The Jarl



The Jarl

XXI. Jarl ( excerpt from chapter XXI of “The Asatru Edda “

1. When Jarl was a youth he won repute among his father’s huntsmen by defeating a huge beast, a remarkable incident which foretold the quality of his bravery in the future. He had asked the guardians who were bringing him up conscientiously for permission to go and see the hunting, when he encountered a bear of unusual size. Although weaponless, he managed to bind it with the belt he used to wear and then gave it to his companions to kill. During the same period he is reputed to have overcome individually many champions of tested courage, among whom Atli and Skat had wide renown.

2. Already at fifteen he had grown to such a stature that he presented the perfect specimen of manhood, and so forceful were the proofs of his talent that he was given the name Skjöldr, and kings of the Danir assumed from him the common title of Skjöldungar, who are the royal family of Danmörk.(1)He was also called Danr Mikillati, and from him Danmörk took its name.(2)Skjöldr-Jarl’s boldness, then, outstripped the full development of his strength and he fought contests which someone of his tender years would scarcely have been allowed to watch.(3)He would become the leader of the warriors of Aurvangaland.(4)

3. Under the patronage of Rígr-Heimdallr, Skjöldr-Jarl’s duty was to defend Svíþjóð from the Jötnar of the north, and because of this he was also called Borgarr.(5)Not only was he notable for feats of arms, but also in affection for his fatherland.6 He continued to spread the custom of Heimdallr’s holy fire,(7) and introduced beneficial laws, earnestly performing anything which could improve his country’s condition. He looked after his jarlar, giving them incomes when they were at home, as well as the booty won from the enemy, for he would maintain that soldiers should have their fill of money and the glory go to their leaders. All men’s debts were settled from his own treasury, as if he vied with other rulers’ courage through his own bounty and generosity.

4. He used to attend the sick with remedies and bring kindly comfort to persons in deep distress, bearing witness that he had undertaken his people’s welfare rather than his own. Where men had abandoned themselves to an emasculated existence, undermining their sobriety by debauchery, he energetically roused them to pursue merit in an active career.

5. So his age and virtue increased.8 As has been told,(9)Jarl, or Skjöldr, was married to Erna, who was also called Drótt.(10) She was a daughter of king Danpr, also called Hersir.(11) One day two smiths had come to king Danpr’s realm, and they each forged a sword for him. The king then destroyed the first sword, called Hvítingr, in capricious trials of the iron’s strength and resiliency. The second smith was angered by this, and foretold that his sword, Lýsingr, would cause the death of the king’s most famous grandson.(12)

6. When Drótt’s father had reached extreme old age, he learned that his daughter might be taken from him, so he fashioned a cave and had her placed within it, first granting a suitable retinue and providing sustenance for a long period. He also committed to the cave, along with other gear, the sword Lýsingr, to keep the curse from coming true, and so that his enemy would be unable to use weapons that he was aware that he could not handle himself. So that the cavern should not rise up too obviously, he made its hump level with the solid earth.(13)

7. Skjöldr-Jarl had been struck by Drótt’s great beauty,(14) so he had messengers go and ask for her hand.(15 )The messengers learned that Skat, who was also called Hildur, was also courting her and Danpr feared that he was going to steal her away.(16)

8. As soon as he heard that Danpr’s daughter had been shut up in a far-off hiding place, Skat-Hildur bent all his wits and energies to finding her. Eventually, while he was personally conducting a search along with others, he half fancied that he could detect a murmuring noise underground. Gradually working his way nearer, he grew more convinced that it was the sound of a human voice. When he had given orders for the earth beneath their feet to be dug down to solid rock, a cavity was suddenly revealed where he could see a warren of winding passages.

9. The servants who tried to defend the covered entrance were cut to pieces and the girl dragged out of the hole along with the other prizes which had been stored there; all except the sword, Lýsingr, for with admirable foresight, Drótt had stowed it away in an even more secret place. Hildur-Skat compelled her to submit to his lust, and she bore him a son, named Hildigir or Hildibrandr, progenitor of the Hildingar. From this a battle was waged in which Danpr lost his life.

10. In the meantime, Skjöldr-Jarl, comprehending that Skat-Hildur had forcibly taken Danpr’s daughter Drótt to his bed, robbed him of his partner and his life, and married Drótt himself.(17) His messengers then took her to his home.(18) She was no unwilling bride, since she considered it proper to take her father’s avenger in her arms. While the girl mourned her father, she could not bring herself to submit with any pleasure to his murderer.(19)

11. Jarl reigned long, and in his days were good seasons and peace. His son was the first called king (konungr) in the Danskr Tunga. His descendants always afterwardconsidered the title of king the highest dignity. Konr was the first of his family to be called king, for his predecessors had been called dróttnar, after his mother, Drótt, and their wives were called dróttningar, and their garðr drótt. Each of their race was called Yngvi, or Yngvinn, and the whole race together Ynglingar.(20)Jarl lived to a very great age before his son, Konr, succeeded him. It is said that Jarl died in his bed in Uppsalir, and was transported to Fýrisvellir, where his body was burned on the riverbank, and where his standing stone still remains.(21)

12. The earliest ætt, the Skjöldungar, was thought to have greater wisdom, greater strength, and more influence on the Goðin.

-The Asatru Edda

End footnotes ( sources ):

1 Gesta Danorum bk. 1, Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 1 ch. 22.
2 Ynglingasaga ch. 20, Rígsþula 47, Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 1 ch. 22-3.
3 Gesta Danorum bk. 1, Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 1 ch. 22.
4 Gesta Danorum bk. 7, Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 1 ch. 22.
5 Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 1 ch. 22-3, 32.
6 Gesta Danorum bk. 1, Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 1 ch. 22.
7 Rigveda I:31.4, Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 2.1 ch. 32.
8 Gesta Danorum bk. 1.
9 Rígsþula 38-39, see above (XX. 81-82).
10 Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 1 ch. 22, vol. 2.2 pg. 166.
11 Ynglingasaga ch. 20, Rígsþula 38, Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol. 1 ch. 22.
12 Based on Ásmundar Saga Kappabana 9, 10;
10:13 Il 4G I AA Q a Gesta Danorum bk . 7 , " Hvít 310 di 424 Kormákrs Saga . 13 Gesta Danorum bk . 7 , Ásmundar Saga Kappabana 9 , 10 . 14 Gesta Danorum bk . 7 . 15 Gesta Danorum bk . 1 . 16 Gesta Danorum bk . 1 , 7 ; see Our Father's Godsaga glossary on Hildigir . 17 Gesta Danorum bk . 7 , Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol . 1 ch . 22 , vol . 2.2 pp . 166 , 196 . 18 Rígsþula 39 . 19 Gesta Danorum bk . 7 . 20 Ynglingasaga ch . 20 . 21 Ynglingasaga ch . 19 , 29 , Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol . 1 ch . 22 . 22 Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol . 2.1 ch . 26 . 23 Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol . 1 ch . 30 , Wolfdieterich . 24 Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol . 1 ch . 15-19 . 25 Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol . 2.1 ch . 38 , Wolfdieterich , the number seven is changed to nine , since it was a common Christian practice to change Odinic numerical traditions to fit those of their faith . 26 Investigations into Germanic Mythology vol . 1 ch . 28 B

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