The Story Of Frithiof The Bold

Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna

Source

Frithiof’s Saga (Icelandic: Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna) is a legendary saga from Iceland which in its present form is from ca. 1300. It is a continuation from The Saga of Thorstein Víkingsson (Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar). It takes place principally in Norway during the 8th century.

Synopsis

King Beli of Sogn (a traditional district in Western Norway) had two sons and a daughter named Ingeborg. Helgi was his first son, and Halfdan his second. On the other side of the fjord, lived the king’s friend Thorstein (Þorsteinn Víkingsson) whose son Frithjof (Friðþjófr) was called the bold (hinn frœkni). Frithiof was the tallest, strongest and he was the bravest among men.

When the king’s children were but young their mother died. A goodman of Sogn named Hilding (Hildingr), prayed to have the king’s daughter to foster. Frithjof was the foster-brother to the king’s daughter as he was also raised together with Ingeborg (Ingibjörg) by their foster-father Hilding.

Both Beli and Þorsteinn died in war whereupon Helgi and Halfdan took over the kingdom. The two kings were jealous of Frithjof’s excellent qualities and so they denied him Ingeborg’s hand. They took her to Baldr’s sacred enclosure Baldrshagi where no one dared hurt another and where no woman and man had intercourse. Still Frithjof visited Ingeborg and they continued to love each other. This caused Helgi and Halfdan to send Frithjof away to Orkney to take tribute and while he was away they burnt down his homestead and married Ingeborg to King Ring, the aged king of Ringerike.[

When Frithjof returned with the tribute, he burnt down Baldr’s temple in Baldrshagi and went away to live as a Viking. After three years, he came to King Ring and spent the winter with him. Just before the old king died, Frithjof’s identity was apparent to everybody and so the dying king appointed Frithjof earl and made him the care-taker of Ring’s and Ingeborg’s child.

When Ring had died, Frithjof and Ingeborg married and he became the king of Ringerike. Then he declared war on Ingeborg’s brothers, killed one of them and made the second one his vassal.


Chapter 1 : Of King Beli And Thorstein Vikingson And Their Children

Thus beginneth the tale, telling how that. King Beli ruled overSogn-land; three children had he, whereof Helgi was his first son, and Halfdan his second, but Ingibiorg his daughter. Ingibiorg was fair of faceand wise of mind, and she was ever accounted the foremost of the king’schildren.Now a certain strand went west of the firth, and a great stead was there on, which was called Baldur’s Meads; a Place of Peace was there,and a great temple, and round about it a great garth of pales: many godswere there, but amidst them all was Baldur held of most account. Sojealous were the heathen men of this stead, that they would have no hurtdone therein to man nor beast, nor might any man have dealings with awoman there.Sowstrand was the name of that stead whereas the king dwelt; but on the other side the firth was an abode named Foreness, where dwelt aman called Thorstein, the son of Viking; and his stead was over against the king’s dwelling.

Thorstein had a son by his wife called Frithiof: he was the tallest and strongest of men, and more furnished of all prowess than any other man,even from his youth up. Frithiof the Bold was he called, and so well beloved was he, that all prayed for good things for him.Now the king’s children were but young when their mother died; but a good man of Sogn, named Hilding, prayed to have the king’s daughter to foster: so there was she reared well and heedfully: and she was called Ingibiorg the Fair. Frithiof also was fostered of goodman Hilding,wherefore was he foster-brother to the king’s daughter, and they two were peerless among children.Now King Bell’s chattels began to ebb fast away from his hands, for he was grown old.Thorstein had ruled over the third part of the realm, and in him lay the king’s greatest strength.Every third year Thorstein feasted the king at exceeding great cost,and the king feasted Thorstein the two years between.Helgi, Beli’s son, from his youth up turned much to blood-offering:neither were those brethren well-beloved.Thorstein had a ship called Ellidi, which pulled fifteen oars on eitherboard; it ran up high stem and stern, and was strong built like an ocean-going ship, and its bulwarks were clamped with iron.

So strong was Frithiof that he pulled the two bow oars of Ellidi; but either oar was thirteen ells long, and two men pulled every oar other where.Frithiof was deemed peerless amid the young men of that time, and the king’s sons envied him, whereas he was more praised than they.Now King Beli fell sick; and when the sickness lay heavy on him he called his sons to him and said to them:

“This sickness will bring me to mine end, therefore will I bid you this, that ye hold fast to those old friends that I have had; for me seems in all things ye fall short of that father and son, Thorstein and Frithiof, yea, both in good counsel and in hardihood. A mound ye shall raise over me.”

So with that Beli died.

There after Thorstein fell sick; so he spake to Frithiof:

“Kinsman,”

says he,

“I will crave this of thee, that thou bow thy will before the king’s sons, for their dignity’s sake; yet doth my heart speak goodly things tome concerning thy fortune. Now would I be laid in my mound over against King Bell’s mound, down by the sea on this side the firth,whereas it may be easiest for us to cry out each to each of tidings drawing nigh.”

