vendredi 15 avril 2016

Hrómund Gripsson's Saga

Hrómund Gripsson's Saga

Chapter 1
A king reigned over Gordum in Denmark, who was called Olaf. He was the son of Gnodar-Asmund, and he was a famous man. Two brothers, Kari and Arnulf, were the king's land-wardens and great warriors. There was a powerful farmer named Grip who married a woman named Gunnlod, the daughter of Hrok the Black, and they had nine sons, named Hrolf, Haki, Gaut, Throst, Angantyr, Logi, Hromund, Helgi, and Hrok. They were all promising men, though Hromund was greater than the rest. He knew no fear, and was handsome, fair-haired and mighty, great and strong, much like Hrok, his uncle. With the king were two men, one named Bild, the other Vali. They were evil and crafty. The king was mighty.       One time, Olaf sailed east to Norway with his fleet, and sailed to the Ulfar Skerries, harrying until he laid anchor at an island. The king told Kari and Arnulf to go up to the island and see if they could see any warships. They went ashore, and soon saw six warships. There was one most magnificent dragon-ship. Kari called to the occupants and asked who was in charge of the ships. An ugly man stood up in the dragon-ship and said that he was named Hrongvid, - 'and what is your name?' Kari said to him and his brother: 'I know none worse than you, and moreover, I shall cut you into tiny pieces.' Hrongvid said: 'I have harried summer and winter for thirty-three years, fighting sixty battles and always had the victory. My sword is named Brynthvari, and it never goes blunt. Come here tomorrow morning, Kari, and I shall sheath him in your breast.' Kari said he would not fail, and Hrongvid might choose the day to face the sword's point.

Chapter 2
The brothers came back to the king and told him the news. The king decided to accept the challenge, and so it was done. They met, and there they received hard battle. The brothers went well forward. Kari always felled eight or twelve men in each stroke. Hrongvid saw that. He ran up to the king's ship, to Kari and thrust his sword through him. As soon as Kari had taken a wound, he said to the king: "Live well, sire, I go to be the guest of Odin." Hrongvid fought Arnulf, felling Kari's brother with his spear. Then Hrongvid told them all that they should give up. An evil murmur came from the king's troop. Iron did not bite Hrongvid.       Now the saga says that Hromund Gripsson was in the king's following. He took a club in his hand, bound to himself a long goat-beard and put a hood on his head, then stormed forward to find both the brothers dead. Then he took up the king's standard and beat the black men to death with his club. Hrongvid asked, who he was, "-- or was Kari your father that you are so wrathful?" Hromund gave his name and said he would avenge the brothers, --"Kari was not my father. All the same, I shall kill you." Then he gave Hrongvid so great a blow that he bowed his head and said: "I have been widely in battle and never taken such a stroke." Hromund gave to Hrongvid another stroke, so that his skull broke. In the third stroke, he lost his life. After that they went, those who lived, to the king, and so the battle ended.

Chapter 3.
Now Hromund searched the ship and he found one man hiding up in the prow. He asked this man his name. The man said he was called Helgi the Valiant, and that he was the brother of Hrongvid, --"and I cannot bear to sue for peace." Hromund allowed Helgi the Valiant time to heal his wounds, and later he sailed to Sweden and became a land-warder there. 
       King Olaf sailed west to the Hebrides with his fleet, and here they went ashore and rounded up a herd of cattle. A farmer lived nearby. The king's men took his cow and drove it down to the ships. He was greatly grieved by that loss. Hromund came and asked him where he dwelt. The man said that his name was Mani, and that he lived a short way away, and added that it would be a greater deed for them to break into a barrow and rob the drow's wealth. Hromund asked him to tell him if he knew anything about that. Mani said that certainly he knew and added: "Thrain, who conquered Gaul and was king there, he who was a great and mighty berserk, and an excellent sorcerer - he entered a barrow with his sword, armour and much wealth. But you must go there quickly."
       Hromund asked how long it would take them to sail there. Mani said that they should sail due south for six days. Hromund thanked the man for this information, gave him his wealth and let him take back his cow. Then they sailed as the man had advised them, and in six days' time they saw the barrow before the prow of the ship.

