This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Qui* cum forte Sueonum regis Sigtrugi filiam Gro gigantum cuidam desponsam cognosceret, tam indignam regio sanguine copulam exsecratus bellum Sueticum auspicatur, Herculeae virtutis exemplo monstrorum nisibus obstaturus. inita Gothia cum deturbandorum obviorum gratia caprinis tergoribus amictus incederet ac variis ferarum pellibus circumactus horrificumque dextra gestamen complexus giganteas simularet exuvias, ipsam Gro silvestres forte latices cum paucis admodum pedissequis lavandi gratia petentem equo obviam habuit. quae sponsum adesse rata simulque tam insoliti cultus horrore muliebriter territa succussis frenis maxima cum totius corporis trepidatione patrio carmine sic coepit:
“conspicor invisum regi venisse gigantem
et gressu medias obtenebrare vias,
aut oculis fallor; nam tegmine saepe ferino
contigit audaces delituisse viros.”
tum Bessus sic orsus:
“virgo, caballi
quae premis armos,
verba vicissim
mutua fundens,
quod tibi nomen,
qua fueris, dic,
gente creata!”
ad haec Gro:
“Gro mihi nomen,
rex pater exstat,
sanguine fulgens,
fulgidus armis.
tu quoque, quis sis
aut satus unde,
promito nobis!”
cui Bessus:
“Bessus ego sum,
fortis in armis,
trux inimicis,
gentibus horror,
atque alieno
saepe refundens
sanguine dextram.”
tum Gro:
“quis, rogo, vestrum
dirigit agmen?
quo duce signa
bellica fertis?
quis moderatur
proelia princeps?
quove paratur
praestite bellum?”

* i.e. Gram

(Saxo Grammaticus, Historia Danorum 1.4.2-4)

When he chanced to learn that Gro, the daughter of Sigtrug, king of the Swedes, was betrothed to one of the giants, he cursed such an unwarranted connexion of royal blood and began a Swedish war, intending to oppose the exertions of monsters with a truly Herculean bravery. On entering Götaland he put on goat-skins to intimidate anyone who appeared in his path; accoutred thus in an assortment of animal hides, with a terrifying club in his right hand, he impersonated a giant. Gro met him as she happened to be riding to the forest-pools to bathe, a small group of handmaids attending her on foot. Thinking it was her betrothed, but at the same time experiencing a feminine consternation at his strange dress, she flung up her reins and, with her whole body trembling, began, in the words of our native poetry, like this:
“Can it be the giant, loathsome to the king,
shadowing with his steps the middle of the road?
Yet bold warriors have frequently concealed
themselves beneath the pelts of beasts.”
Then Bess spoke:
“You, maiden, who ride
upon the steed’s back,
exchanging words with me,
tell us your name,
and from what lineage
you take your birth.”
She replied:
“Gro is my name,
my father of royal
blood, resplendent,
dazzling in arms.
But you too disclose
what man you are,
or whence you are sprung.”
The other answered:
“Bess I am,
valiant in warfare,
ferocious and terrible
to enemy peoples,
often wetting
this right hand
with foreigners’ life-blood.”
Then said Gro:
“Tell me, what leader
draws up your battle-line?
For whom do you carry
the standards of war?
What chieftain
prepares you for action,
under whose eye
you wage your strife?”
(tr. Peter Fisher)

2 thoughts on “Gigantem”

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