Bui and Fridr

[Extracted from M. A. Potter, Sohrab and Rustem, the epic theme of a combat between father and son, 1902, pp. 42-4.]


Bui came as an ambassador from Harold to King Dofri. Not only was he kindly received by the latter, but by his daughter as well. When night came he went with her to her room.

Fridr said to him, 'It may seem to you that I speak like one eager to marry, Bui, but which would you rather do, lie alone, or sleep with me?' Bui said, 'It is lonely to sleep alone, and I prefer that we should be together.' 'So shall it be, Bui,' said Fridr, and they lay down together. Bui abode with Dofri all winter, but when summer came, it was time to return. Fridr said to him, 'It has come to pass, Bui, as I said to thee, that I am with child by thee, and now will I say what will happen in the future: if a girl be born she will remain with me, if a boy I will send him to thee when he is twelve years old. Thou must do well by him; if thou failest, it will go hard with thee. However it may be with me, fare thee well.' After that, they parted.

A boy was born to Fridr: he was named Jokull. When he was twelve years old he went north to Eyjafjorth, and in the morning went to see his father. He said, 'It has been told to me that thou art my father. Fridr is my mother, the daughter of King Dofri.' Bui said, 'That is not a likely tale that thou art my son; it has seemed to me that our offspring would be a strong fellow and thou art rather a weakling.' Jokull said, 'I have not many winters behind me, but my mother bade me to say to thee as a sign, what she had said to thee, that it would go hard with thee if thou didst not accept my friendship. Bui said, 'I never heard thy tale before, and it strikes me as unlikely; it is my wish that we fight, because thou art not our son if the stuff of a man be lacking to thee.' Jokull said, 'That is a thing unheard of, that I, but twelve years old, should fight with thee.'

They went east to a place under a hill, armed themselves for the combat, and fought hard, but neither fell.

Bui was a strong man. Jokull said, 'Let us strive no more, but accept my friendship.' 'Nay,' said Bui, 'one of us must fall.' They fought once more, and Bui fell wounded. Then Bui said, 'Thine errand here has not been a seemly one, but thou hast shown thyself the equal of a man, and now a tale about me will go out among men.

After that he was borne home on a red shield, and lived three nights, and afterwards died. Jokull thought his work so ill that he immediately rode away to the ship which was being prepared at Eyrarbakk, and went out there for the winter.

In this story of Bui, father and son really know each other; only the former's stubbornness will not allow him to recognise the boy until he has tried him. The same painful position of the child appears in the Indian version contained in the Mahabharata.