In mythology, in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a character in a story, which exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge, uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behaviour. Tricksters are archetypal characters. Lewis Hyde describes the trickster as a "boundary-crosser"; the trickster crosses and breaks both physical and societal rules. Tricksters "...violate principles of social and natural order, playfully disrupting normal life and re-establishing it on a new basis."Often, the bending/breaking of rules takes the form of tricks or thievery. Tricksters can be foolish or both; the trickster questions and mocks authority. They are male characters, are fond of breaking rules and playing tricks on both humans and gods. All cultures have tales of the trickster, a crafty creature who uses cunning to get food, steal precious possessions, or cause mischief. In some Greek myths Hermes plays the trickster, he is the patron of thieves and the inventor of lying, a gift he passed on to Autolycus, who in turn passed it on to Odysseus.
In Slavic folktales, the trickster and the culture hero are combined. The trickster figure exhibits gender and form variability. In Norse mythology the mischief-maker is Loki, a shape shifter. Loki exhibits gender variability, in one case becoming pregnant, he becomes a mare who gives birth to Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir. British scholar Evan Brown suggested that Jacob in the Bible has many of the characteristics of the trickster:The tricks Jacob plays on his twin brother Esau, his father Isaac and his father-in-law Laban are immoral by conventional standards, designed to cheat other people and gain material and social advantages he is not entitled to; the Biblical narrative takes Jacob's side and the reader is invited to laugh and admire Jacob's ingenuity–as is the case with the tricksters of other cultures". In a wide variety of African language communities, the rabbit, or hare, is the trickster. In West Africa, the spider is the trickster; the trickster or clown is an example of a Jungian archetype.
In modern literature the trickster survives as a character archetype, not supernatural or divine, sometimes no more than a stock character. Too, the trickster is distinct in a story by his acting as a sort of catalyst, in that his antics are the cause of other characters' discomfiture, but he himself is left untouched. A once-famous example of this was the character Froggy the Gremlin on the early children's television show "Andy's Gang". A cigar-puffing puppet, Froggy induced the adult humans around him to engage in ridiculous and self-destructive hi-jinks. In folklore, the trickster/clown is incarnated as a clever, mischievous man or creature, who tries to survive the dangers and challenges of the world using trickery and deceit as a defense, he is known for entertaining people as a clown does. For example, many typical fairy tales have the king who wants to find the best groom for his daughter by ordering several trials. No brave and valiant prince or knight manages to win them, until a simple peasant comes.
With the help of his wits and cleverness, instead of fighting, he evades or fools monsters and villains and dangers with unorthodox manners. Therefore, the most unlikely candidate receives the reward. More modern and obvious examples of that type include Pippi Longstocking. Modern African American literary criticism has turned the trickster figure into an example of how it is possible to overcome a system of oppression from within. For years, African American literature was discounted by the greater community of American literary criticism while its authors were still obligated to use the language and the rhetoric of the system that relegated African Americans and other minorities to the ostracized position of the cultural "other." The central question became one of how to overcome this system when the only words available were created and defined by the oppressors. As Audre Lorde explained, the problem was that "the master's tools never dismantle the master's house."In his writings of the late 1980s, Henry Louis Gates Jr. presents the concept of Signifyin'.
Wound up in this theory is the idea that the "master's house" can be "dismantled" using his "tools" if the tools are used in a new or unconventional way. To demonstrate this process, Gates cites the interactions found in African American narrative poetry between the trickster, the Signifying Monkey, his oppressor, the Lion. According to Gates, the "Signifying Monkey" is the "New World figuration" and "functional equivalent" of the Eshu trickster figure of African Yoruba mythology; the Lion functions as the authoritative figure in his classical role of "King of the Jungle." He is the one. Yet the Monkey is able to outwit the Lion continually in these narratives through his usage of figurative language. According to Gates, "he Signifying Monkey is able to signify upon the Lion because the Lion does not understand the Monkey's discourse…The monkey speaks figuratively, in a symbolic code. In this way, the Monkey uses the same language as the Lion, but he uses it on a level that the Lion cannot comprehend.
