Monday, March 11, 2013

The Saga of the Volsungs

  • Sigmund Draws the Sword from Barnstock
    • Siggeir: king of Gautland (southern province of Sweden); becomes engaged to Signy, daughter of King Volsung
    • an unnamed man (likely Odin) "very tall and gray with age thrust [a sword] into the trunk [of the tree in the middle of King Volsung's hall, Barnstock,] so that it sank up to the hilt...'He who draws this sword out of the trunk shall receive it from me as a gift, and he himself shall prove that he has never carried a better sword than this one.'" - 2
    • Sigmund: son of King Volsung; after removing the sword, refuses to sell the it to Siggeir even for all his gold
  • Siggeir Plots Revenge
    • King Siggeir wishes to leave the wedding celebration early to avoid bad sailing weather
    • "Signy spoke to her father: 'I do not wish to go away with Siggeir, nor do my thoughts laugh with him. I know through my foresight and that special ability found in our family that if the marriage contract is not quickly dissolved, this union will bring us much misery.'" - 3
  • The Fall of Volsung
    • King Volsung, sons, and a small military force meet Siggeir and Signy in Gautland three months later, as agreed
    • King Volsung is killed and his sons taken captive
    • "an old she-wolf came up to them out in the woods as they sat in the stocks...She bit one of the brothers to death and then ate him all up." - 6
    • Signy leaves the brothers, and for nine nights the she-wolf "ate one of the brothers until all but Sigmund were dead." - 6
    • Sigmund kills the she-wolf by biting and pulling out her tongue; some claim the she-wolf was a witch form of Siggeir's mother
  • Signy Plots Revenge
    • "they decided that he [Sigmund] should make an underground dwelling in the woods...King Siggeir, however, believed that all the Volsungs were dead." - 7
    • Signy has Sigmund kill both sons of King Siggeir
  • Signy Gives Birth to Sinfjatli
    • Signy changes appearances with a sorceress, has sex for three nights with Sigmund, her brother, and gives birth to Sinfjotli
  • Sigmund and Sinfjotli Don the Skins
    • they "put the [wolf] skins on and could not get them off. And the weird power was there as before: they howled like wolves, both understanding the sounds." - 11
    • they kill 7 men together for treasure, Sinfjotli kills 11 men by himself, Sigmund bites him in the windpipe and is provided a healing leaf for Sinfjotli by a raven
    • Sinfjotli kills the two children of King Siggeir and Signy after they betray their presence to the King
    • "'Willingly I shall now die with King Siggeir, although I married him reluctantly.' Then she kissed her brother Sigmund and son Sinfjotli, walked into the fire [set by Sigmund], and...died there with King Siggeir and all the retainers." - 15
    • Sigmund and Borghild bare two sons, Helgi and Hamund
  • The Birth of Sigurd
    • the son of King Alf and Hjordis
  • The Otter's Ransom
    • Regin, Sigurd's foster father, has two brothers, Fafnir and Otr, the latter having the shape of an otter during the day
    • Loki and Odin are at Andvari's Falls, named after a dwarf, and they kill Otr while he is in otter form
    • King Hreidmar demands gold for his son's killing and Loki takes gold and a special ring from Andvari to pay the "Otter's Ransom"
  • Regin Fashions Gram (a special sword for Sigurd)
  • Regin and Sigurd Go Riding
    • Sigurd uses Gram to kill Fafnir, the large snake-bodied brother of Regin
    • Fafnir warns Sigurd about taking his treasure and travelling by sea, but Sigurd ignores the warning
  • Regin Drinks Fafnir's Blood
    • while cooking Fafnir's heart for Regin, Sigurd touches it to test it, and "He stuck his finger in his mouth. And when the blood from the serpent's heart touched his tongue, he could understand the speech of birds." - 27
  • Sigurd Eats the Serpent's Heart
    • he begins hearing 6 birds telling him to cut off Regin's head and eat Fafnir's heart himself to gain wisdom
    • "Sigurd found an enormous store of gold [in Fafnir's lair], as well as the sword Hrotti. He took from there the helm of terror, the golden coat of chain mail, and many other precious things." - 28
  • Concerning Sigurd
    • Sigurd finds a woman Brynhild lying in a rampart of shields on a mountainside and removes her armor
    • she begins teaching him "the ways of mighty things" and presents him a magical beer "full of charmed verse / And runes of healing, / Of seemly spells / And of pleasing speech." - 30
  • The Disappearance of Gudrun
    • Gudrun mourns the "death" of Sigurd and goes to stay with Thora, daughter of Hakon, in Denmark for 7 1/2 years
    • Grimhild, Gudrun's mother, pledges her to marry Atli the Powerful (Attila the Hun)
  • Gudrun Carves Runes
  • Hogni Interprets His Wife's (bad) Dreams (reassuringly)
  • The Brothers' Journey from Home
  • The Battle in the Fortress and the Victory
  • Hogni Is Captured
    • "at the urging of King Atli, they seized Hogni and cut out his heart. Hogni's strength was so immense that he laughed while he suffered this torture." - 44
    • King Gunnar, Hogni's brother, was thrown into a snake pit and managed to put the snakes to sleep by playing a harp with his feet, except for an adder which killed him
  • The Conversation Between Atli and Gudrun
    • Gudrun slits the throats of the two sons she had with King Atli
    • Gudrun and Hogni's son, Niflung, kill King Atli


  1. What specific book did you get this from? I'd love to read this version! Thanks for posting this!

  2. And never mind...I just found it.

    The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer Trans. Jesse L. Byock