Völund is a mythical smith-god that the Nordic and also Germanic peoples, who shocking and brutal story of revenge is relayed in the Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda. The is intimately pertained to Weyland (also assignment Wayland, Weland and Watlende), the smithing god that the Anglo-Saxon religious beliefs that was carried with the Saxon inhabitants from Britain, despite the exact link to the Nordic variation (whether that be direct extrapolation or syncretism) is unclear.

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Norse Mythology is renowned because that its well-off tapestry of colorful stories, memorable characters, heroic sacrifice, and epic battles. In the history of northern Europe, this collection of tales brought meaning and purpose to both the Scandinavian peoples and the north Germanic tribes for countless centuries. Although the spiritual lore of norseman mythology, prefer virtually every human history itself, is violent, glorifying war and also human sacrifice, this an ar has now end up being a leader that peace and also disarmament ~ above the international stage.

Völund in a norseman Context

As a figure in the norse mythic corpus, Völund belonged come a complicated religious, mythological and also cosmological id system common by the Scandinavian and Germanic peoples. This supernatural tradition, of i m sorry the Scandinavian (and specifically Icelandic) sub-groups are ideal preserved, developed in the duration from the an initial manifestations of religious and material society in around 1000 B.C.E. Until the Christianization that the area, a procedure that emerged primarily native 900-1200 C.E..<2> The tales recorded within this mythological corpus tend to exemplify a unified social focus on physics prowess and also military might.

Within this framework, vikings cosmology postulates three different "clans" of deities: the Aesir, the Vanir, and the Jotun. The difference between Aesir and Vanir is relative, because that the two are claimed to have actually made peace, exchanged hostages, intermarried and reigned together after a prolonged war. In fact, the most major divergence in between the two teams is in their respective areas of influence, through the Aesir representing war and also conquest, and also the Vanir representing exploration, fertility and wealth.<3> The Jotun, top top the various other hand, are seen as a typically malefic (though wise) race of giants who stood for the major adversaries the the Aesir and Vanir.

Völund, in the semi-eponymous story from the Poetic Edda, is an intriguing character. On one hand, he appears to it is in a (fairly immoral) human being who exacts bloody revenge upon a tormentor. ~ above the other, the mythical and archaeological record contains some elements (discussed below) that suggest a divine provenance. In any kind of case, he is among the an ext ambiguous (and therefore intriguing) characters in Nordic myth.

Mythic Accounts

Völund"s story, i beg your pardon is related in the Völundarkvitha section of the Poetic Edda,<4> is a chilling tale of abduction, betrayal, rape, murder, and revenge. It begins in the residence of three bachelor brothers, Völund, Egil and also Slagfiðr (Slagfid/Slagfinn), who endeavor out one night, just to come across three valkyries rotate flax by the river. After ~ the young maidens had actually removed their swan cloaks (and were therefore unable to paris away),<5> the brothers crept up, seized them, and brought them ago to your home, where they take it them as their wives. After nine years, "a longing for fight came end the Valkyries, and … they flew away."<6> when the brothers returned home from the hunt the day, they uncovered themselves deserted:

Völund residence | native his hunting came,From a weary way, | the weather-wise bowman,Slagfith and Egil | the hall uncovered empty,Out and in walk they, | everywhere seeking.

East fared Egil | ~ Olrun,And Slagfith south | to seek for Swan-White;Völund alone | in Ulfdalir lay.<7>

As the just memento the the heartbroken Völund had actually of his lover was she gold ring, he remained at home and also constructed replica ~ replica of it, gradually occurring masterful metalworking and also smithing skills.

Red yellow he fashioned | with fairest gems,And ring he strung | top top ropes that bast;So because that his wife | he waited long,If the fair one residence | might come to him.<8>

Soon after, story of Völund"s capability in metal-work reached the ear of King Nidud, the local sovereign. The king, desiring to use these skills for his very own aggrandizement, kidnapped the smith, stole his sword and also rings, and also imprisoned the on an island. Come make certain that his brand-new charge might not escape, Nidud had Völund hamstrung (rendering him crippled and also unable come walk). Over there he was required to forge items for the king. Adding insult to injury, Weyland"s wife"s ring was provided to the king"s daughter, Bodvild, and also the ungracious king kept and wore Weyland"s sword.


Trapped in his island prison, Völund had small else come do yet plot revenge. First, the lured King Nidud"s 2 young sons to his island:

Völund spake:"Come ye alone, | the next day come,Gold to you both | shall then be given;Tell not the maids | or the men of the hall,To nobody say | that me you have actually sought."