This leads to the Lion's "trounc" at the hands of a third party, the Elephant. The net effect of all of this is "the reversal of status as the King of the Jungle." In this way, the "
The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs
The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs is an epic poem of over 10,000 lines by William Morris that tells the tragic story, drawn from the Volsunga Saga and the Elder Edda, of the Norse hero Sigmund, his son Sigurd and Sigurd's wife Gudrun. It sprang from a fascination with the Volsung legend that extended back twenty years to the author's youth, had resulted in several other literary and scholarly treatments of the story, it was Morris's own favorite of his poems, was enthusiastically praised both by contemporary critics and by such figures as T. E. Lawrence and George Bernard Shaw. In recent years it has been rated highly by many William Morris scholars, but has never succeeded in finding a wide readership on account of its great length and archaic diction, it has been seen as an influence on such fantasy writers as J. R. R. Tolkien; the Story of Sigurd is available in modern reprints, both in its original form and in a cut-down version, but there is no critical edition.
The poem opens with the marriage of king Volsung's daughter Signy to king of the Goths. The bridal feast is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger, the god Odin in disguise, who drives a sword into a tree-trunk. Though everyone tries to draw the sword, Volsung's son Sigmund is the only man; the disappointed Siggeir takes his new wife home. When Volsung does so he is killed by Siggeir, his sons are taken prisoner. While in captivity they are all killed by a wolf, apart from Sigmund who escapes into the forest. Signy sends Sigmund her two sons to help him in avenging their family, but Sigmund only accepts Sinfjotli, the hardier of the two. Sigmund and Sinfjotli kill Siggeir and burn down his hall return to their ancestral home, the hall of the Volsungs. Sigmund marries Borghild, while Sinfjotli goes abroad with Borghild's brother, quarrels with him, kills him. On his return Sinfjotli is poisoned by Borghild, she is turned out by Sigmund, who instead marries Hiordis. Sigmund is killed in battle, the pregnant Hiordis is taken to live in the hall of King Elf in Denmark.
There she gives birth to Sigurd. Sigurd is raised by Regin, a cunning old man, when he grows to manhood he asks for a horse from King Elf. Elf bids him choose the one he likes best, Sigurd takes the best horse, names it Grani. Sigurd is now urged by Regin to attack a dragon who guards a hoard of gold; this treasure is a curse to all. Fafnir, Regin says, was a human being, he tries and fails to forge an adequate sword for Sigurd, but Sigurd produces the shattered fragments of Odin's sword, which he has inherited from Sigmund, from these fragments Regin forges a mighty sword, named "the Wrath" by Sigurd. Sigurd makes his way to Fafnir's lair, kills him, drinks his blood, roasts and eats his heart; this gives him the power to read the hearts of men. He now understands that Regin intends to kill him, so he kills Regin and takes Fafnir's treasure for himself. On his journey homeward Sigurd comes across an unearthly blaze on the slopes of Hindfell, he rides straight into it and comes unharmed to the heart of the fire, where he finds a beautiful sleeping woman clad in armour.
He wakes her, she tells him that she is Brynhild, a handmaiden of Odin whom he has left here as a punishment for disobedience. They pledge themselves to each other, Sigurd places a ring from Fafnir's hoard on her finger, he leaves; the scene changes to the court of the Niblung king. Giuki's daughter Gudrun has a dream in which she encounters a beautiful but ominous falcon and takes it to her breast. Anxious to learn the meaning of the dream she rides to visit Brynhild, who tells her that she will marry a king, but that her life will be darkened by war and death. Gudrun returns home. Sigurd revisits Brynhild and they again declare their love for each other, he rides to the Niblung court, where he joins them in making war on the Southland, winning great glory for himself. The witch Grimhild, Gudrun's mother, gives Sigurd a potion. Under her spell, he marries her and sets out to win Brynhild for Gudrun's brother Gunnar. Visiting Brynhild again, this time magically disguised as Gunnar, again penetrating the fire that surrounds her, he reminds her that she is promised to whoever can overcome the supernatural fire, so deceives her into reluctantly vowing to marry Gunnar.
