Medieval Icelandic Saga

The Icelandic Saga of King Hrolf and his Champions

13th century, Old Norse.

Hroar and Helgi assumed the names Ham and Hrani, and remained unrecognised for three years.

Hroar and Helgi, two young sons of the late King Halfdan of Denmark, flee a burning building, barely escaping with their lives, as their uncle, Frothi, seizes the kingdom for himself.

They cross over water to an island where they spend some time in an underground room at Vifil’s farm and take on the names of two dogs: Hop and Ho. As a seeress at King Frothi’s hall is later to reveal:

Two are here within, I trust in neither... they that long time on Vifil’s island lingered, hounds names they bore there, Hop, yes, and Ho.

Before this broadcast of their secret, the two brothers had left the island to travel to their sister, who lived with her husband, Earl Saevil. Here they had assumed the names Ham and Hrani, adopting this disguise and remaining unrecognised for three years. Then, on their way to King Frothi’s hall, their disguise now compromised, they rode their horses like incompetents, recalling Sir Lancelot in the thirteenth century pre-cyclic Lancelot and in Chrétien de Troyes' twelfth century tale of The Knight of the Cart; also the twelfth century Anglo-Norman Ipomadon, as the eponymous hero travels to meet Sir Lyoline in the company of Elaine and her dwarf, disguised as a fool, an episode repeated, at least initially, in Thomas Chestre’s fourteenth century tale of The Fair Unknown.

Story fragment recounted from: Jones, Gwyn, 1961, reprinted 2008. Eirik the Red, and other Icelandic Sagas (Oxford World's Classics). Oxford University Press. King Hrolf and his Champions.


Circle Line, Paddington

Weird Tales—discussion

The Medieval story of Ipomadon, translated into Modern English.

The Medieval tale of the Fair Unknown, translated into Modern English.


Sagas of Icelanders – Wikipedia

Hrolf Kraki – Wikipedia




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