Snorra Edda:
Skáldskaparmál Kap. 49:

Frá Hjaðningavígum

(eða Frá Héðinn ok Högnam)

Snorri's Edda
Poetic Diction Ch. 49

The Hjadnings' Strife
or "The Battle between Hethin and Hogni"
(Tale of the magic sword Dáinsleif)

{Icelandic text}

Orrosta er kölluð Hjaðninga veðr eða él ok vápn Hjaðninga eldr eða vendir, en saga er til þess.

Konungr sá, er Högni er nefndr, átti dóttr, er Hildr hét. Hana tók at herfangi konungr sá, er Héðinn hét Hjarrandason. Þá var Högni konungr farinn í konunga stefnu. En er hann spuðri, at herjat var í ríki hans ok dóttir hans í braut tekin, þá fór hann með sínu liði at leita Héðins ok spurði til hans, at hann fór norðr meðlandi. Þá er Högni konungr kom í Nóreg, spurði hann, at Héðinn hafði siglt vestr of haf. Þá siglir Högni eftir honum allt til Orkneyja, ok er hann kom þar, sem heitir Háey, þá var þar fyrir Héðinn með lið sitt.
Þá fór Hildr á fund föður síns ok bauð honum men at sætt af hendi Héðins, en í öðru orði sagði hon, at Héðinn væri búinn at berjast ok ætti Högni af honum engrar vægðr ván. Högni svarar stirt dóttur sinni. En er hon hitti Héðin, sagði hon honum, at Högni vildi enga sætt, ok bað hann búast til orrostu, ok svá gera þeir hvárirtveggju, ganga upp á eyna ok fylkja liðinu.
Þá kallar Héðinn á Högna, mág sinn, ok bauð honum sætt ok mikit gull at bótum.
Þá svarar Högni: "Of síð bauttu þetta, ef þú vill sættast, því að nú hefi ek dregit Dáinsleif, er dvergarnir gerðu, er mannsbani skal verða, hvert sinn er bert er, ok aldri bilar í höggvi ok ekki sár grær, ef þar skeinist af."
Þá mælti Héðinn: "Sverði hælir þú þar, en eigi sigri. Þat kallak gott hvert, er dróttinhollt er."
Þá hófu þeir orrostu þá, er Hjaðningavíg er kallat, ok börðust þann dag allan, ok at kveldi fóru konungar til skipa. En Hildr gekk of nóttina til valsins ok vakði upp með fjölkynngi alla þá, er dauðir váru. Ok annan dag gengu konungarnir á vígvöllinn ok börðust ok svá allir þeir, er fellu inn fyrra daginn. Fór svá sú orrosta hvern dag eftir annan, at allir, þeir er fellu, ok öll vápn, þau er lágu á vígvelli, ok svá hlífar, urðu, at grjóti. En er dagaði, stóðu upp allir dauðir menn ok börðust, ok öll vápn váru þá nýt. Svá er sagt í kvæðum, at Hjaðningar skulu svá bása ragnaröks. Eftir þessi sögu orti Bragi skáld í Ragnars drápu loðbrókar.

[HJAÐNINGAVÍG.]
(Sbr. Sörla þátt eða Heðins sögu ok Högna).

Ok ofþerris æða
ósk-Rán at þat sínum
til fárhuga færa
feðr veðr boga hugði,
þás hristi-Sif hringa (5)
hals, in böls of fyllda,
bar til byrjar drösla
baug örlygis draugi.

Bauða sú til bleyði
bœti-Þrúðr at móti (10)
malma mætum hilmi
men dreyrugra benja;
svá lét ey, þótt etti,
sem orrostu letti,
jöfrum ulfs at sinna (15)
með algífris lifru.

Letrat lýða stillir
landa vanr á sandi,
þá svall heipt í Högna,
hönd[höð] glamma mun stöðva, (20)
es þrimregin þremja
þróttig Heðin sóttu,
heldr an Hildar svíra
hringa þeir of fingi.

Ok fyr hönd í holmi (25)
hveðru brynju Viðris
fengeyðandi fljóða
fordæða nam ráða;
allr gekk herr und hurðir
Hjarranda fram kyrrar (30)
reiðr af Reifnis skeiði
raðaralfs mari bráðum.

Þá má sókn á Svölnis
salpenningi kenna;
Ræs göfumk reiðar mána (35)
Ragnarr ok fjöld sagna.

(Úr Ragnarsdrápu Braga ins gamla Boddasonar.)

{Brodeur translation} - some of the lexicon have pop-ups

"Battle is called Storm or Snow-Shower of the Hjadnings, and weapons are termed Fire or Wands of Hjadnings; and this is the tale thereof: that king who was called Högni had a daughter named Hildr: her King Hedinn, son of Hjarrandi, took as the spoils of war, while King Högni attended an assembly of kings (→*49-1). But when he learned that there had been raiding in his realm and his daughter had been borne off, he departed with his host to seek Hedinn, and heard tidings of him, that he was proceeding northward along the land. When Högni had come into Norway, he learned that Hedinn had sailed westward over the sea. Then Högni sailed after him, even to the Orkneys; and when he landed at the place called Hoy, Hedinn was already there before him with his host. Then Hildr went to meet her father, and offered him a necklace on Hedinn's behalf, for reconciliation and peace; but if it were not accepted, she said, Hedinn was ready to fight, and Högni might hope for no mercy at his hands.