Brynhild carries out her promise. She is distraught at this tragic outcome, doubly so when Gudrun spitefully tells her of the trick by which Sigurd deceived her into an unwanted wedding. Brynhild now urges his brothers Hogni and Guttorm to kill Sigurd. Guttorm murders Sigurd as he lies in bed, but the dying Sigurd throws his sword and kills Guttorm as he leaves. Brynhild, filled with remorse, commits suicide so that she and Sigurd can be burned on a single funeral pyre; the widowed Gudrun now marries Brynhild's brother, king Atli, but as the years pass by her memories of Sigurd do not fade, she longs for vengeance. She urges him to win it for himself. Atli invites the surviving Niblung brothers to a feast, when they arrive he threatens them with death if they do not give him the treasure. Gunnar and Hogni defy him to do his worst, a battle breaks out in Atli's hall; the Niblung brothers are tied up and killed. Atli holds a victory-feast, at the end of which he and all his court lie sleeping drunkenly in the hall.
Gudrun, having lost
In Norse mythology, Barnstokkr is a tree that stands in the center of King Völsung's hall. Barnstokkr is attested in chapters 2 and 3 of the Völsunga saga, written in the 13th century from earlier tradition based on events from the 5th century and the 6th century, during a banquet, a one-eyed stranger appears and thrusts a sword into the tree which only Sigmund is able to pull free. Scholarly theories have been put forth about the implications of Barnstokkr and its relation to other trees in Germanic paganism. Barnstokkr is introduced in chapter 2 of Völsunga saga where King Völsung is described as having "had an excellent palace built in this fashion: a huge tree stood with its trunk in the hall and its branches, with fair blossoms, stretched out through the roof, they called the tree Barnstokk". In chapter 3, King Völsung is holding a marriage feast for his daughter Signy and King Siggeir at King Völsung's hall. At the hall, large fires are kindled in long hearths running the length of the hall, while in the middle of the hall stands the great tree Barnstokkr.
That evening, while those attending the feast are sitting by the flaming hearths, they are visited by a one-eyed tall man whom they do not recognize. The stranger is wearing a hooded, mottled cape, linen breeches tied around his legs, is barefooted. Sword in hand, the man walks towards Barnstokkr and his hood hangs low over his head, gray with age; the man brandishes the sword and thrusts it into the trunk of the tree, the blade sinks to its hilt. Words of welcome fail the crowd; the tall stranger says that he who draws the sword from the trunk shall receive it as a gift, he, able to pull free the sword shall never carry a better sword than it. The old man leaves the hall, nobody knows who he was, or where he went. Everyone stands; the noblest attempt to pull free the sword first followed by those ranked after them. Sigmund, son of King Völsung, takes his turn, and—as if the sword had lay loose for him—he draws it from the trunk; the saga continues. Hilda Ellis Davidson draws links to the sword placed in Barnstokkr to marriage oaths performed with a sword in pre-Christian Germanic societies, noting a potential connection between the carrying of the sword by a young man before the bride at a wedding as a phallic symbol, indicating an association with fertility.
Davidson cites records of wedding ceremonies and games in rural districts in Sweden involving trees or "stocks" as late as the 17th century, cites a custom in Norway "surviving into recent times" for "the bridegroom to plunge his sword into the roof beam, to test the'luck' of the marriage by the depth of the scar he made". Davidson points out a potential connection between the descriptor apaldr and the birth of King Völsung, described earlier in the Völsunga saga as having occurred after Völsung's father Rerir sits atop a burial mound and prays for a son, after which the goddess Frigg has an apple sent to Rerir. Rerir shares the apple with his wife. Davidson states that this mound is the family burial mound, proposes a link between the tree, fruit and the birth of a child. Davidson opines that Siggeir's anger at his inability to gain the sword that Odin has plunged into Barnstokkr at first sight appears excessive, states that there may be an underlying reason for Siggeir's passionate desire for the sword.
