It’s time to dive back into Laxdaela Saga! This time we’re going to wander away from Olaf Peacock and his family for just a little while. Why? Because it’s time to introduce Guðrún Ósvífsdóttir, one of the central figures of the saga! In this episode, we discuss Guðrún’s dreams, her troubled marriage, and some interesting scholarship on gender identity in the saga age.
In this episode, little Olaf Peacock travels to Norway and then to Ireland on a journey to meet his grandfather Myrkjartan. But how will he pay for it? Traveling overseas in the 10th century isn’t cheap (it still isn’t). How will King Myrkjartan and the Irish welcome the Icelandic son of the long lost Melkorka? And what familiar figure from Saga Thing past pops in for a visit and a quick marriage arrangement? There’s only one way to find out!
We also discuss the presumed burial mounds of Thord Goddi and Skallagrim Kveldulfsson. We explore John’s fascination with the Campbell’s monomyth and similarities between Olaf Peacock and Anakin Skywalker (yes, you read that correctly). For the runesack, we address a funny little stick with strange scratches on it that leads us into yet another conversation about Celtic influences on medieval Icelandic culture and a chat about the origins of our names. There’s a lot going on here!
As promised, here’s a pictures of Andy’s great-grandfather, Andrew Kormos:
And a picture of John’s namesakes:
As always, thank you to Jacob Foust (aka @skarphedin_illustrator) for another original illustration. You can find more of his work here on Instagram.
And finally, some promised bibliography, including works we referenced and some that were used while prepping the episode:
Clover, Carol J. The Medieval Saga. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987.
Skál! It’s time for the second part of our Saga Brief series on Drinking in the Viking Age and the Sagas. We’ve already covered what they drank. Now it’s time to look into how they drank. In this episode, we discuss what they drank from and what they did while drinking. Of course, we can only scratch the surface here. There’s so much more to say.
Grab a glass of your favorite beverage and join us for another good time.
After 5 action packed years, it’s time to meet once again at the Saga Thing Quarter Court. In this episode, we review the judgment winners and a few interesting facts about our journey through the last 10 sagas. Now it’s time for you to rank the sagas and vote.
The polls are open untilMarch 15th (The Ides of March!)
Pick your favorite moment of Best Bloodshed, the best Nickname, and the memorable Notable Witticism. You can also vote on which of our Outlawry candidates is worse than all the others. Most important, you get to choose which group of Thingmen you find most impressive according to whatever categories you think best. John’s got a lot of impressive bruisers this time around, led by none other than Egil Skallagrimsson, and Andy’s stocked his hall with the most loyal and capable men, women, trolls, and dogs he could find. Finally, you have the opportunity to share your opinions of our Final Ratings by ranking the top 3 sagas of the Third Quarter (or you can rank all 10). Among the sagas you’ll have to choose from are:
The Saga of Ref the Sly (Króka-Refs saga) – March 2018
The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes (Kjalnesinga saga) – June-July 2018
The Saga of the People of Floi (Flóamanna saga) – September-December 2018
The “Saga” of Ale-Hood (Ölkofra saga/þáttr) – January 2019
The Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson (Egils saga Skallagrímssonar) – February 2019-March 2020
The Saga of Hord and the Holm-Dwellers (Harðar saga ok Hólmverja) – May-August 2020
The Saga of Bard the God of Snowfell (Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss) – September-November 2020
The Saga of Thord Menace (Þórðar saga hreðu) – January-April 2021
The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (Fóstbrœðra saga) – June-November 2021
The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls) – January-February 2022
It’s been a lot of fun working our way through the first 30 Sagas of Icelanders. We’ve only got 10 left! And since we’re starting with Laxdæla saga, it could be another 5-10 years before we call the Fourth and final Quarter Court. Whatever happens, we know we’ll have a great time doing it. We’re glad you’re sharing this journey with us!
