Halfdan's Enmity With Orvandel And Svipdag
Category: THE MYTH CONCERNING THE EARLIEST PERIOD AND THE EMIGRATIONS FROM THE NORTH.
Source: Teutonic Mythology
Saxo relates in regard to Gram that he carried away the royal daughter
Groa, though she was already bound to another man, and that he slew her
father, whereupon he got into a feud with Svipdag, an irreconcilably
bitter foe, who fought against him with varying success of arms, and
gave himself no rest until he had taken Gram's life and realm. Gram left
two sons, whom Svipdag treated in a very different manner. The one named
Guthormus (Gudhormr), who was a son of Groa, he received into his good
graces. To the other, named Hadingus, or Hadding, and who was a son of
Signe, he transferred the deadly hate he had cherished towards the
father. The cause of the hatred of Svipdag against Gram, and which could
not be extinguished in his blood, Saxo does not mention, but this point
is cleared up by a comparison with other sources. Nor does Saxo mention
who the person was from whom Gram robbed Groa, but this, too, we learn
in another place.
The Groa of the myth is mentioned in two other places: in Groagalder and
in Gylfaginning. Both sources agree in representing her as skilled in
good, healing, harm-averting songs; both also in describing her as a
tender person devoted to the members of her family. In Gylfaginning she
is the loving wife who forgets everything in her joy that her husband,
the brave archer Orvandel, has been saved by Thor from a dangerous
adventure. In Groagalder she is the mother whose love to her son
conquers death and speaks consoling and protecting words from the grave.
Her husband is, as stated, Orvandel; her son is Svipdag.
If we compare the statements in Saxo with those in Groagalder and
Gylfaginning we get the following result:
Saxo: King Sigtrygg has a daughter Groa.
Gylfaginning: Groa is married to the brave Orvandel.
Groagalder: Groa has a son Svipdag.
Saxo: Groa is robbed by Gram-Halfdan.
Saxo: } Hostilities on account of the robbing of
Hyndluljod: } the woman. Gram-Halfdan kills
Skaldskap.mal:} Groa's father Sigtrygg.
Saxo: With Gram-Halfdan Groa has the son Gudhorm.
Gram-Halfdan is separated from Groa. He courts
Signe (Almveig in Hyndluljod; Alveig in Skaldskaparmal),
daughter of Sumbel, king of the Finns.
Groagalder: Groa with her son Svipdag is once more with
her first husband. Groa dies. Svipdag's father Orvandel
marries a second time. Before her death Groa
has told Svipdag that he, if need requires her help,
must go to her grave and wake her out of the sleep
The stepmother gives Svipdag a task which he thinks surpasses
his strength. He then goes to his mother's
grave. From the grave Groa sings protecting incantations
over her son.
Saxo: Svipdag attacks Gram-Halfdan. After several conflicts
he succeeds in conquering him and gives him a
Svidpdag pardons the son Gram-Halfdan has had with
Groa, but persecutes his son with Signe (Alveig).
In this connection we find the key to Svipdag's irreconcilable conflict
with Gram-Halfdan. He must revenge himself on him on his father's and
mother's account. He must avenge his mother's disgrace, his grandfather
Sigtrygg's death, and, as a further investigation shows, the murder also
of his father Orvandel. We also find why he pardons Gudhorm: he is his
own half-brother and Groa's son.
Sigtrygg, Groa, Orvandel, and Svipdag have in the myth belonged to the
pedigree of the Ynglings, and hence Saxo calls Sigtrygg king in
Svithiod. Concerning the Ynglings, Ynglingasaga remarks that Yngve was
the name of everyone who in that time was the head of the family (Yngl.,
p. 20). Svipdag, the favourite hero of the Teutonic mythology, is
accordingly celebrated in song under the name Yngve, and also under
other names to which I shall refer later, when I am to give a full
account of the myth concerning him.
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