Starkad (Old Norse: Starkaðr or Störkuðr; Latin: Starcaterus; in the Late Middle Ages also Starkodder; modern Danish: Stærkodder) was an eight-armed giant and legendary hero in Norse mythology.
Starkad appears in numerous accounts, and the stories of his adventures relate to different Scandinavian traditions.He is most fully treated in Gesta Danorum but he also appears in Icelandic sources. He is portrayed as a great warrior who performed many heroic deeds but also many crimes.
A cognate of the Starkad legends can be found in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.
In Beowulf, the feud between the Danes and the Heaðobards was to be ended with the marriage of Ingeld, the son of the fallen Heaðobard king Froda, and Freawaru, the daughter of the Danish king Hroðgar. During the wedding an unnamed old warrior reminded the Heaðobards of their defeat and encouraged them to revenge. That is the origin of Starkad's admonishing speech to the Danish king Ingellus, son of Frotho (see the account given in Gesta Danorum below). Sophus Bugge derived the name Starkaðr from originally meaning "the strong Heaðobard". Modern research is more reluctant, however, as the Gothic root stark- ('strong') might be connected with several possible suffixes.
A version of the legend of Starkad can be found in the prologue of the U-version of Hervarar saga, and in a shortened form in the H-version of the Hauksbók.
In this version a Starkad Ala-Warrior lived in northern Norway at the waterfalls of Alufoss. He descended from the giants known as the þursar (jotuns), and his father's name was Storkvid. Starkad was very much a jotun himself and had eight arms, but he was betrothed to a girl named Ogn Elf-burst. One day, when Starkad had gone north across the Élivágar, another giant named Hergrim kidnapped Ogn. Starkad challenged Hergrim to a holmgang, a duel. Starkad used four swords at the same time and slew Hergrim. Ogn did not wish to be Starkad's wife and committed suicide by stabbing herself with a sword. Starkad contented himself by taking everything Hergrim owned, including his son Grimr.
Álfhildr was the daughter of king Álfr of Álfheim (modern Bohuslän) and like the people of Álfheim, she was very beautiful. One autumn, king Álfr performed the Dísablót, a sacrifice to the goddesses, and Álfhildr took part in it. As she was reddening the horgr (altar) with blood, Starkad kidnapped her. King Álfr called on the god Thor to help him rescue his daughter. Thor granted his wish by killing Starkad and rescuing the girl.