Migration Period, chiefly the destruction of the Kingdom of the Burgundians by the Huns in the fifth century. Some of the poems contained in the Elder Edda relate episodes from the Völsung legend. On the other hand, the only manuscript of the saga, Ny kgl. Saml. 1824b 4to, which is held by the Royal Library of Denmark, dates to about 1400. In this manuscript, the saga leads straight in to Ragnars saga loðbrókar.

Contents

The saga can be divided into five phases: the preliminary generations; Sigurd and his foster family; Sigurd and the Gjukingar; Gudrun and the Budlingar; and Gudrun's last marriage.

The preliminary generations

The first chapters tell of the generations which came prior to Sigurd, beginning with Sigi, a man banished from his homeland for murdering his neighbor's thrall. After much adventuring, Sigi settles down to rule over the Huns. His wife's brothers eventually become envious of Sigi's power and wealth and raise an army against him. In the ensuing battle, Sigi is killed and his in-laws take over the kingdom. Sigi's son Rerir then avenges his father's death, killing his uncles and regaining his father's throne. After many years, Rerir becomes ill and dies, and shortly thereafter his wife gives birth to their son, Volsung. Volsung grows up and marries Hljod, the daughter of a giant. Volsung and Hljod have eleven children, the two eldest being the boy and girl twins Sigmund and Signy.

At Signy's wedding to King Siggeir, Sigmund offends his new brother-in-law. This triggers a series of revenge killings, beginning with Siggeir luring King Volsung and his sons into a trap. Volsung is killed, and his sons put in stocks. Over the course of several nights, all of his sons save Sigmund are killed by a she-wolf. He is saved by his sister Signy, who then helps Sigmund make a hiding place in the woods. As time goes on, Signy has two sons by Siggeir. She sends her boys to Sigmund to help him avenge the death of the Volsungs. However, both boys fail to pass a test of bravery and are killed by their uncle Sigmund at their mother's insistence, as she deems them unfit for vengeance. Signy then tricks her brother Sigmund into sleeping with her, and their son Sinfljoti (who has nothing but Volsung blood) becomes a powerful man raised with only one purpose: to avenge his uncles and grandfather. Eventually Sigmund and Sinfljoti manage to kill Siggeir, and after this Sigmund returns to his own country, retakes his father's throne, and rules there for many years.

As an old man, Sigmund marries Hjordis, the daughter of King Eylimi. The suitor she rejected in Sigmund's favor brings an army against him, and Sigmund is mortally wounded in the battle. In the aftermath, Hjordis finds her husband and he entrusts to her the shards of his sword, prophesying that they will be reforged someday for their yet unborn son. He dies, and Hjordis is taken in by Alf, son of Hjalprek, king of Denmark. Shortly thereafter she gives birth to Sigurd, her son by Sigmund. Sigurd is fostered in Hjalprek's court by Regin, his tutor, and grows to manhood there.[1]

Sigurd and his foster family

Hjordis gives birth to Sigurd, who is strong, brave, and very popular. She then marries the King's son Alf, and Regin, the son of King Hreidmar, educates Sigurd. Sigurd enters the forest looking for a horse and meets Odin, who gives him Grani, who is descended from Sleipnir, and better than any other horse. Regin entices Sigurd to go after the dragon Fafnir so he can become rich.

Then Regin tells Sigurd a story: His father Hreidmar had three sons: himself, Otr, and Fafnir. Otr was an otter-like fisherman, Fafnir large and fierce, and Regin himself was skilled with ironwork. One day Odin, Loki and Hœnir are fishing and kill Otr in his otter shape, skin and eat him. King Hreidmar finds out and demands they fill and cover the skin with gold. Loki goes out and takes the dwarf Andvari’s gold and the ransom is paid. The dwarf curses the ring Andvaranaut ("Andvari's gift"), saying it will bring death to anyone who owns it. Fafnir later kills his father, hides the body, and takes all the treasure (and ring) to his hoard. He turns into an evil dragon, and Regin became a smith for the king.

