Chief among the mythic tales that concern Saxo are the various portions of the Swipdag-Myth, which Dr. Rydberg has been able to complete with much success. They may be resumed briefly as follows:—
Swipdag, helped by the incantations of his dead mother, whom he had raised from the dead to teach him spells of protection, sets forth on his quests. He is the Odusseus of the Teutonic mythology. He desires to avenge his father on Halfdan that slew him. To this end he must have a weapon of might against Halfdan’s club. The Moon-god tells him of the blade Thiasse has forged. It has been stolen by Mimer, who has gone out into the cold wilderness on the rim of the world. Swipdag achieves the sword, and defeats and slays Halfdan. He now buys a wife, Menglad, of her kinsmen the gods by the gift of the sword, which thus passes into Frey’s hands.
How he established a claim upon Frey, and who Menglad was, is explained in Saxo’s story of Eric, where the characters may be identified thus:—
Frey and Freya had been carried off by the giants, and Swipdag and his faithful friend resolve to get them back for the Anses, who bewail their absence. They journey to Monster-land, win back the lady, who ultimately is to become the hero’s wife, and return her to her kindred; but her brother can only be rescued by his father Niord. It is by wit rather than by force that Swipdag is successful here.
The third journey of Swipdag is undertaken on Frey’s behalf; he goes under the name of Scirner to woo giant Gymer’s daughter Gerth for his brother-in-law, buying her with the sword that he himself had paid to Frey as his sister’s bride-price. So the sword gets back to the giants again.
Swipdag’s dead foe Halfdan left two young “avengers”, Hadding and Guthorm, whom he seeks to slay. But Thor-Brache gives them in charge of two giant brothers. Wainhead took care of Hadding, Hafle of Guthorm. Swipdag made peace with Guthorm, in a way not fully explained to us, but Hadding took up the blood-feud as soon as he was old enough.
Hadding was befriended by a woman, who took him to the Underworld—the story is only half told in Saxo, unluckily—and by Woden, who took him over-sea wrapt in his mantle as they rode Sleipner over the waves; but here again Saxo either had not the whole story before him, or he wished to abridge it for some reason or prejudice, and the only result of this astonishing pilgrimage is that Woden gives the young hero some useful counsels. He falls into captivity, entrapped by Loke (for what reason again we are left to guess), and is exposed to wild beasts, but he slays the wolf that attacks him, and eating its heart as Woden had bidden him, he gains wisdom and foresight.