In this long overdue Saga Brief, we discuss drinking in the Viking Age and the Sagas of Icelanders. This first part looks at what they were drinking and how it was perceived culturally. In the second part, coming soon, we’ll look into the culture of drinking as we explore where and how they drank.
Here is a short bibliography of the texts and studies referred to, either directly or indirectly, in this episode:
Etting, Vivian. The Story of the Drinking Horn: Drinking Culture in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages. Publications of the National Museum of Denmark v.21, 2013.
Hallgerður Gisladottir, ‘The Use of Whey in Icelandic Households’, in Milk and Milk Products from Medieval to Modern Times: Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Ethnological Food Research, Ireland. J992, ed. Patricia Lysaght (Canongate Academic, 1994), pp. 123-29.
It’s time to put The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup on trial! And as much fun as it is to say Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls, it’s not one of medieval Iceland’s better literary artifacts. We finally get to say what we’ve been thinking in our Final Ratings. But that’s not all! Listen in and find out who wins Best Bloodshed, Notable Witticisms, and a hotly contested Nicknames. Speaking of hotly contested, you won’t want to miss a rare Saga Thing argument that develops over who is most deserving of Outlawry. Never fear, it all ends happily when John and Andy both get the Thingmen they were hoping for.
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the Body Count. This time around we get some help from a listener in rounding out the body count. We also wrestle once again with the blámaðr and the all important question of whether trolls should be included in the body count.
This is the last saga before our third quarter court. It’s been a long time coming.
In this episode, we dive way down deep into the bag of Sagas of Icelanders to pull out a story that is rarely discussed or even read by experts much less casual fans of medieval Icelandic literature. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad saga, even if it’s a little rough around the narrative edges. This one’s got a lot of the fan favorites, including wrestling, surprise killings, a secret love affair, storms at sea, trolls, and a bear who understands Old Norse! Join us as we begin our journey through The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls).
If you thought we were done with The Saga of the Sworn Brothers, you were mostly correct. In this episode, we fill in a few gaps in the story of what happened around Thorgeir Havarsson’s death. We start with Thormod’s þáttr, a tale about Thormod’s visit to the court of King Cnut and his first meeting with his future BFF, King Olaf of Norway. We follow that up with Thorarin the Overbearing’sþáttr, which tells of Thorarin’s activities following his ambush on Thorgeir.
Along the way, we talk about the messy manuscript traditions associated with each tale, the characterization of King Cnut in the tales and sagas of Icelanders, the wonders of quantum cake, and our vague memories of George Burns’ Oh, God! trilogy. We conclude the episode with a bit of fan fiction as we speculate on how the fragmentary tale of Thorarin the Overbearing might end and how it could tie into what we know from Fóstbrœðra saga.
Thanks to Jacob Foust for another great original illustration inspired by the stories of medieval Iceland. Follow him on Instagram where he’s @skarphedin_illustrator.
The time has come to put Fóstbrœðra saga (The Saga of the Sworn Brothers) on trial. In this episode, we review the whole saga as we run through our favorite judgment categories: Best Bloodshed, Body Count, Nicknames, Notable Witticisms, Outlawry, Thingmen, and Final Ratings. Making this even harder than usual is the fact that Fóstbrœðra saga featured some pretty fantastic examples of the combined Bloodshed/Witticism (bloodicism? wittished?). And as tough as those categories are this time around, we’ve got an even bigger problem when it comes to Outlawry and Thingmen. Will both Thorgeir and Thormod make it through the Outlawry section and be chosen as thingmen? Do John and Andy have a preference for one over the other? And will Fóstbrœðra saga rate as high as some of the greatest works of medieval Iceland? There’s only one way to find out!
Thanks as always to our buddy Jacob Foust for sharing his talents with us once again and producing a series of original illustrations for this saga. Check out more of his work on Instagram – @skarphedin_illustrator.
For those of you interested in digging into some of the sources that John mentioned on parasites in the Middle Ages or the story of how seals keep their testes cool, here you go: