Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 161

The king stood crowned amid a circle of priests, some of whom brandished flaming pine-knots, while all grasped a sacrificial flint knife. Suddenly there was a clatter of arms and in burst Frithiof, his brow dark as autumn storms. Helgé’s face went pale as he confronted the angry hero, for he knew what his coming presaged. “Take thy tribute, King,” said Frithiof, and with the words, he took the purse from his girdle and flung it in Helgé’s face with such force that blood gushed from his mouth and he fell swooning at Balder’s feet.

The silver-bearded priests advanced to the scene of violence, but Frithiof motioned them back, and his looks were so threatening that they durst not disobey.

Then his eye fell upon the arm-ring which he had given to Ingeborg and which Helgé had placed upon [318]the arm of Balder, and striding up to the wooden image he said: “Pardon, great Balder, not for thee was the ring wrested from Völund’s tomb!” Then he seized the ring, but strongly as he tugged it would not come apart. At last he put forth all his strength, and with a sudden jerk he recovered the ring, and at the same time the image of the god fell prone across the altar fire. The next moment it was enveloped in flames, and before aught could be done the whole temple was wreathed in fire and smoke.

“All, all’s lost! From half-burned hall

Th’ fire-red cock up-swingeth!—

Sits on the roof, and, with shrilly call

Flutt’ring, his free course wingeth.”

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

Frithiof at the Shrine of Balder

Frithiof at the Shrine of Balder

Knut Ekwall

By Permission of F. Bruckmann, Munich

Frithiof, horror-stricken at the sacrilege which he had involuntarily occasioned, vainly tried to extinguish the flames and save the costly sanctuary, but finding his efforts unavailing he escaped to his ship and resolved upon the weary life of an outcast and exile.

“Thou may’st not rest thee,

Thou still must haste thee,


Th’ wide world about.

Yes! rock on! roaming

Mid froth salt-foaming

My Dragon good!

“Thou billow bold

Befriend me!—Never

I’ll from thee sever!—

My father’s Mound

Dull stands, fast-bound,

And self-same surges

Chaunt changeless dirges;

But blue shall mine

Through foam-flow’rs shine, [319]

’Mid tempests swimming,

And storms thick dimming,

And draw yet mo

Down, down, below.—

My Life-Home given,

Thou shalt, far-driven!

My Barrow be—

Thou free broad Sea!”

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

Frithiof an Exile

Helgé started in pursuit with ten great dragon-ships, but these had barely got under way when they began to sink, and Björn said with a laugh, “What Ran enfolds I trust she will keep.” Even King Helgé was with difficulty got ashore, and the survivors were forced to stand in helpless inactivity while Ellida’s great sails slowly sank beneath the horizon. It was thus that Frithiof sadly saw his native land vanish from sight; and as it disappeared he breathed a tender farewell to the beloved country which he never expected to see again.