Friday, September 30, 2011

Saga of the Volsungs (III -- Genealogy)

The family tree of the Volsungs is something else. King Volsung, for whom the family is named, is the son of Rerir, himself the grandson of Odin through Sigi. And Volsung was born after six long years of labor (the result of an apple of fertility during Rerir's advanced years), and had to be cut from his mother's body.

On top of the Aesir blood and favor, Volsung married the daughter of a giant, Hjlod -- a giantess and "wish-bringer" in Odin's service. (Hjlod was also the person who provided Rerir with the apple which produced Volsung.) It was from his giantess of a wife that the twins Signy (from last week's blogpost) and Sigmund were born (Sigmund was, by the way, the toughest, most powerful, most impressive man around), and from Signy and Sigmund's incestual affair, Sinfjotli was born. 


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Sigmund the Fabulous
Sinfjotli was birthed primarily to avenge the death of his grandfather Volsung and all his uncles by murdering his mother's husband. The Norse seem to trope on this idea of the child born and raised to murder someone, since Odin accomplished the same thing with Váli, who was birthed to avenge Baldr's death by killing Hod. But Sinfjotli is kind of a sidebranch (though remind me sometime to post about the epic trashtalk in this saga). I assume because he's a child of incest, which was unacceptable enough that Signy had to go to her brother disguised as someone else to accomplish it.


And we still haven't made it to Sigurd, the supposed hero of our Saga. 


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Sigurd slaying Fafnir
Sigmund, after defeating his nemesis and brother-in-law King Siggeir, went on to make a name for himself (he was so tough he could drink poison without any effect, and he happened to be in possession of a sword gifted to him by Odin, which made him practically undefeatable... until it broke), and he married twice (his son Helgi, by his first wife, is another sidebranch in the saga). The second time, to a woman named Hjordis. Sigmund died in the same battle his sword broke (all signs point to Odin himself breaking it in the heat of things), but Hjordis was, fortunately enough, pregnant with his son. 


Which brings us, finally and at last, to Sigurd, born of Hjordis after his father's death, and his own tragic tale of love and betrayal. Just in case you hadn't already had enough of it.


Odin > Sigi > Rerir > Volsung > Sigmund > Sigurd, with a mixed heritage of no less than three races. Which is probably why he got to slay the dragon. 

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