Medieval Icelandic Sagas

The Icelandic Saga of King Hrolf and his Champions

13th century, Old Norse.

On the way they stay with Odin, who is disguised as a farmer.

A wicked stepmother turns her stepson Bjorn (bear) into a bear. He is hunted and killed, but not before he has fathered triplets upon his girlfriend, whilst assuming human form at night. But this girlfriend, Bera (she-bear) is forced to eat some of his flesh and gives birth to one son who is half man half elk, another with dog’s feet and one, named Bothvar, of wholly human form. In a later scene, Bothvar fights in the shape of a bear at King Hrolf’s final battle. King Hjorvarth and his men saw how a huge bear advanced before King Hrolf's men...

But before this battle, King Hrolf and his champions go to Sweden to the court of King Athils to claim the possessions that King Hrolf’s father, King Helgi, lost there. On the way, they stay with Odin – Odin of many shapes, who is disguised as a farmer. When they arrive, they are treated discourteously, in fact, almost comically. A little later, at the Swedish royal court, and with the help of Queen Yrsa, King Hrolf’s mother, they escape with a horn full of golden rings, defeating King Athils huge force in the process and killing King Athils himself.

When they retrace their steps to the farm for a final visit, however, there is no sign of the place. The building has vanished.

Just like a building in a forest clearing belonging to a man named Bjorn in the Saga of Hord. Bjorn was assumed in that saga to have been Odin when Hord, after breaking into a dead Viking's grave mound, tried to find the building again but couldn't.

Perhaps these buildings are of a similar nature to the castle of the Fisher King, in Chrétien de Troyes’ twelfth century Old French story of the Graal; the castle that Perceval tried for many years to find again, after his disastrous night's stay there, but without success.

King Hrolf story fragments recounted from: Jones, Gwyn, 1961, reprinted 2008. Eirik the Red, and other Icelandic Sagas (Oxford World's Classics). Oxford University Press. King Hrolf and his Champions.

Saga of Hord story fragment recounted from: Faulkes, Anthony, Johnston, George and Foote, Peter, 2001, reprinted 2004. Three Icelandic Outlaw Sagas: Saga of Gisli, Saga of Grettir, Saga of Hord. Viking Society for Northern Research. The Saga of Hord, Chapter 15, p 289.

See for yourself

Saga - Wikipedia

Legendary saga - Wikipedia

Hrólfs saga kraka - Wikipedia

Hrolf Kraki – Wikipedia

Odin – Wikipedia

Sagas of Icelanders – Wikipedia

Harðar saga ok Hólmverja - Wikipedia


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