Sigurðsson, Gísli. 2004. The Medieval Icelandic Saga and Oral Tradition: A Discourse on Method. Trans. Nicholas Jones. Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature 2. Cambridge, MA: Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_SigurdssonG.The_Medieval_Icelandic_Saga_and_Oral_Tradition.2004.
8. Implications for Saga Research
|Reykdœla saga ok Víga-Skútu, chapter 26 (ÍF X:231)||Víga-Glúms saga, chapter 16 (ÍF IX:50)|
|‘Þú skalt fara á hans fund ok mæla þessum orðum, at þú þykkisk þurfandi, at hann gerisk forsjámaðr ráðs þíns, ok seg at þitt vandræði er mikit, er þú hefir beðit af vígaferlinu. Ok get ek, at þann veg beri til um fund ykkarn, at Glúmr sé í þingreið. En hans skaplyndi er þat, at hann er maðr þrautgóðr, ef menn þurfu hans, ok enn mætti svá verða, ef þú gerir þitt mál líkligt, enda viti hann at þú ert hjálplauss, at hann mæli, at þú farir til Þverár ok bíðir hans þar, til þess er hann kemr heim af þinginu.’
(‘You shall go and meet him and say these words, that you feel you’re in need of him making himself the man responsible for your interests, and say that the difficulties are great that you have suffered as a result of the feud. And I predict that your encounter will come about this way, that Glúmr will be riding to the thing. And his nature is so, that he is a man of great resource, when people need him, and might turn out so to be still if you make your case sound plausible, especially as he knows you are vulnerable, so that he tells you to go to Þverá and wait for him there, until he comes home from the assembly.’)
|‘Þú skalt fara sendifǫr mína til Víga-Glúms ok mæla þessum orðum við hann, at þú þykkisk þurftugr, at hann sé forstjórnarmaðr þíns ráðs. Ek get, at nú beri svá til um fund ykkarn, at hann sé í þingreið. Hann er þrautgóðr ef menn þurfu hans, ok má vera at hann mæli at þú farir til Þverár ok bíðir hans þar.’
(‘You shall go on my errand to Víga-Glúmr and say these words to him, that you feel you’re needful of him to be the man in charge of your interests. I predict that your encounter will now come about in this way, that he will be riding to the thing. He is of great resource when people need him, and it may be that he tells you to go to Þverá and wait for him there.’
|Landnámabók (S 217)||Grettis saga, chapter 3 (ÍF VIII:8)|
|Bjǫrn hét maðr ágætr á Gautlandi; hann var son Hrólfs frá Ám; hann átti Hlíf, dóttur Hrólfs Ingjaldssonar, Fróðasonar konungs. Eyvindr hét son þeira. Bjǫrn varð ósáttr um jǫrð við Sigfast, mág Sǫlvars Gautakonungs, ok brenndi Bjǫrn hann inni með þremr tigum manna. Síðan fór Bjǫrn til Nóregs með tólfta mann, ok tók við honum Grímr hersir son Kolbjarnar sneypis, ok var með honum einn vetr. Þá vildi Grímr drepa Bjǫrn til fjár; því fór Bjǫrn til Ǫndótts kráku, er bjó í Hvínisfirði á Ǫgðum, ok tók hann við honum. Bjǫrn var á sumrum í vestrvíking, en á vetrum með Ǫndótti, þar til er Hlíf kona hans andaðisk á Gautlandi. Þá kom Eyvindr son hans austan ok tók við herskipum fǫður síns, en Bjǫrn fekk Helgu, systur Ǫndótts kráku, ok var þeira son Þrándr. Eyvindr fór þá í vestrvíking ok hafði útgerðir fyrir Írlandi. Hann fekk Rafǫrtu, dóttur Kjarvals Írakonungs, ok staðfestisk þar; því var hann kallaðr Eyvindr austmaðr.
