A Smithering Smith

I’d heard good things about the Fables comic series, so I checked out the first volume from the library. The one I found was a deluxe edition including the first ten issues, and hence the Legends in Exile and Animal Farm story arcs. It’s the latter that’s significant to this mythology post, as it features the character of Weyland the Smith.

In Fables, he was the leader of a community of animal and other non-human fairy tale characters in upstate New York until he was captured by rebels and forced to modify weapons for use by animals. The character is also included in a list of smith gods in Terry Pratchett’s The Last Hero. Wayland the Smith (not to be confused with Waylon Smithers, whose first name has been confirmed as a reference to ventriloquist Waylon Flowers) is a figure originally from Norse mythology, who later worked his way into England as well. His Norse name is Volund or Volundr, with Wayland or Weyland being the Anglicized version.

According to the legends, Wayland and his brothers Egil and Slagfildr were all married to Valkyries, or perhaps swan maidens. Regardless, the women eventually left. While the brothers went after their spouses, Wayland remained behind and was captured by King Nidung of Sweden. The king kept him imprisoned on an island, with the sinews of his leg cut to keep him from escaping, and forced him to make various objects. Eventually, he got his revenge by killing the king’s sons and making goblets out of their skulls, jewels from their eyes, and a brooch from their teeth. He also raped and impregnated the king’s daughter.

He finally managed to escape the island with magic wings, much like the ones Daedalus used to get away from Crete.

In Anglo-Saxon legend, Wayland is credited with the creation of various weapons and pieces of armor. Perhaps the most famous such reference is in Beowulf, in which he’s mentioned as the one who crafted the mail shirt that the titular character wears. A sword sometimes attributed to Wayland is King Arthur’s own Excalibur. There’s also a mound in Oxfordshire called Wayland’s Smithy, where it is rumored that any horse left overnight with a small silver coin for payment will be re-shod by Wayland.

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One Response to A Smithering Smith

  1. Pingback: She’s in Love with the Dark | VoVatia

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