Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 160

Bottomless, unfathom’d grave.”

Tegnér, Frithiof Saga (G. Stephens’s tr.).

The Tempest

Unfrighted by tossing waves and whistling blasts, Frithiof sang a cheery song to reassure his terrified crew; but when the peril grew so great that his exhausted followers gave themselves up for lost, he bethought him of tribute to the goddess Ran, who ever requires gold of them who would rest in peace under the ocean wave. Taking his armlet, he hewed it with his sword and made fair division among his men.

“Who goes empty-handed

Down to sea-blue Ran?

Cold her kisses strike, and

Fleeting her embrace is.”

Tegnér, Frithiof Saga (G. Stephens’s tr.). [314]

He then bade Björn hold the rudder, and himself climbed to the mast-top to view the horizon. While perched there he descried a whale, upon which the two witches were riding the storm. Speaking to his good ship, which was gifted with power of understanding and could obey his commands, he now ran down both whale and witches, and the sea was reddened with their blood. At the same instant the wind fell, the waves ceased to threaten, and fair weather soon smiled again upon the seas.

Exhausted by their previous superhuman efforts and by the labour of baling their water-logged vessel, the men were too weak to land when they at last reached the Orkney Islands, and had to be carried ashore by Björn and Frithiof, who gently laid them down on the sand, bidding them rest and refresh themselves after all the hardships they had endured.

“Yet more wearied than their Dragon

Totter Frithiof’s gallant men;

Though each leans upon his weapon,

Scarcely upright stand they then.

Björn, on pow’rful shoulder, dareth

Four to carry to the land;

Frithiof, all alone, eight beareth,—

Sets them so round the upblaz’d brand.

’Nay! ye white-fac’d, shame not!

Waves are mighty Vikings;

Hard’s the unequal struggle—

Ocean’s maids our foes.

See! there comes the mead-horn,

Wand’ring on bright gold-foot;

Shipmates! cold limbs warm,—and

Here’s to Ingeborg!’”

Tegnér, Frithiof Saga (G. Stephen’s tr.).

The arrival of Frithiof and his men, and their mode of landing, had been noted by the watchman of Angantyr, who immediately informed his master of all [315]he had seen. The jarl exclaimed that the ship which had weathered such a gale could be none but Ellida, and that its captain was doubtless Frithiof, Thorsten’s gallant son. At these words one of his Berserkers, Atlé, caught up his weapons and strode from the hall, vowing that he would challenge Frithiof, and thus satisfy himself concerning the veracity of the tales he had heard of the young hero’s courage.

Atlé’s Challenge

Although still greatly exhausted, Frithiof immediately accepted Atlé’s challenge, and, after a sharp encounter with swords, in which Angurvadel was triumphant, the two champions grappled in deadly embrace. Widely is that wrestling-match renowned in the North, and well matched were the heroes, but in the end Frithiof threw his antagonist, whom he would have slain then and there had his sword been within reach. Atlé saw his intention, and bade him go in search of the weapon, promising to remain motionless during his absence. Frithiof, knowing that such a warrior’s promise was inviolable, immediately obeyed; but when he returned with his sword, and found his antagonist calmly awaiting death, he relented, and bade Atlé rise and live.

“Then storm they, nothing yielded,

Two autumn-billows like!

And oft, with steel round shielded,

Their jarring breasts fierce strike.

“All like two bears they wrestle,

On hills of snow; and draw

And strain, each like an eagle

On the angry sea at war.

The root-fast rock resisted

Full hardly them between

And green iron oaks down-twisted

With lesser pulls have been.


“From each broad brow sweat rushes;

Their bosoms coldly heave;

And stones and mounds and bushes

Dints hundred-fold receive.”

Tegnér, Frithiof Saga (G. Stephens’s tr.).

Together the appeased warriors now wended their way to Angantyr’s hall, which Frithiof found to be far different from the rude dwellings of his native land. The walls were covered with leather richly decorated with gilt designs. The chimney-piece was of marble, and glass panes were in the window-frames. A soft light was diffused from many candles burning in silver branches, and the tables groaned under the most luxurious fare.

Frithiof’s Return to Framnäs

Frithiof’s Return to Framnäs

Knut Ekwall

By Permission of F. Bruckmann, Munich

High in a silver chair sat the jarl, clad in a coat of golden mail, over which was flung a rich mantle bordered with ermine, but when Frithiof entered he strode from his seat with cordial hand outstretched. “Full many a horn have I emptied with my old friend Thorsten,” said he, “and his brave son is equally welcome at my board.”

Nothing loth, Frithiof seated himself beside his host, and after he had eaten and drunk he recounted his adventures upon land and sea.

At last, however, Frithiof made known his errand, whereupon Angantyr said that he owed no tribute to Helgé, and would pay him none; but that he would give the required sum as a free gift to his old friend’s son, leaving him at liberty to dispose of it as he pleased. Meantime, since the season was unpropitious for the return journey, and storms continually swept the sea, the king invited Frithiof to tarry with him over the winter; and it was only when the gentle spring breezes were blowing once more that he at last allowed him to depart. [317]

Frithiof’s Home-coming

Taking leave of his kind host, Frithiof set sail, and wafted by favourable winds, the hero, after six days, came in sight of Framnäs, and found that his home had been reduced to a shapeless heap of ashes by Helgé’s orders. Sadly Frithiof strode over the ravaged site of his childhood’s home, and as he viewed the desolate scene his heart burned within him. The ruins were not entirely deserted, however, and suddenly Frithiof felt the cold nozzle of his hound thrust into his hand. A few moments later his favourite steed bounded to his master’s side, and the faithful creatures were well-nigh frantic with delight. Then came Hilding to greet him with the information that Ingeborg was now the wife of Sigurd Ring. When Frithiof heard this he flew into a Berserker rage, and bade his men scuttle the vessels in the harbour, while he strode to the temple in search of Helgé.