Medieval Icelandic Sagas

The Saga of the Volsungs

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

Sigmund and Sinfjotli put on the wolfskins and went back into the forest, howling like wolves and understanding their speech.

Sigmund and his son and nephew Sinfjotli live as fugitives in the forest, surviving by fighting and robbery. One day they come upon a weird building in which two men are lying. Wolf skins hang above them. Like spirits confronting their own dead bodies, Sigmund and Sinfjotli put on the wolfskins that hang above the men and go back out into the forest, howling like wolves now and understanding their speech.

Sinfjotli is badly wounded in an encounter with men but when Sigmund arrives, they argue and Sigmund injures Sinfjotli further by biting him in the throat. Sigmund carries Sinfjotli back to the weird building.

Two weasels appear. One bites the other’s windpipe, then goes off to fetch a herb which it then places against the wound. The injured weasel jumps up again and they both scurry away. Sigmund goes out into the forest and sees a raven carrying a herb in its beak. The raven gives Sigmund the piece of foliage and when he goes back to the building and places it against Sinfjotli’s injured throat, Sinfjotli jumps up at once, fully restored to health.

After this, they abandon the wolfskins and become men again.

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. 8. Sigmund and Sinfjotli Don the Skins, pp 44–7.

See for yourself

Icelandic saga – Wikipedia

Legendary sagas – Wikipedia

Völsunga Saga – Wikipedia

Sinfjotli – Wikipedia

Sigmund – Wikipedia

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

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