The Laxdaela Saga
THE LAXDÆLA SAGA
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A VIKING SAGA!
The Laxdla saga is an Icelandic saga (story) of the men and women of the Salmon River valley involving the clan of Laxárdalur. It is one of the most important Icelandic sagas, originally written in Old Icelandic; probably sometime around the year 1245 AD. It is noted for its mention of the first known Norseman in the Varangian Guard: the Icelander Bolli Bollason.
An amalgam of historical fact, myth, epic, romance, anachronism, and literary invention, the Laxdaela Saga is, in essence, a dramatization of the circumstances surrounding a blood-feud between two sides of a great dynasty; in its second and decisive portion, it treats a love triangle that re-ignites the feud and its adjoining intrigues.
Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, who is famous for her beauty is our protagonist. Courted by the two foster-brothers Kjartan Ólafsson and Bolli Þorleiksson. Guðrún preferred Kjartan, but she gave herself to Bolli, because of a false rumour that Kjartan was engaged to Ingibjörg, the sister of King Ólafur Tryggvason. The two foster-brothers engaged in hostilities which ended with Bolli killing Kjartan, and Bolli being killed by Kjartan's kinsmen.
The story is carried forward by the mysterious workings of fate, symbolized by the prophetic dreams of Gudrun. Noted for its detached narrative style and ornately-patterned structure, the Laxdaela Saga remains a highly influential work of Scandinavian literature and is considered an outstanding example of medieval prose romance.
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Excerpt from THE LAXDÆLA SAGA
THE EGGING OF GUDRUN
Few nights after Gudrun had come home she called her sons to her to have a talk with them in her orchard; and when they were come there they saw how there were lying out some linen clothes, a shirt and linen breeches, and they were much stained with blood. Then spake Gudrun: "These same clothes you see here cry to you for your father's revenge. I will not say many words on this matter, for it is past hope that you will heed an egging-on by words alone if you bring not home to your minds such hints and reminders as these." The brothers were much startled at this, and at what Gudrun had to say; but yet this way they made answer that they had been too young to seek for revenge without a leader; they knew not, they felt, how to frame a counsel for themselves or others either.
"But we might well bear in mind what we have lost."
Gudrun said, "They would be likely to give more thought to horse- fights or sports."
After that they went away. The next night the brothers could not sleep. Thorgils got aware of this, and asked them what was the matter. They told him all the talk they had had with their mother, and this withal that they could no longer bear their grief or their mother's taunts.
"We will seek revenge," said Bolli, "now that we brothers have come to so ripe an age that men will be much after us if we do not take the matter in hand."
The next day Gudrun and Thorgils had a talk together, and Gudrun started speaking in this wise: "I am given to think, Thorgils, that my sons brook it ill to sit thus quietly on any longer without seeking revenge for their father's death. But what mostly has delayed the matter hitherto is that up to now I deemed Thorleik and Bolli too young to be busy in taking men's lives. But need enough there has been to call this to mind a good long time before this."
Thorgils answered, "There is no use in your talking this matter over with me, because you have given a flat denial to 'walking with me' (marrying me).
But I am in just the same frame of mind as I have been before, when we have had talks about this matter. If I can marry you, I shall not think twice about killing either or both of the two who had most to do with the murder of Bolli."
Gudrun spoke: "I am given to think that to Thorleik no man seems as well fitted as you to be the leader if anything is to be done in the way of deeds of hardihood. Nor is it a matter to be hidden from you that the lads are minded to go for Helgi Hardbeinson the 'Bearserk' who sits at home in his house in Skorradale misdoubting himself of nothing."
Thorgils spake: "I never care whether he is called Helgi or by any other name, for neither in Helgi nor in any one else do I deem I have an overmatch in strength to deal with. As far as I am concerned, the last word on this matter is now spoken if you promise before witnesses to marry me when, together with your sons, I have wreaked the revenge."
Gudrun said she would fulfil all she should agree to, even though such agreement were come to before few men to witness it. "And," said she, "this then we shall settle to have done."
Gudrun bade be called thither Halldor, Thorgils' foster. brother, and her own sons. Thorgils bade that Ornolf should also be with them. Gudrun said there was no need of that, "For I am more doubtful of Ornolf's faithfulness to you than I think you are yourself."
Thorgils told her to do as she liked. Now the brothers come and meet Gudrun and Thorgils, Halldor being also at the parley with them. Gudrun now sets forth to them that "Thorgils has said he will be the leader in this raid against Helgi Hardbeinson, together with my sons, for revenge of Bolli, and Thorgils has bargained in return for this under taking to get me for wife. Now I avow, with you to witness, that I promise this to Thorgils, that of men in this land I shall marry none but him, and I do not purpose to go and marry in any other land."
Thorgils thought that this was binding enough, and did not see through it. And now they broke up their talk. This counsel is now fully settled that Thorgils must betake himself to this journey. He gets ready to leave Holyfell, and with him the sons of Gudrun, and they rode up into the Dales and first to the homestead at Tongue.
