Skjöldr hét sonr Óðins, er Skjöldungar er frá komnir. Hann hafði atsetu ok réð löndum, þar sem nú er kölluð Danmörk, en þá var kallat Gotland. Skjöldr átti þann son, er Friðleifr hét, er löndum réð eftir hann. Sonr Friðleifs hét Fróði. Hann tók konungdóm eftir föður sinn í þann tíð, er Ágústus keisari lagði frið of heim allan. Þá var Kristr borinn. En fyrir því at Fróði var allra konunga ríkastr á Norðrlöndum, þá var honum kenndr friðrinn um alla danska tungu, ok kalla Norðmenn þat Fróðafrið. Engi maðr grandaði öðrum, þótt hann hitti fyrir sér föðurbana eða bróðurbana lausan eða bundinn. Þá var ok engi þjófr eða ránsmaðr, svá at gullhringr einn lá á Jalangrsheiði lengi.
Fróði konungr sótti heimboð í Svíþjóð til þess konungs, er Fjölnir er nefndr. Þá keypti hann ambáttir tvær, er hétu Fenja ok Menja. Þær váru miklar ok sterkar.
Í þann tíma fannst í Danmörk kvernsteinar tveir svá miklir, at engi var svá sterkr, at dregit gæti. En sú náttúra fylgði kvernunum, at þat mólst á kverninni, sem sá mælti fyrir, er mól. Sú kvern hét Grótti. Hengikjöftr er sá nefndr, er Fróða konungi gaf kvernina. Fróði konungr lét leiða ambáttirnar til kvernarinnar ok bað þær mala gull ok frið ok sælu Fróða. Þá gaf hann þeim eigi lengri hvíld eða svefn en gaukrinn þagði eða hljóð mátti kveða. Þá er sagt, at þær kvæði ljóð þau, er kallat er Gróttasöngr. Ok áðr létti kvæðinu, mólu þær her at Fróða, svá at á þeiri nótt kom þar sá sækonungr, er Mýsingr hét, og drap Fróða, tók þar herfang mikit. Þá lagðist Fróðafriðr.
Mýsingr hafði með sér Grótta ok svá Fenju ok Menju ok bað þær mala salt. Hann bað þær mala lengr. Þær mólu litla hríð, áðr niðr sukku skipin, ok var þar eftir svelgr í hafinu, er særinn fellr í kvernaraugat. Þá varð sær saltr.
Skjǫldr was the name of a son of Óðinn, who the Skjǫldungs are descended from. He had a royal residence and ruled over the lands that are now called Denmark, and were then called Gotland. Skjǫldr had the son who was called Friðleifr, who ruled the lands after him. Friðleifr's son was called Fróði. He inherited the kingdom from his father at that time when the Emperor Augustus laid peace on all the world. Christ was born then. And because Fróði was the most powerful king in the Northlands, the peace was attributed to him in the tongue of all Danes, and Norsemen called that the Peace of Fróði. No one harmed another, even if he found before him the slayer of his father or his brother, loose or bound. There was also then no thief or robber, so that a gold ring lay for a long time on Jelling heath.
King Fróði went to a feast in Sweden held by the king there, who was called Fjǫlnir.(1) There he bought two bondswomen, called Fenja and Menja. They were big and strong.
At that time there were two grindstones in Denmark so big that no one was so strong as to manage to turn them. And that power was attached to the quern(2) that there was ground out in the quern whatever the person who was grinding said. That quern was called Grótti.(3) The person who gave the quern to King Fróði is called Hengikjǫftr. King Fróði had the bondswomen brought to the quern and commanded them to grind out gold and peace and happiness for Fróði. And he gave them no longer to rest than the cuckoo sang or he might speak a sound. It is said that they spoke this lay, which is called the Song of Grótti. And before they left off with the poem, they ground out an army(4) against Fróði, so that that night there came the sea-king called Mýsingr and killed Fróði, [and] there took great booty. Then the Peace of Fróði came to an end.
