Bödvar Bjarki

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This article is about the legendary hero. For the Icelandic football player, see Viktor Bjarki Arnarsson.
Bödvar Bjarki's last battle. He is in the fetch of a bear.

Hrólf Kraki Tradition

Hrólf Kraki's saga
Ynglinga saga
Lejre Chronicle
Gesta Danorum
Beowulf
People
Hrólfr Kraki
Halfdan
Helgi
Yrsa
Adils
Áli
Bödvar Bjarki
Hjörvard
Roar
Locations
Lejre
Uppsala
Fyrisvellir

Bödvar Bjarki (Old Norse: Böðvar Bjarki), meaning 'Warlike Little-Bear', is the hero appearing in tales of Hrólf Kraki in the Saga of Hrólf Kraki, in the Latin epitome to the lost Skjöldunga saga, and as Biarco in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum. Some think he and the hero Beowulf in the Old English poem Beowulf were originally the same personage, while others reject this notion.

Unlike Beowulf, Bödvar is said to have been Norwegian, which may be explained by the fact that his story was written by Icelandic authors who were mostly of Norwegian descent.

However, his brother was the king of Gautland (Geatland) and, like Beowulf, it was from Geatland that Bödvar arrived in Denmark. Moreover, upon arriving at the court of Denmark, he kills a monstrous beast that has been terrorizing the court at Yule for two years.

The famous poem Bjarkamál (of which only a few stanzas are preserved but which Saxo Grammaticus presents in the form of a florid Latin paraphrase) is understood as a dialogue between Bödvar Bjarki and his younger companion Hjalti which begins by Hjalti again and again urging Bödvar to awake from his sleep and fight for King Hrólf in this last battle in which they are doomed to be defeated. As explained in the prose, this rousing was ill-done, as Bjarki was in a trance and his spirit in the form of a monstrous bear was already aiding Hrólf far more than Bjarki could do with only his mannish strength.

See also[edit]