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.

Of somewhat similar type is the proud “Maiden guarded” by Beasts.  Here the scene is laid in Gaulardale in Norway.  The lady is Ladgerda, the hero Ragnar.  Enamoured of the maiden by seeing her prowess in war, he accepts no rebuffs, but leaving his followers, enters the house, slays the guardian Bear and Dog, thrusting one through with a spear and throttling the other with his hand.  The lady is won and wed, and two daughters and a son (Frithlaf) duly begotten.  The story of Alf and Alfhild combines several types.  There are the tame snakes, the baffled suitors’ heads staked to terrify other suitors, and the hero using red-hot iron and spear to slay the two reptiles.

The “Proud Lady”, (cf.  Kudrun and the Niebelungen, and Are’s story of the queen that burnt her suitors) appears in Hermintrude, Queen of Scotland, who battles and slays her lovers, but is out-witted by the hero (Hamlet), and, abating her arrogance, agrees to wed him.  This seems an obvious accretion in the original Hamlet story, and probably owing not to Saxo, but to his authority.

The “Beggar that stole the Lady” (told of Snio Siwaldson and the daughter of the King of the Goths), with its brisk dialogue, must have been one of the most artful of the folk-tales worked on by Saxo or his informants; but it is only half told, unfortunately.

The “Crafty Soaker” is another excellent comic folk-tale.  A terrible famine made the king (Snio) forbid brewing to save the barley for bread, and abolished all needless toping.  The Soaker baffled the king by sipping, never taking a full draught.  Rebuked, he declared that he never drank, but only sucked a drop.  This was forbidden him for the future, so he sopped his bread in ale, and in that inconvenient manner continued to get drunk, excusing himself with the plea that though it was forbidden to drink or sip beer, it was not forbidden to eat it.  When this was in turn prohibited, the Soaker gave up any pretence, and brewed and drank unabashed, telling the angry king that he was celebrating his approaching funeral with due respect, which excuse led to the repeal of the obnoxious decree.  A good Rabelaisian tale, that must not have been wide-spread among the Danish topers, whose powers both Saxo and Shakespeare have celebrated, from actual experience no doubt.

The “Magician’s tricks to elude pursuit”, so common an incident in our fairy tales, e.g., Michael Scot’s flight, is ascribed here to the wonder-working and uncanny Finns, who, when pursued, cast behind them successively three pebbles, which become to their enemies’ eyes mountains, then snow, which appeared like a roaring torrent.  But they could not cast the glamour on Arngrim a third time, and were forced to submit.  The glamour here and in the case of the breaking of Balder’s barrow is akin to that which the Druid puts on the sons of Uisnach.

The tale of the king who shuts up his daughter in an “earth-house” or underground chamber with treasures (weapons and gold and silver), in fear of invasion, looks like a bit of folk-tale, such as the “Hind in the Wood”, but it may have a traditional base of some kind here.

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