Davidson notes that the gift of the sword was made at a wedding feast, states that Barnstokkr represents the'guardian tree', "such as those that used to stand beside many a house in Sweden and Denmark, and, associated with the'luck' of the family", that the'guardian tree' had a connection with the birth of children. Davidson cites Jan de Vries in that the name barnstokkr "used in this story was the name given to the trunk of such a tree because it used to be invoked and clasped by the women of the family at the time of childbirth."Providing examples of historical structures built around trees, or with'guardian trees' around or in the structure in Germanic areas, Davidson states that the "'luck' of a family must depend on the successful bearing and rearing of sons, there is a general belief that when a guardian tree is destroyed, the family will die out." In connection with this, Davidson theorizes that at the bridal feast, it should have been Siggeir, the bridegroom, who drew the sword from the tree, "and that its possession would symbolize the'luck' which would come to him with his bride, the successful continuation of his own line in the sons to be born of the marriage".
The sword having been refused to him, Davidson theorizes that this may well have been intended as a deadly insult, that this lends a tragic air to the scene in the hall. Jesse Byock states that the name Barnstokkr may not conceivably be the original name of the tree, instead that it is possible that it may have been branstokkr, the first part of the compound having been brandr, a word sometimes synonymous with "hearth", pointing to a potential connection to the fire burning within the hall. Byock notes that the tree is called an eik, which has an unclear meaning as the Icelanders employed the word as a general word for "tree", the tree is referred to as apaldr, a general term for trees. Byock theorizes that the latter reference to an apple tree may imply a further symbolic meaning pointing to the apple tree of the goddess Iðunn, that the Barnstokkr may be further identified with the world tree Yggdrasil. Andy Orchard states that the role and placement of Barn
Þiðreks saga af Bern is an Old Norse chivalric saga centering the character it calls Þiðrekr af Bern, who originated as the historical king Theoderic the Great, but who attracted a great many unhistorical legends in the Middle Ages. The text is either a translation of a lost Low German prose narrative of Theoderic's life, or a compilation by a Norwegian or Icelandic scholar based on German material, it is a pre-eminent source for a wide range of medieval Germanic legends. The name Vilkinasaga was first used in Johan Peringskiöld's Swedish translation of 1715. Peringskiöld named it after Vilkinaland, which the saga says was an old name for Sweden and Götaland; the saga contains many narratives found in other medieval tales about Theoderic, but supplements them with other narratives and provides many additional details. It is not clear how much of the source material might have been orally transmitted and how much the author may have had access to written poems; the preface of the text itself says that it was written according to "tales of German men" and "old German poetry" transmitted by Hanseatic merchants in Bergen.
Contrary to the historical reality of Theoderic's life, most of the action of the saga is set in Northern Germany, situating Attila's capital at Susat and the battle situated in the medieval German poem Die Rabenschlacht in Ravenna taking place at the mouth of the Rhine. This is part of a process operative in oral traditions called "localization", connecting events transmitted orally to familiar places, is one of the reasons that the poems collected by the saga-writer are believed to be Low German in origin. At the centre of Þiðreks saga is a complete life of King Þiðrekr of Bern, it begins by telling of Þiðrekr's grandfather and father, tells of Þiðrekr's youth at his father's court, where Hildebrand tutors him and he accomplishes his first heroic deeds. After his father's death, Þiðrekr leads several military campaigns: he is exiled from his kingdom by his uncle Ermenrik, fleeing to Attila's court. There is an unsuccessful attempt to return to his kingdom, during which Attila's sons and Þiðrekr's brother die.
This is followed by Þiðrekr's entanglement in the downfall of the Niflings, after which Þiðrekr returns to Verona and recovers his kingdom. Much after the death of both Hildebrand and his wife Herrad, Þiðrekr kills a dragon who had killed King Hernit of Bergara, marrying the widow and becoming king of Bergara. After Attila's death, Þiðrekr becomes king of the Huns as well; the final time he fights an opponent is to avenge the death of Heime. After this, he spends all his time hunting. One day, upon seeing a magnificent deer, he jumped out of the bathtub and mounts a gigantic black horse – this is the devil, it rides away with him, no one knows what happened to him after that, but the Germans believe that he received God and Mary's grace and was saved. In addition to the life of Þiðrekr, various other heroes' lives are recounted as well in various parts of the story, including Attila, Wayland the Smith, the Nibelungen, Walter of Aquitaine; the section recounting Þiðrekr's avenging of Hertnit seems to have resulted from a confusion between Þiðrekr and the named Wolfdietrich.
