Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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Origins of the Niflungen

170

King Diet­rich was preparing a great feast, and invited all noblest men in his kingdom, and other men and leaders besides.

He had heard of a good warrior and king named Irung, who ruled Niflungenland. His wife was Ute, and she was the daughter of a mighty king. Once, when Irung was away, a man came to Ute and slept with her without her being aware, and she gave birth to a son, Hagen, and although he appared human, he was actually an elf.

King Irung had four sons and a daughter named Grimhild with his wife, and the king's sons were Gunther, Guthorm, Gernot, and Giselher. When Irung died his oldest son Gunther took up the kingship.

King Diet­rich had heard of him, and sent a message to king Gunther to invite him to the feast, and also his brothers Hagen and Guthorm This is the only mention of Guthorm anywhere; maybe he died from his illness?. Gunther accepted with thanks, and said he would come with Hagen, but Guthorm would stay home because he was ill. And then Gunther and his men went to the feast and were well received.

Grimhild's revenge

378

At this time queen Grimhild went to the knight who was set over her other knights and who was called Irung. And she said: Good friend Irung, don't you want to avenge my dishonour? Neither king Attila wants to do so, nor king Diet­rich, nor any other of my friends. Irung asked: What should we avenge, my lady, and why do you cry so bitterly Irung is not what you'd call clued in?

And the queen replied: I remember how Sigfrid was mudered, and I want to avenge him, if anyone wants to help me. And she took his gold-plated shield and said: Good friend Irung, do you want to avenge my dishonour? I will fill this shield with red gold if you do, and you'll also have my friendship. And Irung replied: Lady, your friendship is worth more than gold. He got up, armed himself, called his knights, and unfurled his banner.

The queen told him to first go to the squires and kill them, and then make sure none of the Niflungen entered the garden, and that those who were already inside would not escape with their lives.

379

Quickly the queen went to the garden and sat on the high table. And her son Aldrian ran to her and kissed her. Then the queen said: My dear son, if you want to be equal in courage to your relatives, then go to Hagen and when he leans over the table to take something from a plate, then hit him with your fist as hard as you can. Then you will be a hero.

The boy ran over to Hagen, and when Hagen leaned forward the boy struck him with his fist on the chin Ms. A adds: so that Hagen's blood streamed from his nose on to the table, and this blow was stronger than one would expect from such a young man.

Then Hagen took the boy by the hairs with his left hand, and said: You did not do this of your own accord, and also not at the command of your father king Attila, but this is an idea of your mother's, and you won't enjoy it for long. And with his right hand he drew his sword and beheaded the boy, and he hurled the head to Grimhild's breast.

Then he said: In this garden we drink good wine, but it will now turn out to be expensive. I now pay the first part of the price to my sister Grimhild. And again he struck, right over Volker's head, and beheaded the boy's foster, and said: Now the queen has been paid as she deserves, and how you brought up this boy.

King Attila jumped up and called: Arise, Huns, all my men, arm yourselves and kill the Niflungen. And everyone in the garden jumped up, but the Niflungen now drew their swords.

At queen Grimhild's command raw, wet cow skins had been placed outside the door to the garden, and when the Niflungen ran out of the garden they slipped on the skins, and thus many men were killed, because Irung and his men stood there and killed many good hero, and already many hundreds lay dead in the garden This last clause is missing from mss. A and B.

383

Now king Gunther knew that Hagen, Gernot, and Giselher, his brothers, had sallied forth from the garden, and also that a much larger army of Huns had attacked them. All of them except for the heroes, who are with their backs against halls now fled back into the garden. King Gunther had been defending the eastern gate i.e. the one that had been there all along, with the raw cow hides where Irung and his men stood. When king Gunther heard that Hagen needed his help he went out of the west opening with his men. But outside were many fully armed Huns remember: the Niflungen are still not fully armed; they never got their spears and shields, and had to scavenge them from the battlefield, something the men inside the garden had been unable to do and a sharp battle ensued. King Gunther advanced, but none of his men were so strong that they could follow him.

Now duke Osid, king Attila's nephew, came against king Gunther, and they fought long and hard until night fell. And because king Gunther was all alone in the middle of the Hun army, and had to fight against their greatest hero, he was overwhelmed and taken prisoner. He surrendered his weapons and was bound. And when the Huns had scored this great victory they started a great shouting. And king Attila and the queen called that they should not kill Gunther but bring him to them, and Osid led Gunther before Attila's knees i.e. Gunther was forced to go to his knees. And at the queen's counsel the king stood and with a great many people brought Gunther to a tower Ms B: snake tower and threw him in; and there were poisonous snakes there, and here Gunther died. This tower still, add mss. Sv and A stands in the middle of Soest.

384

Now Hagen and Gernot heard the Huns call that king Gunther had been taken prisoner. Hagen became so angry that he jumped from the doors down onto the street and struck Huns with both hands, and no one dared to stand before him. When Gernot saw that he also jumped on to the street and hewed Huns with both hands, and his sword stopped nowhere but in the ground. And Giselher followed him and killed many men with his sword Gram. And they distinguished themselves so much that no Hun dared to stand before them, and they fled. And now the Niflungen came forth from the garden on to the street, and they shouted that the Huns were cowardly dogs who ran when the Niflungen wanted to avenge themselves. And they spread through the town and killed them men they encountered, and it was night and quite dark. And the Huns fought them only? in groups.