A little after this Thorstein departed, and was laid in mound even ashe had bidden; but Frithiof took the land and chattels after him. Biornand Asmund were Frithiof’s foster-brethren; they were big and strong men both.


Chapter 2 : Frithiof Wooeth Ingibiorg Of Those Brethren

So Frithiof became the most famed of men, and the bravest in allthings that may try a man.Biorn, his foster-brother, he held in most account of all, but Asmundserved the twain of them.The ship Ellidi, he gat, the best of good things, of his father’sheritage, and another possession there with—a gold ring; no dearer was in Norway.

So bounteous a man was Frithiof with al, that it was the talk of most,that he was a man of no less honour than those brethren, but it were forthe name of king; and for this cause they held Frithiof in hate and enmity, and it was a heavy thing to them that he was called greater than they: furthermore they thought they could see that Ingibiorg, their sister,and Frithiof were of one mind together.It befell hereon that the kings had to go to a feast to Frithiof’s houseat Foreness; and there it happened according to wont that he gave to allmen beyond that they were worthy of. Now Ingibiorg was there, andshe and Frithiof talked long together; and the king’s daughter said tohim

“A goodly gold ring hast thou.”

“Yea, in good sooth,”

said he.

Thereafter went those brethren to their own home, and greater grewtheir enmity of Frithiof. A little after grew Frithiof heavy of mood, and Biorn, his foster-brother, asked him why he fared so.He said he had it in his mind to woo Ingibiorg.

“For though I benamed by a lesser name than those brethren, yet am I not fashioned lesser.”

“Even so let us do then,” quoth Biorn.

So Frithiof fared with certainmen unto those brethren; and the kings were sitting on their father’smound when Frithiof greeted them well, and then set forth his wooing,and prayed for their sister Ingibiorg, the daughter of Beli.

The kings said:

“Not overwise is this thine asking, whereas thou wouldst have us give her to one who lacketh dignity; wherefore wegainsay thee this utterly.”

Said Frithiof:

“Then is mine errand soon sped; but in return never will I give help to you hence forward, nay, though ye need it never somuch.”

They said they heeded it nought: so Frithiof went home, and was joyous once more.


Chapter 3 : Of King Ring And Those Brethren

There was a king named Ring, who ruled over Ring realm, which alsowas in Nor way: a mighty folk-king he was, and a great man, but comeby now unto his latter days.

Now he spake to his men:

“Lo, I have heard that the sons of King Beli have brought to nought their friendship with Frithiof, who is the noblest of men; wherefore will I send men to these kings, and bid them choose whether they will submit them to me and pay me tribute, or else that Ibring war on them: and all things then shall lie ready to my hand to take,for they have neither might nor wisdom to withstand me; yet great famewere it to my old age to overcome them.”

After that fared the messengers of King Ring and found those brethren, Helgi and Halfdan: in Sogn, and spake to them thus:

“KingRing sends bidding to you to send him tribute, or else will he war against your realm.”

They answered and said that they would not learn in the days of their youth what they would be loth to know in their old age, even how to serve King Ring with shame.

“Nay, now shall we draw together all the folk that we may.”

Even so they did; but now, when they beheld their force that it was but little, they sent Hilding their fosterer to Frithiof to bid him come help them against King Ring. Now Frithiof sat at the knave-play when Hilding came thither, who spake thus:

“Our kings send thee greeting, Frithiof,and would have thy help in battle against King Ring, who cometh against their realm with violence and wrong.”

Frithiof answered him nought, but said to Biorn, with whom he wasplaying:

“A bare place in thy Board, foster-brother, and no wise mayst thou amend it; nay, for my part I shall beset thy red piece there, and wot whether it be safe.”

Then Hilding spake again

“King Helgi bade me say thus much, Frithiof, that thou shouldst goon this journey with them, or else look for ill at their hands when they atthe last come back.”

“A double game, foster-brother,”

said Biorn;

“and two ways to meet thy play.”

Frithiof said:

“Thy play is to fall first on the knave, yet the double game is sure to be.”

No other outcome of his errand had Hilding: he went back speedily to the kings, and told them Frithiof’s answer.They asked Hilding what he made out of those words.

He said

“Where as he spake of the bare place he will have been thinking of the lack in this journey of yours; but when he said he would beset the redpiece, that will mean Ingibiorg, your sister; so give ye all the heed yemay to her. But whereas I threatened him with ill from you, Biorn deemed the game a double one; but Frithiof said that the knave must beset on first, speaking thereby of King Ring.”

So then the brethren arrayed them for departing but, ere they went,they let bring Ingibiorg and eight women with her to Baldur’s Meads,saying that Frithiof would not be so mad rash as to go see her thither,since there was none who durst make riot there.

Then fared those brethren south to Jadar, and met King Ring in Sokn-Sound.Now, herewith was King Ring most of all wroth that the brothers had said that they accounted it a shame to fight with a man so old that he might not get a-horseback unholpen.


