It was Ablabius, apparently, who had first used the Gothic sagas (prisca carmina); it was he who had constructed the stem of the Amals.
Sagas exist showing all these phases, some primitive and rough, some refined and beautified, some diluted and weakened, according as their copyists have been faithful, artistic or foolish; for the first generation of MSS.
The author was an unnamed Austrian poet, but the story itself belongs to the cycle of sagas, which originated on the shores of the North Sea.
A list of its birds, with some notes, bibliographical and biological, has been given as an Appendix to Baring-Gould's Iceland, its Scenes and Sagas (8vo, 1862); and Shepherd's North-west Peninsula of Iceland (8vo, 1867) recounts a somewhat profitless expedition made thither expressly for ornithological objects.
When the Norsemen came to Greenland they found various remains indicating, as the old sagas say, that there had been people of a similar kind as those they met with in Vinland, in America, whom they called Skraeling (the meaning of the word is uncertain, it means possibly weak people); but the sagas do not report that they actually met the natives then.
As to the origin of the heroic sagas as we now have them, Tacitus tells us that the deeds of Arminius were still celebrated in song a hundred years after his death (Annals, ii.
88) and in the Germania he speaks of " old songs " as the only kind of " annals " which the ancient Germans possessed; but, whatever relics of the old songs may be embedded in the Teutonic sagas, they have left no recognizable mark on the heroic poetry of the German peoples.
Sivrit), the hero of the Niebelungenlied, the Sigurd of the related northern sagas, is usually regarded as a purely mythical figure, a hero of light who is ultimately overcome by the powers of darkness, the mist-people (Niebelungen).
Theodor Abeling (Das Nibelungenlied, Leipzig, 1907) traces the Nibelung sagas to three groups of Burgundian legends, each based on fact: the Frankish-Burgundian tradition of the murder of Segeric, son of the Burgundian king Sigimund, who was slain by his father at the instigation of his stepmother; the Frankish-Burgundian story, as told by Gregory of Tours (iii.
Herr Abeling identifies Siegfried (Sigurd) with Segeric, while - according to him - the heroine of the Nibelung sagas, Kriemhild (Gudrun), represents a conf.usion of two historical persons: Chrothildis, the wife of Clovis, and Ildico (Hilde), the wife of Attila.
He attended lectures on grammar, and his favourite work was St Augustine's De civitate Dei, He caused Frankish sagas to be collected, began a grammar of his native tongue, and spent some of his last hours in correcting a text of the Vulgate.
Of these we may mention LOgsogumannatal og LOgmanna a Islandi (" Speakers of the Law and Law-men in Iceland"); his edition of Landneima and other sagas in Islendinga SOgur, i.
But the Greenland colony was obscure, the country was believed to form part of Europe, and the records of the farther explorations were contained in sagas which were only rediscovered by modern scholarship. Throughout the middle ages, legendary tales of mythical lands lying in the western ocean - the Isle of St Brandan, of Brazil and Antilia - had been handed down.
He is frequently introduced in legendary sagas, generally in disguise, imparting secret instructions to his favourites or presenting them with weapons by which victory is assured.
Such in particular were the Greek Isles of the Blest, or Fortunate Islands, the Welsh Avalon, the Portuguese Antilia or Isle of Seven Cities, and St Brendan's island, the subject of many sagas in many languages.
After the 6th century cremation seems not to have been common, if we may trust the sagas, but isolated instances occur as late as the 10th century.
A special form of funeral rite peculiar to the North was that of cremation on a ship. Generally the ship was drawn up on land; but occasionally we hear, in legendary sagas, of the burning ship being sent out to sea.
To these must be added a large number of Old Norse writings including the older Edda and the prose Edda (the chief authorities for Northern mythology), Islands Landnamabok and many sagas dealing with the history of families in Iceland (such as Eyrbyggia Saga) or with the lives of Norwegian and other kings, both historical and legendary (in Heimskringla, Fornmanna Sogur and Rafn's Fornaldar Sogur Norr landa).
High at the other, in which two rooms have been artificially hollowed out, traditionally believed to be the bed-chambers of Trolld, the dwarf of the sagas, and his wife.
The poets, and the poetically minded authors of the sagas, who are the only authorities, have told the story with many circumstances of romance.
