Halfdan's Enmity With Orvandel And Svipdag

: 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

of death.

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

deadly wound.

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.