Chapter 4.
They sailed west to Gaul and soon found the barrow. And after six days had passed, they came to an opening in the barrow. They saw a great ugly man sitting in a chair, blue-skinned and stout, all clad in gold, so that it glittered. He chattered much and blew on the fire. 
       Hromund asked now who would  enter the barrow, and said that whoever did should choose three treasures for himself. 
       Vali said: "No one would willingly give his life for that. There are sixty men here, and that troll will kill us all." 
       Hromund said: "Kari would have dared to do this, if he was alive," --and added that he was prepared to descend into the barrow, although it would be better if he went with  others. Hromund went down on a chain. It was night-time by then. And when he reached the bottom, he found much wealth and gathered it together.
       In previous days Thrain had been king over Gaul, and he had accomplished everything by sorcery. He did much evil, until he was so old that he no longer wanted to know adversity any longer, so he went alive into the barrow and took much wealth with him.
       Now Hromund saw where a sword hung up from a pillar. He took it down, belted it to himself and went forward and said: "I will speak with you before I leave the barrow, since you do not stop me. What is wrong with you, you there, old one? Do you not agree that while I gathered  your wealth together you sat silent, hated dog? Was something in your eyes, that you looked on as I took your sword and jewellery and many of your other treasures?" 
       Thrain said to himself that he would seem worth little if he allowed himself to sit silently in his chair, -- "I have little wish to fight. But I must have become a great coward, if you can rob my wealth. I  refuse you my treasure. You will see me dead first." 
       Then Hromund said: "It would be seemly if you rose, cowardly and craven one, and took your sword back from me, if you dare.'' 
       The drow said: "That is no deed, to bear a sword against me, who am weaponless. I will test my strength with you and wrestle." 
       Hromund threw down the sword and trusted in his own strength. Thrain saw that and got up from his cauldron. He blew on the fire, and now he was ready to eat out of the cauldron. A great fire lay between his feet, and the cauldron was full of goat-meat. He wore a gold-painted hide. Both his hands were gnarled, and his nails were crooked over the tips of his fingers. 
       Hromund said: "Rise from the chair, cowardly slave, and take your wealth." Then the drow said: "Now will we have fitting speech, now you challenge my courage."
       Day passed, and dusk fell, and it grew dark in the barrow. Then the drow went to wrestle with Hromund, but he cast down his cauldron. Hromund had the advantage of strength, and so  they went hard at it, so that rocks and stones sprang up. Then the drow fell to his left knee and said: "You knock me down, and certainly you are a brave man." 
       Hromund said: "Stand without support  to your back. You are as great a coward as Máni the farmer said." 
       Thrain went crazy, and he filled the barrow with an evil reek. Then he set his claws to the back of Hromund's head and broke hold of the bone to his loins and said: "Do not complain about it, although the game grows coarse and I have wounded your throat, so that now I shall tear you apart still alive.''

"I do not know," said Hromund, "from where such cat-kin has come to this barrow." 
       The drow said: "You were born to Gunnlod. All your like are so."
       "Evil will it be," said Hromund, "that you scratch me long." They wrestled hard and long, so that everything around them shook, until Hromund felled the drow with a foot-trick. By then it had become very dark. 
       Then the drow said: "Now you want my advice having obtained my sword. I have lived long in my barrow and gloated over my wealth, but no good came from that treasure, although you think it good. I never intended that you would use Mistiltein, my good sword, to harm me." 
       Hromund then loosed the sword and rested it on his knee, and said: "Tell me now, how many men did you defeat in duels with Mistiltein." 
       "Four hundred and twenty," said the drow, "and I never received a graze. I tested my skill with King Seming, who ruled inSweden, and he saw that I would soon be the victor." 
       "Long have you," said Hromund, " been harmful to men, and I will work it that you die first." 
       He struck the head off the drow, and burned him up in the fire, then went out of the barrow. Then the men asked how Thrain and he had parted. He said that he went in choice, --"then I struck off his head." 

 Hromund kept three treasures that he found in the barrow, a ring, a necklace and Mistiltein. All of the others got money. Then King Olaf sailed away from there, north to his kingdom, and afterwards his land was well renowned.

Chapter 5.
Following this, Hromund was very famous, and popular and generous. He gave a man named Hrok his good gold ring, which weighed eight ounces. Vali got to know this and he killed Hrok one night, but took the ring. The king learnt of this and said that some time he would reward Vali for his trick.
       The king had two sisters, one named Dagny, and the other Svanhvit. Svanhvit was foremost of all women, and there was no one like her throughout Sweden and Halogaland. Hromund Gripsson now stayed at home, seeing much of Svanhvit, and avoiding neither Vali nor Bild. Svanhvit told Hromund that Vali and Bild would slander him to the king.
       He said "I am not afraid of such cowardly paltry fellows, and as long as you love me, then I will speak with you."
       But this slander grew so great that Hromund and his brothers abandoned the king's retinue and went home to their father. A little while later, Svanhvit spoke with King Olaf and said:
       "Now Hromund has abandoned your retinue, through whom my honour was greatly increased, and in his place you have those two who have neither courage nor renown."
       The king said: "I have heard it said that he had fooled you, and that your love shall know the sword."
       "You remember little now," she said, "but he went into the barrow when no one else dared. But before long Vali and Bild will be slain," she added, and afterwards went away quickly

Chapter 6.
Some time later, two Swedish kings, both named Halding, came to the land. With them was Helgi, Hrongvid's brother. They invited King Olaf to fight with them in the west, at Vaenisis. He was mightier than they, and would not flee his kingdom. He sent word to Hromund and his brothers to accompany him in the fight. But Hromund would go nowhere, and he said that Bild and Vali would help the king achieve everything. The king went to that place of battle with his army.
       Svanhvit left and went to Hromund, who received her well.
       "Consider my prayer," she said, "Go to aid my brother and join the army. I will give you a shield with a garter that was his aid. You will receive no injury while you have that."
       Hromund thanked her for this gift, and she was glad. He and his eight brothers prepared for the journey.
       Now the king came to Vaenisis with his army. The Swedish army was there. That morning, as soon as battle commenced, they went armed onto the ice, and the Swedes charged forward. Bild was slain the moment the battle began, but there was no sign of Vali. King Olaf and King Halding were both wounded.
       Hromund had pitched tents beside the water. His brothers put on their armour early in the morning.
       Hromund said: 'I have had bad dreams this night, and have no wish to enter the battle today."
       His brothers said that it would be a great shame that they dared not fight in the king's army, and it was better to go on this errand. They entered the battle and charged forward, but each fell about the other when they encountered the troop of Halding.
       A witch was there in the form of a swan. She cast magic with so many spells that no one among King Olaf's men noticed her. She flew over the sons of Grip, singing loudly. Her name was Lara. Helgi the Valiant met the brothers then, and killed all eight together.

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