Regin makes two swords one after another for Sigurd, but they break when he tests them. Sigurd's mother gives him the pieces of his father's broken sword and Regin reforges Gram. Sigurd tests it and splits the iron anvil down to its base, and promises to kill Fafnir after he avenges his father. First he goes to the soothsayer Gripir and asks about his fate. Gripir tells him after some hesitation, and Sigurd returns to Regin, saying he must avenge his father and other kinsmen before he kills Fafnir. Sigurd sails to Hunding's kingdom and kills many and burns settlements. A brutal battle ensues between him and King Lyngvi and Hunding's sons, and Sigurd kills them all with Gram. He returns to Regin to prepare to meet Fafnir.

Sigurd goes to Fafnir’s territory and digs a ditch to hide in and stab Fafnir from. Odin comes and advises him to dig several ditches for the blood to flow into. He does so, and stabs Fafnir through the heart as he crawls over the ditch. As Fafnir is dying, he asks Sigurd about his lineage and says that his gold and Regin will be Sigurd's death. Sigurd returns to Regin, who was hiding in the heather during Fafnir's slaying. Regin drinks Fafnir's blood and asks Sigurd to roast Fafnir's heart and let him eat it. Sigurd tests whether the heart is fully cooked and licks his finger, and suddenly understands the speech of birds. He overhears the nuthatches talking to each other about Regin's plan to kill him, and that he should rather eat the heart himself, kill Regin, take the gold, and go to Brynhild. Sigurd kills Regin, eats some of the heart, takes as much treasure as he can carry, including the Helm of Terror, and Andvaranaut, and rides off on Grani.

Sigurd rides to the land of the Franks and finds a sleeping warrior. He removes the helmet, discovers it is a woman, and cuts her chainmail open. She wakes and tells him Odin stabbed her with a sleeping thorn and mandated that she must marry, but she refuses to marry any man who knows fear. Brynhild gives him beer and recites a poem about how to use different magical runes. Following this, Brynhild gives Sigurd several pieces of sound advice on how to navigate society and survive, and they agree to marry each other.

Sigurd and the Gjukingar

Sigurd rides to the estate of Heimr. Heimr is married to Brekkhild, Brynhild's sister. Sigurd catches sight of Brynhild weaving a golden tapestry in the castle. Alsvid tells him to not think about women, but after Brynhild saying they are not fated to be together, they renew their vows.

King Gjuki is married to Grimhild, who is skilled in magic, and their sons are Gunnar, Hogni, and Guttorm. Their sister Gudrun has a dream about a golden hawk, which Brynhild interprets as her future husband. They then talk of Sigurd's excellence and the prophecies about him before his birth. Then Gudrun has a dream about a handsome stag, which Brynhild interprets as Sigurd, and prophecises she will marry, but soon lose Sigurd, marry Atli (Attila the Hun), lose her brothers, and then kill Atli.

Sigurd comes to Gjuki with Grani and all his treasure. Grimhild gives him a drink and he forgets about Brynhild. Gunnar and the others swear brotherhood with Sigurd, and he marries Gudrun. Gudrun eats some of the dragon's heart, and bears Sigurd a son, Sigmund. Meanwhile, Grimhild encourages Gunnar to marry Brynhild. Sigurd and the three brothers ride to King Budli for Gunnar to ask for Brynhild's hand. She is inside a hall surrounded by fire. Sigurd and Gunnar exchange shapes, and Sigurd goes and asks Brynhild to marry him as Gunnar. Brynhild reluctantly agrees because of her oath, and leaves her daughter Aslaug by Sigurd to be raised with Heimr.

Brynhild and Gudrun are arguing about whose husband is better, and Gudrun shows her the ring which Brynhild had given Sigurd. Brynhild recognizes the ring and realizes she has been tricked. She tells Gunnar she knows he deceived her and that she will kill him and seek revenge on Grimhild. Brynhild takes to her room and Sigurd comes to try to make amends by asking her to marry him, but she doesn't accept his offer, and instead wants to die and bring doom upon everyone involved.

Gunnar consults with his brothers whether they should kill Sigurd to keep Brynhild or not. They decide to give snake and wolf's meat to Guttorm to turn him violent and kill Sigurd. He goes into Sigurd's bed chamber and stabs him while asleep. Sigurd wakes up and before dying, throws Gram after him as he leaves, cutting him in two. Brynhild laughs when she hears Gudrun sobbing, Gudrun tells Gunnar he made a big mistake by killing Sigurd. Brynhild also tells Gunnar he has made a mistake and stabs herself and before she dies, foretells the rest of Gunnar's and Gudrun's future. Gunnar fulfills Brynhild's last request, that he put her on a bonfire with Sigurd, Guttorm, and Sigurd's 3-year-old son.

