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Copy of Sigurd the Volsung

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Nessa Loucks

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Sigurd the Volsung

Sigurd the Volsung
Archetypes
The Hero's Journey
Sigurd finding his self-identity and potential strength/heroism

Wise Old Man
Odin appears to guide Sigurd

Trickster
Loki and Regin

Magical Item
Andvari's cursed ring and treasure

Impossible Task/Fight with a Dragon
Sigurd slaying Fafnir

Sleeping Beauty
Brunhild and her magic sleep

Terrible Mother
Grimhild

Fatal Flaw/Vulnerable Spot
Sigurd's vulnerable spot on his back

Culture & History
Cultural values
Integrity
Death is inevitable, characters cannot control their fates
Can only hope to live with dignity
Fame
Immortality only exists in the living (being remembered)
Achieving honor and fame is the hero’s principal goal
Honor is gained mostly on the battlefield
Loyalty
First: King/Country
Second: Family
Third: Friends
Gold
The greatest treasure, but it also corrupts
Retribution
Justice is a private affair: one person vs. another, one family vs. another
Each individual takes full responsibility for their actions
“Wergild”: man-price
Blood begets blood
Summary
Character Analysis
Sigurd the Volsung
Headstrong and is quick to rush into things without thinking
Somewhat gullible -- he is almost killed by Regin's scheming
The Gods, Odin in particular serve as voice of reason and save him from unnecessary death
Good-hearted, noble, brave and kind

