*Continuing with Skaldskaparmal & direct quotes taken from Faulkes translation noted in Italics.
Our last myth was the beginning of the saga of Andvari’s cursed ring and how it was added to the treasure given as atonement for the death of one of Hreidmar’s sons. And the curse was that it would bring destruction and death to whoever possessed it. “What more is there to tell about the gold”? After Hreidmar had take the atonement payment (with the ring) his other two sons, Fafnir and Regin demanded something from it for themselves to make up for losing their brother. “Hriedmar would not let them have a single penny of the gold. The brothers then undertook this terrible course of action that they killed their father for the gold”. Then Regin demanded that they should share the gold equally. But Fafnir said he wouldn’t share any of the gold since he was the one that did the work of killing their father. Then he told Regin he better leave or else he’d kill him too. Fafnir had also gotten hold of his father’s helmet called aegis-helm (terror helmet) which all creatures are afraid of when they see it, and a sword called Hrotti. Regin had a sword called Refil and fled away. But Fafnir dawned the helmet and “went up to Gnita-heath and made himself a lair there and turned into the form of a serpent and lay down on the gold”. But Regin went to King Hialprek’s in Thiod and became a craftsman to him. Then he took Sigurd into his fosterage. “Sigurd was the most splendid of all war-kings in descent and strength and courage. Regin told him about where Fafnir was lying on the gold and incited him to go and try and get the gold”. Then Regin made a sword called Gram which was so sharp that when Sigurd put the blade in a river it cut a tuft of wool that drifted against it in two. Next, Sigurd took the sword and cut Regin’s anvil down to its base. Then Regin and Sigurd went out to Gnita-heath. Sigurd dug a trench in Fafnir’s path, and when Fafnir passed over it, Sigurd thrust the sword through him and killed him. Then Regin came up and told Sigurd that he killed his brother so for atonement he asked that “he should take Fafnir’s heart and roast it on a fire, and Regin lay down and drank Fafnir’s blood and lay down to sleep”. But when Sigurd was roasting the heart, he touched his finger to it to see how tough it was. But when he did, the juice ran out of the heart onto his finger and scalded him. He put his finger in his mouth and when the blood touched his tongue, he was able to understand what the birds in the trees were saying. One of them said “There sits Sigurd, spattered with blood, Fafnir’s heart at the fire he roast, wise I would consider the ring-spoiler [generous man] if he ate the shining life-steak [heart]”. Then the second bird said “There lies Regin, planning with himself, intending to trick the boy who trusts him. In his wrath he composes crooked speeches. The maker of mischiefs intend to avenge his brother”. Then Sigurd went up to Regin and killed him. Then he took his horse named Grani, and rode to Fafnir’s lair. There he sacked up all the gold from the lair, loaded it onto the horse’s back, and rode off on his way. And this is why gold can be called abode of Fafnir or Burden of Grani.
Thoughts & Discussion: * This is one more of many cases of shapeshifting by not just gods but people of magik. Is this meant to give examples of people practicing the forms of animalistic magik attributed to Berserkers and Ulfhednar, shapeshifters, and theriomorphs? Is this proof that, unlike what many claim, these forms of practice were more common than just for battle?
*One of the most common arguments about why it was justified that Loki’s sons were killed for his binding was the claim that killing a relative for a relative was the standard atonement or even specific law. However, multiple times in the lore, we see that a payment or agreement was given as atonement instead. We see that here in this tale. We see Skadi and her marriage within the Aesir being atonement for her father’s death. This saga here begins with the ring being thrown in with a treasure that was atonement for a death. And the list goes on. So why is it now common belief that the primary, or even only, form of atonement was another death?
Feel free to comment and discuss here. And I will respond as able. Thank you for reading.