. . . . . . . . . . .

Early did brother | to brother call:"Swift let us go | the rings to see."

They pertained to the chest, | and they craved the keys,The angry was open up | when in castle looked;He smote off your heads, | and also their feet he hidUnder the sooty | straps that the bellows.<9>

After decapitating the youths and hiding your bodies, Völund was able to continue with his plan. In the next stage, favor a gender-inverted version of the tale of Procnê and Tereus,<10> the constructs jewel from their eyes (which he presents to the queen), chalices from your skulls (which he offers to the king), and brooches native their this (which he delivers come the princess). Furthering his angry aims, he later on convinces the young princess to visit him on his island, wherein he bedevils her senses v poisoned beer and rapes her. His vengeance complete, Völund dons a swan cloak and also flies to the king"s bedchamber to gloat:

"Seek the smithy | that thou didst set,Thou shalt uncover the bellows | sprinkled v blood;I smote turn off the heads | that both her sons,And their feet "neath the sooty | straps ns hid.

"Their skulls, when hid | by their hair, ns took,Set them in silver | and also sent them to Nithuth;Gems complete fair | from their eyes i fashioned,To Nithuth"s () wife | so wise I offered them.

"And native the teeth | the the twain ns wroughtA brooch for the breast, | to Bothvild I offered it;Now large with kid | go Bothvild go,The only daughter | ye two had ever."

Nithuth spake:"Never spakest she word | the worse might hurt me,Nor that made me, Völund, | an ext bitter for vengeance;There is no guy so high | native thy horse to take thee,Or therefore doughty one archer | as under to shooting thee,While high in the clouds | thy course thou takest."<11>With that, the dark antihero took flight, leave the stunned royals to your grief and also loss.Laughing Völund | rose aloft,But left in sore | Nithuth sat.<12>

Religious Themes

While the disturbing tale of Völund appears to merely be a tale of human depravity, certain religious elements deserve to be viewed in it. First, the smith is frequently referred to as "prince that the álfar (elves)" and also "countryman the the álfar," which would seem to suggest his place within your ranks.<13> Second, the textual evidence also implies a comparable link, together the Völundarkvitha is placed between two mythological poems (Thrymskvida and Alvíssmál) in the Codex Regius version of the Poetic Edda - which is odd, offered that the message is divided into 2 parts: a mythological and a heroic section.<14> Thus, this placement provides an imputation worrying the central character"s divinity. Third (and most explicit), facets of the tale can be found in the german Thidreks Saga, i beg your pardon features numerous of the same occasions as the Völundarkvitha, but starts by describing Velent (Völund) together the kid of a huge who learned the smithing handmade from 2 dwarves.<15> Fourth, his mythological importance is attested to by the myriad historical clues come the myth"s ubiquity, from its presence on crucifixes<16> come its engraving on burial caskets.<17> Finally, this divine attribution makes a specific sense of the poem"s brutality, because that "if Völund had actually been the divine figure he probably once was, the excessive nature the his "justice" could have appeared acceptable in one ancient, primitive way, and also indeed, as Kaaren Grimstad has pointed out, there remains around him other of the vengeful god confronting a person being who has injured him."<18>

However, and in despite the of these details, it continues to be the instance that the currently Völund is mostly a human being agent, definition that his actions were to it is in judged by person standards. Together McKinnell concludes:

Anglo-Saxons additionally seem come have had actually some doubts around the justice of Weland"s revenge. ""Deor and Alfred"s Boethius, Metrum 10, both avoid discussing it, and the Franks Casket carver is by implication enemy to that in juxtaposing the bringing of Bodvildr"s ring through the gifts of the Magi to Christ - the vengeful old order set against the brand-new merciful one. The poet of "Völundarkvitha is sufficient of an artist to be an ext even-handed, and permits us our very own view, but the tide of opinion to be perhaps currently running against such primitive "justice," and Völund"s days as a hero were numbered.<19>



McKinnell, John. "The paper definition of Völundarkviða," Saga-Book, Vol. XXIII (1), 1990. 1-27.Munch, P. A. "Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and also Heroes." In the review of Magnus Olsen, translated from the Norwegian through Sigurd Bernhard Hustvedt. Brand-new York: The American-Scandinavian foundation; London: H. Milford, Oxford university Press, 1926.Souers, Philip Webster. "The Wayland scene on the Franks Casket," Speculum: A journal of middle ages Studies 18(1) (Jan. 1943): 104-111

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