the dictionary of norse mythology


HJADNINGAVIG Battle of the Followers of Hedin A story of endless battle preserved in three separate sources a skaldic poem written in the ninth century by Bragi Boddason, the 13th-century works of Icelandic writer snorri sturluson, and most fully in the late 14th-century saga Sorlathattra. Through the magic of the goddess freya or an unknown witch, the armies of two kings, Hogni and Hedin Hjarrandason, engage in a battle that goes on day after day for 143 years. The war begins after Hedin abducts Hild, Hogni's beautiful daughter. Hedin is about to return the woman but is too late, for Hogni has already drawn the dread sword, dainsleif, which must kill a man before it can be returned to its sheath. Each day the warriors fight. At night, the magic restores even the most severely injured, those who would normally die in a battle that was not bewitched. According to some sources the end of this tedious battle comes at ragnarok, the final war between the giants and the gods at the end of time. Others say it ends with the arrival of King Olaf I Tryggvason, who ruled norway from a.d. 995 to 1001 and forced the conversion of many people to Christianity. Modern scholars see parallels or opposites between the horror described in this battle and glorious life of the einher-jar, the souls of human warriors in valhalla.

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