Summary of the Thidrekssaga

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Grimhild's revenge

361

When the king had read the letter the messenger spoke, but never mind, he called his brothers Hagen, Gernot, and Giselher for a council, and told them what message he had received, and asked them what they should do.

Hagen spoke: If you go to Hunnenland you will not return, and neither will anyone who follows you. Grimhild is a sly woman, and it could very well be she has treason in mind.

King Gunther replied: So it is your counsel, Hagen, not to go there? You give my counsel like your mother gave my father, worse each time than last time. Therefore I will not take it. I want to travel to Hunnenland, and I assume I'll return, and before I come home all of Hunnenland could be in my power. But you, Hagen, follow me if you want, or sit home if you don't want to come.

Hagen said: I am not more worried about my life than you about yours, and I am not more afraid of a fight than you are. But I can tell you that if you go to Hunnenland, whether with many men or with few, no one will return home alive to Niflungenland. But if you want to go to Hunnenland, I will not Mb. omits the 'not', which is only found in A and B stay home. Or don't you remember how we said goodbye to Sigfrid? And when you don't remember, I know someone in Hunnenland who does remember, and when you come to Soest she will remind you.

King Gunther replied: Even though you are so afraid of Grimhild that you don't dare to go, I will still travel to Hunnenland.

Now Hagen was angry that he was so often reproached for his mother, and he rose and went to his friend Volker and said to him: You should come with us to Hunnenland, as king Gunther had decided, and all our men should come with us, so arm and equip everyone, but only those should come who are ready for battle.

373

King Attila led his brothers in law to his hall, and had fires made, but the Niflungen did not take off their armour, and did not lay down their weapons. Now Grimhild came into the hall where her brothers were drying near the fires, and she saw their armour under their cloaks.

Then Hagen saw his sister Grimhild, and he took his helmet, put it on his head, and tightened it, and Volker did the same. Then Grimhild said: Hagen, did you bring he the Niflungen treasure that Sigfrid once had?

But Hagen replied: I bring you a strong enemy who follows my shield and my helmet with my sword, and I will never take off my armour. Then king Gunther said: My sister, come and sit here. And then Grimhild went to her young brother Giselher and kissed him, and she sat down between him and king Gunther Some manuscripts have Gernot; don't know which one(s); figure out, and cried bitterly.

Then Giselher asked: Why do you cry? And she replied: That I can tell you. I am pained most by the great wounds Sigfrid received between his shoulders, and no weapon has touched his shield.

Then Hagen replied: Let's not remember Sigfrid's wounds for now. King Attila should be as dear to you as Sigfrid used to be, and he is half as much richer, but it is not possible any more to heal Sigfrid's wounds, and what has happened has happened. Then Grimhild rose and went away.

Now Diet­rich von Bern came to invite the Niflungen to the meal, and he was followed by Aldrian, king Attila's son. King Gunther took Aldrian on his arm and carried him with him.

But king Diet­rich and Hagen were such good friends that they took each other's hands Thus Diet­rich indicates to everyone he will not fight Hagen, and thus they went all the way to the hall. And on every tower and every window, and in every garden, and on the town wall there were noble kurteisar women who wanted to see Hagen, so famous was he in all lands for his bravery. Thus they came to the hall.

374

King Attila now sat on his throne, and to his right sat king Gunther, and next to him young Giselher, then Gernot, then Hagen, then their relative Volker. On Attila's left sat king Diet­rich von Bern, then margrave Rodinger, then master Hildebrand, and these sat at king Attila's high table.

And in the hall were also the noblest of men one next to the other, and they drank good wine and feasted. And such a large amount of people were in town that all houses were filled. And they all slept in peace this night.

375

The next morning they got up, and king Diet­rich and Hildebrand and many other knights came to the Niflungen. Diet­rich asked how they had slept, and Hagen said he had slept well, but that his mood was still average.

Then king Diet­rich said: Be merry, good friend Hagen, and be welcome; but be aware that your sister Grimhild still grieves for Sigfrid, and you will notice that before you go home. And thus Diet­rich was the first man to warn the Niflungen One manuscript adds 'in Soest', which is correct, because this is certainly not the first warning.