King Attila went to his hall and had the house closed and guarded, so that the Niflungen could not do anything there. And margrave Rodinger went to king Diet­rich's hall thus indicating that he, too, was neutral and stayed there for a while. And duke Osid and his men and Irung and his men also went to halls. That night, a multitude of men Hunnic reinforcements? Or the Niflungen on their killing spree? rushed into town. And now it was dark.

385

Then Hagen had his horns blown, and called all Niflungen to him. and Hagen now had reached the town wall. All the Niflungen came to him, and Hagen asked Gernot: How many men did we lose with king Gunther? And Gernot said they would now muster their men. To Hagen's right Giselher should go with his banner, but, said Gernot, with my men, but to Hagen's left and with me the men who followed the other banners Which banners? Did the Niflungen have other chiefs?, and on Giselher's other side the men who followed king Gunther's banner, and Volker with them.

And thus the Niflungen ordered their army. Now they counted how many men they had lost, and it turned out they'd lost 300 men, but 700 were still alive. And Hagen said they still had a large army, and the Huns would lose many men before the Niflungen bowed to them i.e. died or surrendered, and all agreed.

And Hagen continued: If it were day now and we could fight, we would likely win. King Attila has only a few more men than we do. But if we wait here for morning, many people from the countryside will come to town, and we will have to deal with such a large army that we will be overwhelmed, and I'm not sure if we'll do anything heroic before we give up our lives. But if we had fire we could fight on.

And Hagen and a few men went to a cooking shed and took fire, and threw it into a house, and then the whole town was lighted.

386

The Niflungen raised their banners and marched around the town with calls and horn blasts, and challenged the Huns to come out and fight them when they came to the hall Probably Attila's. But the Huns stood on the battlements and shot at them, so that the two parted again i.e. the Niflungen left. And the Huns only wanted to fight by day, but still the Niflungen killed many men this night.

When dawn came the Huns from the countryside came into town, and they now had a quite large army. Both sides now raised their banners and blew their horns, and then a long, sharp battle started. The Huns attacked bravely and encouraged one another. And queen Grimhild egged all men on to kill Niflungen, and offered them gold and silver.

This day duke Osid and Irung fought along, but king Attila did not. Gernot had his banner carried against Osid, and both armies fought with great courage. Now Gernot went forth before all his men and hacked on both sides and killed many men. Duke Osid attacked him, and they started a duel and fought bravely for a long time, but it ended with Gernot cutting off Osid's head. And the Niflungen rejoiced that a chief of the Huns had fallen.

387

When margrave Rodinger heard that duke Osid had fallen he became very angry and told his men they should now fight and kill the Niflungen. And he had his banner carried against the Niflungen, and fought for a long time.

Meanwhile Hagen went forth alone into the Hun army and killed Huns on both sides with his hands as far as his sword could reach, and he also killed many with his spear, and his arms were now bloody up to the shoulders. And he fought so long and went so far into the Hunnic army that he became quite tired and did not know how to get back to his own men. So he went into a hall, kicked open the door to see if anyone was in the hall, I presume and positioned himself in the doorway and rested.

Margrave Rodinger now marched against the Niflungen, and the Huns moved against the hall where Hagen stood, but he defended the door and slew many men. Grimhild saw this, and she called on the Huns to set fire to the hall, because the roof was made of wood, and thus they did.

Then Grimhild called Irung and said: My good Irung, now you can attack Hagen while he is in a house one house? Von der Hagen says his house? Vague. Bring me his head and I'll fill your shield with red gold. And Irung turned to the hall, which was meanwhile filled with smoke. Irung jumped bravely into the hall and struck Hagen with his sword into his thigh, so that the armour was torn apart, and he took a piece from his thigh as large as one would put in a kettle, but then he jumped out of the hall.

Now Grimhild saw that Hagen bled, and went to Irung and said: Now, my dear Irung, best of all heroes, you have wounded Hagen, the next time you will kill him. And she took two golden rings from her arm and put one under his helmet band to the right, and the other to the left Ms. B instead says: and she embraced him, and said: Now bring me Hagen's head, and you will have as much gold and silver as your shield can hold, and then again as much.

Now Irung jumped into the hall a second time, but Hagen was warned and walked to him and pierced him with his spear in the breast, so that it tore through armour and body and exited between the shoulders. And there Irung sank down on the stone road that until this day is called Irung's Road, and Hagen's spear was stuck in the road.

Then Hagen said: If I had avenged Grimhild's evil like I avenged my wound on Irung, then my sword would have sung throuhgout Hunnenland.

394

And one can hear how these things happened one can hear in sagas of German men that were either born in Soest, where these events took place, and have seen unchanged the places where these things happened, where Hagen fell, and where Irung was killed, and where the snake tower was where king Gunther died. And the garden was called Niflungengarden and still stands in the same way as when the Niflungen were killed, the old gate where the struggle started, and the western gate which is now called Hagen's gate, where the Niflungen broke out of the garden, and today it is called the same as it was then.

Men from Bremen and M√ľnster have told us the same, and none of them knew of the others, but they still told the same story. And it is also according to the old songs in the German language made by wise men of the great deeds that took place in that country.

Status: summary of 9 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)