(There was a man of noble birth from Götaland [in modern southern Sweden] called Bjǫrn; he was the son of Hrólfr of Ár; he was married to Hlíf, the daughter of Hrólfr, son of Ingjaldr, son of King Fróði. Their son was called Eyvindr. Bjǫrn had a land dispute with Sigfastr, the brother-in-law of Sǫlvarr, king of the Gauts, and Bjǫrn burned him alive in his home with thirty men. Then Bjǫrn went to Norway with eleven others, and was received by Lord Grímr, son of Kolbjǫrn sneypir, and <he> was with him for one winter. Then Grímr wanted to kill Bjǫrn for his wealth, so Bjǫrn went to Ǫndóttr kráka, who lived in Hvínisfjǫrðr in Agðir, and he welcomed him. Bjǫrn spent the summers raiding in the British Isles and the winters with Ǫndóttr, until his wife Hlíf died in Götaland. Then his son Eyvindr came west and took over his father’s warships, and Bjǫrn married Helga, the sister of Ǫndóttr kráka, and they had a son called Þrándr. Eyvindr then went raiding in the British Isles and kept a force of ships off the coast of Ireland. He married Rafarta, the daughter of Kjarval, king of the Irish, and settled there; for this reason he was called Eyvindr the Easterner.)
|Bjǫrn var faðir Þrándar ok Eyvindar, sonr Hrólfs frá Ám. Hann stǫkk ór Gautlandi fyrir þat, at hann brenndi inni Sigfast, mág Sǫlva konungs. Síðan hafði hann farit til Noregs um sumarit ok var með Grími hersi um vetrinn, syni Kolbjarnar sneypis. Hann vildi myrða Bjǫrn til fjár. Þaðan fór Bjǫrn til Ǫndótts kráku, er bjó í Hvinisfirði á Ǫgðum. Hann tók vel við Birni, ok var hann með honum á vetrum, en herjaði á sumrum, þar til er Hlíf kona hans lézk. Eptir þat gifti Ǫndóttr Helgu dóttur sína Birni, ok lét Bjǫrn þá enn af herfǫrum. Eyvindr hafði þá tekit við herskipum fǫður síns ok var nú orðinn hǫfðingi mikill fyrir vestan haf. Hann átti Rafǫrtu, dóttur Kjarvals Írakonungs.
(Bjǫrn was the father of Þrándr and Eyvindr, and the son of Hrólfr of Ár. He fled from Götaland because he had burned Sigfastr, the brother-in-law of King Sǫlvi, alive in his home. Then he had gone to Norway in the summer and stayed with Lord Grímr, son of Kolbjǫrn sneypir during the winter. He wanted to murder Bjǫrn for his wealth. From there Bjǫrn went to Ǫndóttr kráka, who lived in Hvinisfjǫrðr in Agðir. He welcomed Bjǫrn well, and he stayed with him in the winters and went raiding in the summers, until his wife Hlíf died. After this Ǫndóttr married his daughter Helga to Bjǫrn, and then Bjǫrn left off raiding. Eyvindr had then taken over his father’s warships and had by now become a great chieftain in the west over the sea. He married Rafarta, the daughter of Kjarval, king of the Irish.)
