1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hrólfr Kraki

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HRÓLFR KRAKI, perhaps the most famous of the Danish kings of the heroic age. In Beowulf, where he is called Hrothwulf, he is represented as reigning over Denmark in conjunction with his uncle Hrothgar, one of the three sons of an earlier king called Healfdene. In the old Norse sagas Hrólfe is the son of Helgi (Halga), the son of Halfdan (Healfdene). He is represented as a wealthy and peace-loving monarch similar to Hrothgar in Beowulf, but the latter (Hróarr, or Roe) is quite overshadowed by his nephew in the Northern authorities. The chief incidents in Hrólfr's career are the visit which he paid to the Swedish king Aðils (Beowulf's Eadgils), of which several different explanations are given, and the war, in which he eventually lost his life, against his brother-in-law Hiörvarðr. The name Kraki (pole-ladder) is said to have been given to him on account of his great height by a young knight named Vöggr, whom he handsomely rewarded and who eventually revenged his death on Hiörvarðr. There is no reason to doubt that Hrólfr was an historical person and that he reigned in Denmark during the early years of the 6th century, but the statement found in all the sagas that he was the stepson of Aðils seems hardly compatible with the evidence of Beowulf, which is a much earlier authority.

See Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum, pp. 52-68, ed. A. Holder

(Strassburg, 1886); and O. Olrik, Danmarks Hettedigtning (Copenhagen,