Summary of the Thidrekssaga

Search for chapters:

See all parts of the saga.

Detlef the Dane

111

In Denmark in Skåne in the place called Tummelborg there lived a man named Biterolf. His wife was Oda, and she was the daughter of the jarl of Sachsenland, and they had a son named Detlef.

Detlef preferred to be in the kitchen instead of riding with his father, and therefore his father and mother didn't really like him, and believed he was a fool and a changeling. Still, he had learned to ride a horse, throw spears, swing swords, and throw stones. Everybody assumed he was not really interested in that, though, and he never combed his hair and never bathed either in the bathhouse or a pool, and preferred to lie in the ashes in the kitchen and run around with the kitchen boys.

112

Biterolf was invited to a feast with his wife and his followers, to a place called Vetlandsherad and a man called Ulf, Soti's son. Now Detlef thought he should ride with his father to this feast, stood up in the kitchen, shuffeld the ashes off him, cleaned his hands and head, went to his mother, and asked her if they were going to a feast. His mother said that was true, but what was that to him? And he told her that he'd like to come with them.

And she said: why would a changeling want to come to a feast? You're just laying around in the kitchen, and you don't want to become equal to our relatives, and we don't want any of that on our journey. And he said that she hated him more than he loved her, and if she gave him permission to go that would be good, but if not he'd go anyway.

113

Then he went to the hall where his father sat, and asked him for a horse and a sword, since he wanted to come to the feast. His father asked him what he would do there, since many sons of important men would come there, and they would do other things than roast chicken and geese, but that's the only thing you can do. And he doubted Detlef was his son.

Detlef replied he did not know whose son he was, but that everyone said he was Biterolf's, even though he hadn't become a good man. But if you doubt I'm your son, ask my mother for more details. I'm not willing to look for another father, because a poor farmer would not have treated me better than you did, until this day. And if you hadn't given me as good as a mother as you have, as other people say, or if she was of lower birth, then I would not like the truth, now that you yourself are suspecting her. Dificult sentence; I may have got it wrong And if she would have relatives on her side, they would not allow for such an accusation. But in the end it's my fault; if I had been a better man than I am, you would not have accused her.

Biterolf told him to be silent and go back to the kitchen and lay in the ashes. He would not hear anything against his wife, but they both believed that Detlef was a changeling.

Well, said Detlef, if my father and mother come to take me, you don't have to ask them for a large foster fee fóstrlaun, since until this day I won't have cost you much. But if you do not allow me to come with you I'll go there anyway.

114

Then Detlef took his father's best horse, with saddle and tack, and rode to a farmer nearby, whose weapons he borrowed. Then he went home again.

This took place in the middle of winter, and the entire Sont was frozen until deep in the south at Jutland, so that one could use sleds to go from one village to another. It is unclear why this passage was included; the frozen Sont is not mentioned again. Or is this a chronological note, 'the year the Sont was frozen solid'? If so it's nearly the only one.

When Detlef came home his father saw he would come anyway, he decided to see what would happen if Detlef came to other people, and he also didn't want him to look ridiculous, and gave his men orders to arm Detlef properly. His father gave him good weapons, and his mother good clothers, and he bathed and combed his hair, and now all people who saw him said that they had never seen such a good youth. Then he went to the feast with his father and mother.

And while they staid at the feast Detlef behaved well, And when the feast was over Oda and the men returned home, but Biterolf set out for another feast, and Detlef with him, and staid there for a while more.

And when they returned home the Falsterwald was on their road, and the road went straight through it.

115

When they went in, they encountered twelve men, Ingram and his companions. Biterolf said he wished Detlef was home with hsi mother, because he was afraid to lose him to the robbers, while if he was alone he'd have no trouble defeating them. Detlef said he was not afraid, and proposed they dismount and put their backs against each other's, and here it should become clear what Detlef's descent was. And both drew their swords.

116

That day Heime kept watch for Ingram and his companions, When he saw them, he reported back and said that their helmets were well-made, and that the robbers had their work laid out for them.

