Medieval Icelandic Sagas
The Saga of the Volsungs
13th century, Old Norse, from much older oral tradition.
'Sigurd should eat the dragon's heart himself,' chirps a bird, 'and then he will be the wisest man on Earth.'
Sigurd, Sigmund’s son, cuts the heart from the serpent Fafnir while Regin drinks its blood. It is the blood of the dragon of whom Regin once said:
His size is no different from that of other grass snakes and more is made of it than it deserves. The serpent has proved to be much more formidable than this, however, although Sigurd has managed to kill it by digging for himself a trench and piercing the dragon from beneath as it passed overhead.
‘Go and roast the heart,’ calls Regin, ‘so that I can eat it.’
Sigurd roasts the dragon’s heart over the open fire, and as the juice begins to sizzle and hiss, Sigurd puts his thumb into his mouth when it is splashed and can immediately understand the language of the birds that are cheeping all around him.
‘That’s Sigurd,’ one of the birds is saying. ‘He should eat the dragon's heart himself and be the wisest man on Earth.’
‘Regin intends to betray him and kill him,’ replies another.
‘Sigurd should kill him first then,’ says a third.