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Sigmund

Page history last edited by Scottie Patrick 10 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund is the eldest son of Volsung and twin brother of Signy.  After being taken prisoner by Signy’s husband, Siggeir, after he ambushes Sigmund, his father, and nine brothers, Sigmund bites off the tongue of a she-wolf that came to eat him and saves himself.  He then goes underground to plot the revenge of his father with the help of his sister, Signy.

 

Signy sends her first two sons by King Siggeir to Sigmund to train them to aid him in his vengeance.  However, Sigmund tests the children’s bravery by placing a snake in a sack of flour and commanding them to make bread; neither children make the bread.  When Sigmund tells Signy of this, she asks that he kill the boys, and he does.

 

After this, Sigmund meets a strange woman in the woods where he is hiding and brings her to his shelter.  He “found her a fine and handsome woman” and he “told her he wanted them to share one bed that night” (Byock 43).  Sigmund is not aware that a sorceress has traded shapes with his sister, Signy, and that it was she who Sigmund met in the woods.  Signy becomes pregnant shortly after with Sigmund’s child, but he is unaware of this.

 

As with her other sons, Signy brings her son Sinfjotli to Sigmund.  Unlike the other two, however, Sigmund finds Sinfjotli to be brave and hardy, “very like the Volsung stock” (Byock 43). 

 

Sigmund and Sinfjotli become great friends, donning wolf skins (seemingly, becoming werewolves) and raiding the forest together for a time.  Eventually, Sigmund and Sinfjotli raid Siggeir’s castle and are betrayed by Signy’s two young sons, who Sinfjotli kills.  King Siggeir places Sigmund and Sinfjotli in a mound to die slowly, but Signy saves them again by throwing meat and Sigmund’s sword into the mound.  They escape and eventually set Siggeir and his men on fire.  Signy tells Sigmund that Sinfjotli is the product of their incest before throwing herself into the fire with her husband.

 

Sigmund and Sinfjotli return to Sigmund’s patrimony, taking back Volsung’s land from a usurper.  Sigmund became a “rich and excellent king, wise and ambitious” (Byock 47).  He married Borghild and had two sons, Helgi and Hamund.

 

After Sinfjotli killed Borghild’s brother, Sigmund refused to turn Sinfjotli out of his kingdom at Borghild’s request, so she murdered him.  Sigmund’s sorrow at Sinfjotli’s death “was almost his death” (Byock 51).  He turned Borghild out from his kingdom, shortly after which she died.

 

After Borghild’s death, Sigmund went to the kingdom of Eylimi, a famous and powerful king, to procure a marriage to his daughter, Hjordis.  He had heard that “she and none other was the match for him” (Byock 52).  Her other suitor, King Lyngvi, angry at not being chosen by Hjordis for marriage, attacked Sigmund and Eylimi, killing them both.

 

As he laid dying on the battlefield, Hjordis came to Sigmund and tried to save him.  He refuses her care, but tells her that she is carrying a son.  “Raise him well and carefully,” he tells her, “for he will be the best of our line.  Guard well the broken pieces of the sword [which Odin had given him].  From them can be made a good sword, which will be called Gram” (Byock 54).  (Harkens forward to Tolkein).  Indeed, the child Hjordis carried was Sigurd the Dragon Slayer.

 

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