The Position Of The Divine Clans To The Warriors





The circumstance that the different divine clans had their favourites in

the different camps gives the war a peculiar character. The armies see

before a battle supernatural forms contending with each other in the

starlight, and recognize in them their divine friends and opponents

(Hist., 48). The elements are conjured on one and the other side for

the good or harm of the contending brother-tribes. When fog and pouring

rain suddenly darken the sky and fall upon Hadding's forces from that

side where the fylkings of the North are arrayed, then the one-eyed old

man comes to their rescue and calls forth dark masses of clouds from the

other side, which force back the rain-clouds and the fog (Hist., 53).

In these cloud-masses we must recognize the presence of the thundering

Thor, the son of the one-eyed old man.



Giants also take part in the conflict. Vagnhofde and Hardgrep, the

latter in a man's attire, contend on the side of the foster-son and the

beloved Hadding (Hist., 45, 38). From Icelandic records we learn that

Hafle and the giantesses Fenja and Menja fight under Gudhorm's banners.

In the Grotte-song (14, 15) these maids sing:



En vit sithan

a Svidiothu

framvisar tvoer

i folk stigum;

beiddum biornu,

en brutum skioldu

gengum igegnum

graserkiat lit.

Steyptom stilli,

studdum annan,

veittum gothum

Guthormi lid.



That the giant Hafle fought on the side of Gudhorm is probable from the

fact that he is his foster-father, and it is confirmed by the fact that

Thor paraphrased (Grett., 30) is called fangvinr Hafla, "he who

wrestled with Hafle." Since Thor and Hafle formerly were friends--else

the former would not have trusted Gudhorm to the care of the

latter--their appearance afterwards as foes can hardly be explained

otherwise than by the war between Thor's protege Hadding and Hafle's

foster-son Gudhorm. And as Hadding's foster-father, the giant Vagnhofde,

faithfully supports the young chief whose childhood he protected, then

the myth could scarcely avoid giving a similar part to the giant Hafle,

and thus make the foster-fathers, like the foster-sons, contend with

each other. The heroic poems are fond of parallels of this kind.



When Svipdag learns that Hadding has suddenly made his appearance in the

East, and gathered its tribes around him for a war with Gudhorm, he

descends from Asgard and reveals himself in the primeval Teutonic

country on the Scandian peninsula, and requests its tribes to join the

Danes and raise the banner of war against Halfdan's and Alveig's son,

who, at the head of the eastern Teutons, is marching against their

half-brother Gudhorm. The friends of both parties among the gods, men

and giants, hasten to attach themselves to the cause which they have

espoused as their own, and Vagnhofde among the rest abandons his rocky

home to fight by the side of his foster-son and daughter.



This mythic situation is described in a hitherto unexplained strophe in

the Old English song concerning the names of the letters in the runic

alphabet. In regard to the rune which answers to I there is added the

following lines:



Ing vaes oerest mid Eastdenum

geseven secgum od he siddan east

ofer vaeg gevat. Vaen aefter ran;

thus Heardingas thone haele nemdon.



"Yngve (Inge) was first seen among the East-Danemen.

Then he betook himself eastward over the sea.

Vagn hastened to follow:

Thus the Heardings called this hero."



The Heardings are the Haddings--that is to say, Hadding himself, the

kinsmen and friends who embraced his cause, and the Teutonic tribes who

recognised him as their chief. The Norse Haddingr is to the

Anglo-Saxon Hearding as the Norse haddr to the Anglo-Saxon heard.

Vigfusson, and before him J. Grimm, have already identified these forms.



Ing is Yngve-Svipdag, who, when he left Asgard, "was first seen among

the East-Danemen." He calls Swedes and Danes to arms against Hadding's

tribes. The Anglo-Saxon strophe confirms the fact that they dwell in the

East, separated by a sea from the Scandian tribes. Ing, with his

warriors, "betakes himself eastward over the sea" to attack them. Thus

the armies of the Swedes and Danes go by sea to the seat of war. What

the authorities of Tacitus heard among the continental Teutons about the

mighty fleets of the Swedes may be founded on the heroic songs about the

first great war not less than on fact. As the army which was to cross

the Baltic must be regarded as immensely large, so the myth, too, has

represented the ships of the Swedes as numerous, and in part as of

immense size. A confused record from the songs about the expedition of

Svipdag and his friends against the East Teutons, found in Icelandic

tradition, occurs in Fornald, pp. 406-407, where a ship called Gnod, and

capable of carrying 3000 men, is mentioned as belonging to a King

Asmund. Odin did not want this monstrous ship to reach its destination,

but sank it, so it is said, in the Lessoe seaway, with all its men and

contents. The Asmund who is known in the heroic sagas of heathen times

is a son of Svipdag and a king among the Sviones (Saxo, Hist., 44).