Mýsingr had Grótti with him and likewise Fenja and Menja, and ordered them to grind out salt. He ordered them to grind for a long time. They ground for a little while before the ship sank, and afterwards there was a whirlpool in the sea, where the water falls into the eye of the quern. Then the sea became salty.(5)
Nú eru komnar Now are come
til konungs húsa to the king's house
framvísar tvær, two seeresses,
Fenja ok Menja; Fenja and Menja;
þær ro at Fróða they are at Fróði
máttkar meyjar the mighty maids,
at mani hafðar. held as bondswomen.
Þær at lúðri They to the flour-bin
leiddar váru were led
ok grjóts gréa and to the turning
gangs of beiddu; of the stones of the groats(6) commanded;
hét hann hvárigri he said neither
hvíld né ynði, rest nor ease
áðr hann heyrði rather he heard
hljóm ambátta. the servantmaids' song.(7)
Þær þyt þulu They chanted(8) songs,
þögnhorfinnar: bereft of silence:(9)
"Leggjum lúðra, "Let's lay down the bin,
léttum steinum." let's lift the stones."
Bað hann enn meyjar, Yet he ordered the maids
at þær mala skyldu. that they should grind.
Sungu ok slungu They sang and turned
snúðga-steini, the twist-stone,
svá at Fróða man so that Fróði's men
flest sofnaði; mostly(10) slept;
þá kvað þat Menja, then Menja said this,
var til meldrs komin: she was come to the flour:(11)
"Auð mölum Fróða, "Let's grind wealth for Fróði,
mölum alsælan, let's grind complete bliss,
mölum fjölð féar let's grind much riches
á feginslúðri; on the mill of joy;
siti hann á auði, may he sit on wealth,
sofi hann á dúni, may he sleep on down;
vaki hann at vilja, may he wake with delight,
þá er vel malit. there is well ground.
Hér skyli engi Here shall no one
öðrum granda, harm another,
til böls búa work towards evil
né til bana orka, or devise killing,
né höggva því or strike to that end
hvössu sverði, with sharp sword,
þó at bana bróður even if a brother's slayer
bundinn finni." [he] finds bound."
En hann kvað ekki But he spoke no
orð it fyrra: word sooner [than]:
"Sofið eigi meir "Sleep no more
en of sal gaukar than [the song] of the cuckoo(12)
eða lengr en svá or longer than when
ljóð eitt kveðak." I utter a lay."
"Var-at-tu, Fróði, "Fróði, you were not
fullspakr of þik, full-wise in yourself,
málvinr manna, friend of people,
er þú man keyptir; when you bought bondservants;
kaustu at afli you chose by strength
ok at álitum, and by looks,
en at ætterni and about descent
ekki spurðir. you did not ask.
Harðr var Hrungnir Hardy was Hrungnir,
ok hans faðir, and his father,
þó var Þjazi although Þjazi
þeim öflgari; was stronger than them;
Iði ok Aurnir, [and] Iði and Aurnir,
okkrir niðjar, our relatives,
bræðr bergrisa, brothers of mountain-risir,(13)
þeim erum bornar. from whom we are descended.
Kæmi-a Grótti Grótti would not have come
ór gréa fjalli out of the grit fell(14)
né sá inn harði or that hard
hallr ór jörðu, rock out of the earth,
né mæli svá nor would be grinding so
mær bergrisa, a girl of the mountain-risir,
ef vissi vit if we two had known
vætr til hennar. nothing of it.(15)
Vér vetr níu For nine winters we(16)
várum leikur were playmates,
öflgar alnar strong bred
fyr jörð neðan; down under the earth;
stóðu meyjar [we] girls performed
at meginverkum, mighty feats,
færðum sjalfar we ourselves moved
setberg ór stað. the mountain seat(17) from its place.