Gudrun and the Budlingar

Everyone mourns Sigurd's death and Gudrun runs away, ending up with King Half in Denmark. Grimhild finds Gudrun and orders her to marry King Atli against her will, which she does, unhappily. Atli has a dream that he is fed his children, and Gudrun interprets it that his sons will die and many other bad things. Gudrun sends her brothers a runic message warning them about Atli, but the messenger Vingi alters it, inviting her brothers to come. Hogni's wife Kostbera sees the message is false and tells him. Kostbera tells her dream to Hogni, in which she predicts the treachery of Atli, and Hogni's death, but he doesn’t believe her. Gunnar's wife Glaumvor also has symbolic dreams predicting Gunnar's betrayal by Atli and his death, and he eventually gives up trying to interpret them differently, and says he will probably have a short life. Gunnar and Hogni go with Vingi to Atli. Vingi reveals he betrayed them, and Gunnar and Hogni kill him with their axe handles.

Atli says he wants Sigurd's gold and will avenge Sigurd by killing his brothers-in-law. Gudrun tries to stop the fighting, but then puts on armor, picks up a sword and fights with her brothers. Many of Atli's champions are killed. Of their army, only Gunnar and Hogni survive and are captured. Hogni's heart is cut out and shown to Gunnar. Gunnar is placed in a snake pit and Gudrun brings him a harp which he plays with his toes. All the snakes fall asleep except one, which bites his heart and kills him.

Gudrun and Atli hold a funeral feast. Gudrun kills Atli's two sons, and gives their blood and hearts to Atli to eat and drink. Atli says she deserves to be killed. Hogni's son Niflung wants to avenge his father, so he and Gudrun stab Atli while he is asleep. After he dies, Gudrun sets the hall on fire and all Atli's retainers die while fighting each other in panic.

Gudrun's last marriage

Gudrun and Sigurd's daughter is Svanhild, radiantly beautiful. Gudrun goes to the sea to drown herself, but gets swept away and to the court of King Jonakr, who marries her. They have three sons: Hamdir, Sorli, and Erp, and Svanhild is raised with them.

King Jormunrek wants to marry Svanhild, but Bikki convinces Jormunrek's son Randver that he would be a better match for her than his father, so he and Svanhild get together. Upon Bikki's advice, Jormunrek hangs Randver and has horses trample Svanhild to death.

Gudrun encourages her sons to kill Jormunrek and avenge Svanhild. Gudrun's sons ask Erp if he will help them kill Jormunrek, but he gives an ambivalent answer they misunderstand as arrogance, so they kill him, coming to regret it afterwards. They meet Jormunrek and cut off his hands and feet, but Erp would have cut off Jormunrek's head, which would have kept Jormunrek from calling for his housecarls. The housecarls are unable to kill Gudrun's sons with sharp weapons. Odin then appears as an old one-eyed man and advises Jormunrek's housecarls to have the avengers killed with stones, which they do.

Themes

Odin and the supernatural

Throughout the saga, elements of the supernatural are interwoven into the narrative. One recurring theme is the periodic appearance of Odin, the foremost among Norse deities, associated with “war, wisdom, ecstasy, and poetry.”[2] He is typically depicted as a mysterious, hooded old man with one eye.[3]

Odin appears a number of times to assist characters with his magic and powers. At the start of the saga, he guides his son Sigi out of the underworld.[4] He also sends a wish maiden to Sigi's son Rerir with an enchanted apple that finally allowed Rerir and his wife to have a child.[5] Later, he appears as an old, one-eyed stranger and sticks his sword into the tree Barnstokkr during a feast at the palace of King Völsung, declaring that “he who draws this sword out of the trunk shall receive it from me as a gift, and he himself shall prove that he has never carried a better sword than this one,” which King Volsung's son Sigmund does.[6]

Odin also directly intervenes during key points in the narrative. During a battle, Odin, again in the guise of an old, one-eyed man, breaks Sigmund's sword, turning the tide of the battle and ultimately leading to his death.[7] He also stabs Brynhild with a sleeping thorn and curses her never to win another battle as an act of revenge for killing Hjalmgunnar, a rival king to whom Odin had promised victory.[8]

