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.

I have composed this particular series of harangues in metrical shape, because the gist of the same thoughts is found arranged in a short form in a certain ancient Danish song, which is repeated by heart by many conversant with antiquity.

Now, it came to pass that the Goths gained the victory and all the array of Rolf fell, no man save Wigg remaining out of all those warriors.  For the soldiers of the king paid this homage to his noble virtues in that battle, that his slaying inspired in all the longing to meet their end, and union with him in death was accounted sweeter than life.

Hiartuar rejoiced, and had the tables spread for feasting, bidding the banquet come after the battle, and fain to honour his triumph with a carouse.  And when he was well filled therewith, he said that it was matter of great marvel to him, that out of all the army of Rolf no man had been found to take thought for his life by flight or fraud.  Hence, he said, it had been manifest with what zealous loyalty they had kept their love for their king, because they had not endured to survive him.  He also blamed his ill fortune, because it had not suffered the homage of a single one of them to be left for himself:  protesting that he would very willingly accept the service of such men.  Then Wigg came forth, and Hiartuar, as though he were congratulating him on the gift, asked him if he were willing to fight for him.  Wigg assenting, he drew and proferred him a sword.  But Wigg refused the point, and asked for the hilt, saying first that this had been Rolf’s custom when he handed forth a sword to his soldiers.  For in old time those who were about to put themselves in dependence on the king used to promise fealty by touching the hilt of the sword.  And in this wise Wigg clasped the hilt, and then drove the point through Hiartuar; thus gaining the vengeance which he had promised Rolf to accomplish for him.  When he had done this, and the soldiers of Hiartuar rushed at him, he exposed his body to them eagerly and exultantly, shouting that he felt more joy in the slaughter of the tyrant than bitterness at his own.  Thus the feast was turned into a funeral, and the wailing of burial followed the joy of victory.  Glorious, ever memorable hero, who valiantly kept his vow, and voluntarily courted death, staining with blood by his service the tables of the despot!  For the lively valour of his spirit feared not the hands of the slaughterers, when he had once beheld the place where Rolf had been wont to live bespattered with the blood of his slayer.  Thus the royalty of Hiartuar was won and ended on the same day.  For whatsoever is gotten with guile melts away in like fashion as it is sought, and no fruits are long-lasting that have been won by treachery and crime.  Hence it came to pass that the Swedes, who had a little before been the possessors of Denmark, came to lose even their own liberty.  For they were straightway cut off by the Zealanders, and paid righteous atonement to the injured shades of Rolf.  In this way does stern fortune commonly avenge the works of craft and cunning.

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