The Danish History, Books I-IX eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 572 pages of information about The Danish History, Books I-IX.

He fights by Woden’s side and Balder’s against Hother, by whose magic wand his club (hammer) was lopped off part of its shaft, a wholly different and, a much later version than the one Snorre gives in the prose Edda.  Saxo knows of Thor’s journey to the haunt of giant Garfred (Geirrod) and his three daughters, and of the hurling of the iron “bloom”, and of the crushing of the giantesses, though he does not seem to have known of the river-feats of either the ladies or Thor, if we may judge (never a safe thing wholly) by his silence.

Whether “Tew” is meant by the Mars of the Song of the Voice is not evident.  Saxo may only be imitating the repeated catch-word “war” of the original.

“Loke” appears as Utgard-Loke, Loke of the skirts of the World, as it were; is treated as a venomous giant bound in agony under a serpent-haunted cavern (no mention is made of “Sigyn” or her pious ministry).

“Hela” seems to be meant by Saxo’s Proserpina.

“Nanna” is the daughter of Gewar, and Balder sees her bathing and falls in love with her, as madly as Frey with Gertha in Skirnismal.

“Freya”, the mistress of Od, the patroness of Othere the homely, the sister of Frey-Frode, and daughter of Niord-Fridlaf, appears as Gunwara Eric’s love and Syritha Ottar’s love and the hair-clogged maiden, as Dr. Rydberg has shown.

The gods can disguise their form, change their shape, are often met in a mist, which shrouds them save from the right person; they appear and disappear at will.  For the rest they have the mental and physical characteristics of the kings and queens they protect or persecute so capriciously.  They can be seen by making a magic sign and looking through a witch’s arm held akimbo.  They are no good comates for men or women, and to meddle with a goddess or nymph or giantess was to ensure evil or death for a man.  The god’s loves were apparently not always so fatal, though there seems to be some tradition to that effect.  Most of the god-sprung heroes are motherless or unborn (i.e., born like Macduff by the Caesarean operation)—­Sigfred, in the Eddic Lays for instance.

Besides the gods, possibly older than they are, and presumably mightier, are the “Fates” (Norns), three Ladies who are met with together, who fulfil the parts of the gift-fairies of our Sleeping Beauty tales, and bestow endowments on the new-born child, as in the beautiful “Helge Lay”, a point of the story which survives in Ogier of the Chansons de Geste, wherein Eadgar (Otkerus or Otgerus) gets what belonged to Holger (Holge), the Helga of “Beowulf’s Lay”.  The caprices of the Fates, where one corrects or spoils the others’ endowments, are seen in Saxo, when beauty, bounty, and meanness are given together.  They sometimes meet heroes, as they met Helgi in the Eddic Lay (Helgi and Sigrun Lay), and help or begift them; they prepare the magic broth for Balder, are charmed with Hother’s lute-playing, and bestow on him a belt of victory and a girdle of splendour, and prophesy things to come.

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The Danish History, Books I-IX from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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