The ring Andvaranaut

In the latter half of the saga the ring Andvaranaut serves as a connection and explanation for the characters' troubles. Loki killed Otr, the son of Hreidmar. As compensation for Otr's death, Loki coerced a dwarf named Andvari into repaying the debt with gold. Andvari tried to hold onto one gold ring and when Loki forced him to give it up Andvari cursed the ring saying, "This ring...and indeed the entire treasure, will be the death of whoever owns it." This plays out as one character after another is killed soon after they receive the ring. Otr's brother Fafnir killed his father in order to get the ring and then turned into a dragon to protect it. Sigurd then kills Fafnir taking the ring and giving it to Brynhildr. The ring is then brought into Queen Grimhild's family after her children marry Sigurd and Bryhildr. The story of Andvaranaut is thought to have inspired J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Adaptions and related works

The Middle High German epic poem Nibelungenlied is related in content. The relative historicity and origin of both works are a subject of academic research - however, whilst traditionally the stories from the Poetic Edda and Völsunga saga were assumed to contain an earlier or "more original" version, the actual development of the different texts is more complex - for more details see Nibelungenlied § Origins

Among the more notable adaptations of this text are Richard Wagner's tetralogy of music dramas Der Ring des Nibelungen, Ernest Reyer's opera Sigurd, Henrik Ibsen's The Vikings at Helgeland, and William Morris's epic poem The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs. J. R. R. Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is derived instead from the Volsung poems in the Elder Edda; Tolkien himself thought the author of the Saga had made a jumble of things.

The saga is also one inspiration for Þráinn Bertelsson's satirical crime novel Valkyrjur (Reykjavík: JPV, 2005).

Editions and translations

English translations

  • Morris, William; Magnússon, Eirikr, eds. (1870), Völsunga Saga : The Story of the Volsungs & Niblings with certain songs from the Elder Edda , literal translation, e-text
  • Schlauch, Margaret, ed. (1930), The Saga of the Volsungs: The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok, Together with The Lay of Kraka
  • Finch, R. G., ed. (1965), The Saga of the Volsungs (PDF), London: Nelson , with Icelandic text
  • Anderson, George K., ed. (1982), The Saga of the Volsungs - together with Excerpts from the Nornageststháttr and Three Chapters from the Prose Edda
  • Byock, Jesse L., ed. (1990), Saga of the Volsungs, University of California Press
  • Grimstad, Kaaren, ed. (2005) [2000], Vǫlsunga saga. The saga of the Volsungs. The Icelandic Text According to MS Nks 1824 b, 4 (2nd ed.), AQ-Verlag, Saarbrücken , English translation with Norse transcription from manuscript Nks 1824 b, 4°
  • Crawford, Jackson, ed. (2017), The Saga of the Volsungs with The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok

Other translations

  • Jonsson, Gudni; Vilhjalmsson, Bjarni (eds.), "Völsunga saga", Kulturformidlingen norrøne tekster og kvad (e-text) (in Norse, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish)CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link) , Norse text with translations by : A. Bugge (Norwegian, 1910); Winkel Horn (Danish, 1876), Nils Fredrik Sander (Swedish, 1893)

Literary retellings

References

  1. ^ Byock 1990, ch. 1–13.
  2. ^ Byock 1990, p. 111.
  3. ^ Byock 1990.
  4. ^ Morris & Magnússon, Ch.1.
  5. ^ Byock 1990, pp. 35–36.
  6. ^ Byock 1990, p. 38.
  7. ^ Byock 1990, p. 53.
  8. ^ Byock 1990, p. 67.

Additional literature

External links

Barnstokkr

In Norse mythology, Barnstokkr (Old Norse, literally "child-trunk") is a tree that stands in the center of King Völsung's hall. Barnstokkr is attested in chapters 2 and 3 of the Völsunga saga, written in the 13th century from earlier tradition, partially based on events from the 5th century and the 6th century, where, during a banquet, a one-eyed stranger appears and thrusts a sword into the tree which only Sigmund is able to pull free. Scholarly theories have been put forth about the implications of Barnstokkr and its relation to other trees in Germanic paganism.