The principal manuscripts are, with the sigla assigned by Bertelsen: Royal Library, Perg. fol. nr. 4 Copenhagen, Arnamagnæan Institute, AM 178 fol. Copenhagen, Arnamagnæan Institute, AM 177 fol; the Stockholm manuscript is earliest, dating from the late thirteenth century. Þiðreks saga was the basis for the Swedish Didrikssagan, a translation from the mid-fifteenth century. The Swedish reworking of the story is rather independent: many repetitions were avoided and the material is structured in a more accessible manner; the Swedish version is believed to have been composed on the orders of king Karl Knutsson, interested in literature.Þiðreks saga had considerable influence on Swedish historiography as the saga identified the country of Vilkinaland with Sweden and so its line of kings was added to the Swedish line of kings. In spite of the fact that the early scholar Olaus Petri was critical, these kings were considered to have been historic Swedish kings until recent times; the historicity of the kings of Vilkinaland was further boosted in 1634 when Johannes Bureus discovered the Norwegian parchment that had arrived in Sweden in the 15th century.
Richard Wagner used it as a source for his operatic tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen. Unger, C. R. Saga Điðriks konungs af Bern: Fortælling om Kong Thidrik af Bern og hans kæmper, i norsk bearbeidelse fra det trettende aarhundrede efter tydske kilder Bertelsen, Henrik, Þiðriks saga af Bern, Samfund til udgivelse af gammel nordisk litteratur, 34, 2 vols: vol. 1 Guðni Jónsson, Þiðreks saga af Bern, 2 vols Die Geschichte Thidreks von Bern. Übertragen von Fine Erichsen. Jena: Diederichs 1924 Die Thidrekssaga oder Dietrich von Bern und die Niflungen. Übers. Durch Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen. Mit neuen geographischen Anm. vers. von Heinz Ritter-Schaumburg. St. Goar: Der Leuchter, Otto Reichl Verlag, 1989. 2 Bände Die Didriks-Chronik oder die Svava: das Leben König Didriks von Bern und die Niflungen. Erstmals vollst. Aus der altschwed. Hs. der Thidrekssaga übers. Und mit geographischen Anm. versehen von Heinz Ritter-Schaumburg. – St. Goar: Der Leuchter, 1989, IS
The Sigurd stones form a group of seven or eight runestones and one picture stone that depict imagery from the legend of Sigurd the dragon slayer. They were made during the Viking Age and they constitute the earliest Norse representations of the matter of the Nibelungenlied and the Sigurd legends in the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda and the Völsunga saga. In parts of Great Britain under Norse culture, the figure of Sigurd sucking the dragon's blood from his thumb appears on several carved stones, at Ripon and Kirby Hill, North Yorkshire, at York and at Halton, Lancashire. Carved slates from the Isle of Man, broadly dated c. 950–1000, include several pieces interpreted as showing episodes from the Sigurd story. This runestone is in runestone style Pr2, it was found in Drävle, but in 1878 it was moved to the courtyard of the manor house Göksbo in the vicinity where it is presently raised. It has an image of Sigurd who thrusts his sword through the serpent, the dwarf Andvari, as well as the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa who gives Sigurd a drinking horn.
The runestone has a stylized Christian cross. Sigurd runestones with crosses are taken as evidence of the acceptance and use of legends from the Volsung saga by Christianity during the transition period from Norse paganism. Other Sigurd stones with crosses in their designs include U 1175, Sö 327, Gs 2, Gs 9. Latin transliteration: uiþbiurn × ok: karlunkr: ok × erinker: ok × nas × litu × risa × stii × þina × eftir × eriibiun × fr × sii × snelanOld Norse transcription: Viðbiorn ok Karlungʀ ok Æringæiʀʀ/Æringærðr ok Nasi/Næsi letu ræisa stæin þenna æftiʀ Ærinbiorn, faður sinn sniallan. English translation: "Viðbjôrn and Karlungr and Eringeirr/Eringerðr and Nasi/Nesi had this stone raised in memory of Erinbjôrn, their able father." This runestone is classified as being carved in runestone style Pr2 and it is located in Stora Ramsjö, just southeast of Morgongåva. It belongs to the category of nonsensical runestones that do not contain any runes, only runelike signs surrounding a design with a cross.
