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The Sagas - Lodbrok Pt.1

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Forums -> Norse Paganism -> The Sagas - Lodbrok Pt.1

The Sagas - Lodbrok Pt.1
By: / Novice
Post # 1
*this is just a part of a series of posts. Starting with Ragnar and eventually moving onto other heroes and Sagas. I'll add more as i get the time to.

"we struck with our swords!
so long ago, it was
we had gone to Gautland(1)
for the ground-wolf's(2) slaughter
then we won fair Thora,
thus the warriors named me Lodbrok (3)
when i laid that heather-eel(2)
ended the earth-coil's life
with inlaid shining steel!"
-The Krakumal - Ragnar's death song (Ben Waggoner translation)

Before he was called Lodbrok, Ragnar was an adventurer - a sea king. he likely would have been called Ragnar Sigurdsson (after his father, Sigurd Hring, a legendary king of Sweden), and he got himself a ship and some men as soon as he was old enough (fourteen or fifteen years old). he was known to be such a great warrior that there was no match for him.

Soon after, he heard that Jarl Herrud, a powerful Jarl in Gautland, offered his daughter, Thora's hand in marriage to anyone who could save her - many years before, he gave her a serpent as a gift. the serpent grew and grew until it couldn't fit in her room, and he had a second hall built to house it, and her with it. eventually, it grew so great that no one could kill it, and Thora was trapped.

Ragnar had heard that news, but pretended that he hadn't. instead, he had some strange clothes made for himself - shaggy pants and a shaggy cape. once he was given them, he boiled them in tar and hid them away. then he sailed to Gautland, near where the Jarl lived. he got up early in the morning, so that all the men were still asleep and donned the clothes that were made for him. he brought a large spear with him and loosened the rivets that held it to the shaft. then, he went to the hall where the serpent laid, and a vicious battle ensued between the two. eventually, Ragnar stabbed the snake with such force, that it left a mortal wound and the spearhead stuck inside it. the serpent shook so violently that it thrashed around with such force and wailed so loudly that the entire hall shook. Ragnar left the spearhead, stuck in the derpent's wound, and headed back to the ships. Thora saw him leaving, and asked his name and why he had come. Rgnar spoke,
"I've gambled my life,
girl of fair complexion
fought the fish of the land(2)
though fifteen winters old.
I have conquered, cleaving the coiled heath-salmon(2) to the heart
unless its bale should bite, bringing me sudden death." Then, he left and said nothing more to her, and bringing the shaft of the spear with him back to the ship.

The noise was so great that it woke Jarl Herrud and all his men, and they went to investigate the noise, quivering in fear for Thora's life. they entered the hall to find the serpent, laying dead with the large spearhead, thrusted so forcefully that it shattered the serpent's spine and stuck in the body. The Jarl took the point out and it was so big that few could wield it properly. in jest, Herrud said he was right to say that no man could kill the beast, as he wasn't even sure if a human had wielded the spear.

The Jarl held a thing(4), where he invited all his vassals and local warriors. The news of the Thing reached Ragnar, and he went with all his men. they sat somewhat away from the others, as his party was quite large.

Herrud spoke, saying that if anyone said they had killed the serpent, they would have to prove it by presenting the shaft that belonged to the spearpoint. the head was brought around the assembly, and no one had spoke up. until it reached where Ragnar was seated. he said that it was his, and presented the shaft. everyone realized he must have been the one to kill the serpent, and this deed had made him the most famous man in all the northlands. He asked for Thora's hand, and she was given to him.

Ragnar and Thora went back to Ragnar's home and ruled the kingdom. They had two sons - Eirek and Agnar. they were both stronger than most, and learned many skills and were the best at many sports. a few years later, Thora became ill and died. Ragnar was so hearbroken that he couldn't rule the kingdom, and appointed others to rule along with his sons. He took up raiding, and never lost a battle.

(1) Gautland - southern Sweden
(2) ground-wolf, Heather-eel, Fish of the Land, Heath Salmon - serpent
(3) Lodbrok - translates roughly to "hairy pants," he was nicknamed for the shaggy pants he wore.
(4) Thing - Assembly
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Re: The Sagas - Lodbrok Pt.1
By: / Novice
Post # 2

I enjoyed reading, thanks for sharing :)!