Borghild

In Norse mythology, Borghild was the first wife of Sigmund. She bore him two sons, Hamund and Helgi.

She is the personification of the evening mist, or perhaps the moon, who kills the light of day.

Buðli

Buðli or Budli is the name of one or two legendary kings from the Scandinavian Legendary sagas.

Haki

Hake, Haki or Haco, the brother of Hagbard, was a famous Scandinavian sea-king, in Norse mythology. He is mentioned in the 12th century Gesta Danorum, and in 13th-century sources including Ynglinga saga, Nafnaþulur, Völsunga saga. If historical, he would have lived in the 5th century.

Hindarfjall

Hindarfjall or Hindafjall ("Hind mountain") is the mountain where Brynhildr lives in the Völsung cycle.

In Snorri Sturluson's account of the Völsung cycle (Skáldskaparmál), Sigurðr first meets Brynhildr, whom he finds asleep, in a building on a mountain whose name is not given. Later, Brynhildr is said to live on Hindafjall, in a hall surrounded by wavering flames (vafrlogi). Sigurðr rides through them and asks for Brynhildr's hand, having taken the appearance of Gunnarr.

In the other sources (Sigrdrífumál, Völsunga saga), Hindarfjall is mentioned in relation with the first encounter: after killing Fáfnir and Reginn, Sigurðr rides up onto Hindarfjall and goes south toward Frakkland. Then he sees a great light on a mountain. There stands a wall of shield, and behind it Sigrdrífa-Brynhildr asleep. The name of the place where the second meeting takes place, when Sigurðr rides through the flames after he and Gunnar exchanged forms, is not given.

Hindarfjall is also mentioned in Fáfnismál, where the birds, which Sigurðr can understand after tasting Fáfnir's blood, talk about a hall on Hindarfjall, surrounded with flames, where Sigrdrífa sleeps.

In Helreið Brynhildar, it is called Skatalundr, and there is an obscure stanza that Sigurðr first meet Brynhildr in her foster-father's home.

Hljod

Hljod or Ljod (Old Norse Hljóð) is a giantess in Norse mythology. According to the Völsunga saga Hljod, the daughter of Hrímnir, married the hero Völsung. She bore him ten sons, one of whom was Sigmund, and a daughter, Signy. She had earlier brought the apple from the gods that enabled Völsung's mother to conceive him.

The passage in which Hljóð is sent is:Þat er nú sagt, at Frigg heyrir bæn þeira ok segir Óðni, hvers þau biðja. Hann verðr eigi örþrifráða ok tekr óskmey sína, dóttur Hrímnis jötunsIt is now said that Frigg heard their prayers and told Óðinn what they prayed. He was not without resources and took his wish-maid, the daughter of the jötunn Hrímnir.

In the translation by Eiríkr Magnússon and William Morris, the passage is very freely translated: And so it is said that Odin hears their prayer, and Freyia no less hearkens wherewith they prayed unto her: so she, never lacking for all good counsel, calls to her her casket-bearing may. For example, Margaret Clunies Ross says that "Óðinn sends a valkyrie by name of Hljóð".

Later in the same chapter, the report of her marrying Völsung repeats the story of the apple:Nú þá er hann var alroskinn at aldri, þá sendir Hrímnir honum Hljóð, dóttur sína, er fyrr er getit, þá er hún fór með eplit til Reris, föður Völsungs."Now when he was fully come to man's estate, Hrimnir the giant sends to him Ljod his daughter; she of whom the tale told, that she brought the apple to Rerir, Volsung's father." (William Morris and Eiríkr Magnússon translation)

Hreiðmarr

In Norse mythology, Hreiðmarr (anglicized as Hreidmar) is a sorcerer. He is featured in the Völsunga saga and in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda.Hreiðmarr was the father of Regin, Fafnir, Ótr, Lyngheiðr and Lofnheiðr. He owned a house of glittering gold and flashing gems built by Regin and guarded by Fafnir. After Otr was accidentally killed by Loki, the Æsir repaid Hreiðmarr with Andvari's gold and the ring Andvaranaut, a magical ring that could create gold. However, Andvari had cursed the ring to bring misfortune and destruction to whoever else possessed it. Hreiðmarr ignored Loki's warnings about the curse and kept the ring, only to have Fafnir and Regin later kill him for it. Fafnir decided he wanted Andvaranaut for himself, so he turned into a dragon and drove Regin away. Fafnir guarded the treasure until Sigurd, on Regin's instigation, arrived and delivered a fatal blow to the dragon. Regin was then also killed by Sigurd while attempting to murder him for the ring, thus leaving all of Hreiðmarr's family dead.

