Evidence That Halfdan Is Identical With Helge Hundingsbane

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

Sigrun's father.

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

320). saga).

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).

(Saxo, 320).

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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