Saga Brief 3: Krákumál

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.Ragnar_Lodbroks_d%C3%B6d_by_Hugo_Hamilto

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Go to vikingnorse.com for more information about Jesse Byock’s Viking Language series, or just click the links below the images to purchase a copy through Amazon.

Viking LanguageViking Norse 2

Viking Language 1 Learn Old Norse, Runes, and Icelandic Sagas (Viking Language Series)

Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader (Viking Language Series) (Volume 2)

Click Krakumal Translations to read a .pdf of the verses covered in this episode.

If you’d like to have your very own copy of Krákumál, pick up a copy of Ben Waggoner’s The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok

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.

Episode 7 – The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok and His Sons

In this special episode, we take a break from the family sagas of medieval Iceland and look forward to the second season of History Channel’s Vikings by delving into the medieval sagas and legends behind the show.  Discussion centers on The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok and his Sons, but Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum, the Krákumál, and The Saga of Ragnar’s Sons are referenced here as well.  There’s a bit of history, a bit of myth, a boneless man, magic cows, and plenty of laughs to be had along the way.  If you’re unfamiliar with the show, maybe this episode will entice you to give Vikings a try.  You can check out the first season at http://www.history.com/shows/vikings.  If you’re not a fan of the show (for shame), then listen anyway. This is a podcast about Ragnar Lothbrok, his family, and the legends surrounding their exploits in medieval Europe.  We hope you enjoy.

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