Veltum grjóti We rolled the rock
of garð risa, over the giants' court,
svá at fold fyrir so that from it the earth
fór skjalfandi; was set shaking;
svá slöngðum vit so [far] we slung
snúðga-steini, the whirling stone,
höfga-halli, the heavy rock,
at halir tóku. that men took [it].(18)
En vit síðan And we later
á Svíþjóðu in Sweden,
framvísar tvær two seeresses,
í folk stigum, stepped into battle,
beiddum björnu, baited bears,(19)
en brutum skjöldu, shattered shields,
gengum í gögnum went up against
gráserkjat lið. the grey-shirted folk.(20)
Steypðum stilli, We cast down a king,
studdum annan, supported another,
veittum góðum gave to good
Gothormi lið; Gothormr aid;
var-a kyrrseta, there was no resting
áðr Knúi felli. until Knúi fell.
Fram heldum því We continued on
þau misseri, for those seasons,
at vit at köppum so that we as champions
kenndar várum; were known;
þar sorðu vit there we cut
skörpum geirum with sharp spears
blóð ór benjum blood from wounds
ok brand ruðum. and reddened swords.
Nú erum komnar Now we have come
til konungs húsa to a king's houses,
ok at mani hafðar; and held in bondage;
aurr etr iljar, the mud eats our soles
en ofan kulði, and the cold(21) the tops [of our heads],
drögum dolgs sjötul, we are pulling on the settler(22) of strife,
daprt er at Fróða. it is dreary at Fróði's.
Hendr skulu hvílask, Hands must rest,
hallr standa mun, stone will stand still,
malit hefi ek fyr mik; I have ground, to me,
mitt of leiti; my share;(23)
nú mun-a höndum now I will not give
hvíld vel gefa, my hands a good rest
áðr fullmalit before fully ground
Fróða þykki. it seems to Fróði.(24)
Hendr skulu höndla Hands must handle
harðar trjónur, hard poles,
vápn valdreyrug, weapons bloody from slaughter,
vaki þú, Fróði, wake up, Fróði,
vaki þú, Fróði, wake up, Fróði,
ef þú hlýða vill if you wish to hear
söngum okkrum our songs
ok sögnum fornum. and ancient tales.
Eld sé ek brenna I see fire burning
fyr austan borg, east of the stronghold,
vígspjöll vaka, war-tidings waking,
þat mun viti kallaðr, that will be called a warning beacon,
mun herr koma an army will come
hinig af bragði here of a sudden
ok brenna bæ and burn the dwelling
fyr buðlungi. in spite of the king.(25)
Mun-at þú halda You will not hold onto
Hleiðrar stóli, the throne of Hleiðr,(26)
rauðum hringum the red rings
né regingrjóti; or the stones of the regin;(27)
tökum á möndli let us seize the handles,
mær, skarpara, girl, harder,
erum-a varmar we are not warm(28)
í valdreyra. in blood of slaughter.
Mól míns föður My father's girl
mær rammliga, ground forcefully,(29)
því at hon feigð fira because she saw doomed to die
fjölmargra sá; full many men;
stukku stórar [the] big props
steðr frá lúðri flew off the bin,
járni varðar, girded with iron:
mölum enn framar! let us grind further yet!
Mölum enn framar! Let us grind further yet!
Mun Yrsu sonr, Yrsa's son will,
niðr Halfdanar, Halfdan's kinsman,(30)
hefna Fróða; take revenge on Fróði;
sá mun hennar he will to her
heitinn verða be called
burr ok bróðir, son and brother,
vitum báðar þat." we both know this."
Mólu meyjar, The maids ground,
megins kostuðu, tested their strength,
váru ungar young, they were
í jötunmóði; in jǫtunn-rage;
skulfu skaptré, the timber frames(31) quaked,
skauzk lúðr ofan, the bin shot downwards,
hraut inn höfgi the heavy rock
hallr sundr í tvau. split asunder in two.
En bergrisa And the mountain-risir's
brúðr orð of kvað: bride spoke these words:
"Malit höfum, Fróði, "We have ground, Fróði,
sem munum hætta, so that we will [have to] stop,(32)
hafa fullstaðit they have stood enough
fljóð at meldri." at the grinding, the ladies."
1. A name of Óðinn, as is Hengikjǫftr, below.
2. the hand-operated mill made up of the two huge grindstones.
