Byock, Jesse L.. Egill Skallagrímsson. The Dark Figure as Survivor in an Icelandic Saga
- Author: Byock, Jesse L.
- Title: Egill Skallagrímsson. The dark figure as survivor in an Icelandic saga
- Published in: The dark figure in medieval German and Germanic literature. Göppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik 448.
- Place, Publisher: Göppingen: Kümmerle
- Year: 1986
- Reference: Byock, Jesse L. "Egill Skallagrímsson. The dark figure as survivor in an Icelandic saga." The dark figure in medieval German and Germanic literature, pp. 151–63. Göppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik 448. Göppingen: Kümmerle, 1986.
- Key words: characterization (persónusköpun)
In this character study of Egil as one of the most developed of dark figures in saga literature, Egil’s darkness is considered as one element of his character which would not have the same effect if, for example, he were not also a skilled warrior and accomplished leader in society. The saga writer is shown to have a threefold thematic approach to developing Egil’s character, exploring: Egil and his ancestors’ supernatural nature; the contrast between ‘light’ and ‘dark’ brothers, reflecting in turn political contrasts; and the theme of “the dark skeptical son [...] who carries on the bloodline” (153). Although these themes seem to be repeated over the generations, Byock notes that Egil’s progeny do not continue the trend.
Rannsókn á persónuleika Egils sem Byock segir vera eitt best heppnaða dæmið um dökka persónu í gjövöllum fornsögunum. Hin dekkri einkenni Egils myndu ekki vera eins áhrifarík ef hann væri ekki jafnframt vopnfimur með afbrigðum og snjall héraðshöfðingi. Sýnt er hvernig höfundur sögunnar lagði áherslu á þrjá meginþætti þegar hann skapaði persónu Egils; yfirnáttúrlega hæfileika hans og forfeðra hans; andstæður hinna ljósu og dökku bræðra, sem jafnframt endurspegla vissar pólitískar andstæður; og loks þema hins dökka, ódæla sonar sem viðheldur þó ættinni. Þó að þessi stef séu endurtekin í kynslóð fram af kynslóð, þá bendir Byock á að Egill brjóti að nokkru leyti upp hefðina.
Chapter 04: flýðu margir menn af landi á brott: "The saga, written in the thirteenth century, reflects the contemporary Icelandic view of the political and social turmoil of the tenth-century Scandinavia. In the story, Iceland is a haven for unbending individualists, especially Norwegians uncomfortable with the attempt by Haraldr hárfagri (…) to rescind some of the traditional rights of freemen." (p. 151).
Chapter 80: síðan er hann staðfestist hér á Íslandi: "The change (of behaviour) seems to have been deliberate; Egill has lost none of his warrior capabilities but now lives in a society which he feels comfortable. He is successful in Iceland because he abandons the traits of the dark figure that enabled him to assert himself against monarchical authority abroad, but which have no place in Iceland (…), a society of freemen." (p. 158).
- Written by: Jane Appleton
- Icelandic translation: Jón Karl Helgason