The Feud between Finnbogi the Strong and the Men of Hof
|Vatnsdœla saga, chapters 31-35||Finnboga saga ramma, chapters 33-35|
|In Vatnsdœla saga the arrogance of a relative of Finnbogi, Bergr inn rakki, leads to ill feeling with Þorsteinn and Jǫkull, the sons of Ingimundr of Hof. Finnbogi and Bergr wade across the Vatnsdalur river in the height of winter on their way to a wedding. At the wedding they clash with the brothers from Hof, as a result of which Finnbogi and Bergr challenge Þorsteinn and Jǫkull to a duel. Bergr’s concubine, Helga, does not like the look of things and on the day of the duel there is a fierce blizzard with freezing conditions and snowdrifts, and Finnbogi and Bergr are unable to make it to the dueling ground. Helga is suspected of being behind this sudden onset of bad weather. However, Þorsteinn and Jǫkull do get there, together with their brother Þórir and a local farmer called Faxa-Brandr, who assists Jǫkull in raising a níð-pole against Finnbogi, a deeply denigrating construction symbolizing cowardice and sexual deviance. Finnbogi attempts to take revenge but Þorsteinn manages to muster enough men to hold him at bay without a fight. The dealings between the two sides come to an end with Finnbogi moving away to Trékyllisvík in the northwest and Bergr disappearing from the saga.||In Finnboga saga ramma the feud begins when Finnbogi gets a relative of his wife called Þorkell to propose to a woman who is generally known to be the mistress of Jǫkull Ingimundarson. Jǫkull resents this deeply but is unable to prevent the marriage from going ahead or to take revenge. His brothers react positively to Finnbogi’s invitation to the wedding but are reluctant to go against their brother’s wishes. A little later, Bergr, a relative of Finnbogi’s, arrives in Iceland together with his Hebridean wife, Dalla. When winter comes, Finnbogi and Bergr are invited to a wedding at Hof. On the way there they have to wade across the Vatnsdalur river. At the feast, Jǫkull shoves Bergr aside but Jǫkull’s brothers, Þorsteinn and Þórir, manage to restore peace for the time being. The following summer Jǫkull challenges Finnbogi to a duel, and Þorsteinn challenges Bergr. On the day set, Dalla conjures up a storm so fierce that Finnbogi and Bergr fail to get to the agreed place, and later it comes out that Jǫkull has raised a scathing níð-pole. The following summer, as Finnbogi and Þorkell are accompanying Bergr to his ship, they walk into Jǫkull’s ambush and Bergr and Þorkell are killed before Jǫkull’s brothers arrive and stop the fight. After some further inconclusive skirmishes with the men of Hof, Finnbogi is forced to leave Borg and move to Trékyllisvík in the northwest, but his feud with Jǫkull simmers on.|
Conflicting openings to the feud
The winter wedding in Vatnsdalur
The duel from conflicting perspectives
The end of the affair
Mythological Overlays in Hœnsa-Þóris saga
‘Discrepancies’ between Ari’s Íslendingabók and Hœnsa-Þóris saga
- In Íslendingabók it is Þorkell Blund-Ketilsson who is burned to death; in the saga it is his father Blund-Ketill.
- In Íslendingabók, so far as can be seen, Hersteinn Þorkellson was already married to Þórðr gellir’s niece at the time of the burning; in the saga, Hersteinn Blund-Ketilsson contrives to win the support of the powerful Þórðr gellir by marrying his niece directly after and as a result of the burning. Hersteinn’s schemes are directed by his foster father, Þorbjǫrn stígandi, of whom it is said that he ‘væri eigi allr jafnan, þar sem hann var sénn’ (‘there was more to him than met the eye,’ i.e. he had control of supernatural forces) (ÍF III:24).
- The sources disagree on the numbers of those killed in the battles between the chieftains. The saga speaks of four of Þórðr’s men in the first encounter (including Þórólfr refr) and one of Oddr’s, and of six of Oddr’s men later in the battle at the Alþingi.
Source value, literary relations, the part of the ‘author,’ and social comment
Hœnsa-Þóris saga in interaction with oral tradition
The killing of Helgi and the death of Baldr
The root of evil and dual structure: Hœnsa-Þóris saga and Vǫluspá
- The Norwegian merchant Ǫrn is intimidated by Tungu-Oddr regarding the pricing of his goods, in blatant contravention of the legal provisions covering such matters, and so turns to Blund-Ketill for support.
- Hœnsa-Þórir attempts to raise his social status to reflect his newly acquired wealth and to this end buys his way into the favor first of Arngrímr goði and later of Þorvaldr Tungu-Oddsson. But money leads only to evil—a fact copiously exemplified in the ancient myths and heroic legends.
- Blund-Ketill’s tenant farmers are motivated by need and a sense of their rightful dues when they turn to him when their hay runs out.
- Hersteinn is forced to use cunning and his foster father’s magical powers to elicit the support of chieftains in his own quest of justice, because the chieftain whose actual responsibility it is to ensure local justice, Tungu-Oddr, is ruled only by his personal interests and sentiments, having fallen out with Blund-Ketill in the matter of the Norwegian merchant and because his own son is implicated as one of the arsonists.
New Growths on Ancient Roots