Medieval Icelandic Sagas

The Saga of the Volsungs

13th century, Old Norse, from much older oral tradition.

Ottr used to spend his days hunting fish in a pool. He was like an otter in every way.

Sigurd was fostered by a man named Regin. One day Regin censured Sigurd for having a lack of courage and urged the youth to seize the treasure that was guarded by Regin’s brother Fafnir, who was now a snake.

‘Why are you asking me this – how was this treasure come by?’ asked Sigurd.

‘I will tell you,’ replied Regin. ‘Many years ago my brother Ottr used to spend his days hunting fish in a pool. He was like an otter in every way. The pool was full of salmon and pike and every evening Ottr would bring home fish for us to eat. But one day the gods Odin and Loki were passing by and they killed Ottr and skinned him.

‘When my father found out, he forced Odin and Loki to bring to him a pile of gold that would fill and cover the skin entirely, as compensation. Loki cast a net into the pool where Ottr had fished and netted the dwarf Andvari, who was in the habit of swimming the waters as a pike. Andvari owned a great quantity of gold.'

Story fragment recounted from: Byock, Jesse L, 1990, reprinted 1999. The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. Translated from Old Norse with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. 14. Otter's Ransom, pp 57–9.

See for yourself

Icelandic saga – Wikipedia

Legendary sagas – Wikipedia

Völsunga Saga – Wikipedia

Norse mythology – Wikipedia

Sigurd – Wikipedia

Völsunga Saga – Text obtained from the Online Medieval and Classical Library. Code and format by Northvegr.

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