View Full Version : Questions About Atli/Attila in the Sagas/Nibelunglied

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010, 10:37 PM
I have some questions about Atli or Attila the Hun as portrayed in the Sagas, Lay of Atli, and the Nibelunglied.

There's quite a few references to Atli involving the stories of Sigurd, Gudrun, Brynhild, Gunnar, etc.

It is claimed that Brynhild is Atli's sister and that Gudrun marries Atli and has 2 children by him (Erp, Eitil).

Is Atli the same Asiatic Attila the Hun from history?

Is Brynhild really his sister? Why is she never portrayed with Asiatic features ?

Did Gudrun commit miscegenation by marrying and procreating with Atli?

Or is the Norse version of Atli an entirely different person all together? Similar to how "Etzel" and the Huns were considered as being "A Germanic tribe" by some ?

Attila (a.k.a. Atli, Etzel)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attila

Another account of his death, first recorded 80 years after the events by the Roman chronicler Count Marcellinus, reports that "Attila, King of the Huns and ravager of the provinces of Europe, was pierced by the hand and blade of his wife."[27] The Volsunga saga and the Poetic Edda also claim that King Atli (Attila) died at the hands of his wife, Gudrun.[28] Most scholars reject these accounts as no more than hearsay, preferring instead the account given by Attila's contemporary Priscus. Priscus' version, however, has recently come under renewed scrutiny by Michael A. Babcock.[29] Based on detailed philological analysis, Babcock concludes that the account of natural death, given by Priscus, was an ecclesiastical "cover story" and that Emperor Marcian (who ruled the Eastern Roman Empire from 450 to 457) was the political force behind Attila's death.

The name has many variants in modern languages: Atli and Atle in Norse, Attila/Atilla/Etele in Hungarian (all the three name variants are used in Hungary; Attila is the most popular variant), Etzel in the German Nibelungenlied, or Attila, Atila or Atilla in modern Turkish.

Source: http://www.timelessmyths.com/norse/norseminor.html#Atli

King of the Huns. Atli was the son of Budli and brother of Brynhild and Bekkhild. In Gudrun's dream or vision, Atli was symbolised as a wolf-cub.

Atli married Gudrun, sister of Gunnar and Hogni. Atli had married her because he wanted the treasure of Sigurd and vengeance for his sister's death. He ambushed and captured Gudrun's two brothers. When neither Gunnar nor Hogni would reveal the location of treasure, they were killed.

Seeking to avenge her brother's death, Gudrun killed her own two sons, Erp and Eitil, to Atli, roasted their hearts. While Atli and other guests were intoxicated with wine mixed with his sons' blood, his wife served his sons' flesh. When Atli asked Gudrun where their sons were, she told him that he just ate their hearts. Taking up a sword, Gudrun then killed her husband. She then set Atli's house on fire, killing Atli's drunken guests.
Source: http://www.timelessmyths.com/norse/german.html#Attila

In the Germanic literature (myth), Atli was identified as Etzel (particularly in the Nibelungenlied). Etzel was king of the Huns and had many vassals – Dietrich, Hildebrand and Rudiger.

In the German account, it was his wife Kriemhild (Gudrun), who killed her own brother Gunther (Gunnar), not Etzel (Attila). Disgusted by the murder of Hagen, Etzel (Attila) ordered his champion Hildebrand, to kill Kriemhild.

In the Nibelungenlied and other German epics, Etzel was portrayed as a noble and generous king, unlike his Norse and historical counterparts. This was because the German poets see Etzel and the Huns as German people, not the barbarians from steppe of Central Asia.

The Volsunga Saga and the heroic poems in the Poetic Edda, were probably more closer to the historical Attila (died in AD 453) than the Etzel in the Nibelungenlied. Atli was more like Attila, because the real Hunnish king was known for his brutality and greed, especially for gold. Though, the real Gunther ("Guntharius") was contemporary to Attila, Guntharius was not killed by Attila's Huns, but by the Hunnish mercenaries led by the Roman general, Aetius (AD 437).

Historically, Atli was known by the name: Attila the Huns (Attila means Scourge of God), who overran the Roman empire and died in AD 453. Attila ruled with his brother Bleda in 432, but murdered his brother in AD 445. Attila was known for the brutality of his rule and his greed for gold. The Huns were known for their skills in horsemanship and in archery; their lightning attacks swept aside all oppositions.