The fact that the Icelandic sagas concerning Vinland are not contemporaneous written records has caused them to be viewed by many with suspicion; hence such a significant allusion as that by Adam of Bremen is not to be overlooked.
To the student of the Norse sources, Adam's reference is not so important, as the internal evidence of the sagas is such as to give easy credence to them as records of exploration in regions previously unknown to civilization.
Among them the Vinland sagas, also a Norwegian work of the 13th century, called Speculum regale (The King's Mirror), and some papal letters, give interesting glimpses of the life of this colony.
Icelandic literature consists mainly of the so-called "sagas," or prose narratives, and is rich in historical lore.
In the case of the Vinland sagas, however, there are two independent narratives of the same events, which clash in the record of details.
This collection of sagas, completed in about 1380, is "the most extensive and most perfect of Icelandic manuscripts," and was sent to Denmark in 1662 as a gift to the king.
The Vinland story was doubtless a cherished family possession, and was put into writing, when writing sagas, instead of telling them, came into fashion.
We are left to affirm, on account of definite references in various sagas and annals to Leif Ericsson and the discovery of Vinland, that the saga as preserved in Hank's Book (and also in No.
Vigfusson, in speaking of the sagas in general, says: "We believe that when once the first saga was written down, the others were in quick succession committed to parchment; some still keeping their form through a succession of copies, other changed..
134, in which he contends that it is most probable that the "vinber" of the sagas were not "grapes," but "wineberries," also known as the mountain or rock cranberries.
The "self-sown wheat" of the sagas he identifies as strand wheat, instead of Indian corn, or wild rice, and the mdsur trees as the canoe birch.
16.1 Poetry 16.2 Sagas 16.3 History 16.4 Biographies 16.5 Annals 16.6 Literature of foreign origin
Baring-Gould, Iceland, its Scenes and Sagas (London, 1863); Sir R.
The political life and law of the old days is abundantly illustrated in the sagas (especially Eyrbyggia, Hensa-Thori, Reykdaela, Hrafnkell and Niala), the two collections of law-scrolls (Codex Regius, c. 1235, and Stadarhol's Book, c. 1271), the Libellus, the Liberfragments, and the Landnamabok of Ari, and the Diplomatarium.
The first generations of Icelandic poets resemble in many ways the later troubadours; the books of the kings and the sagas are full of their strange lives.
The Icelandic sagas also comprise much verse which is partly genuine, partly the work of the 12th and 13th century editors.
In Nial's, Gisli's and Droplaug's Sons' Sagas there is good verse of a later poet, and in many sagas worthless rubbish foisted in as ornamental.
Such are Konunga-tal, Hugsvinnsmal (a paraphrase of Cato's Distichs), Merlin's Prophecy (paraphrased from Geoffrey of Monmouth by Gunnlaug the monk), Jomsvikinga-drapa (by Bishop Ketil), and the Islendinga-drapa, which has preserved brief notices of several lost sagas concerning Icelandic worthies, with which Gudmundar-drapa, though of the 14th century, may be also placed.
It is to the west that the best sagas belong; it is to the west that nearly every classic writer whose name we know belongs; and it is precisely in the west that the admixture of Irish blood is greatest.
Taking first the sagas relating to Icelanders, of which some thirty-five or forty remain out of thrice that number, they were first written down between 1140 and 1220, in the generation which succeeded Ari and felt the g impulse his books had given to writing, on separate scrolls, no doubt mainly for the reciter's convenience; they then went through the different phases which such popular compositions have to pass in all lands - editing and compounding (1220-1260), padding and amplifying (1260-1300), and finally collection in large MSS.
We have also complex sagas put together in the 13th century out of the scrolls relating to a given locality, such a group as still exists untouched in Vapnfcrdinga being fused into such a saga as Niala or Laxdeela.
Beginning with the sagas of the west, most perfect in style and form, the earliest in subject is that of Gold-Thori (c. 930), whose adventurous career it relates; Hensa-porissaga tells of the burning of Blund-Ketil, a noble chief, an event which led to Thord Gelli's reforms next year (c. 964); Gislasaga (960-980) tells of the career and death of that ill-fated outlaw; it is beautifully written, and the verses by the editor (13th century) are good and appropriate; Hord's Saga (980) is the life of a band of outlaws on Whalesfirth, and especially of their leader Hord.