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Völund (called Wayland or Weland in Anglo-Saxon and Walant in Old High German) is a mythical Germanic smith. His story is told in the Volundarkviþa in the Poetic Edda and the Þiðreks Saga. Scenes from it also appear on the Franks Casket.

According to the Poetic Edda, King Nithoth had him kidnapped. Nithoth's wife, fearing Völund's anger, advised her husband to hamstring him and confine him to an island, where

Sate he nor slept,   e'er smote with hammer;
wrought Völund wondrous   works for Nithoth.

In time, Nithoth's sons were drawn by curiosity to Völund's smithy. He told them to return secretly the following day; when they do so, he opened a chest to show them the gold arm-rings he forged for their father. While they were distracted, he cut off both their heads and buried their bodies under the bellows of the forge. He made drinking cups out of their skulls, decorated in silver, and sent them to Nithoth. He turned their eyeballs into beads and sent them to the king's wife, and made brooches set with their teeth for Nithoth's daughter Bothvild.

Bothvild, in turn, went to the smithy, where Völund gave her strong drink, raped her, and left her asleep on a bench. He then escaped using wings he had built for himself, pausing only to perch on the rooftop of Nithoth's hall and explain his revenge.

Völund's story is also mentioned in the first two stanzas of the Anglo-Saxon poem Deor:

Wayland knew the wanderer's fate:
that single-willed earl suffered agonies,
sorrow and longing the sole companions
of his ice-cold exile. Anxieties bit
when Nithhad put a knife to his hamstrings,
laid clever bonds on the better man.
   That went by; this may too.

Beadohild mourned her murdered brothers:
but her own plight pained her more
--her womb grew great with child.
When she knew that, she could never hold
steady before her wit what was to happen.
   That went by; this may too.

Sources:
The Poetic Edda, trans. Lee M. Hollander, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1962
The Earliest English Poems, Michael Alexander, Penguin Classics, 1991

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