It probably shouldn't be told here, but how Attila died was very interesting. Attila, who had many wives, decided to marry his latest German (Visigoth) bride, Hildico or Ildico (AKA Gudrun). On their wedding night, his followers had found him dead, apparently from bursted blood vessels.

GUDRUN (AKA: Kriemhild, Ildico, Hildico)
Siegfried (Sigurd) sees Kriemhild (Gudrun) for the first time

* Married Atli / Attila / Etzel


Gudrun later married the king Atli (loosely based on Attila the Hun)[1]. In the northern version Atli is responsible for the death of her whole family, who inherited the name Völsunge/Niebelungen from the Nibelung gold. The queen took revenge for her family by killing her two sons by Atli, Erp and Eitil, and serving them to their father at a feast. Then, when Atli was solidly drunk, she broke the news to him:

She set fire to the Atli's hall, killing him along with all of his men, then tried to drown herself by jumping into the sea with an armful of stones. The waves found her revenge fitting, however, and instead of drowning her carried her to Sweden, where she married another king, Jónakr, with whom she had three sons Hamdir, Sörli and Erp.


source: http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Mi-Ni/Nibelungenlied.html

In time, Kriemhild marries King Etzel (Attila) of Hungary, who agrees to help her avenge Siegfried's death. After several years, Etzel invites the Burgundians to Hungary Guided by Hagen, they reach the banks of the Danube River but find no ships to carry them across. Hagen meets three swan maidens and forces them to help him. After telling Hagen about a ferryman, they warn him that only one person from his group, a priest, will return home.

Hagen tricks the ferryman into bringing his boat ashore and then kills him. Then while ferrying the Burgundians across the river, Hagen throws a priest overboard, hoping to prove the swan maidens wrong. But when the priest swims safely to shore, Hagen knows that their prophecy will come true.

When the Burgundians arrive in Hungary, Kriemhild demands her gold. Hagen tells her it will remain at the bottom of the Rhine. Vicious fighting later breaks out between the Hungarians and Burgundians. Hagen kills the child of Etzel and Kriemhild, and Kriemhild promises a reward to anyone who captures and brings Hagen to her.

Brynhild (aka: Brunhild)
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/50/Brunhild_%28Postkarte%29%2C_G._Bussiere% 2C_1897.jpg/220px-Brunhild_%28Postkarte%29%2C_G._Bussiere% 2C_1897.jpg

However, in some Eddic poems such as Siguršarkviša hin skamma, Gunnar and Siguršr lay siege to the castle of Atli, Brynhildr's brother. Atli offers his sister's hand in exchange for a truce, which Gunnar accepts. However, Brynhildr has sworn to marry only Siguršr, so she is deceived into believing that Gunnar is actually Siguršr.[4]

Skadi Forum posts:


I recently finished Saga of the Volsungs translation by Jeffrey Byock. It was good it was not infused with Xian crap like how Beowulf was adulterated. I noticed it said in the Notes section "The Huns were considered just another Germanic tribe." I always thought the Goths considered them distinct because of their Mongoloid features.

In the Saga, there are references to Hunland, and I believe references to the hero Sigmund being the king of Hunland. Atilla makes his appearance in the Saga as King Atli, I think even one of the main protagonists, Brynhild was supposed to be related to him.


This is not that surprising to me, in the Norse Saga of the Volsungs the Huns are considered just another Germanic tribe, even though the Ostrogoths thought the Huns were foreign and outlandish. In the Volsung Saga, Attila is called Atli and he is recognized as the sovereign of "Hunland".

Sunday, November 14th, 2010, 01:13 AM
Anyone know?

The Aesthete
Sunday, November 14th, 2010, 03:41 AM
Gudrun was reluctantly forced into it by her evil witch mother’s influence

And don’t forget what she did to her children of such a union

It is loosely based on Attila the Hun

Brynhild is a valkyrie and the daughter of Budli and Bušli was a Swedish king

The Huns are mostly from Central Asia

Mundzuk was the father of Attila the Hun

So how could they be brother and sister?

Attila and his people were no equal of the Nibelungs and this is depicted throughout; think the Burgundians mocking the routed Huns