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Myths The Myth Concerning The Earliest Period And The Emigrations From The North.

Scef The Author Of Culture Identical With Heimdal-rig The Original Patriarch

Borgar-skjold's Son Halfdan The Third Patriarch

Halfdan's Character The Weapon-myth

Hadding's Defeat Loke In The Council And On The Battle-field

Halfdan's Conflicts Interpreted As Myths Of Nature

The Creation Of Man The Primeval Country Scef The Bringer Of Culture

Halfdan's Birth And The End Of The Age Of Peace The Family Names Ylfing Hilding Budlung

The Sacred Runes Learned From Heimdal

The War In Midgard Between Halfdan's Sons

Gulveig-heidr Her Identity With Aurboda Angrboda Hyrrokin The Myth Concerning The Sword Guardian And Fjalar

The World War Its Cause The Murder Of Gullveig-heidr

Halfdan's Enmity With Orvandel And Svipdag

Review Of The Svipdag Myth And Its Points Of Connection With The Myth About Halfdan

The Breach Of Peace Between Asas And Vans Frigg Skade And Ull In The Conflict

Halfdan And Hamal Foster-brothers The Amalians Fight In Behalf Of Halfdan's Son Hadding

The Significance Of The Conflict From A Religious-ritual Standpoint

The Teutonic Emigration Saga Found In Tacitus

The Position Of The Divine Clans To The Warriors

Heimdal And The Sun-dis Dis-goddess

Loke Causes Enmity Between The Gods And The Original Artists

Sorcery The Reverse Of The Sacred Runes Gullveig-heidr The Source Of Sorcery The Moral Deterioration Of The Original Man

Evidence That Halfdan Is Identical With Helge Hundingsbane

Hadding's Journey To The East Reconciliation Between The Asas And Vans

Halfdan's Identity With Mannus In Germania



Halfdan's Character The Weapon-myth






Category: THE MYTH CONCERNING THE EARLIEST PERIOD AND THE EMIGRATIONS FROM THE NORTH.

Source: Teutonic Mythology

The myths and heroic poems are not wanting in ideal heroes, who are
models of goodness of heart, justice, and the most sensitive nobleness.
Such are, for example, the Asa-god Balder, his counter part among
heroes, Helge Hjorvardson, Beowulf, and, to a certain degree also,
Sigurd Fafnesbane. Halfdan did not belong to this group. His part in the
myth is to be the personal representative of the strife-age that came
with him, of an age when the inhabitants of the earth are visited by the
great winter and by dire misfortunes, when the demoralisation of the
world has begun along with disturbances in nature and when the words
already are applicable, "hart er i heimi" (hard is the world). Halfdan
is guilty of the abduction of a woman--the old custom of taking a maid
from her father by violence or cunning is illustrated in his saga. It
follows, however, that the myth at the same time embellished him with
qualities which made him a worthy Teutonic patriarch, and attractive to
the hearers of the songs concerning him. These qualities are, besides
the necessary strength and courage, the above-mentioned knowledge of
runes, wherein he even surpasses his father (Rigsth.), great skaldic
gifts (Saxo, Hist., 325), a liberality which makes him love to strew
gold about him (Helge Hund., i. 9), and an extraordinary, fascinating
physical beauty--which is emphasised by Saxo (Hist., 30), and which is
also evident from the fact that the Teutonic myth makes him, as the
Greek myth makes Achilleus, on one occasion don a woman's attire, and
resemble a valkyrie in this guise (Helge Hund., ii.). No doubt the myth
also described him as the model of a faithful foster-brother in his
relations to the silent Hamal, who externally was so like him that the
one could easily be taken for the other (cp. Helge Hund., ii. 1, 6). In
all cases it is certain that the myth made the foster-brotherhood
between Halfdan and Hamal the basis of the unfailing fidelity with which
Hamal's descendants, the Amalians, cling to the son of Halfdan's
favourite Hadding, and support his cause even amid the most difficult
circumstances (see Nos. 42, 43). The abduction of a woman by Halfdan is
founded in the physical interpretation of the myth, and can thus be
justified. The wife he takes by force is the goddess of vegetation,
Groa, and he does it because her husband Orvandel has made a compact
with the powers of frost (see Nos. 33, 38, 108, 109).

