From Myth to Fiction
The Saga of Hadingus
As Professor Dumézil and others have shown, some Indo-European peoples, after their conversion to Christianity, have reordered an earlier mythology to constitute the epic of their origins. For instance, Celtic mythology became history in one case and a source of fiction in another; and from the two texts, Welsh and Irish, by comparison one can reconstruct the original myth.
The Scandinavian nations provide a unique case, for here the pre-Christian texts are still read and have preserved much of the area's mythology in its original form. In addition, we have the work of Saxo and other known writers who composed and signed human transpositions of this mythology purporting to be history. This permits Professor Dumézil to make observations of a rare kind, for knowing something of the author's personality facilitates an understanding of the process of transposition itself.
Professor Dumézil shows how Saxo began by wanting only to tell the story of Denmark and its rulers as nobly as he could—and then later on to extend that narrative back in time. This led him to the only extant Scandinavian literature—that centered on Iceland—that he reordered and reinterpreted to the greater glory of Denmark.
In order to provide a content for the reign of the third king of the Danish Skoldunger dynasty, Hadingus, Saxo simply reworked a Scandinavian account of the career of the god Njördr. In this light Professor Dumézil reads The Saga of Hadingus as a fascinating substitution of a psychological and completely personal narrative for a story of purely social value.
This book contains six appendixes including two that consider the relationship between myth and folklore. They complement Professor Dumézil's careful exegeses and imaginative scholarship to make this the most important, specialized work on Scandinavian mythology available in English.
The Saga of Hadingus
1. Hadingus Is Not Hasting the Viking
2. Hadingus and the God Njöror (1843-1941)
3. The Two Lives of Hadingus: 2) Hadingus with the One-Eyed Old Man: the Odinic Hero, the Winds and the Sea
4. The Two Lives of Hadingus (continued): 1) Hadingus with Harthgrepa (a) Legitimate Incest among the Vanes
5. The Two Lives of Hadingus (concluded): 1) Hadingus and Harthgrepa (b) The "Bad Magic" of the Vanes
6. The First Mythological Digression: Giants, Ase Gods, and Vane Gods
7. The Second Mythological Digression: The War between the Ases and the Vanes
8. The Haddinjar
1. Hanging and Drowning
3. Balderus and Hotherus
5. The Gestatio of Frotho III and the Folklore of the Frodebjerg
6. Njöror, Nerthus, and the Scandinavian Folklore of Sea Spirits
7. Saxonis, Gesta Danorum, I, v-viii