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Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English BY BENJAMIN THORPE


Sigmund Volsung's son was a king in Frankland. Sinfiotli was the eldest of his sons, the second was Helgi, the third Hamund. Borghild, Sigmund's wife, had a brother named Gunnar; but Sinfiotli her stepson and Gunnar both courted one woman, on which account Sinfiotli slew Gunnar. When he came home, Borghild bade him go away, but Sigmund offered the blood-fine, which it was incumbent on her to accept. At the funeral feast Borghild presented the beer: she took a large horn full of poison, and offered it to Sinfiotli; who, when he looked into the horn, and saw that there was poison in it, said to Sigmund: "the drink ferments!" Sigmund took the horn and drank up the contents. It is said that Sigmund was so strong that no poison could hurt him, either outwardly or inwardly; but that all his sons could endure poison outwardly. Borghild bore another horn to Sinfiotli, and prayed him to drink, when all took place as before. Yet a third time she offered him the horn, using reproachful words on his refusing to drink. He said as before to Sigmund, but the latter answered: "Let it pass through thy lips, my son." Sinfiotli drank and instantly died. Sigmund bore him a long way in his arms, and came to a long and narrow firth, where there was a little vessel and one man in it. He offered Sigmund to convey him over the firth; but when Sigmund had borne the corpse into the vessel, the boat was full-laden. The man then said that Sigmund should go before through the firth. He then pushed off his boat and instantly departed.

King Sigmund sojourned long in Denmark, in Borghild's kingdom, after having espoused her. He then went south to Frankland, to the kingdom he there possessed. There he married Hiordis, the daughter of Eylimi. Sigurd was their son. King Sigmund fell in a battle with the sons of Hunding. Hiordis was afterwards married to Alf, son of King Hialprek, with whom Sigurd grew up in childhood. Sigmund and his sons exceeded all other men in strength, and stature, and courage, and all accomplishments, though Sigurd was foremost of all; and in old traditions he is mentioned as excelling all men, and as the most renowned of warlike kings.

The story of Siegfried and Byrnhild constitutes the greatest epic in Teutonic Gothic literature. Its origin is hard to trace, but parts of the legends carry the investigator back to Iranian sources. Its greatest development, however, may justly be credited to Icelandic sagas, in which the mythology of the Norse people has a prominent place. In both the Gothic and Teutonic versions, while considerable variation of incident is noticeable, the awakening of Brynhild, a valkyrie maiden, and daughter of Wotan, is represented as having been accomplished by Siegfried, who rides through a wall of flames which surrounds her, and thus breaks the spell which binds her to sleep until a warrior fearless enough to brave fire shall come to claim her for a bride.