THE SECOND LAY OF SIGURD FAFNICIDE

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THE ELDER EDDAS OF SAEMUND SIGFUSSON.

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


THE SECOND LAY OF SIGURD FAFNICIDE.


Sigurd went to Hialprek's stud and chose himself a horse, which was afterwards named Grani. Regin, Hreidmar's son, was then come to Hialprek; he was the most skilful of men, and a dwarf in stature; he was wise, cruel, and versed in magic. Regin undertook the rearing and instruction of Sigurd, and bore him great affection. He informed Sigurd of his parentage, and how it befell that Odin, and Hoenir, and Loki came to Andvarafors (the waterfall of Andvari). In the fall there was an abundance of fish. There was a dwarf named Andvari, who had long lived in the fall in the likeness of a pike, and in which he supplied himself with food. "Our brother," continued Regin, "was named Otr, who often went into the fall in the likeness of an otter. He had caught a salmon, and was sitting on the bank of the river with his eyes shut eating it, when Loki killed him with a stone. The Æsir thought themselves very lucky, and stripped off the otter's skin. That same evening they sought entertainment with Hreidmar, and showed their prize. Thereupon we laid hands on them, and imposed on them, as the redemption of their lives, that they should fill the otter's skin with gold, and cover it over with red gold. They thereupon sent Loki to procure gold. He went to Ran, and obtained her net, and thence proceeded to Andvarafors, and cast the net before a pike, which leapt into the net. Whereupon Loki said:


1. What fish is this, that in the river swims, and cannot from harm itself protect? Redeem thy life from Hel, and find me the water's flame. The Pike.

2. Andvari I am named, Oin was my father named; many a cataract have I passed. A luckless Norn in times of old decreed, that in the water I should wade.

Loki.

3. Tell me, Andvari! if thou wilt enjoy life in the halls of men, what retribution get the sons of mortals, if with foul words they assail each other.

Andvari.

4. Cruel retribution get the sons of mortals, who in Vadgelmir wade: for the false words they have against others uttered, the punishments too long endure.

Loki viewed all the gold that Andvari owned; but when he had produced the gold, he retained a single ring, which Loki also took from him. The dwarf went into his stone and said:

5. That gold which the dwarf possessed, shall to two brothers be cause of death, and to eight princes, of dissension. From my wealth no one shall good derive.

The Æsir produced the gold to Hreidmar, and with it crammed the otter's skin full, and set it up on the feet. They then had to heap up the gold and cover it; but when that was done, Hreidmar, stepping forward, observed a whisker, and required it to be covered; whereupon Odin drew forth the ring "Andvaranaut," and covered the hair. Loki said:

6. There is gold for thee, and thou hast a great redemption for my life. For thy son no blessing is decreed; of both it shall prove the bane.

Hreidmar.

7. Gifts thou hast given, friendly gifts thou hast given not; with a kind heart thou hast not given. Of your lives ye should have been deprived, had I foreknown that peril.

8. But that is worse, what I seem to know,—a strife of kinsmen for a woman. Princes yet unborn I think them to be, for whose hate that gold is destined.

9. The red gold, I trust, I shall possess while I am living: of thy threats I entertain no fear; so take yourselves hence home.

Fafnir and Regin demanded of Hreidmar their share of the blood-fine for their slain brother Otr, which he refused, and Fafnir stabbed his father with a sword while sleeping. Hreidmar called out to his daughters:

10. Lyngheid and Lofnheid! Know my life is departing. To many things need compels. Lyngheid.

Few sisters will, although they lose a father, avenge a brother's crime.

Hreidmar.

11. Then bring forth a daughter, wolf-hearted fury! If by a chief thou have not a son. Get for the maid a spouse, in thy great need; then will her son thy wrong avenge.

Hreidmar then died, and Fafnir took all the gold. Regin then requested to have his share of the patrimony, but met with a refusal from Fafnir. Regin thereupon sought counsel of his sister Lyngheid, how he might obtain his patrimony. She said:

12. Thou of thy brother shalt mildly demand thy patrimony and a better spirit. It is not seemly, that with the sword thou shouldst demand thy property of Fafnir.

The foregoing is what Regin related to Sigurd. One day, when he came to Regin's dwelling, he was kindly received, and Regin said:

13. Hither is come the son of Sigmund to our Hall, that man of energy: courage he has greater than I aged man: now of a conflict have I hope from the fierce wolf.

14. I will nurture the bold-hearted prince: now Yngvi's kinsman is to us come; he will be a king under the sun most powerful; over all lands will his destinies resound.

Sigurd was thence forward constantly with Regin, who related to him how Fafnir lay on Gnitaheid in the likeness of a serpent. He had an "Oegis-helm," at which all living beings were terror-stricken. Regin forged a sword for Sigurd, that was named Gram, and was so sharp that immersing it in the Rhine, he let a piece of wool down the stream, when it clove the fleece asunder as water. With that sword Sigurd clove in two Regin's anvil. After that Regin instigated Sigurd to slay Fafnir. He said:

15. Loud will laugh Hunding's sons, they who Eylimi of life deprived, if the prince is more desirous to seek red rings, than to avenge his father.

King Hialprek collected a fleet to enable Sigurd to avenge his father. They encountered a great storm, and were driven past a certain promontory. A man was standing on the cliff who said:

16. Who ride yonder, on Rævils horses, the towering billows, the roaring main: the sail-steeds are with sweat bedewed, the wave-coursers will not the wind withstand.

Regin.

17. Here am I and Sigurd in sea-trees; a fair wind is given us for death itself: higher than our prows the steep waves dash, the rolling horses plunge. Who is it that inquires?

Hnikar.

18. They called me Hnikar, when I Hugin gladdened, young Volsung! and battles fought. Now they mayest call me the ancient of the rock, Feng, or Fiolnir.—I desire a passage.

They turn to the land, the old man goes on board, and the storm abates. Sigurd said:

19. Tell me, Hnikar! since thou knowest the omens both of gods and men, which omens are the best—if to fight 'tis needful—at the swing of glaves?

Hnikar.

20. Good omens there are many, if men but knew them, at the swing of glaves, a faithful fellowship, I think, is the dark raven's, with the sworded warrior.

21. The second is, if, when thou art gone out, and about to depart, thou seest two renown-seeking men standing in the fore-court.

22. The third omen is, if wolves thou hearest howl under the ash-boughs, it will victory to thee announce over helmed warriors, if thou seest them go before thee.

23. No man should fight against the moon's late-shining sister. They have victory, who can see keenly at the play of swords, or to form the wedge-array.

24. Most perilous it is, if with thy foot thou strikest, when thou to battle goest. Wily Disir stand on either side of thee, and wish to see thee wounded.

25. Combed and washed let every brave man be, and at morning fed; for 'tis uncertain whither he at eve may come. 'Tis bad to succumb to fate.

Sigurd fought a great battle with Lyngvi, Hunding's son, and his brothers, in which Lyngvi and his three brothers fell. After the battle Regin said:

26. Now is the bloody eagle, with the trenchant blade, graven on the back of Sigmund's slayer. No son of king, who the earth reddens, and the raven gladdens, is more excellent.

Sigurd returned home to Hialprek, when Regin instigated him to slay Fafnir.