The Atlkakvida is one of the heroic poems of the Poetic Edda. One of the main characters is Atli who originates from Attila the Hun. The story uses characters also known in the Song of the Nibelungs. I have deliberately merged the two stories for this series of illustrations.

1. Gudrun mourns her dead husband Sigurd, murdered by Gunnar and Hagen.

2. Years of depression, grief and unfulfilled desire for revenge follow.

3. A messenger of Attila the Hun arrives. Attila asks for Gudrun to marry him. (scroll down for next image, then see image on the right)

5. On their way to Attila, Hagen encounters a rivermaid that predicts the future. Everyone will die on this journey.

4. Attila receives Gudrun and her entourage. They marry and Gudrun becomes Empress

7. At the court of the Huns, Gudrun tries to force Hagen and Gunnarr to reveal the location of the gold of the Nibelungs. They resist, so she has Hagen's heart cut out, and Gunther thrown into the snake pit, where he dies while playing the harp.

8. Feeling that her husband has been of no help to her, she murders his two children and serves him their flesh when he is drunk at a feast. She then throws herself out of the window, but the sea deemed her acts a fitting revenge for what was done to her in her life, and carries her off to the shores of Denmark, where she weds king Jonakr of Denmark.

The Poetic Edda
The Poetic Edda is a collection of Old Norse poems primarily preserved in the Icelandic medieval manuscript Codex Regius. Along with Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda is the most important extant source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends, and from the early 19th century onwards has had a powerful influence on later Scandinavian literatures, not merely through the stories it contains but through the visionary force and dramatic quality of many of the poems.

1. Lokasenna "The flyting of Loki". After offending pretty much all Gods and Goddesses in Valhall, Loki is hunted down and tied with his own son's guts. A venomous snake drips poison on his face. His wife Sigyn stays with him, holding a cup under the stream of poison. But whenever she has to empty the cup, poison reaches Loki's face and he's writhing in pain, this being thought the cause of earthquakes.

2. Hyndluljóð "The Lay of Hyndla". Not much storyline in there, but I loved the idea of Freya hollering at Hyndla "Let's go ride to Valhall, you on your wolf, and I on my boar, and have some girl talk!"

3. Þrymskviða "The Lay of Thrym". Freya lends her feathered cloak to Loki, who flies to earth, looking to find out who stole Thor's hammer. The fun part of the story is when Thrym demands Freya as a bride in return for the hammer, and Thor decides to cross-dress and pretend he is Thrym's fair bride Freya. At the wedding feast, Thrym can't help but notice his veiled bride is much more stout than he had pictured her, and she eats a whole ox and downs three kegs of beer. Should have made him suspicious!

4. Skírnismál (Sayings of Skírnir). In which Frey falls in love with Gerdr, and sends his servant Skírnir to woo her. But Skírnir does quite the bad job at it, and after Gerdr won't yield to clumsy sweet talk, Skírnir has to threaten her life for her to succumb. Romantic...not!


5. Sigrdrífumál ("sayings of the victory-bringer") Sigurd rode up the Hindarhil, and went into the castle. He saw a warrior lying within it asleep. He first took the helmet off the warrior's head, and saw that it was a woman. With his sword Gram, he ripped the corslet and took it off from her, breaking the spell of Odin. Brynhild rises and continues to praise and greet the world, as Sigurd drinks a potion from a horn.