The Serpent Dragon Fafnir

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The Völsunga saga tells of the legendary hero Sigurd and of his slaying of the dragon Fafnir.

Fafnir was a dwarven prince that was cursed into becoming a dragon by Andvari’s stolen gold and magical ring.

Read about: The Curse of Andvari’s Stolen Gold and Magical Ring

The Völsunga saga tell us that the Æsir gods Odin, Loki, and Hœnir, were out traveling and came across Ótr (otter), who was shape-shifted as an otter. Ótr was the son of Hreidmar, King of the Dwarves. Loki killed the otter (which was Ótr shape-shifted as an otter) with a stone and then the three Æsir, Odin, Loki, and Hœnir, skinned the otter.  *Note: Loki is referred to as an Æsir in the Völsunga saga.

Later that day, the three Æsir gods came to King Hreidmar’s dwelling and showed off the otter’s skin they had just acquired.

Hreidmar, King of the Dwarves, recognized the otter skin as being the hide of his son Ótr and demanded justice from them for slaying him.

Hreidmar and his remaining two sons, Fafnir and Regin, seized the Æsir gods, Odin and Hœnirand, and held them captive while Loki was sent to gather a ransom (weregild).  Loki was to have the otter skin of Ótr stuffed with gold and have the outside of it covered with red gold. This was the weregild demand made by the dwarven king as reparations for slaying his son, Prince Ótr. (Side Note: Dwarves could seize and hold captive Æsir gods?)

Loki fulfilled the task by gathering the cursed gold of Andvari as well as the magical ring, Andvaranaut.

Loki knew because of Andvari’s curse that the items would bring about the death and destruction of whoever possessed them.  He gathered them anyways, knowing the Dwarven King would be doomed for possessing them, and offered them for the release of Odin and Hœnirand.

The dwarven king Hreidmar accepted the Ótr filled bag with Andvari’s magical ring and gold as weregild and released the captive Æsir gods.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

The gold and ring’s curse caused greed and madness to possess the dwarven royal family. The dwarven prince Fáfnir, seeking the gold and magic ring for himself, killed his father, the Dwarven King Hreidmar, and took it all for himself. Upon possessing it, he became very ill-natured and greedy. Seeking to protect his precious treasure, he went out into the wilderness to keep his fortune safe. The curse from the gold and magic ring eventually turned him into a dragon (wyrm, serpent) that became obsessed with guarding his treasure.

Fafnir had denied his brother Regin any share of the gold.

Some versions are more specific about Fáfnir’s treasure hoard, mentioning, not only the vast hoard of gold and the magic ring Andvaranaut, but also the swords Ridill and Hrotti, the helm of terror, and a golden coat of chainmail. ..and perhaps, an Arkenstone?

Being denied his share of the gold, his brother Regin seeks out the aid of the legendary hero Sigurd.

Sigurd agrees to kill the now dragon Fafnir to avenge him and his father Hreidmar.

476a5505178b24caf5d6954d11b8ef00Regin instructed Sigurd to dig a pit in which he could lie in wait under the trail Fáfnir used to get to a stream for a drink of water and plunge his sword, Gram, into Fafnir’s heart as the dragon crawled over the pit to get to the water. Regin then ran away and hid in fear, leaving Sigurd alone to the task.

As Sigurd dug, Odin appeared in the form of an old man with a long beard, advising the warrior to dig more trenches for the blood of Fafnir to run into, presumably so that Sigurd does not drown in the blood.

The earth quaked and the ground nearby shook as Fafnir appeared, blowing poison into his path as he made his way to the stream. Sigurd, undaunted, stabbed Fafnir in the left shoulder as he crawled over the ditch he was lying in and succeeded in mortally wounding the dragon.

As the creature laid there dying, he spoke to Sigurd and asked for his name, his parentage and who sent him on such a dangerous mission. Fafnir figured out that his own brother, Regin, plotted this, and predicts that Regin will also cause Sigurd’s death. Sigurd tells Fafnir that he will go back to the dragon’s lair and take all his treasure. Fafnir warns Sigurd that all who possess the gold will be fated to die.

Sigurd replies that all men must one day die anyway, and it is the dream of many men to be wealthy until that dying day, so he will take the gold without fear.287f6eec1d04f24bacde4fd0ef77e054

Alternatively; Sigurd kills Fafnir and drinks some of Fafnir’s blood, gaining the ability to understand birds. The birds advise Sigurd to kill Regin, because he’d been corrupted by the ring and was plotting Sigurd’s death. Sigurd beheads Regin and keeps the ring and treasure for himself.

From the Saga, it is safe to say that the dragon Fafnir and the result of many deaths, including legendary heroes such as Sigurd, were a result from The Curse of Andvari’s Stolen Gold and Magical Ring and Loki’s mischievous nature.

Read the about it in the: <Völsunga saga

by Njord Kane © 2016 Spangenhelm Publishing


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Njord Kane is an infantry and cavalry veteran who also served in law enforcement just prior to entering into the world of academia where he pursued the disciplines of military science, social psychology, and anthropology. Having left his profession, he now takes care of his adult autistic sons at home while passionately writing about early Norse and Mesoamerican culture and history at spangenhelm.com and readicon.com. Kane is also the author of numerous books including, The Vikings, The Maya, and The Viking Hero Series.

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