Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Unravelling Hodur's Lore

Rydberg's pattern-recognizing genius made the following connections which are helpful in unravelling the lore of Hodur :

1. The warnings in Loddfafnismal (in Havamal) and Sigrdrifumal are essentially the same.

2. Sigrdrifumal was delivered to a hero who slew the dragon Fafnir.

3. Loddfafnismal was delivered to a hero who, through his name, had some connection to the dragon Fafnir, yet which was heard originally in Valhall, and recounted from the doomseat at Wyrd's Well from one dead.

4. The warnings in both texts have little application to the recorded adventures of Sigurd/Siegfried.

5. The warnings are far more relevant to what we know of Hodur and his heroic derivative Hedin.

Rydberg concluded that at least some of the exploits attributed to Sigurd were originally the domain of Hodur. Heroic repetition of Godly deeds is nothing new in mythology, as Eliade has noted.

This connection is reinforced by the fact that Hodur's counterpart in the Iranian divine twins who correspond to him and Baldur is a famous fighter of monstrous beasts.

While Sigrdrifumal is delivered to a hero who has rescued the speaker from her captivity, Hedin, the hero of the various offshoots of the Kudrun Cycle, is also renowned for having rescued a maiden from captivity. The multiple descriptions in the various Sigurd folksongs and Eddic poetry make it clear who the original model for this maiden --- Sigrdrifa, "She Who Drives Forth (With) Victory" --- is : Sol. Bright, surrounded by flames, found at a high elevation ; diverse variations on these themes make it clear that Sol was the rescued maiden. We know from Gylfaginning that Sol was taken by the Gods from her father, who found her fair and beautiful, just as Hedin takes the maiden from her father. This would suggest that it was originally Hodur who retrieved Sol from her father's land.

Moreover, Saxo includes a tale, in Book Seven of his Gesta Danorum, about two brothers who are treacherously killed by a Loki-like traitor (whose wife, as Sigyn, accompanies him to the Underworld), one of whom rescues a valkyrie from her jealous father, after having slain the dragon(s) that guarded her. Saxo calls her Alf-hild, while Vafthruthnismal calls Sol Alf-Rodull. All of this confirms the general outline of the story we've been uncovering : the killing of a jotunn-wyrm or dragon of some kind, along with the deliverance of the sun from captivity.

In Sorla Thattr, on the other hand, Hedin meets what appears to be a valkyrie, Gondull, out in the woods, but she turns out to be a monstrous giant, who gives him ale which makes him forget his bond of brotherhood and drives him to ill deeds. In Saxo's account, Hodur meets up, while hunting, with what appear to be valkyries in the woods, who goad him into conflict with Baldur over Nanna. In Helgi Hiorvardsson, Hedin meets a troll-woman in the woods who curses his drink, whereupon he vows to have the beloved of his brother. The common thread is the meeting of strife-bearing troll-women who push him into conflict with his brother. Loddfafnismal explicitly warns against an enchantress, who will make the hero spurn the company of men. Saxo reports that Hodur suffered the same symptoms. Moreover, Gylfaginning reports that it was a woman whom Frigg trusted who gained the secrets of Baldur's invulnerability. Snorri avers that this was Loki in disguise, but we know of a troll-woman, Gullveig-Heid, who was amongst the Aesir at one point as their trusted handmaiden. Loddfafnir is warned against the enchantress, while Hodur puts his faith in them.

As Loddfafnir is warned against seducing another man's woman and fighting against a friend, so Hodur and Hedin fight against their brother on account of a woman.

Loddfafnir is warned against listening to a lying man, while Hodur takes the counsel of Loki. Likewise, Loddfafnir is warned to make his own arrow-shafts, while Hodur takes his from Loki.

All of this converges on a consistent pattern, which directly points to Hodur as a famous dragon-slayer and rescuer of the Sun.


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