There are indications that our ancestors believed the sword to be a
later invention than the other kinds of weapons, and that it was from
the beginning under a curse. The first and most important of all
sword-smiths was, according to the myth, Thjasse,[17] who accordingly is
called fadir moerna, the father of the swords (Haustlaung, Younger
Edda, 306). The best sword made by him is intended to make way for the
destruction of the gods (see Nos. 33, 98, 101, 103). After various
fortunes it comes into the possession of Frey, but is of no service to
Asgard. It is given to the parents of the giantess Gerd, and in Ragnarok
it causes the death of Frey.

Halfdan had two swords, which his mother's father, for whom they were
made, had buried in the earth, and his mother long kept the place of
concealment secret from him. The first time he uses one of them he slays
in a duel his noble half-brother Hildeger, fighting on the side of the
Skilfings, without knowing who he is (cp. Saxo, Hist., 351, 355, 356,
with Asmund Kaempebane's saga). Cursed swords are several times mentioned
in the sagas.

Halfdan's weapon, which he wields successfully in advantageous exploits,
is in fact, the club (Saxo, Hist., 26, 31, 323, 353). That the
Teutonic patriarch's favourite weapon is the club, not the sword; that
the latter, later, in his hand, sheds the blood of a kinsman; and that
he himself finally is slain by the sword forged by Thjasse, and that,
too, in conflict with a son (the stepson Svipdag--see below), I regard
as worthy of notice from the standpoint of the views cherished during
some of the centuries of the Teutonic heathendom in regard to the
various age and sacredness of the different kinds of weapons. That the
sword also at length was looked upon as sacred is plain from the fact
that it was adopted and used by the Asa-gods. In Ragnarok, Vidar is to
avenge his father with a hjoerr and pierce Fafner's heart (Voeluspa).
Hjoerr may, it is true, also mean a missile, but still it is probable
that it, in Vidar's hand, means a sword. The oldest and most sacred
weapons were the spear, the hammer, the club, and the axe. The spear
which, in the days of Tacitus, and much later, was the chief weapon both
for foot-soldiers and cavalry in the Teutonic armies, is wielded by the
Asa-father himself, whose Gungner was forged for him by Ivalde's sons
before the dreadful enmity between the gods and them had begun.

The hammer is Thor's most sacred weapon. Before Sindre forged one for
him of iron (Gylfaginning), he wielded a hammer of stone. This is
evident from the very name hamarr, a rock, a stone. The club is, as we
have seen, the weapon of the Teutonic patriarch, and is wielded side by
side with Thor's hammer in the conflict with the powers of frost. The
battle-axe belonged to Njord. This is evident from the metaphors found
in the Younger Edda, p. 346, and in Islend. Saga, 9. The mythological
kernel in the former metaphor is Njoerdrklauf Herjan's hurdir, i.e.,
"Njord cleaved Odin's gates" (when the Vans conquered Asgard); in the
other the battle-axe is called Gaut's megin-hurdar galli, i.e., "the
destroyer of Odin's great gate." The bow is a weapon employed by the
Asa-gods Hoedr and Ullr, but Balder is slain by a shot from the bow,
and the chief archer of the myth is, as we shall see, not an Asa-god,
but a brother of Thjasse. (Further discussion of the weapon-myth will be
found in No. 39.)

[Footnote 17: Proofs of Thjasse's original identity with Volund are
given in Nos. 113-115.]





Next: Halfdan's Conflicts Interpreted As Myths Of Nature

Previous: Halfdan's Birth And The End Of The Age Of Peace The Family Names Ylfing Hilding Budlung



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