Brunhild
She has the characteristics of a male hero, Valkyrie
It is very important to her to uphold her oaths, even to a fault
She is devious and much like Medea in the way that she obtains her revenge toward Sigurd
Woman's wrath: willing to sacrifice herself and kill Sigurd to get what she wants
To her, death is not a threat, because it is inevitable to the Norse world, no one can escape their fate
Symbols & Metaphors
Influences & Similarities
Sleeping Beauty (Disney)
Sleeping maiden, fell into her sleep after pricking her finger
Impenetrable wall surrounding her resting place
Can only be woken by a predestined man
The man who wakes her is a dragon slayer
Not only did both men slay a dragon, both did it with a single thrust of a powerful sword to the beast's heart
Sigurd was raised in the royal house of Denmark.
Famed metal smith Regin teaches him languages, understanding runes, use of weapons.
Regin tells Sigurd about his past and Andvari's treasure:
Regin had two brothers, Fafnir and Otter, who were shapeshifters. Otter was killed while in his otter form, and Regin’s father demanded wergild in recompense. Loki obtained gold and a ring from the dwarf Andvari, but Andvari cursed the gold.
Fafnir steals the wergild and turns into a dragon to protect it
Sigurd agrees to slay Fafnir and retrieve the treasure if Regin reforges Sigmund's sword.
Sigurd's uncle prophesizes that Sigurd will kill Fafnir and Regin and win the treasure. He also prophesizes that the curse will destroy his love and be the cause of his death.
Sigurd sets a trap for Fafnir and kills him, and gets covered in the dragon’s blood in the process.
The blood gives Sigurd the ability to understand the language of the birds. The birds tell him that the dragon’s blood gives him protection -- except on one small area of his back where the blood did not touch his skin.
The birds also tell Sigurd that Regin plans to betray him, so Sigurd beheads him as well.
The birds tell Sigurd about Brunhild the Valkyrie and he sets out to claim her.
Sigurd traveled to the land of the Franks in the south and found a castle surrounded by a ring of fire. In the castle he found Brunhild asleep and wakes her.
Brunhild tells him her story and he gives her Andvari's ring. She agrees, but prophesizes that he will marry another while they are apart .
Sigurd doesn't believe Brunhild's prophecy and they promise to be faithful to one another.
Sigurd journeys to the palace of King Giuki and is invited to stay. They soon accept him as family.
Queen Grimhild wants Sigurd for her daughter Gudrun, but he often spoke of his love for Brunhild. The queen drugs him to make him forget Brunhild and marry Gudrun.
The queen then sent her son Gunnar out to win Brunhild. He approaches Brunhilde's father to ask for her hand and is told that Brunhild will marry who she chooses and that he needs to win her.
Gunnar asks Sigurd for help to win Brunhild. Sigurd shape-changes and woos Brunhild in Gunnar's place. They exchange rings and agree to marry. He gives her one of Gunnar's rings, and she gives him Andvari's ring. Sigurd and Gunnar leave to tell Brunhild's family the news.
Brunhild visits her brother-in-law and explains her dilemma about marrying Gunnar. Her brother-in-law tells her to forget Sigurd (who is now married to Gudrun) and marry Gunnar. Brunhild and Gunnar marry in King Giuki's palace.
Brunhild and Gudrun get into an argument over whose husband is better. Gudrun reveals how Gunnar won her and shows her Andvari's ring to prove it.
The next day Brunhild tells Gudrun that Sigurd was drugged by her mother and swears revenge. She sinks into a depression and berates Gunnar with the truth.
Sigurd goes to talk with Brunhild and tries to convince her to live. He tells her that he regained his memory after she married Gunnar and they should now just "play the hand they were dealt."
Brunhild later tells Gunnar that Sigurd slept with her and convinces him to kill Sigurd. Gunnar enlists the aid of his brother Hogni to help. They use witchcraft to make the youngest brother, Guttorm, comply.
Gudrun unwittingly tells Guttorm about Sigurd's weak spot. While hunting, Guttorm stabs Sigurd in the back. Before Sigurd dies he reveals the treachery to Guttorm.
The brothers concoct a story to tell Gudrun. Guttorm confesses to the murder and Gudrun curses them.
Brunhild tells Gunnar how she manipulated him to kill Sigurd and that she was going to kill herself. Gunnar pleads with her to live but fails. She stabs herself with her sword and before she dies tells Gunnar of his fate:
He will force Gudrun to marry Atli, Brunhild's brother.
Gudrun will give Atli the ring and Atli will kill Gunnar to aquire the treasure.
Gunnar will bury the treasure at the bottom of the Rhine to prevent Atli from getting it.
Gudrun will avenge her brother's death by killing Atli and his sons. She will then cast herself into sea wearing Andvari's ring. When she does, Andvari's curse will end.
Brunhild and Sigurd are cremated together.
Politics
Reflects unstable political conditions before arrival of Christianity
Wars between kingdoms produced many heroes and villains
Their deeds became subjects of songs and poems
Gender roles
Men were kings, warriors, etc.
Women were valued for their beauty, wisdom and kindness
Women could be warriors (Brunhild)
But were still not entirely equal especially in marriage
Appeal
Appeals to many because Sigurd is an ideal hero
He is both wise and courageous
Puts the needs of others before his own desires
Complex characters
Good people until circumstances lead them to treachery
No character is completely predictable or trustworthy
Andvari's ring and treasure
Human greed
Dragon/Fafnir
Corruption: the result of greed
Fafnir's blood and heart
Reward of wisdom/prophecy
Birds
Similar to Greek chorus; thoughts of the audience
History
Appears in Scandinavian, British, and German literature
Earliest version appears in Beowulf (1000)
Preceded Beowulf because Sigurd was already popular
Definitive version: The Volsunga Saga (1300)
Disappeared for centuries due to its drama and pre-Christian themes
Resurfaced in the 19th century
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Golden treasure handed over by force
Curse will kill any who own the treasure (or make them undead in the case of Pirates)
Violence follows the treasure (pirate attacks or through treachery)
Curse can only be broken by returning the treasure to a designated point (treasure chest in Pirates vs. deep water in Volsung)
J. R. R. Tolkien
Sigurd the Volsung
was the primary inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien to write
The Lord of the Rings
.
Odin’s magic sword mirrors Anduril, the sword of Aragorn, which was also broken and reforged.
Odin appears throughout the story as an old man with a long beard, blue cloak, and broad rimmed hat that covered his forehead; as Gandalf the Grey appears in the
Lord of the Rings
as wearing a grey cloak and a broad rimmed blue hat that covers his forehead.
Sigurd’s horse, Grani, could be related to Gandalf’s horse, Shadowfax, who was also a divinely born horse.
Fafnir the dragon was Tolkien’s inspiration for Smaug in his book
The Hobbit.
The treasure that Fafnir guards, is similar to the Dwarven treasure that Bilbo Baggins and the dwarf company attempt to recover.
Similarly, Andvari is a dwarf in the legend of Sigurd who curses his treasure before it is stolen, along with his magic ring -- the inspiration for the One Ring of power.

The Iliad
Many scholars consider
Sigurd the Volsung
to be
The Iliad
of the northern countries.
In T
he Iliad
, Achilles, the Greek hero who is part god, is dipped in the River Styx to gain invulnerability from any weapon. His mother neglects to submerse him completely, holding him by his heel, which does not gain the same power.
Sigurd is bathed in dragon blood when he slays Fafnir and gains invulnerability to all weapons, save for a spot on his back, which was covered by a leaf. This spot becomes Sigurd’s fatal weak spot.
Conclusion
Who is the original owner of the magical item and treasure which becomes a curse to all who possess them? What is the magical item?
Andvari the dwarf originally owned the gold ring and cursed it when Loki took it from him.

Is Sigurd an honorable warrior and man? What is the cause of his betrayal of Brunhild?
Yes, because of his kindness, generosity, courage, and skill.
Queen Grimhild drugged Sigurd with wine that made him forget Brunhild and led him to marry her daughter Gudrun.

What is wergild?
A "man’s price", designated payment as a restitution for a death, but the recipient is free to reject the offer.

What makes Sigurd almost entirely invulnerable? What is the only way he can be killed?
The magical blood of Fafnir made him invulnerable, but didn’t cover a small space between his shoulder blades that was covered by a Linden leaf.
The only way he can be killed is by a weapon going through that area, since that is the only part of his body that is vulnerable.
Full transcript