Short summary - Frithjof's saga - Esaias Tegnér

Scandinavian literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Frithjof's saga
Esaias Tegnér

The name of the Old Norse (Icelandic) hero - Fridhjofr - consists of two parts: fridh - peace, peace and thjofr - thief, that is, it means "Thief of the world." The main source of the poem is the Old Norse saga of Fridtjof the Bold, which took shape at the end of the 13th or at the beginning of the 14th century. It tells about the events, largely legendary, that took place in Norway in the 9th century. Each of the 24 songs of the poem is written in its own, special meter, organically associated with the emotional tone of this song.

The kind, wise bond (landowner) Hilding brought up the daughter of the king (leader, king) Ingeborg and Fridtjof, the son of bond Torsten. (At that time, rich and noble Scandinavians gave their children to be raised by relatives or friends who were lower in their social origin.) Ingeborg was beautiful, like Freya, the goddess of beauty and love. Even in childhood, Fridtjof and Ingeborg fell in love with each other. He enthusiastically does everything for her - he takes the chicks out of the nest, carries them through turbulent streams, brings the first forest berries. “... The days of childhood have passed” <…> “he already goes hunting, / Dare, dexterous and strong, / To the surprise of the neighbors / To grapple with a bear without a sword”, then he comes “with shaggy prey” to deserve a friendly “look maiden". Fridtjof compares his beloved not only with Freya, but also with the goddess of eternal youth, Iduna, and with the patroness of the family hearth, Frigga, the wife of Odin, the oldest of the gods, the ruler of the world, and with Nanna, the wife of the god of spring, the most beautiful of the gods. The hero mentally swears allegiance to his beloved. He knows that he can die, like Nanna, from grief, remain in the kingdom of Hel, the kingdom of the dead. Ingeborg also thinks about Fridtjof all the time. But their tutor Hilding, knowing that Ingeborg is the daughter of Kunt Bele, whose glorious family goes back to Alfader (Odin), to the "father of everything", cannot become the hero's wife, because "the son of a bond is not like a sovereign." But at the warning of their kind tutor, Fridtjof only laughed. He is sure: "There is no slavery in the freeborn", "Only strength is noble." The hero is ready to go into battle with Thor himself, the god of thunder. "Woe to the one who separates us!" - firmly declares Fridtjof.

Kung Bele, sensing the approach of death, called his sons - the gloomy and strict Helge and the "handsome face" Halfdan. Kung instructs his sons on how to rule the country. He says: “Aish the unreasonable king oppresses his land, / And the ruler is weak, if the people are weak” <…> “Aish in truth the glory of the throne and the land of happiness.” He calls on his sons to raise the sword only against enemies, to take care of his sister Ingeborg, to always live in friendship with Fridtjof, as they lived with his father, the glorious, truthful and sincere Torsten. An almost hundred-year-old bond believed: “The king should not go alone to the gods; / All our lives, Bele, we have traveled along the same path, I would like to share death with you. Friends asked to be buried next to them. Their will was fulfilled. “By the decision of the people, Helge and Haldvan began to jointly / Rule the country, / and Fridtjof, the only son and heir, / Occupied, without sharing with anyone, the family estate of Framnes.” Together with the estate, Fridtjof inherited a precious sword, a golden wrist, which the master skillfully decorated with a “luxurious and large” ruby, “it was famous everywhere and was reputed to be the first in the North.” And Fridtjof also inherited the "wonderful ship" Ellida ", which, according to legend, the god of the sea Aegir gave his grandfather in gratitude" for hospitality ". Fridtjof inherited this and many other treasures, / It is unlikely that a richer heir lived in the North in those days. "King's blood did not flow in him, but he was a king in spirit, / Combining in himself nobility with kindness."

Fridtjof missed Ingeborg, and he decided to go to the kings. He told the brothers that he wanted to marry Ingeborg, that "your wise father would combine me with a golden-haired one." But Helge “with an evil mockery” said: “Son of a bond, are you on the way with your sister?” Helge offended Fridtjof by offering him to become his servant. The brave Fridtjof took out a sword, he could have killed Helge, but the memory of Bela was dear to him, so he only “cut through” Helge’s shield from his shoulder.

In the North, Kung Ring wisely ruled the country. The country prospered, there “the fields shone with gold in the sun”, “And the country fed love to Ring”. Old Ring, although he knew that "he had already faded, and for a long time," decided to marry Ingeborg. He ordered to collect "more wrists, earrings" and go to the young men to woo his daughter Bela. But Helge and Halfdan refused the messengers. And then Ring ordered for an insult to "mark with a sword." And war came to Helge's house, he hid his sister in the temple of Balder, where she sat alone, "faithful to love, / In tears, like a lily in dewdrops." Knowing what Fridtjof is a brave and courageous warrior, Helge sent old Hilding to him. But the proud Fridtjof did not forget the insult inflicted on him and refused to help his brother-kings with a sword.

Fridtjof began to visit his beautiful Ingeborg at night in the temple of Balder, although he knew very well that in this temple a man has no right to meet a woman. Ingeborg was afraid that God would punish them for these secret meetings. Fridtjof reassured his beloved: “Whoever loves, honors him more truly! / He will come down to us, honoring / Us with his favor! But the night passed quickly, and it was necessary to part.