Table of Contents for THE LAXDÆLA SAGA
|Chapter I Of Ketill Flatnose and his Descendants, 9th Century A.D.|
|Chapter II Ketill and his Sons prepare to leave Norway|
|Chapter III Ketill's Sons go to Iceland|
|Chapter IV Ketill goes to Scotland, A.D. 890|
|Chapter V Unn goes to Iceland, A.D. 895|
|Chapter VI Unn Divides her Land|
|Chapter VII Of the Wedding of Olaf "Feilan" A.D. 920|
|Chapter VIII The Birth of Hrut and Thorgerd's Second Widowhood A.D. 916|
|Chapter IX Hoskuld's Marriage A.D. 935|
|Chapter X Of Viga Hrapp|
|Chapter XI About Thord Goddi and Thorbjorn Skrjup|
|Chapter XII Hoskuld Buys a Slave Woman|
|Chapter XIII Hoskuld Returns to Iceland A.D. 938|
|Chapter XIV The Murder of Hall, Ingjald's Brother|
|Chapter XV Thorolf's Escape with Asgaut the Thrall|
|Chapter XVI Thord becomes Olaf's Foster Father A.D. 945|
|Chapter XVII About Viga Hrapp's Ghost A.D. 950|
|Chapter XVIII Of the Drowning of Thorstein Swart|
|Chapter XIX Hrut Comes to Iceland|
|Chapter XX Melkorka's Marriage and Olaf the Peacock's Journey A.D. 955|
|Chapter XXI Olaf the Peacock goes to Ireland A.D. 956|
|Chapter XXII Olaf the Peacock comes Home to Iceland A.D. 957|
|Chapter XXIII The Marriage of Olaf Peacock and Thorgerd, the Daughter of Egil A.D. 959|
|Chapter XXIV The Building of Herdholt A.D. 962|
|Chapter XXV About Hoskuld's Sons|
|Chapter XXVI The Death of Hoskuld A.D. 965|
|Chapter XXVII The Funeral Feast for Hoskuld|
|Chapter XXVIII The Birth of Kjartan, Olaf's Son A.D. 970|
|Chapter XXIX Olaf's Second Journey to Norway A.D. 975|
|Chapter XXX About Giermund and Thurid A.D. 978|
|Chapter XXXI Thurid's Second Marriage A.D. 982|
|Chapter XXXII Of Osvif Helgison|
|Chapter XXXIII Of Gest Oddleifson and Gudrun's Dreams|
|Chapter XXXIV Gudrun's First Marriage A.D. 989|
|Chapter XXXV Gudrun's Second Marriage A.D. 991|
|Chapter XXXVI About Kotkell and Grima|
|Chapter XXXVII About Hrut and Eidgrim A.D. 995|
|Chapter XXXVIII The Death of Stigandi. Thorleik Leaves Iceland|
|Chapter XXXIX Of Kjartan's Friendship for Bolli|
|Chapter XL Kjartan and Bolli Voyage to Norway A.D. 999|
|Chapter XLI Bolli returns to Iceland A.D. 1000|
|Chapter XLII Bolli makes love to Gudrun A.D. 1000|
|Chapter XLIII Kjartan comes back to Iceland A.D.1001|
|Chapter XLIV Kjartan comes home A.D. 1001|
|Chapter XLV Kjartan marries Hrefna A.D. 1002|
|Chapter XLVI Feast at Herdholt and the Loss of Kjartan's Sword A.D. 1002|
|Chapter XLVII Kjartan goes to Laugar, and of the Bargain for Tongue A.D. 1003|
|Chapter XLVIII The Men of Laugar and Gudrun plan an Ambush for Kjartan A.D. 1003|
|Chapter XLIX The Death of Kjartan|
|Chapter L The End of Hrefna.The Peace Settled A.D. 1003|
|Chapter LI Osvif's Sons are Banished|
|Chapter LII The Killing of Thorkell of Goat-Peaks|
|Chapter LIII Thorgerd's Egging A.D. 1006|
|Chapter LIV Halldor prepares to avenge Kjartan|
|Chapter LV The Death of Bolli|
|Chapter LVI Bolli Bollison is born A.D. 1006-7|
|Chapter LVII About Thorgils Hallason A.D. 1018|
|Chapter LVIII Thorkell and Grim, and their Voyage Abroad|
|Chapter LIX Gudrun demands Revenge for Bolli A.D. 1019|
|Chapter LX The Egging of Gudrun|
|Chapter LXI Of Thorstein the Black and Lambi|
|Chapter LXII Thorgils and his Followers leave Home|
|Chapter LXIII The Description of his Enemies brought to Helgi|
|Chapter LXIV The Death of Helgi A.D. 1019|
|Chapter LXV Of Gudrun's Deceit|
|Chapter LXVI Osvif and Gest die|
|Chapter LXVII The Death of Thorgils Hallason A.D. 1020|
|Chapter LXVIII Gudrun's Marriage with Thorkell Eyjolfson|
|Chapter LXIX The Quarrel about Gunnar at the Feast|
|Chapter LXX Thorleik goes to Norway|
|Chapter LXXI The Peace between the Sons of Bolli and the Sons of Olaf A.D. 1026|
|Chapter LXXII Bolli and Thorleik go abroad A.D. 1027|
|Chapter LXXIII Bolli's Voyage|
|Chapter LXXIV Thorkell Eyjolfson goes to Norway|
|Chapter LXXV Thorkell and Thorstein and Halldor Olafson A.D. 1026|
|Chapter LXXVI The Drowning of Thorkell A.D. 1026|
|Chapter LXXVII Return of Bolli A.D. 1030|
|Chapter LXXVIII The Death of Snorri, and the End A.D. 1030|
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