Vikings and Sagas In Iceland
” Never break the peace which good men and true make between thee and others. Rjúf aldrei sætt þá er góðir menn gera meðal þín og annarra. ” The Saga of Njall
Vikings are a thing all over Iceland.
The hats with the horns sell in every souvenir shop. I hate to tell you people but the horns were a Hollywood invention that caught on.
Was Iceland really even settled by Vikings? The term Viking applies to Scandinavian raiders. Now the people that settled in Iceland might have once been Vikings but when they came to Iceland there was no indigenous population to conquer, no churches and abbeys to sack for wealth and no one to rape and pillage. They saw this beautiful country with no one to fight and they became farmers and landowners.
And then there are the Sagas- the classic literature of Iceland. They are stories written down from eleven hundred to thirteen hundred. They started off as a realistic representation of Iceland but the later ones are filled with dragons, maidens and sex.
The saga of Burned Njall is the most famous saga. It is written in the late 1300’s There are a lot of feuds and bad advice and everyone dies in the end – sounds like Shakespeare of the North. There is a cute street in Reykjavik named after it.
Everything is Iceland is Saga this or Viking that. I’m not sure what they have to do with a hotel or a rental car.
But at least the Sagas actually existed in Iceland. They are classic and legendary tales and represent the history of the people of Iceland. Though trolls and ghosts are featured, much of The Sagas remains grounded in reality.
They tell stories of farmers, families and fighters, lovers, warriors and kings, of betrayal and dilemmas, and which are, for the most part, believable and credible. Women play a strong role too. If you don’t at least read one when you visit, check out the Saga Museum in Reykjavik if for nothing else than historical accuracy.