Dr. Rydberg has shown that the “Seven Sleepers” story is an old Northern myth, alluded to here in its early pre-Christian form, and that with this is mixed other incidents from voyages of Swipdag, the Teutonic Odusseus.
“Thorkill’s Second Voyage to Outgarth-Loke to get Knowledge".—(a) Guthrum is troubled as to the immortality and fate of the soul, and the reward of piety after death. To spite Thorkill, his enviers advised the king to send him to consult Outgarth-Loke. He required of the king that his enemies should be sent with him.
(b) In one well-stored and hide-defended ship they set out, reached a sunless, starless land, without fuel; ate raw food and suffered. At last, after many days, a fire was seen ashore. Thorkill, setting a jewel at the mast-head to be able to regain his vessel easily, rows ashore to get fire.
(c) In a filthy, snake-paved, stinking cavern he sees two horny-nebbed giants, (2) making a fire. One of the giants offers to direct him to Loke if he will say three true things in three phrases, and this done, tells him to row four days and then he would reach a Dark and Grassless Land. For three more true sayings he obtains fire, and gets back to his vessel.
(d) With good wind they make Grassless Land, go ashore, find a huge, rocky cavern, strike a flint to kindle a fire at the entrance as a safeguard against demons, and a torch to light them as they explored the cavern.
(e) First appears iron seats set amid crawling snakes.
(f) Next is sluggish water flowing over sand.
(g) Last a steep, sloping cavern is reached, in a chamber of which lay Outgarth-Loke chained, huge and foul.
(h) Thorkill plucks a hair of his beard “as big as a cornel-wood spear.” The stench that arose was fearful; the demens and snakes fell upon the invaders at once; only Thorkill and five of the crew, who had sheltered themselves with hides against the virulent poison the demons and snakes cast, which would take a head off at the neck if it fell upon it, got back to their ship.
(i) By vow to the “God that made the world”, and offerings, a good voyage was made back, and Germany reached, where Thorkill became a Christian. Only two of his men survived the effects of the poison and stench, and he himself was scarred and spoilt in the face.
(k) When he reached the king, Guthrum would not listen to his tale, because it was prophesied to him that he would die suddenly if he heard it; nay, he even sent men to smite him as he lay in bed, but, by the device of laying a log in his place, he escaped, and going to the king as he sat at meat, reproached him for his treachery.
(l) Guthrum bade him tell his story, but died of horror at hearing his god Loke foully spoken of, while the stench of the hair that Thorkill produced, as Othere did his horn for a voucher of his speech, slew many bystanders.