HROLFR KRAKI, perhaps the most famous of the Danish kings of the heroic age. In Beowulf, where he is called Hrothwulf, he is represented as reigning over Denmark in conjunction with his uncle Hrothgar, one of the three sons of an earlier king called Healfdene. In the Old Norse sagas Hrolfe is the son of Helgi (Halga), the son of Half dan (Healfdene). . He is represented as a wealthy and peace-loving monarch similar to Hrothgar in Beowulf, but the latter (Hroarr, or Roe) is quite overshadowed by his nephew in the Northern authorities. The chief incidents in Hrolfr's career are the visit which he paid to the Swedish king Asils (Beowulf's Eadgils), of which several different explanations are given, and the war, in which he eventually lost his life, against his brother-in-law HiorvarSr. The name Kraki ( poleladder) is said to have been given to him on account of his great height by a young knight named Voggr, whom he handsomely rewarded and who eventually avenged his death on HiorvarSr. There is no reason to doubt that Hrolfr was an historical person and that he reigned in Denmark during the early years of the 6th century, but the statement found in all the sagas that he was the stepson of Asils seems hardly compatible with the evidence of Beowu/f, which is a much earlier authority.
See Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum, pp. 52-68, ed. A. Holder (Strassburg, 1886); and A. Olrik, Danmarks Heltedigtning ( Copenhagen, 1903).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)