Norse Sagas (Viking Epics Explained)
|The word “saga”, probably mean “What is told”. Norse sagas are similar to epic, but usually refer to works compiled during medieval Iceland. Saga is usually a narrative, either in poems or prose, dealing with historical, legendary and mythical subjects, written in Old Norse, during the 13th-14th century.
The Icelandic sagas can be divided into three different categories: Kings’ Sagas, Family Sagas, and Heroic or Legendary Sagas. I have chosen to only to deal with the Heroic Sagas, which is often called fornaldar saga or “saga of antiquity”. Heroic Sagas concentrated mainly on the Cycle of the Ring or the Nibelungen Cycle, with such heroes as Sigurd/Siegfried.
As for the modern usage of the word “saga”, the term is much more confusing, and no longer confine to Iceland or Scandinavian countries. These days, sagas can mean any long novel in modern literature, usually written in the narrative form. I won’t go any further about saga in the modern literature.
Norse Sagas contain stories of interest, particularly the Völsunga Saga. The Völsunga narrated the entire saga of family of Sigurd (Völsungs) and the Giukings or the Niflungs (the Nibelungs in the German myth). I had also written a German version of the Völsunga, known as the Nibelungenlied. A Norwegian version, called the Thidrekssaga was written around the same time as the Nibelungenlied, and used both Icelandic and German oral traditions. Thidrekssaga, however, was centred around the hero Thidrek of Bern, usually known in German as Dietrich of Verona.
You will find tales about Völsunga Saga and the Nibelungenlied in the button called Cycle of the Ring. I may include a third version, called Thidrekssaga sometimes in the future.
For those readers who are interested in the gods I have included the Norse creation and Ragnarök. The War of Aesir and Vanir as well a description of Asgard and Midgard can be found in the Creation myths.
I have included a number of tales about Odin, Thor and Loki, the most popular gods in Norse mythology.
You will find a number of German tales with the page titled Dietrich Legend and Other Germanic Tales, where you will find the story of Beowulf.
For those who are interested, I have included the Runic Alphabets in the new Facts and Figures: The Norse Way.
Regin reforging the sword for Sigurd (12th century)
Wood-carving on the door posts in Hylestad Church
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