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The Danish History, Books I-IX eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 487 pages of information about The Danish History, Books I-IX.

BOOK THREE.

After Hiartuar, Hother, whom I mentioned above, the brother of Athisl, and also the fosterling of King Gewar, became sovereign of both realms.  It will be easier to relate his times if I begin with the beginning of his life.  For if the earlier years of his career are not doomed to silence, the latter ones can be more fully and fairly narrated.

When Helgi had slain Hodbrodd, his son Hother passed the length of his boyhood under the tutelage of King Gewar.  While a stripling, he excelled in strength of body all his foster-brethren and compeers.  Moreover, he was gifted with many accomplishments of mind.  He was very skilled in swimming and archery, and also with the gloves; and further was as nimble as such a youth could be, his training being equal to his strength.  Though his years were unripe, his richly-dowered spirit surpassed them.  None was more skilful on lyre or harp; and he was cunning on the timbrel, on the lute, and in every modulation of string instruments.  With his changing measures he could sway the feelings of men to what passions he would; he knew how to fill human hearts with joy or sadness, with pity or with hatred, and used to enwrap the soul with the delight or terror of the ear.  All these accomplishments of the youth pleased Nanna, the daughter of Gewar, mightily, and she began to seek his embraces.  For the valour of a youth will often kindle a maid, and the courage of those whose looks are not so winning is often acceptable.  For love hath many avenues; the path of pleasure is opened to some by grace, to others by bravery of soul, and to some by skill in accomplishments.  Courtesy brings to some stores of Love, while most are commended by brightness of beauty.  Nor do the brave inflict a shallower wound on maidens than the comely.

Now it befell that Balder the son of Odin was troubled at the sight of Nanna bathing, and was seized with boundless love.  He was kindled by her fair and lustrous body, and his heart was set on fire by her manifest beauty; for nothing exciteth passion like comeliness.  Therefore he resolved to slay with the sword Hother, who, he feared, was likeliest to baulk his wishes; so that his love, which brooked no postponement, might not be delayed in the enjoyment of its desire by any obstacle.

About this time Hother chanced, while hunting, to be led astray by a mist, and he came on a certain lodge in which were wood-maidens; and when they greeted him by his own name, he asked who they were.  They declared that it was their guidance and government that mainly determined the fortunes of war.  For they often invisibly took part in battles, and by their secret assistance won for their friends the coveted victories.  They averted, indeed, that they could win triumphs and inflict defeats as they would; and further told him how Balder had seen his foster-sister Nanna while she bathed, and been kindled

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