Fridtjof came to the Thing (a meeting of free farmers), extended his hand to Helga as a sign of reconciliation, because this is not the time to quarrel, the enemy is on the threshold. Fridtjof is ready to fight, but on condition: he marries Ingeborg. All those present began to ask Helge to marry her sister to a bond, he deserves it. Kung said that Frithjof met with Ingeborg at Balder's temple. Frithjof did not dare to lie. He confirmed Helge's words. The crowd, so recently favorably disposed towards Fridtjof, "turned white". According to the law of the ancestors, the hero was supposed to be “punished by exile or death,” but Helge suggested that he go to Angantir, who used to pay tribute, and stopped after Bela’s death. Angantir, as the legendary evil dragon Fafnir, guards his gold, but Fridtjof must prove to everyone that he can not only "turn the head of the virgins in the temple."

Fridtjof invites Ingeborg to go south on his Ellide to Greece, about the beauty of which his father told him, where they will live peacefully and happily. But Ingeborg refuses, her destiny is to be “a humble victim of her brother”, she does not want to steal the heroic name of Fridtjof “from the songs of skalds”, they must submit to Norma (Fate) in order to “save dignity”. They part, but Ingeborg swears that he will never forget his beloved. Fridtjof gives Ingeborg his wrist, asks him not to forget, he will return soon, he will get Helge and gold and then he will ask not the kung, but the people to allow him to marry her. And Fridtjof sets off on the Ellide to Angantir. His ship proved that it was indeed built by the gods and stronger than all the evil forces that Helge unleashed on them. Fridtjof's exhausted team went ashore, Angantir immediately recognized his friend's son, since "in the whole midnight land / He is the only one." But the warrior Atli decided to check whether Fridtjof is really not afraid of battle "and pacifies the steel." Fridtjof fought courageously and won the hearts of everyone with his courage. Angantir received his friend's son kindly. And having learned about the misfortunes of Fridtjof, he gave him royal gifts. Winter has passed in peace and feasts. In the spring, Fridtjof returned home, but instead of the house - the ashes. Good old Hilding told what happened during this time. As soon as Fridtjof left, the huge army of Ring attacked the country. “We didn’t argue with fate for long, - / Kung Helge ran, and the battle stopped.” Retreating, he ordered the family estate of Fridtjof to be burned. And Ingeborg became Ring's wife. The evil Helge plucked "your ring from the virgin." Hilding, in a rage, wanted to kill Helge, but the kind Ingeborg, with tears in her eyes, asked not to touch her brother. Of course, he treated her cruelly, but "Alfader (god) will judge us,"

Fridtjof was saddened and angry, He decides to deal with Helge himself and, with his faithful twin friend Vyorn, goes to the temple of Balder, where “the sacred fire burned all night” - “the image of the sun”. Fridtjof broke into the temple. He contemptuously threw a "tight purse" in Helga's face. Fridtjof, seeing his wrist on the god's hand, "tugged - in anger, the good god / Collapsed into the sacred fire." The temple was on fire. In vain Fridtjof tried to put it out, there was "a wild and mighty fire / Balder, the bright god!" "The grove is turned to ashes, / The temple is smashed with ashes."

Fridtjof was expelled from the country for the burning of the temple. The exile had no choice but to sail the Ellis across the seas. He and his brother Bjorn exactly followed the charter of the Vikings, the rulers of the seas: "If you meet a merchant's ship, be his protection, / But you take tribute from the merchant." They courageously fought with other Vikings, sailed to the beautiful coast of Greece, but Fridtjof missed his homeland - the North, and most importantly - Ingeborg. He returned to his homeland and decided to meet his lover, now Ring's wife, for the last time. Fridtjof did not reveal his name, but the kung soon recognized him. At first, he thought that Fridtjof, who is "terrible to people / and gods", will come "raising his sword, covered with a shield." But he won the heart of the old Ring by behaving very nobly, came “wrapped in rags, with a miserable staff”, and decided to forgive him, moreover, feeling that he would soon “hide” in the mound, “where there is silence”, bequeaths: “Take the edge, take the princess, then you are yours.” Ring asks only to take care of his son. After the death of the kung, the people on the Thing wanted to elect Fridtjof as their kung and see him next to Ingeborg. But the honest, noble Fridtjof replied that for now he could not agree to this, since he had burned the temple of the god and "still the bright god is angry / and full of insults." He must first rebuild the temple. Fridtjof restores the beautiful temple of Balder, in this magnificent temple both "human revenge and anger quietly melted away." But the priest believed that it was not enough to build a temple, it was necessary to reconcile with the enemies, "and then you will be reconciled with the god of light." Helge died because he dared, fighting with the Finns, to enter the sacred temple of Yumala, the supreme deity of the Finns. Kung Halfdan, the priest demands, “give your hand”, “you Asam sacrifice your enmity ... / Refuse, - in vain the temple / You built.” Fridtjof obeyed the priest "and, separated for a long time, the hands again / merged in a grip strong, like the foundations of mountains." And the curse was lifted from Fridtjof, and Ingeborg gave the hand of "children's days to a friend and soul to the chosen one" over the altar.