Hrotti

Hrotti is a sword in the Völsung cycle (Fáfnismál, Völsunga saga, 20). It was a part of Fáfnir's treasure, which Sigurðr took after he slew the dragon.

List of Germanic heroes

This is a list of Germanic heroes.

Rerir

In Völsunga saga, Rerir, the son of Sigi, succeeds his murdered father and avenges his death. He rules the Huns in Hunaland and becomes a powerful ruler. Rerir's son is Völsung.

Rerir and his wife were unable to have children until the goddess Frigg, the wife of Odin sends them a giantess named Hljod in the shape of a crow to deliver an apple of fertility to the couple. Shortly after, Rerir’s wife becomes pregnant but he becomes ill and dies. His wife remains pregnant for six years, until she realizes she will not live much longer and commands that the child be delivered with a Caesarian, an operation that in those days cost the life of the mother. When the child, Völsung, was delivered he was already well grown and he “kissed his mother before she died.” Mount Rerir is a location in the fictional world of Middle-earth.

Rán

In Norse mythology, Rán is a goddess and a personification of the sea. Rán and her husband Ægir, a jötunn who also personifies the sea, have nine daughters, who personify waves. The goddess is frequently associated with a net, which she uses to capture sea-goers. According to the prose introduction to a poem in the Poetic Edda and in Völsunga saga, Rán once loaned her net to the god Loki.

Rán is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; in both Völsunga saga and Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna; and in the poetry of skalds, such as Sonatorrek, a 10th century poem by Icelandic skald Egill Skallagrímsson.

Siggeir

Siggeir is the king of Gautland (i.e. Götaland/Geatland, but in some translations also rendered as Gothland), in the Völsunga saga. In Skáldskaparmál he is given as a Sikling and a relative of Sigar who killed the hero Hagbard. Hversu Noregr byggðist specifies that the last Sigar was Siggeir's nephew.

According to the Völsunga saga, Siggeir married Signy, the sister of Sigmund and the daughter of king Völsung. At the banquet Odin appears in disguise wearing a cape and a hood and sticks a sword in the tree Branstock. Then he said that whoever managed to pull the sword out could keep it. Siggeir and everyone else tried but only Sigmund succeeded. Siggeir generously offered three times the sword's value, but Sigmund mockingly refused. Siggeir was offended and went home the next day thinking of revenge.

Siggeir invites Sigmund, his father Völsung and Sigmund's nine brothers to a visit in Gautland to see the newlyweds three months later. When the Völsung clan had arrived they were attacked by the Gauts (Geats) and king Völsung was killed and his sons captured.

Signy beseeched her husband to spare her brothers and to put them in stocks instead of killing them. As Siggeir thought that the brothers deserved to be tortured before they were killed, he agreed.

He then let his shape-shifting mother turn into a wolf and each night devour one of the brothers, until only Sigmund remained. Signy had a servant smear honey on the face of Sigmund and when the she-wolf arrived she started licking the honey off Sigmund's face. As she licked, she stuck her tongue into Sigmund's mouth, whereupon Sigmund bit her tongue off, killing her. Sigmund then hid in the forests of Gautland and Signy brought him everything he needed.

Signy gave Siggeir two sons and when the oldest one was ten years old, she sent him to Sigmund to train him to avenge the Völsungs. The boy did not stand a test of courage so Signy asked Sigmund to kill her worthless son. The same thing happened to Siggeir's second son.

Signy came to Sigmund in the guise of a witch and she and her brother committed incest and had the son Sinfjotli.

After some adventures Sigmund and Sinfjotli killed Siggeir.

Sigmund

In Norse mythology, Sigmund (old norse: Sigmundr) is a hero whose story is told in the Völsunga saga. He and his sister, Signý, are the children of Völsung and his wife Hljod. Sigmund is best known as the father of Sigurð the dragon-slayer, though Sigurð's tale has almost no connections to the Völsung cycle.

