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This article is about the hero in Völundarkviða and Þiðreks saga. For the other uses, see Egill.

Egill is a legendary hero of the Völundarkviða and the Þiðreks saga.


The name Egill is from Proto-Germanic *Agilaz[1] and the same legend is reflected in Old English Ægil [æɡiɫ] of the Franks Casket and Alamannic Aigil of the Pforzen buckle.


In the Völundarkviða, Egill is a son of a Finn king, his elder brother being Slagfiðr, his younger one Vǫlundr. The three brothers marry valkyrjur they encounter in swans' form, Slagfiðr marries Hlaðguðr svanhvít, and Vǫlundr marries Hervǫr alvitr, daughters of king Hlǫðver, while Egill marries Ǫlrún, a daughter of the Roman Emperor (Kjárr of Valland).

Þiðreks saga

In the Þiðreks saga, Egill acts as a masterly archer, once he is forced by king Niðung to shoot an apple from the head of his son. He readies two arrows, but succeeds with the first one. Asked by the king what the second arrow was for, he said that had he killed his son with his first arrow, he would have shot the king with the second one. This tale is directly comparable to the legends of William Tell and Palnetoke. As opposed to Tell's case, the king doesn't try to punish Egill for his openness, but, to the contrary, commends him for it (chapter 128). Vǫlundr is crippled by Niðung and held captive at his court. To help his brother, Egill shoots birds and collects their feathers, of which Vǫlundr makes a pair of wings. Vǫlundr ties a bladder filled with blood around his waist and flies away. Niðung commands Egill to shoot his fleeing brother, who hits the bladder, deceiving Niðung, and so Vǫlundr gets away (chapter 135).


See also


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