"Högni answered his daughter harshly; and when she returned to Hedinn, she told him that Högni desired no reconciliation, and she bade him make ready for battle. So did both parties: they went to the island and marshalled their hosts. Then Hedinn called to Högni his father-in-law, offering him reconciliation and much gold in compensation. But Högni answered: 'Thou hast made this offer over-late, if thou wouldst make peace: for now I have drawn Dáinsleif, which the dwarves made, and which must cause a man's death every time it is bared, nor ever fails in its stroke; moreover, the wound heals not if one be scratched with it.' Then said Hedinn: 'Thou dost boast in the sword, but not in the victory; I call any sword good which is faithful to its lord.' Then they began that famous battle which is called the Hjadnings' Strife, and they fought all that day, but at evening the kings went to their ships. Now Hildr went to the slain by night, and with magic quickened all those that were dead. The next day the kings went to the battlefield and fought, and so did all those that had fallen on the day before. So the fight went one day after the other: all who fell, and all those weapons which lay on the field, and the shields also, were turned to stone; but when day dawned, up rose all the dead men and fought, and all weapons were renewed. It is said in songs that in this fashion the Hjadnings shall continue unto the Weird of the Gods. Bragi the Skald (→*49-2) composed verses after this tale in Ragnarr Lodbrók's Song of Praise:(→*49-3)

And the belovèd Maiden
Of the veins' blood-letting
Purposed to bring, for wrath's sake,
The bow-storm to her father:
When the ring-wearing lady, (5)
The woman full of evil,
Bore the neck-ring of War-Doom
To the Battler of the Wind's Steeds.

That gory Wound-Amender
To the glorious Monarch offered (10)
The necklace not for fear's sake,
At the mote of fatal weapons:
Ever as restraining battle
She seemed, although she goaded
Warriors to walk the death-road (15)
With the ravening Wolf's dire Sister.

The Prince of Folk, the Land-God,
Let not the fight, wolf-gladdening,
Halt, nor slaughter on the sands cease,—
Hate, deadly, swelled in Högni, (20)
When the stern Lords of Sword-Din
Sought Hedinn with stern weapons,
Rather than receive
The necklet-rings of Hildr.

And that baleful Witch of Women, (25)
Wasting the fruits of victory,
Took governance on the island
O'er the axe, the Birnie's Ruin;
All the Ship-King's war-host
Went wrathful 'neath the firm shields (30)
Of Hjarrajidi
, swift-marching
From Reifnir's fleet sea-horses.

On the fair shield of Svölnir
One may perceive the onslaught;
Ragnarr gave me the Ship-Moon, (35)
With many tales marked on it.

[* end of Hjadnings' Strife]

Origins/Source:

* The tale is told by Snorri in Skáldskaparmál "Poetic Dicticion" part of Prose Edda. A differently transmitted version of the tale occurs in the so-called Sörli's Tale (aka The Saga of Hethinn and Högni. In the Tale (or tháttr), it is Freyja or one of her minions who calls herself Göndul who plays the role of inciting the two kings to war, whereas in the quoted poem it is very clear that the daughter Hildr takes that blame.

Footnotes.

*49-1 * On the battle between Hethn and Högni, it is more elaborately told in the Sörla þáttr (or the Saga of Hethin and Högni). [BACK]

*49-2 * Bragi Boddason(9c.) the skald, also styled "Bragni (enn) gamli" ("the old"). He composed the Ragnarsdrápa to reciprocate the gift of a fine shield he received from Raganr Lothbrok ("Hairy Breeches"). [BACK]

*49-3 * The meaning of this skaldic poem — Interpretations vary depending on the scholar. It is somewhat surprising to find Hilr being cast as a villain or the source of their woes, since she is a benign existence in Sorli's Tale. However, the elopement of Walther of Aquitaine and Hildegund parallels our tale in many ways, and in the fragmentary Anglo-Saxon version Waldere, we see that Hildegund appears to encourage her lover face Hagano/Hagen (~Högni of our tale) in combat. [BACK]

 

PERTINENT LINKS:

Old Norse/Icelandic Texts

* Skáldskaparmál: In the e-texts below, our tale occurs under the heading "Frá Hjaðningavígum(on the Hjadnings' Strife), (sequential chapter numbers not given.) Also, the quoted poem (Ragar's drápa) is abridged. * The particular stanzas of the Ragnarsdrápa invoked by the Hjaðningavíg chapter can be found at: Look under "HJAÐNINGAVÍG".
    If you want the entire reconstructed poem, try:

English Translations

* The above is taken from Brodeur's translation of the Skalds., Ch. 49. Here are links to translations of Skalds. (some translators omit the quoted poem). * Ragnarsdrápa translations:
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