Ingram decided that they didn't all have to go, five men would be enough. But father and son fought mightily, and after a while all five lay dead on the ground. When Ingram saw that he ordered everyobody to attack, but Biterolf cleaved Ingram's helmet and head while Detlef killed two men. And they didn't stop until all robbers but Heime were dead. Now Heime hit Biterolf on the helmet so that he fell unconscious, but Detlef hit him on the helmet, and Heime sank to one knee. Quickly he recovered, sprang on his horse and rode as quickly as he could, all day long, and was glad he was still alive. He said, what many have proven, that the best piece of iron was the spur, since it saved him that day, and many others did the same.

But when Heime came to a river his stallion Rispa sprang so mightily that Heime flew off him. And it is said that there was a watermill there, and it was milling, but Heime heard the sounds as "hit, hit, strike, strike", and he rode day and night until he came back to Bern. Here he reconciled himself with Diet­rich, and became his follower again.

Biterolf and Detlef took all gear from the dead robbers, and took them home, and they had achieved great honour.

117

Now Detlef considered himself a man, and his father and mother also saw that he had honoured his parents by his good behaviour in battle. Then Detlef asked them for clothes, weapons, and gold because he wanted to travel to his grandfather in Sachsenland Oda's father to learn about other countries and customs, and get to know his relatives. His parents gave him what he wanted.

Then his father said that he should behave well while he was in Jutland, but if you go far into Sachsenland, as far as the place called Bern, and find Diet­rich, son of king Dietmar, then make sure never to fight with him or his heroes, because you can't withstand their strong strikes. And his helm is called Hildegrim, and his sword Eckensax, and his horse Falke. With him are many famous heroes, and make sure not to annoy them. But it might be better to stay with your grandfather in Sachsenland and come home afterwards. Detlef promised to do so.

And Biterolf went on: on the way to his grandfather Detlef would find the Burgwald, in which there was the place Marstein, and there lies a castle. You will find no one in the castle, but you will find a beautiful chair, and on the chair a horn. Blow that horn, and then he lord of that castle, my good friend Sigurd, will come. He is old, as white as a dove, and when you find him, tell him your father's name, so that he will receive you well. But even if you brought twelve men you could not fight against him. And Detlef promised to do so.

When Detlef left his parents gave him more good advice, and his mother gave him golden ring and her regards to her father. And Biterolf gave him twenty marks of gold, and then Detlef left.

Dietrich's feast

180

Detlef the Dane, Biterolf's son, had dark blue as his colour, and on his coat of arms was depicted in gold the animal elephant that the Germans call alpandýr, but the Northmen Væríngjar fíl, and he used this because old Sigurd the Greek rode an elephant 118, and he wore gold in his shield because his mother was of noble birth his father wasn't?.

Status: summary of 8 chapters complete.

Other parts

  1. Samson (1-13)
  2. Hildebrand and Heime (14-20)
  3. Wieland the Smith (57-79)
  4. Witig (80-95)
  5. Journey to Osning (96-107)
  6. Witig and Heime (108-110,134-137,146-151)
  7. Detlef the Dane (111-129)
  8. Amelung, Wildeber, and Herbrand (130-133)
  9. Wildeber and Isung (138-145)
  10. Sigmund and Sisibe (152-161)
  11. Sigfrid's youth (162-168)
  12. Origins of the Niflungen (169-170)
  13. Dietrich's feast (171-191)
  14. The road to Bertangaland (192-199)
  15. The tournament (200-222)
  16. Dietrich's fellowship falls apart (223-226,240)
  17. Gunther and Brunhild (227-230)
  18. Walther and Hildegund (241-244)
  19. Ake and Iron (269-275)
  20. Dietrich's flight (276-290)
  21. The Wilkinen wars (291-315)
  22. The battle of Gransport (316-341)
  23. Sigfrid's death (342-348)
  24. Hertnit and Isung (349-355)
  25. Grimhild's revenge (356-394)