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Re: The Sagas - Lodbrok Pt.1
By: / Novice
Post # 3
Part 2.

one summer, Ragnar sailed to Norway, to visit friends and family that he had there. he came across a farm called Spangareid, and told his cooks to go there and bake bread. they came across an old woman, and asked who she was and whether she was the owner of the farm. she told them that she was, and that her name was Grima. "but who are you?" she asked. they told her that they were the servants of king Ragnar, and that they wanted to bake their bread, and asked if she would help them. she told them that her hands were stiff and that she could do no work, "but i have a daughter who will work for you. her name is Kraka."
Kraka, on her way home, saw the ships in the harbor. she began to wash herself, although Grima had forbidden it, not wanting men to realize her beauty, for she was the most beautiful woman alive. after washing, she came home.
the cooks and Grima were all sitting by a fire. one of them asked Grima, "is that your daughter?"
"its no lie. she is my daugher." said Grima.
the cooks stared in disbelief - Grima was hideously ugly, and looked nothing like the beautiful Kraka.
then they went to work. Kraka kneaded the bread, and they baked it. but the men kept turning to stare at her, and paid no attention to their jobs and burned the bread. they returned to the ship and when it was served, it was so bad that the men said they ought to be punished for it. Ragnar asked them why they had ruined the bread so badly, and they told him about Kraka, and how her beauty had stunned them into forgetting their duty. Ragnar said "now, i will send men who can see clearly. if what you say is true, then you will be forgiven. if not, you will bring great punishment upon yourselves." for, in his mind, no one could have been more beautiful than Thora.
before they left, Ragnar told his messengers "if the cooks told the truth, ask her to meet me, for i wish to make her mine. but tell her to come neither clad no unclad [1] , neither sated nor hungry, and not alone, but no one may come with her."
they travelled to Spangareid, and observed Thora, and that her looks were beyond equal. so they gave her Ragnar's riddle. Kraka thought long and hard about how to match the kings wit, and Grima told her it was impossible to do as he asked, and that Ragnar was a fool. Kraka disagreed, "there must be some way. he wouldn't have said it if it could not be done. we need to figure out what he meant." and she told the messengers she could not come with them that day, and she would come to the ship early the next morning.
"i must go meet Ragnar," she told Grima the next morning, "but i must alter my clothing. you have a fishing net, which i will wrap around myself, and let my hair down over my chest, so i will not be clothed, but be bare nowhere. next, i will eat a leek, so i will not be hungry, but not be sated. and i have to bring our dog with me, so i won't be alone, but no one will come with me."
when Grima heard her plans, she was impressed by her wisdom, and let her go to Ragnar's ship. when she arrived, Ragnar asked who had come, and she replied with a verse,
"I don't dare refuse
the decree that i must come
nor break with your bidding
to be here, lord Ragnar.
no man stands beside me
and my skin is not bare
i have my fine following
though i came here alone"

now Ragnar sent men to lead her onto the ship, but she said that she wouldn't come unless she and the dog were promised safe conduct. then she was led onto the ship. when she reached the deck, Ragnar reached out to her, but the dog bit his hand, and his men rushed at the dog and killed it.
Ragnar had her sit next to him, and spoke in verse.
"if the fatherland's defender [2]
to the lady were kind
truly she would take me
tenderly in her arms"
she replied
"if you respect safe conduct
surely you will let me go
home from here, untouched
though a helmsman [3] i have sought"

Ragnar was pleased with her, and told her that he truly wanted her to come with him and stay on his ship for the night [5] . she told him that that would not happen until he had finished the trip he had planned, "and maybe by then, something else will seem better to you."
Ragnar called his treasurer and asked him to take a shirt that was once Thora's, embroidered with gold, and give it to her. he offered it to her, saying this
"will you take this shirt
which Thora once had?
sewn about with silver
it suits you very well
her pale hands once passed
over this precious garment
shhe was kind until death
to this king of blithe heroes"
she replied
"i dont't dare take the shirt
which Thora Hart once had
sewn about with silver.
what suits me is shabby clothing
for I am called Kraka
in coal-black clothes
who goes over gravel
whilst driving the goats"

"I want to go home now. but you may send men with m. if you still have the same thing on your mind when you return, i will go with you." Ragnar told her that he would not change his mind, and she left. He and his men went as they had planned. when they returned, he sent messengers to her asking her to come with him for good. she said that she would, but refused to go before the next morning.
she got up early, and asked the old couple if they were awake. they told her they were, and asked what she wanted.
"I know you killed Heimir, my foster-father, and i want nothing more than revenge on you. but for all the time i have spent here, and you cared for me, i will not hurt you. but now, each day will be worse than the previous one, and your final day will be the worst. now, i will never see you again." [6]
then she went to the ships and was welcomed warmly. when the men went to make their beds, Ragnar said that he wanted them to sleep together. she said that she would not, and she wanted to have a wedding feast before they slept together. Ragnar agreed [7] .
after the wedding feast, Ragnar was drunk and said that he wanted to sleep with his new wife. but she refused, saying that there would be consequences if they didn't wait. she said
"for three nights, we two
though together in the hall
shall sleep separately, ere
we sacrifice to the gods
this delay will do no
damage to my child.
you're brash to get one
whose bones will be lacking."

Ragnar disregarded her advice.

nine months passed, and the marriage was good and loving. Kraka gave birth to a child, which they named Ivar. [8]

[1] not naked, but not clothed
[2] king
[3] king and/or husband
[5] 30 minutes into "longship and chill..."
[6] consider this your incentive to read the actual book. it is explained in detail there.
[7] begrudgingly, probably.
[8] better known by his nickname, "Ivar the boneless."
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