November 2019 – Icelandic Sagas

By | December 8, 2019

The session:

Looked at Icelandic Sagas

1/.  Around 700 survived in manuscript form.  Some are based on family history, others covered leaders and battles, early Viking exploration and heroes.  A mix of fact with storytelling.

2/.  The Saga of Gisli – this is a settler saga based on historical records from around 800-1000 AD.  It was written sometime in the C13th.

It is a story with a large cast of characters, a number of whom start with THOR as the first four letters, and is not an easy tale to relate in a few words.  If you enter ‘Saga of Gisli’ in your search engine a number of sites will give you the story in full.

It is interesting to see that the settler story based on the facts produces a cracking story with family honour, conflicting loyalties, revenge, oaths, prophecies, heroes and daring deeds.  It is also a good example of how stories grow and are embellished over time.  It is about a settler society involving families, kinship groups, protection and defence, family honour and reputation.  The society rules were there to protect the good order of society.  Oaths were very important and were seen as a call to the gods.  At the time it was believed that Odin created the universe and natural laws.  Once an oath was broken fate will have its way.


In December we shall conclude the Saga of Gisli and start looking at Scandanavian Mythology

Last Updated on December 7, 2020