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Groa's notes for Beaduhild

Author's note: this poem is based on the story of Weland (aka Volund) as told in the Old English poem Deor (1) and in the Volundarkvitha (2). King Nithhad (ON Nithoth), father of Beaduhild (ON Bothvild), learns that Weland is home alone. Nithhad takes him prisoner, cuts the sinews in his knees, and puts him to work in the royal forge. Weland takes his revenge by killing Nithhad's sons and sending cups made from their skulls to Nithhad. He also impregnates Beaduhild. He then escapes on wings that he has made.

The encounter between Weland and Beaduhild is usually described as "rape", but some features in the story caught my attention and made me wonder whether "rape" was an accurate description. For example, in stanza 29 of the Volundarkvitha (2), it says that Weland plies Beaduhild with beer until she passes out. Yet, in describing to her father what happened, Beaduhild never mentions being incapacitated, but states instead (stanza 43):

Nought was my might with such a man
Nor from his strength could I save myself.

In stanza 31, Beaduhild is described as weeping over Weland's incipient departure and her father's impending wrath, but not, apparently, over what Weland has done to her. Finally, Weland extracts an oath from Nithhad that he will not harm "Volund's wife," Beaduhild (stanza 35). Hence, this poem.

1. Runic and Heroic Poems of the Old Teutonic Peoples, Bruce Dickins, ed.; Klaus Reprint Co.: New York, 1968; pp 70-73.

2. Poetic Edda, Henry Adams Bellows, transl.; The American-Scandinavian Library: New York, 1923; pp 

 

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