According to Saxo, he has given brilliant proofs of his bravery in the

war against Hadding, and fallen by the weapons of Vagnhofde and Hadding.

That Odin in the Icelandic tradition appears as his enemy thus

corresponds with the myth. The same Asmund may, as Gisle Brynjulfsson

has assumed, be meant in Grimnersmal (49), where we learn that Odin,

concealing himself under the name Jalk, once visited Asmund.



The hero Vagn, whom "the Haddings so called," is Hadding's

foster-father, Vagnhofde. As the word hoefdi constitutes the second

part of a mythic name, the compound form is a synonym of that name which

forms the first part of the composition. Thus Svarthoefdi is identical

with Svartr, Surtr. In Hyndluljod, 33, all the mythical sorcerers

(seidberendr) are said to be sprung from Svarthoefdi. In this

connection we must first of all think of Fjalar, who is the greatest

sorcerer in mythology. The story about Thor's, Thjalfe's, and Loke's

visit to him is a chain of delusions of sight and hearing called forth

by Fjalar, so that the Asa-god and his companions always mistake things

for something else than they are. Fjalar is a son of Surtr (see No.

89). Thus the greatest agent of sorcery is descended from Surtr,

Svartr, and, as Hyndluljod states that all magicians of mythology have

come of some Svarthoefdi, Svartr and Svarthoefdi must be identical.

And so it is with Vagn and Vagnhoefdi; they are different names for the

same person.



When the Anglo-Saxon rune-strophe says that Vang "made haste to follow"

after Ing had gone across the sea, then this is to be compared with

Saxo's statement (Hist., 45), where it is said that Hadding in a

battle was in greatest peril of losing his life, but was saved by the

sudden and miraculous landing of Vagnhofde, who came to the battle-field

and placed himself at his side. The Scandian fylkings advanced against

Hadding's; and Svipdag's son Asmund, who fought at the head of his men,

forced his way forward against Hadding himself, with his shield thrown

on his back, and with both his hands on the hilt of a sword which felled

all before it. Then Hadding invoked the gods who were the friends of

himself and his race (Hadingo familiarium sibi numinum praesidia

postulante subito Vagnophtus partibus ejus propugnaturus advehitur),

and then Vagnhofde is brought (advehitur) by some one of these gods to

the battle-field and suddenly stands by Hadding's side, swinging a

crooked sword[25] against Asmund, while Hadding hurls his spear against

him. This statement in Saxo corresponds with and explains the old

English strophe's reference to a quick journey which Vagn made to help

Heardingas against Ing, and it is also illustrated by a passage in

Grimnismal, 49, which, in connection with Odin's appearance at Asmund's,

tells that he once by the name Kjalar "drew Kjalki" (mic heto Jalc at

Asmundar, enn tha Kialar, er ec Kialka dro). The word and name

Kjalki, as also Sledi, is used as a paraphrase of the word and name

Vagn.[26] Thus Odin has once "drawn Vagn" (waggon). The meaning of

this is clear from what is stated above. Hadding calls on Odin, who is

the friend of him and of his cause, and Odin, who on a former occasion

has carried Hadding on Sleipner's back through the air, now brings, in

the same or a similar manner, Vagnhofde to the battle-field, and places

him near his foster-son. This episode is also interesting from the fact

that we can draw from it the conclusion that the skalds who celebrated

the first great war in their songs made the gods influence the fate of

the battle, not directly but indirectly. Odin might himself have saved

his favourite, and he might have slain Svipdag's son Asmund with his

spear Gungner; but he does not do so; instead, he brings Vagnhofde to

protect him. This is well calculated from an epic standpoint, while dii

ex machina, when they appear in person on the battle-field with their

superhuman strength, diminish the effect of the deeds of mortal heroes,

and deprive every distress in which they have taken part of its more

earnest significance. Homer never violated this rule without injury to

the honour either of his gods or of his heroes.



[Footnote 25: The crooked sword, as it appears from several passages in

the sagas, has long been regarded by our heathen ancestors as a foreign

form of weapon, used by the giants, but not by the gods or by the heroes

of Midgard.]



[Footnote 26: Compare Fornald., ii. 118, where the hero of the saga

cries to Gusi, who comes running after him with "2 hreina ok vagn"--



Skrid thu af kjalka,

Kyrr thu hreina,

seggr sidfoerull

seg hvattu heitir!

]





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