Then they went out into the courtyard or garden; út í garðinn, and king Gunther walked on one side of king Diet­rich, and Hildebrand on the other, and with Hagen went Volker, and now all Niflungen had awoken and they walked through town.

And now king Attila went onto the balcony or window; í svalirnar and looked at the Niflingen. And many men went to see their walk, but most of all everyone asked where Hagen went, because he was that famous. King Attila looked for Hagen and Volker, but he did not see them, because they wore deep helmets helmets that hid their faces, I assume, and he asked who came with Diet­rich and Gunther. And Osid said that he thought they were Hagen and Volker. And Attila replied: I should have recognised Hagen, because I and queen Erka made him a knight Not otherwise attested; maybe around 241-244?, and he was our good friend back then.

Now Hagen and Volker went forth through the town, and they each had their hand around the other's shoulder, and they saw many well-bred women. And how they took off their helmets and showed themselves. And Hagen was white like ash, and he had but one eye.

Now the Niflungen stood out by the town wall and saw the town, but Diet­rich von Bern went back to his court, where he had business to do.

Now king Attila saw how many people there were in town, and he could not fit them all into his great hall. But since it was nice weather he had a feast prepared in his garden apaldrsgarðr; seems to mean crab apple garden.

376

Meanwhile queen Grimhild entered Diet­rich's hall to speak to him. And she wailed and wept and said: Good friend Diet­rich, I have come to ask for your help to avenge Sigfrid, I want to pay back Hagen and Gunther and their brothers. If you help me I'll give you as much gold and silver as you want, and I will also help you when you go back over the Rhine to avenge yourself on Ermenrik. But Diet­rich said: Lady, I will not do that, and if you do so it will be against my will, because they are my good friends.

Then she went away weeping and went to the hall where duke Osid was, and again she spoke: Lord Osid, don't you want to help me avenge my grief? I want to pay the Niflungen back for the death of Sigfrid, and if you do so I'll give you a large realm and anything you should ask for. But Osid said: If I did that, I would have king Attila's enmity, since he is a good friend of them.

Then the queen went to king Attila and said to him: Lord king, where is the gold or silver that my brothers brought here? And the king said he had not seen any gold or silver, but he would still treat them well as guests in his house. And Grimhild said: Then who will avenge my disgrace if you won't? Sigfrid was murdered! Now help me, and you can win the Niflungen treasure and all of Niflungenland.

The king said: Do not speak of that any more. How could I betray my brothers in law? They have come here in good faith, and neither you nor anyone else should offend them. Then she went away and she felt quite bad.

377

Now Attila went into the garden where the feast would take place and called all others in. And the queen told the Niflungen: Now give your weapons to me for safe keeping. No one should bear arms here, and you will see the Huns do so as well.

Then Hagen said: You are a queen I think he means: you are a woman, what would you do with my weapons? My father taught me never to trust my weapons to a woman, and as long as I am in Hunnenland I will never let my weapons far from me. And Hagen put his helmet on his head and bound it as tightly as he could. And all saw how angry Hagen was, and did not know what that meant.

Then Gernot said: Hagen was never in a good mood since we set out on this journey, and it could be he will prove his courage even today. And now Gernot, too, started to suspect betrayal, and recalled that Hagen had said so before they ever went on this journey, and he, too, bound his helmet tightly on his head.

Now king Attila, too, saw this happening, and he asked Diet­rich who those were that bound their helmets so tightly. And Diet­rich told him they were Hagen and Gernot, and both are brave heroes in foreign lands, Von der Hagen adds: 'And the king said'; presumably Attila and they do so from great courage. And again Diet­rich spoke, and said: They are brave heroes, and it is likely that they will show it even this day, if things go as I suspect.

Now king Attila went to king Gunther and Giselher, and took their hands, Gunther's in his right hand, and Giselher's in his left, and called to Hagen and Gernot, and he placed them all on the high table to his right, as was said before 374. A great fire had been made in the garden, and around it were tables and seats.