Chapter 4 : Frithiof Goes To Baldur’s Meads

Straightway when as the kings were gone away Frithiof took his raiment of state and set the goodly gold ring on his arm; then went the foster-brethren down to the sea and launched Ellidi. Then said Biorn:

“Whither away, foster brother?”

“To Baldur’s Meads,”

said Frithiof,

“to be glad with Ingibiorg.”

Biorn said:

“A thing unmeet to do, to make the gods wroth with us.”

“Well, it shall be risked this time,”

said Frithiof;

“and withal, more tome is Ingibiorg’s grace than Baldur’s grame.”

There with they rowed over the firth, and went up to Baldur’s Meads and to Ingibiorg’s bower, and there she sat with eight maidens, and the new comers were eight also.But when they came there, lo, all the place was hung with cloth of pall and precious webs.

Then Ingibiorg arose and said:

“Why art thou so overbold, Frithiof, that thou art come here without the leave of my brethren to make the gods angry with thee?”

Frithiof says:

“Howsoever that may be, I hold thy love of moreaccount than the gods’ hate.”

Ingibiorg answered:

“Welcome art thou here, thou and thy men!”

Then she made place for him to sit beside her, and drank to him inthe best of wine; and thus they sat and were merry together.Then beheld Ingibiorg the goodly ring on his arm, and asked him ifthat precious thing were his own. Frithiof said Yea, and she praised thering much.

Then Frithiof said:

“I will give thee the ring if thou wilt promise to give it to no one, but to send it to me when thou no longer shalt have will to keep it: and here on shall we plight troth each to other.”

So with this troth-plighting they exchanged rings.Frithiof was oft at Baldur’s Meads a-night time, and every daybetween whiles would he go thither to be glad with Ingibiorg.


Chapter 5 : Those Brethren Come Home Again

Now tells the tale of those brethren, that they met King Ring, and he had more folk than they: then went men betwixt them, and sought to make peace, so that no battle should be: there to King Ring assented on such terms that the brethren should submit them to him, and give him in marriage Ingibiorg their sister, with the third part of all their possessions.The kings said Yea there to, for they saw that they had to do with overwhelming might: so the peace was fast bound by oaths, and thewedding was to be at Sogn whenas King Ring should go see his betrothed.

So those brethren fare home with their folk, right ill content with things. But Frithiof, when he deemed that the brethren might be looked for home again,

spake to the king’s daughter

“Sweetly and well have ye done to us, neither has good man Baldurbeen wroth with us; but now as soon as ye wot of the kings’ coming home, spread the sheets of your beds abroad on the Hall of the Goddesses, for that is the highest of all the garth, and we may see it from our stead.”

The king’s daughter said:

“Thou dost not after the like of any other:but certes, we welcome dear friends when as ye come to us.”

So Frithiof went home; and the next morning he went out early, andwhen he came in then he spake and sang

“Now must I tell 
To our good men 
That over and done 
Are our fair journeys;
No more a-shipboard
Shall we be going,
For there are the sheets
Spread out a-bleaching.”

Then they went out, and saw that the Hall of the Goddesses was all thatched with white linen. Biorn spake and said:

“Now are the kings come home, and but a little while have we to sit in peace, and good wereit, me seems, to gather folk together.”

So did they, and men came flocking thither.Now the brethren soon heard of the ways of Frithiof and Ingibiorg,and of the gathering of men.

So King Helgi spake

“A wondrous thing how Baldur will bear what shame soever Frithiofand she will lay on him! Now will I send men to him, and wot what atonement he will offer us, or else will I drive him from the land, for our strength seemeth to me not enough that we should fight with him as now.

So Hilding, their fosterer, bare the king’s errand to Frithiof and his friends, and spake in such wise:

“This atonement the kings will have of thee, Frithiof, that thou go gather the tribute of the Orkneys, which hasnot been paid since Beli died, for they need money, whereas they are giving Ingibiorg their sister in marriage, and much of wealth with her.”

Frithiof said:

“This thing only somewhat urges us to peace, the goodwill of our kin departed; but no trustiness will those brethren show herein. But this condition I make, that our lands be in good peace whilewe are away.”

So this was promised and all bound by oaths.Then Frithiof arrays him for departing, and is captain of men braveand of good help, eighteen in company.Now his men asked him if he would not go to King Helgi and makepeace with him, and pray himself free from Baldur’s wrath.

But he answered:

“Hereby I swear that I will never pray Helgi for peace.”

Then he went aboard Ellidi, and they sailed out along the Sognfirth.But when Frithiof was gone from home, King Halfdan spake to Helgihis brother:

“Better lordship and more had we if Frithiof had payment for his masterful deed: now therefore let us burn his stead, and bring on him and his men such a storm on the sea as shall make an end of them.”

Helgi said it was a thing meet to be done.So then they burned up clean all the stead at Foreness and robbed it of all goods; and after that sent for two witch-wives, Heidi and Hamglom, and gave them money to raise against Frithiof and his men so mighty a storm that they should all be lost at sea. So they sped the witchsong, and went up on the witch-mount with spells and sorcery.