Episode 20e – Njal’s Saga (Part 5)

Death of Gunnar and Hallgerd's Shame

This episode of Saga Thing is all about revenge. We conclude the Gunnar section of Njal’s Saga with a look into the aftermath of our hero’s death, the vengeance he demands, and the fate of his brother, Kolskeggi.  If Njal wants to avenge his friend and secure his position in the region, he’ll have to act fast.  Fortunately, he’s got his son, Skarphedin, and Gunnar’s son, Hogni, as willing swords.  Gunnar’s ghost helps get things moving.  While we don’t cover a lot of ground in the saga this time around, we do explore some important issues that inform our reading of the first half of the saga and give us something to look for as we embark on the saga’s dark second half.  We discuss Gunnar’s pride, the ethics of Njal’s behavior, and we finally tackle the “halberd” controversy.  Hallgerð gets her fair share of our attention as well.

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Image taken from the beautiful Njal Tapestry.  Visit http://www.njalurefill.is/ for more information.

Music Credits:

Intro MusicPrelude and Action by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Previous Episode Review “The Mooche” by Duke Ellington

Episode Summary“Enchanted Journey” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Gunnar’s PoemRitual by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Outro Music – Stormfront by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 18a – The Saga of Finnbogi the Strong (Part 1)

Mother and Child

The Saga of Finnbogi the Strong tells the tale of a farmer’s son who overcomes an ignoble birth and rises to become one of Iceland’s greatest men, or so the saga author would have you believe.  This obscure and rarely discussed 14th century saga is thought to have been written in response to Vatnsdæla Saga, where Finnbogi comes off rather poorly.  In his own saga, Finnbogi proves to be an upright and noble figure who almost always does the right thing.  With superhuman strength, he’s capable of dispatching an angry bull with his bare hands, snapping the spine of an angry Norwegian bear, and coming out ahead in a seemingly endless feud with Vatnsdæla Saga’s brutish Jokul Ingimundarsson.   Finnbogi’s Saga deserves more attention than it has gotten in the past.  And that’s why you come to Saga Thing.

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References:

John Kennedy, Review of Bachman/Erlingsson Translation of The Saga of Finnbogi the Strong, in Scandinavian Studies 64 (1992), 149.

Phillip Pulsiano and Kirsten Wolf, Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia (1993), 194.

Paul Schach, Icelandic Sagas (Boston, 1980), 155-56.

Music for the brief summary: “Nerves” by Kevin MacLeod (incopetech.com).  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Episode 12b – The Saga of Bjorn Champion of the Hitardal People (Judgments)

Lumpfish Poem

In the second part of Saga Thing’s look at The Saga of Bjorn Champion of the Hitardal People, John and Andy discuss the merits of the text, argue over the size and ferocity of the dragon, investigate Thord’s ill-fated encounter with a stranded seal, and share some interesting tidbits from Icelandic law codes about pornographic sculptures and naughty poetry.  We also outlaw a rather deserving villain, choose our thingmen, and offer our thoughts on the saga’s overall quality.  It’s a full episode with a nice balance of humor, scholarship, and speculation.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Icelandic legal definitions of níð and ýki as they relate to Bjorn’s Saga, follow this link to Alison Finlay’s excellent article on the subject: Monstrous Allegations: An Exchange of ýki in Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa.  

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Episode 11b – Kormak’s Saga Judgments

Life-And-Death-Of-Cormac-The-Skald

In this episode, John and Andy discuss the problem of Thorveig’s curse, Kormak’s efforts to woo Steingerd, and the excellence of Bersi the Dueller.  It’s time to judge Kormak’s Saga.  Who will be chosen as thingman?  Who will be outlawed? Will the Scottish giant get the recognition he deserves for his brief cameo?  Download the episode and find out now!

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Episode 11a – Kormak’s Saga

SteingerdIf you’re a fan of erotic poetry and dueling, then this is the saga for you.  Join us as we follow Kormak as he pursues the lovely-soled object of his affection, Steingerd.  Yes, I said soled and I meant it.  She’s got nice feet and Kormak is just into that sort of thing.  Who are we to judge?  Along the way, you’ll meet the scoundrel Narfi, a witch in a questionable relationship with a walrus, and a surprising visit from a Scottish giant.  Yes, this saga has a bit of everything.  So what are you waiting for.  It’s time for Kormak’s Saga!

Click here to get your copy of Sagas of Warrior-Poets

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Episode 10a – The Saga of Hallfred Troublesome-Poet

Flateyjarbok_Haraldr_Halfdan
In this episode, we continue our journey through the Sagas of Warrior-Poets in The Saga of Hallfred Troublesome-Poet. Though you’ve never heard of him, this court poet for 3 of Scandinavia’s greatest rulers is actually quite famous. As his nickname suggests, Hallfred’s poetry often lands him in hot water. He’s a suave lover, a witty poet, and a capable warrior. We’ll sample some of the poetry that made him famous, examine his difficult conversion to Christianity, and cheer as he gouges out the eyes of his enemies. There’s plenty of action and adventure here, with a fair amount of hot lovin’ too. But it’s Hallfred’s relationship with King Olaf Tryggvason that really makes this one special. We hope you enjoy.

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Episode 9b – The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue (Judgments)

In this episode, Andy and John wonder about Gunnlaug and Hrafn’s motivations, the quality of their poetry, and evaluate their swordsmanship.  We also take a closer look at their love of Helga the Fair.  As always, we count up the bodies and offer praise to the wittiest saga lines before getting down to the more difficult choices.  With no clear villain in the story, who will be outlawed?  Would either Gunnlaug or Hrafn make a good thingman?  There’s one clear gem of thingman in this saga, but John’s choosing first.  What happens when Andy doesn’t get his way? Find out in the Judgment section for The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue.

Gunnlaug and Helga - Charles Fairfax Murray

Gunnlaug and Helga by Charles Fairfax Murray

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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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