Hálfs saga and Hálfr in Nordic Traditions
- A: 1. AfatRhAriwulafa
- 2. hAþuwulafRhAeruwulafiR
- B: warAitrunARþAiAR
That is, “§A In memory of Hariwulfar. Haþuwulfar, Heruwulfar’s son, §B wrote these runes.’  In other words, Haþuwulfar (Old Norse Hálfr), descended from Heruwulfar (Old Norse Hjǫrólfr), raised the monument in honor of Hariwulfar (Old Norse Herjólfr). Like Haþuwulfar, the other two names build on ‘wolf’ as their second elements: in addition to Haþuwulfar ‘battle-wolf’, the inscriptions show Heruwulfar ‘sword-wolf’ and Hariwulfar ‘army-wolf’. These facts have naturally excited much curiosity, especially given that we have in these monuments the use of dithematic names built on a shared second element (‘wolf’), showing familial relations, from a temporally bounded group of inscriptions, found in close proximity to each other. Importantly, the three names alliterate, the metrical requirement of all early Germanic verse.
ONOMASTIC TRADITION & PARRICIDAL HEROIC LEGENDS
ONOMASTIC TRADITIONS, PARRICIDE & GERMANIC HEROIC LEGENDS
|?||FATHER-SON||FATHER-SON & BROTHER-BROTHER||BROTHER-BROTHER|
|First element of name ||Istaby,etc.||Hálfssaga||Hildebrandslied||Ásmundar saga kappabana||Gesta Danorum||Snorra Edda, etc.||Gesta Danorum||Beowulf|
|‘sword’ ||Heruwulfar>||Hjǫrólfr (Hjǫrleifr)|
næs ic him tō līfe lāðra ōwihte,
beorn in burgum, þonne his bearna hwylc,
Herebeald ond Hæðcyn oððe Hygelāc mīn.
Wæs þām yldestan ungedēfelīce
mǣges dǣdum morþorbed strēd,
syððan hyne Hæðcyn of hornbogan,
his frēawine flāne geswencte,
miste mercelses ond his mǣg ofscet,
brōðor ōðerne blōdigan gāre.
Þæt wæs feohlēas gefeoht, fyrenum gesyngad,
hreðre hygemēðe; sceolde hwæðre swā þēah
æðeling unwrecen ealdres linnan.
In no way was I, a man of his stronghold,
more hateful to him than his own sons,
Herebeald, Hæthcyn, of Hygelac my lord.
For the eldest brother a death-bed was strewn,
undeservedly, by his kinsman’s error:
Hæthcyn shot him, his brother, his leader,
with an arrow from his bow curved and horn-tipped
missed his mark and struck his brother,
one son’s blood on the other’s shaft.
There was no way to pay for a death so wrong,
blinding the heart, yet still the prince
had lost his life, lay unavenged.
Noteworthy of this third type is the fact that the figures whose names are based on haþu– are either killed by the father figure—as in the cases of Hadubrand and Hálfr—or perpetrate fratricide under tragic circumstances— as in the cases of Hǫðr and Hæðcyn (who kill, respectively, Baldr and Herebeald). Nor is the distribution haphazard: where the haþu-warrior is the son in a father-son relationship, he is the victim; where he is one of two brothers, he is the killer of his unwitting sibling.