The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki

The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki


  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140435931
  • 144 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


Composed in medieval Iceland, Hrolf’s Saga recalls ancient Scandinavia of the Migration Period, when the warrior chieftain King Hrolf ruled in Denmark.

In the Viking World, King Hrolf served as a symbol of courage. Sharing rich oral traditions with the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, Hrolf’s Saga recounts the tragedy of strife within Denmark’s royal hall. It tells of powerful women and the exploits of Hrolf’s famous champions – including Bodvar Bjarki, the ‘bear-warrior’, who strikingly resembles Beowulf. Combining heroic legend, myth and magic, Hrolf’s Saga is full of wizards, sorceresses, and ‘beserker’ fighters, originally members of the cult of Odin. Most startling is the central love triangle: Hrolf’s father, a man of insatiable appetites, unknowingly abducts his daughter, who later marries the despised sorcerer King Adils of Sweden.

A powerful human drama with deep historical roots, extraordinary events and fierce battle scenes, Hrolf’s Saga ranks among the masterworks of the Middle Ages.

Table of Contents

Translated with an Introduction by Jesse L. Byock

The Sagas of Ancient Times and Heroic Lays
Skjold and the Skjoldung Dynasty: The Legendary Past
Archaeology and the Legendary Hleidargard
The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki and Beowulf
Beowulf and Bodvar Bjarki: The Bear Warriors
Myth in the Saga
Christian Influence

Map: The World of The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki
Note on the Translation

The Saga
1. King Frodi Kills His Brother King Halfdan
2. The Search
3. The Boys Helgi and Hroar Revealed
4. The Death of King Frodi
5. King Helgi Rules Denmark and King Hroar Marries
6. King Helgi Attempts to Marry Queen Olof
7. King Helgi’s Vengeance: The Girl Yrsa; The Ring
8. Jarl Hrok Claims King Hroar’s Ring
9. Vengeance and King Hroar’s Son Agnar
10. King Helgi and Queen Yrsa
11. The Elfin Woman and the Birth of Skuld
12. King Adils and King Helgi Meet
13. King Adils’ Pride and Queen Yrsa’s Displeasure
14. Svipdag and the Berserkers
15. Svipdag and His Brothers Join King Hrolf’s Men
16. King Hrolf Tricks King Hjorvard
17. King Hring of Norway Marries Hvit
18. The Love of Bera and Bjorn
19. Bjorn Rejects Queen Hvit’s Advances: The Curse
20. Bjorn’s Transformation into a Bear and the Birth of Bodvar
21. Thorir Becomes King of the Gauts
22. Bodvar’s Vengeance
23. Bodvar and His Brothers
24. King Hrolf’s Champions
25. Bodvar Encourages King Hrolf to Recover His Inheritance
26. Three Strange Nights with Hrani
27. King Adils’ Deceitful Welcome
28. King Adils Attempts to Defeat King Hrolf
29. Queen Yrsa Gives King Hrolf His Inheritance and More
30. King Adils is Conquered by Gold and King Hrolf Angers Hrani
31. Queen Skuld Incites King Hjorvard
32. Queen Skuld Attacks King Hrolf at Yule
33. The Great Battle
34. The Death of King Hrolf Kraki

Genealogical Tables: The Family of King Hrolf Kraki; The Family of Bodvar Bjarki; The Family of Svipdag
Equivalent Characters in Old Norse, Old English and Latin Accounts of King Hrolf Kraki
Glossary of Proper Names

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