3. The edition by Clive Tolley, which was partly the work of Ursula Dronke, uses the form Grotti.
4. i.e, war
5. This prose introduction is from Snorri's Gylfaginning; Snorri has combined the story of Fróði with that of how the sea became salty.
6. Some reordering for clarity. The manuscripts have variants of gria, for grja.
7. Following the prose, this is presumably to be interpreted: "He ordered them to take neither rest nor ease but he must always hear the servantmaids' song".
8. Interpreting þyt as a variant of þulðu. Tolley and Dronke instead emend þulu to þutu, translating: "They started the screeching".
9. Faulty text: this has been taken as an epithet for the thudding mill, and variously emended.
10. presumably to be taken as "all".
11. i.e., she was standing at the flour-mill. One manuscript has meldr, for the alternate form meldrar.
12. Problematic text. The manuscript has: sofit eigi þit ne of sal-gaukar. Tolley and Dronke emend to: Sofið eigi þit meir en syngrat gaukr, which they translate: "Sleep no more, you two, than the cuckoo stops singing".
13. Bræðr, brothers, has sometimes been amended to brúðir, brides, based on Verse 24. A risi is a kind of giant; the distinctions are not clear, although modern Icelanders characterise the thurs as stupid, the jötunn as strong and the risi as big: "Hár sem risi, sterkr sem jötunn, heimskr sem þurs".
14. or Gríafjell; one manuscript has griafalli.
15. Adopting Tolley and Dronke's emendation of vissi to vissim; they also amend the last word to kvernar, the quern.
16. i.e., years. For grammar, vér should be the dual, vit.
17. According to Tolley and Dronke, a saddle-backed mountain.
18. or them; this may refer to the two grindstones referred to in the prose.
19. following Tolley and Dronke. One manuscript has beiddum, another beittum. Presumably meaning berserkers?
20. presumably meaning mail-shirts.
21. I'm taking this as Cleasby-Vigfússon's kuldi.
22. Sjǫtull only occurs in one other place: a verse by Egill Skallagrímsson, where it means "seat". "Settler", from the verb sjǫtlask, "subside", is the usual interpretation here.
23. following Tolley and Dronke's interpretation
24. Tolley and Dronke plausibly suggest that the second half of the verse is spoken by the other giantess, and that "nú mun-a" should be amended to "munum-a" - "we will not".
25. With Tolley and Dronke, I follow Neckel's pointing to a skaldic verse that may be influenced by this line; it could also be taken as "around" the king. Buðlungr is a heroic word for "king" derived from Buðli, father of Atli.
26. now Lejre; the ancient capital city.
27. I take this with Guðbrandur Vigfússon as referring to hǫrgar, altars made out of rocks, but Tolley and Dronke think regin- is here merely used to mean "mighty", and that the word refers to the millstones.
28. Emended. One manuscript has valmar with the lm underlined, indicating some sort of correction is needed; the other has valnar. Other than the choice made by the editor, Guðni Jónsson, there are no Modern Icelandic cognates to guide emendation. A possible interpretation of valnar is "fumbling", based on a Norn word; Tolley and Dronke emended to vamlar and rendered it as "squeamish", based on words like a Danish word meaning "sickly".
29. Rearrangements for clarity in this and the following two pairs of lines. The change to past tense is unexplained; Guðbrandur Vigfússon took it as referring to the speaker's mother (father's wife).
30. Or more clearly, "son": emendation of the manuscripts' við hálfdana, which would mean "take vengeance against the Half-Danes for Fróði". The verse, which is probably an interpolation, is about Hrólfr kraki, who was Yrsa's brother as well as son because their father Helgi inadvertently married his own daughter. Hrólfr would have taken vengeance against Fróði, not for him, but is not recorded as having done so; the editor's emendation to his taking vengeance for the death of his grandfather Halfdan (brother and victim of one of the Fróðis), referring to him as Halfdan's son, corresponds to a suggestion by Sijmons and Gering in their German edition. Tolley and Dronke instead emend to vígs, "for Halfdan's slaughter".
31. Taking as skapttré: wooden framework for steadying the handle.
32. Problematic line; something may be missing.