Krákumál is an autobiographical poem of the legendary Viking hero Ragnar Loðbrók, composed and spoken while Ragnar awaits his death in the snakepit of King Ælla. We discuss the content and form of the poem, compare it to the Saga of Ragnar Loðbrók and His Sons, and examine the place of the History Channel’s Vikings in the literary tradition of this legendary figure. There’s also some discussion of kennings, quirks of early modern scholarship, and the evolution of literary fads throughout history. We also tackle the question “Unicorns: Fact or Fiction?” in a nearly serious manner.
And to prove the poem’s lasting popularity, check out this performance of Peder Syv’s (1631-1702) adaptation of the 12th century Krákumál from Velbastað on the Faroe Islands in 1959 (at least that’s what the tag on the YouTube video says). Now that’s an impressive journey through the ages.
In our first ever Saga Brief, we explore the legendary Viking torture ritual known as the blood-eagle. It’s a brilliantly violent practice with a complicated, but fascinating textual history. In short, it’s perfect for the boys of Saga Thing.
Whether the blood-eagle is a historical method of ritual torture and execution or merely a literary motif designed to thrill and frighten, this is some pretty horrific stuff. Dig in!