Signy

Signy or Signe (Old Norse: Signý, sometimes known as German: Sieglinde) is the name of two heroines in two connected legends from Norse mythology which were very popular in medieval Scandinavia. Both appear in the Völsunga saga, which was adapted into other works such as Wagner's 'Ring' cycle, including its famous opera Die Walküre. Signy is also the name of two characters in several other sagas.

The first Signy is the daughter of King Völsung. She was married to the villainous Geatish king Siggeir who has her whole family treacherously murdered, except for her brother Sigmund. She saves her brother, has an incestuous affair with him and bears the son Sinfjötli. She burnt herself to death with her hated husband.

The second Signy is the daughter of King Siggeir's nephew Sigar. She fell in love with the Sea-King Hagbard, and promised him that she would not live if he died. They were discovered and Hagbard was sentenced to be hanged. Hagbard managed to signal this to Signy who set her house on fire and died in the flames whereupon Hagbard hanged himself in the gallows. See Hagbard and Signy.

A third Signy is the daughter of a witch named Grid in Illuga saga Gríðarfóstra. They are both delivered from a curse by a young man named Illugi.

A fourth Signy was Hroðgar's sister in Skjöldunga saga and Hrólfs saga kraka. She is unnamed in Beowulf.

Sleipnir

In Norse mythology, Sleipnir (Old Norse "slippy" or "the slipper") is an eight-legged horse ridden by Odin. Sleipnir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Sleipnir is Odin's steed, is the child of Loki and Svaðilfari, is described as the best of all horses, and is sometimes ridden to the location of Hel. The Prose Edda contains extended information regarding the circumstances of Sleipnir's birth, and details that he is grey in color.

Sleipnir is also mentioned in a riddle found in the 13th century legendary saga Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, in the 13th-century legendary saga Völsunga saga as the ancestor of the horse Grani, and book I of Gesta Danorum, written in the 12th century by Saxo Grammaticus, contains an episode considered by many scholars to involve Sleipnir. Sleipnir is generally accepted as depicted on two 8th century Gotlandic image stones: the Tjängvide image stone and the Ardre VIII image stone.

Scholarly theories have been proposed regarding Sleipnir's potential connection to shamanic practices among the Norse pagans. In modern times, Sleipnir appears in Icelandic folklore as the creator of Ásbyrgi, in works of art, literature, software, and in the names of ships.

Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok

The Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok (Old Norse: Ragnars saga loðbrókar) is an Icelandic legendary saga of the 13th century about the Viking ruler Ragnar Lodbrok. It is part of the manuscript of the Völsunga saga, which it immediately follows. The tale covers the origin of Aslaug, Ragnar's quest for the hand of Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr, his later marriage to Aslaug, the deeds of their sons (and Aslaug) in battle, and Ragnar's death at the hands of king Ælla of Northumbria.

Völsung

In Norse mythology, Völsung (Old Norse: Vǫlsungr) was the son of Rerir and the eponymous ancestor of the ill-fortuned Völsung clan (Vǫlsungar), which includes the well known Norse hero Sigurð. He was murdered by the Geatish king Siggeir and later avenged by one of his sons, Sigmund, and his daughter Signy, who was married to Siggeir.

Völsung's story is recorded in the Völsung Cycle, a series of legends about the clan. The earliest extant versions of the cycle were recorded in medieval Iceland; the tales of the cycle were expanded with local Scandinavian folklore, including that of Helgi Hundingsbane (which appears to originally have been part of the separate tradition of the Ylfings), and form the material of the epic poems in the Elder Edda and of Völsunga saga, which preserves material from lost poems. Völsung is also the subject matter of the Middle High German epic poem Nibelungenlied and is mentioned as Wæls in the Old English epic Beowulf.

Völsung Cycle

The Völsung Cycle is a series of legends in Norse mythology that were first recorded in medieval Iceland, but which were also known (as carvings show) in Sweden, Norway, England and (perhaps) the Isle of Man. The original Icelandic tales were greatly expanded with native Scandinavian folklore, including that of Helgi Hundingsbane, which, in turn, originally appears to have been a separate tradition connected to the Ylfings.

Mythological material in this cycle of some twenty Edda poems includes the Völsunga saga and the tale of the Otter's Ransom, and covers much of the same subject matter as the Middle High German epic poem Nibelungenlied.

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