The inscription may be a copy of that runestone. Latin transliteration:... Old Norse transcription:... English translation: "..." This runestone is located on the cemetery of the church of Västerljung, but it was found in 1959 in the foundation of the southwest corner of the church tower. The stone is carved on three sides. One side has the runic text within a serpent band with the head and tail of the serpent bound at the bottom; the inscription is classified as being carved in runestone style Pr2 and the text states that it was made by the runemaster Skamhals. Another runestone, Sö 323, is signed by a Skamhals, but, believed to be a different person with the same name; the other two sides contain images, with one interpreted as depicting Gunnar playing the harp in the snake pit. Of the names in the inscription, Geirmarr means "spear-steed" and Skammhals is a nickname meaning "small neck."Latin transliteration: haunefʀ + raisti * at * kaiʀmar * faþur * sin + haa * iʀ intaþr * o * þiusti * skamals * hiak * runaʀ þaʀsi +Old Norse transcription: Honæfʀ ræisti at Gæiʀmar, faður sinn.
Hann eʀ ændaðr a Þiusti. Skammhals hiogg runaʀ þaʀsi. English translation: "Hónefr raised in memory of Geirmarr, his father, he met his end in Þjústr. Skammhals cut these runes." The Ramsund carving is not quite a runestone as it is not carved into a stone, but into a flat rock close to Ramsund, Eskilstuna Municipality, Södermanland, Sweden. It is believed to have been carved around the year 1030, it is considered an important piece of Norse art in runestone style Pr1. The Ramsund carving in Sweden depicts how Sigurd is sitting naked in front of the fire preparing the dragon heart, from Fafnir, for his foster-father Regin, Fafnir's brother; the heart is not finished yet, when Sigurd touches it, he burns himself and sticks his finger into his mouth. As he has tasted dragon blood, he starts to understand the birds' song; the birds say that Regin will not keep his promise of reconciliation and will try to kill Sigurd, which causes Sigurd to cut off Regin's head. Regin is dead beside his own head, his smithing tools with which he reforged Sigurd's sword Gram are scattered around him, Sigurd's horse Grani is laden with the dragon's treasure. is the previous event when Sigurd killed Fafnir, shows Ótr from the saga's beginning.
The runic text is ambiguous, but one interpretation of the persons mentioned in the inscription, based on inscriptions on other runestones found nearby, is that Sigriþr was the wife of Sigröd who has died. Holmgeirr is her father in law. Alrikr, son of Sigriþr, erected another stone for his father, named Spjut, so while Alrikr is the son of Sigriþr, he was not the son of Sigruþr. Alternatively, Holmgeirr is Sigriþr's second husband and Sigröd is their son; the inspiration for using the legend of Sigurd for the pictorial decoration was the close similarity of the names Sigurd and Sigröd. It is raised by the same aristocratic family as the Kjula Runestone; the reference to bridge-building in the runic text is common in rune stones during this time period. Some are Christian references related to passing the bridge into the afterlife. At this time, the Catholic Church sponsored the building of roads and bridges through the use of indulgences in return for intercession for the soul. There are many examples of these bridge stones dated from the eleventh century, including runic inscriptions U 489 and U 617.