And all Niflungen had come to the garden in their armour with their swords, but their shields and spears they had given to their squires for safe keeping, and twenty squires were set by the door to the room where the shields and spears were kept? to warn them of treason. Hagen and Gernot had decided this.

Volker sat with the foster of Aldrian, Attila's son, and Grimhild had her chair set opposite king Attila, and duke Osid was with her.

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.

382

Now the Huns let their horns sound, and shouted that the Niflungen had escaped the garden. All Huns hurried to the fight so that all streets were filled with them, and the Niflungen were outnumbered and driven back into the garden.

But Hagen sprang up to the hall A hall generally has a kind of veranda around it, higher than the ground, and Hagen is standing on it. It's unclear which hall this is, though and put his back against the doors, and put his shield in front of him, and he struck one man after the other with his hand sword, I presume and chopped off hands, feet, and even some heads, and some were hacked in two, and no one came near him without meeting such a fate non-literal; at eigi hefir þvílíka kaupferð, and there was such a great throng of people that those who fell barely had space to reach the ground, and Hagen defended himself so well with his shield that he was not wounded.

And to the left side of the Niflungen To the left of the garden where the Niflungen were driven back in to, or to the left of Hagen? stood Diet­rich's hall, and he himself stood on the battlements, with his men all armed still neutral, but observing the battle.

Now Gernot, Giselher and Volker turned from the street to the hall Diet­rich's hall and put their backs against it, and defended themselves and killed many men.

Then Gernot said to king Diet­rich: When will you come with your men to help us? You cannot let so few fight against so many! And Diet­rich replied: My good friend Gernot, it saddens me to see this storm i.e. battle take place. I will lose a good many friends here, but I can't do anything. I do not want to fight against the men of king Attila, my lord, but I also do not wish to harm the Niflungen in any way.

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.

388

Margrave Rodinger went forward and killed the Niflungen, but against him came Giselher, and they fought, and Giselher's sword Gram cut through shield, armour, and helmet like through clothes. And margrave Rondinger fell with great wounds beforre Giselher, killed with the same sword he had given to Giselher as a gift.

And Gernot and Giselher attacked king Attila's hall and killed many Huns. But Volker went to the hall where Hagen stood, and killed one man after the other so that he never walked on the ground, but always from body to body.

And now Hagen saw a Niflung was coming to help him, and he asked: Who is this man who comes here so bravely? And he replied: I am Volker One ms. adds: the minstrel; Von der Hagen doesn't tell us which one your companion; now look at the street I have cut here. And Hagen said: Thank God that you let your sword sing on Hunnish helmets.

389

Now king Diet­rich saw that margrave Rondinger was dead, and he called loudly: Now my best friend is dead I can no longer keep still. Take your arms, men, and I will now fight against the Niflungen.

Now Diet­rich went forth from his hall, and in German songs it is said that worthy men were not there something like: made sure not to be around; but this is a difficult sentence when Diet­rich and the Niflungen clashed. And all over town they heard how Eckisax sang on Niflungen helmets, and Diet­rich was very angry. The Niflungen defended themselves well and killed many of the Amelungen, king Diet­rich's men, but they themselves also fell in this battle This sentence is missing from Von der Hagen.

Now Diet­rich advanced so much with his men that Hagen von Troja First time this nickname appears; clearly related to the Nibelungenlied's von Troneck retreated with his sword into the hall. With him where Giselher and Gernot and Volker, and king Diet­rich and master Hildebrand went towards them.

Now king Diet­rich entered the hall, and Volker stood in the door and defended it, but Diet­rich's first stroke hit his helmet so that his head flew off. Then Hagen attacked him and their duel started.

And master Hildebrand attacked Gernot, and they fought, but Hildebrand killed Gernot with strong Lagulf Apparently his sword's name; not attested elsewhere.

And now there were only four in the hall who carried weapons: Diet­rich and Hagen in their duel, and Hildebrand and Giselher.

Status: summary of 12 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)