Evidence That Halfdan Is Identical With Helge Hundingsbane
Category: THE MYTH CONCERNING THE EARLIEST PERIOD AND THE EMIGRATIONS FROM THE NORTH.
Source: Teutonic Mythology
The main outlines of Halfdan's saga reappears related as history, and
more or less blended with foreign elements, in Saxo's accounts of the
kings Gram, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson (see No. 23).
Contributions to the saga are found in Hyndluljod (str. 14, 15, 16) and
in Skaldskaparmal (Younger Edda, i. 516 ff.), in what they tell about
Halfdan Skjoldung and Halfdan the Old. The juvenile adventures of the
hero have, with some modifications, furnished the materials for both
the songs about Helge Hundingsbane, with which Saxo's story of Helgo
Hundingicida (Hist., 80-110) and Volsungasaga's about Helge Sigmundson
are to be compared. The Grotte-song also (str. 22) identifies Helge
Hundingsbane with Halfdan.
For the history of the origin of the existing heroic poems from mythic
sources, of their relation to these and to each other, it is important
to get the original identity of the hero-myth, concerning Halfdan and
the heroic poems concerning Helge Hundingsbane, fixed on a firm
foundation. The following parallels suffice to show that this Helge is a
later time's reproduction of the mythic Halfdan:
Halfdan-Gram, sent on a Helge Hundingsbane, sent
warlike expedition, meets on a warlike expedition,
Groa, who is mounted on meets Sigrun, who is mounted
horseback and accompanied on horseback and is accompanied
by other women on horseback by other women
(Saxo, 26, 27). on horseback (Helge Hund.,
i. 16; Volsungasaga, c. 9).
The meeting takes place in The meeting takes place in
a forest (Saxo, 26). a forest (Vols., c. 9).
Halfdan-Gram is on the Helge is on the occasion
occasion completely wrapped disguised. He speaks fra
in the skin of a wild beast, so ulfidi "from a wolf guise"
that even his face is concealed (Helge Hund., i. 16), which
(Saxo, 26). expression finds its
in Saxo, where Halfdan
appears wrapped in the
skin of a wild beast.
Conversation is begun between Conversation is begun between
Halfdan-Gram and Helge and Sigrun.
Groa. Halfdan pretends to be Helge pretends to be a person
a person who is his brother-at-arms who is his foster-brother
(Saxo, 27). (Helge Hund., ii. 6).
Groa asks Halfdan-Gram: Sigrun asks Helge:
Quis, rogo, vestrum Hverir lata fljota
dirigit agmen, fley vid backa,
quo duce signa hvar hermegir
bellica fertis? heima eigud?
(Saxo, 27.) (Helge Hund., ii. 5.)
Halfdan-Gram invites Groa Helge invites Sigrun to
to accompany him. At first accompany him. At first the
the invitation is refused invitation is rebuked (Helge
(Saxo, 27). Hund., i. 16, 17).
Groa's father had already Sigrun's father had already
given her hand to another promised her to another
(Saxo, 26). (Helge Hund., i. 18).
Halfdan-Gram explains Helge explains that this
that this rival ought not to rival should not cause them to
cause them to fear (Saxo, 28). fear (Helge Hund., i., ii.).
Halfdan-Gram makes war Helge makes war on Sigrun's
on Groa's father, on his rival, father, on his rival, and
and on the kinsmen of the latter on the kinsmen of the latter
(Saxo, 32). (Helge Hund., i., ii.).
Halfdan-Gram slays Groa's Helge kills Sigrun's father
father and betrothed, and and suitors, and many heroes
many heroes who belonged to who were the brothers or
his circle of kinsmen or were allies of his rival (Helge
subject to him (Saxo, 32). Hund., ii.).
Halfdan-Gram marries Groa Helge marries Sigrun (Helge
(Saxo, 33). Hund., i. 56).
Halfdan-Gram conquers a Helge conquers Ring's sons
king Ring (Saxo, 32). (Helge Hund., i. 52).
Borgar's son has defeated Helge has slain king Hunding,
and slain king Hunding and thus gotten the
(Saxo, 362; cp. Saxo, 337). name Hundingsbane (Helge
Hund., i. 10).
Halfdan-Gram has felled Helge's rival and the many
Svarin and many of his brothers. brothers of the latter dwell
Svarin was viceroy under around Svarin's grave-mound.
Groa's father (Saxo, 32). They are allies or subjects of
Halfdan-Gram is slain by Helge is slain by Dag, who
Svipdag, who is armed with is armed with an Asgard
an Asgard weapon (Saxo, 34, weapon (Helge Hund., ii.).
to be compared with other
sources. See Nos. 33, 98, 101,
Halfdan-Berggram's father Helge's father was slain by
is slain by his brother Frode, his brother Frode, who took
who took his kingdom (Saxo, his kingdom (Rolf Krake's
Halfdan Berggram and his Helge and his brother were
brother were in their childhood in their childhood protected
protected by Regno by Regin (Rolf Krake's saga).
Halfdan Berggram and his Helge and his brothers
brother burnt Frode to death burnt Frode to death in his
in his house (Saxo, 323). house (Rolf Krake's saga).
Halfdan Berggram as a Helge Hundingsbane as a
youth left the kingdom to his youth left the kingdom to his
brother and went warfaring brother and went warfaring
(Saxo, 320 ff). (Saxo, 80).
During Halfdan's absence During Helge Hundingsbane's
Denmark is attacked by an absence Denmark is attacked
enemy, who conquers his by an enemy, who conquers
brother in three battles and his brother in three
slays him in a fourth (Saxo, battles and slays him in a
325). fourth (Saxo, 82).
Halfdan, the descendant of Helge Hundingsbane became
Scef and Scyld, becomes the the father of Rolf
father of Rolf (Beowulf (Saxo, 83; compare Rolf
poem). Krake's saga).
Halfdan had a son with his Helge Hundingsbane had a
own sister Yrsa (Grotte-song, son with his own sister Ursa
22; mon Yrsu sonr vid Half-dana (Saxo, 82). The son was Rolf
hefna Froda; sa mun (compare Rolf Krake's saga).
hennar heitinn vertha boerr oc
A glance at these parallels is sufficient to remove every doubt that the
hero in the songs concerning Helge Hundingsbane is originally the same
mythic person as is celebrated in the song or songs from which Saxo
gathered his materials concerning the kings, Gram Skjoldson, Halfdan
Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson. It is the ancient myth in regard to
Halfdan, the son of Skjold-Borgar, which myth, after the introduction of
Christianity in Scandinavia, is divided into two branches, of which the
one continues to be the saga of this patriarch, while the other utilises
the history of his youth and transforms it into a new saga, that of
Helge Hundingsbane. In Saxo's time, and long before him, this division
into two branches had already taken place. How this younger branch,
Helge Hundingsbane's saga, was afterwards partly appropriated by the
all-absorbing Sigurdsaga and became connected with it in an external and
purely genealogical manner, and partly did itself appropriate (as in
Saxo) the old Danish local tradition about Rolf, the illegitimate son of
Halfdan Skjoldung, and, in fact, foreign to his pedigree; how it got
mixed with the saga about an evil Frode and his stepsons, a saga with
which it formerly had no connection;--all these are questions which I
shall discuss fully in a second part of this work, and in a separate
treatise on the heroic sagas. For the present, my task is to show what
influence this knowledge of Halfdan and Helge Hundingsbane's identity
has upon the interpretation of the myth concerning the antiquity of the
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