Latin transliteration: siriþr: kiarþi: bur: þosi: muþiʀ: alriks: tutiʀ: urms: fur * salu: hulmkirs: faþur: sukruþar buata * sis *Old Norse transcription: Sigriðr gærði bro þasi
The second part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda the Skáldskaparmál is a dialogue between Ægir, the Norse god of the sea, Bragi, the god of poetry, in which both Norse mythology and discourse on the nature of poetry are intertwined. The origin of a number of kennings is given, he goes on to discuss poetic language in some detail, in particular heiti, the concept of poetical words which are non-periphrastic, again systematises these. This in a way forms an early form of poetic thesaurus. Anthony Faulkes, "The sources of Skáldskaparmál: Snorri’s intellectual background", in: Alois Wolf, Snorri Sturluson, Volume 51 of ScriptOralia, Gunter Narr Verlag, 59–76. EditionsSveinbjörn Egilsson Edda Snorra Sturlusonar:: eða Gylfaginníng, Skáldskaparmál og Háttatal, 45–143. Guðni Jónsson, Eddukvaeði,Íslendingasagnaútgáfan Anthony Faulkes, Edda. TranslationsRasmus Björn Anderson Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur
In Norse mythology, Sigmund is a hero whose story is told in the Völsunga saga. He and his sister, Signý, are the children of his wife Hljod. Sigmund is best known as the father of Sigurð the dragon-slayer, though Sigurð's tale has no connections to the Völsung cycle. In the Völsunga saga, Signý marries the king of Gautland. Völsung and Sigmund are attending the wedding feast, when Odin, disguised as a beggar, plunges a sword into the living tree Barnstokk around which Völsung's hall is built; the disguised Odin announces. Only Sigmund is able to free the sword from the tree. Siggeir is smitten with desire for the sword, he tries to buy it but Sigmund refuses. Siggeir invites Sigmund, his father Völsung and Sigmund's nine brothers to visit him in Gautland to see the newlyweds three months later; when the Völsung clan arrive, they are attacked by the Gauts. Signý beseeches her husband to put them in stocks instead of killing them; as Siggeir thinks that the brothers deserve to be tortured before they are killed, he agrees.
He lets his shapeshifting mother turn into a wolf and devour one of the brothers each night. During that time, Signý fails every time until only Sigmund remains. On the ninth night, she has a servant smear honey on Sigmund's face and when the she-wolf arrives, she starts licking the honey off and sticks her tongue into Sigmund's mouth, whereupon Sigmund bites her tongue off, killing her. Sigmund escapes his bonds and hides in the forest. Signý brings Sigmund everything. Bent on revenge for their father's death, she sends her sons to him in the wilderness, one by one, to be tested; as each fails, she urges Sigmund to kill them, until one day when he refuses to continue killing innocent children. In despair, she comes to him in the guise of a völva and conceives a child by him, Sinfjötli. Sinfjötli, born of their incest, passes the test. Sigmund and his son/nephew, Sinfjötli, grow wealthy as outlaws. In their wanderings, they come upon men sleeping in cursed wolf skins. Upon killing the men and putting on the wolf skins, they are cursed with a type of lycanthropy.
They avenge the death of Völsung. After Signý dies and Sinfjötli go harrying together. Sigmund marries a woman named Borghild and has two sons, one of them named Helgi. Sinfjötli slays Borghild's brother while vying for a woman. Borghild avenges her brother by poisoning Sinfjötli. Sigmund marries a woman named Hjördís. After a short time of peace, Sigmund's lands are attacked by King Lyngi. In battle, Sigmund matches up against an old man, Odin in disguise. Odin shatters Sigmund's sword, Sigmund falls at the hands of others. Dying, he tells Hjördís that she is pregnant and that her son will one day make a great weapon out of the fragments of his sword; that son was to be Sigurd. Sigurd himself had a son named Sigmund, killed when he was three years old by a vengeful Brynhild. Sigmund/Siegmund is the name of Sigurd/Siegfried's father in other versions of the Sigurd story, but without any of the details about his life or family that appear in Norse Völsung tales and poems. On the other hand, the Old English poem Beowulf includes Sigemund the Wælsing and his nephew Fitela in a tale of dragon slaying told within the main story.
Herein the story of Sigemund is told to Beowulf, a warrior from Gautland. Parallels to Sigmund's pulling the sword from the tree can be found in other mythologies. Sinfjötli and Mordred share the characteristic of being nephew and son to the main characters; the story of Sigmund, beginning with the marriage of Signy to Siggeir and ending with Sigmund's vengeance on Siggeir, was retold in the novelette "Vengeance" by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, which appeared in the magazine Adventure, June 30, 1925. Brodeur was a professor at Berkeley and became well known for his scholarship on Beowulf and Norse sagas. Simonside Hills Orchard, Andy. Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. Cassell. ISBN 0-304-34520-2