The story of Egil Skallagrimsson, the son of bald (”skalla”) Grimr, he was a real person, the details of his life come to us from saga and song. We mainly know of Egil through an Icelandic saga bearing his name, Egil’s Saga, again one of the very finest of the sagas. His family, like very many described. Egil’s Saga (listen) is an Icelandic saga. The oldest transcript (a fragment) dates back to AD. The saga is centered on the life of Egill Skallagrímsson, also.

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Egil’s saga (13th century)

Eddison’s version greatly admired Dasent, and the team of Morris and Magnusson, whose influence is evident on every page; but he rather outdid the latter when it came to writing Icelandic-influenced prose, filled with odd syntax, and obsolete or dialect cognates of, or loan-words from, Old Norse.

He took refuge with a powerful warlord named Thorir, and through his intercession a weregild a fine for the murder was set and paid, so that Egil was no longer a criminal. Return to Book Page. Thou, too, hast bestowed on him large grants, and he had now made all ready to repay them with ill. It reads as if it is being told now. The “Head-Ransom” poem is surely not a particularly “felt” poem. It was included in Everyman Paperbacks inwith some revisions, and reprinted in with additional bibliography, but seems to be out of print.

Egil Skallagrimsson and the Viking Ideal

They have a tenuous tenure in Norway, but Egil is outlawed and they roam Scandinavia and serve the king of England. Skallagrim came to land where a large ness ran out into the sea, and above the ness was a narrow isthmus; and there they put out their lading. But what live-stock they had went every winter self-feeding in the woods. He honors them for qualities we too would admire–generosity, openness, concern for others–all qualities, therefore, that he and his peers must have wanted to be remembered for.

When Bard received Egil’s party, he would only serve curd skyr to drink, pretending ale had run out. On one famous occasion his skill at such composition saved him from execution by his archenemy Eirik Bloodaxe, now King in northern England–egged on, of course, by Bad Queen Gunnhild. Poets, Viking ones at least, could be genuine bad asses.

That voyage is now most highly spoken of. So I rise up early To erect my rhyme, My tongue toils, A servant at his task; I pile the praise-stones, The poem rises, My labor is not lost, Long may my words live. Of the sea’s breezy brother Wind-holders need blast. Bjorn said Thora must go with him, and they led her away.


In the meanwhile, Bjorn had to flee, and was indebted to the hospitality of Thorolf’s family in Iceland.

SFH03 Egil Skallagrimsson

Skallagrim promised to come. Rulers valued poets for their ability to make or break a man, increasing his fame or besmirching his good name. Not easy to breathe Odin’s inspiration In my heart’s hinterland, Little hope there. Women didn’t figure much except as possessions although they were entitled to inherit and leading to some of the afore mention Interesting read.

Bjorn answered, ‘I knew that between you two was foster-brotherhood and close friendship; but I sought your home because I was driven ashore here, and I knew it would avail naught to shun you. Anyone expecting the hero to be a handsome Norseman from a storybook is going to be in for a shock, though.

Egil Skallagrimson, more than most Vikings portrayed in the Sagas, is a hard man to root for, and not just because he’s ugly and deformed physically: Six ships he had well equipped both with weapons and men. When his drowned son’s body was washed up, Egil laid it in Skallagrim’s mound.

Without such an aide, the reader is likely to miss many implied connections and motivations, as well as muddling together similar-sounding or identical names of several different characters.

And no tidings are told of his voyage till he arrived home at Sandness, and caused to be conveyed to his farm all the booty he had taken, and had his ship set up upon land. The steersman was named Thorir Thruma; he was a steward of king Harold’s, manager of his farm at Thruma, a large farm in which the king used to make a long stay when he was in Vik.

Set up a giveaway.

After learning all the truth about this, they looked over the slain who lay on ship-board. Thorolf, Skallagrim’s skallagrimssoon, settled to go with Bjorn, and Skallagrim gave him mean for the journey. The positive aspects of the text, then, come from sources other than the central figure’s moral qualities. Although I originally read this for historical purposes a great example of an Icelandic saga deriving from the oral tradition.

Also involved was Eirik’s oversexed and witch-like queen Gunnhild, whose feelings towards Egil were evidently those of a woman scorned. All through the summer Kveldulf and Skallagrim kept a look-out shorewards on the highway of vessels. For several summers they were out roving, but stayed at home in winter with their fathers.


The brothers thanked the king for the honour granted to them, skallagrimsspn said that they would willingly accept it. After this the king went his way, Hildirida’s sons giving him honourable escort with gifts at parting, while he promised them his friendship.

In one of the incidents connected with King Eirik Bloodaxe, for example, he prides himself for having hacked and hurled a trio of trusty royal servants down to Hell eternal ch. He’s spewing his guts up just as much as I am.

Published September 30th by Penguin Classics first published He also cuts off Armod’s beard. Then Aulvir went away first, and returned to the king. Egil confirms that the Vikings wanted to present themselves much as they were remembered by those they traumatized. It is a bit like “Lake Woebegone” in that all women are beautiful and wise if occasionally descended from trollsmost men seem to be taller than their fellows, and everyone is introduced as being well-liked.

Before Thorolf went away this time skallagrimsson had counted over all the king’s tribute that he had brought from the fells, and he put it in Thorgils’ hand, bidding him convey it to the king, if he himself came not home before the king returned south. However, Eddison’s attempt to approximate the sounds and syntax of Old Norse with an Saag style using as many related words as possible, instead of more familiar equivalents derived from French or Latin, takes getting eigl to; and some people never do.

On the morrow Aulvir Hnuf went to his kinsman Thorolf; they talked together, Aulvir saying that Skallatrimsson was much slandered, and the king gave ear to such tales. He sailed to England, where he served as a mercenary having incredible adventures and fighting countless battles.

While we know he was a real person, the details of his life come to us from saga and song. And it was as Bard had said, that Thorolf met there many of his kinsmen that he had not known before. Humans behaved both honorably and like shits at the turn of the first millenium, just as they do at the end of the second.