Egla, 67

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Chapter 67

Of Egil's journeyings

Egil went on southwards to Hordaland, taking for this journey a rowing vessel, and thereon thirty men. They came on a day to Askr on Fenhring island. Egil went up to the house with twenty men, while ten guarded the ship.

Atli the Short was there with some men. Egil bade him be called out and told that Egil Skallagrimsson had an errand with him. Atli took his weapons, as did all the fighting men that were there, and then they went out.

Egil spoke: 'I am told, Atli, that you hold in keeping that property which of right belongs to me and my wife Asgerdr. You will belike have heard it talked of ere now how I claimed the inheritance of Bjorn Yeoman, which Bergonund your brother kept from me. I am now come to look after that property, lands and chattels, and to beg you to give it up and pay it into my hands.'

Said Atli: 'Long have we heard, Egil, that you are a most unjust man, but now I shall come to prove it, if you mean to claim at my hands this property, which king Eric adjudged to Bergonund my brother. King Eric had then power to bid and ban in this land. I was thinking now, Egil, that you would be come here for this end, to offer me a fine for my brothers whose lives you took, and that you would pay atonement for the pillage committed by you here at Askr. I would make answer to this proposal, if you should plead this errand; but here to this other I can make none.'

'I shall then,' said Egil, 'offer you, as I offered Onund, that Gula-thing laws decide our cause. Your brothers I declare to have fallen without claim for fine and through their own wrong deeds, because they had first plundered me of law and land-right, and taken my property by force of arms. I have the king's leave herein to try the law with you in this cause. I summon you to the Gula-thing, there to have lawful decision on this matter.'

'To the Gula-thing,' said Atli, 'I will come, and we can there speak of this matter.'

Hereupon Egil with his comrades went away. He went north to Sogn, then into Aurland to Thord, his wife's kinsman, and there he stayed till the Gula-thing. And when men came to the Thing, then came Egil thither. Atli the Short was also there. They began to declare their cause, and pleaded it before those who were to judge. Egil made his demand of money due, but Atli offered against it as a lawful defence the oath of twelve men that he, Atli, had in keeping no money that belonged to Egil. And when Atli went before the court with his twelve who would swear, then went Egil to meet him, and said that he would not accept Atli's oaths for his own property. 'I will offer you other law, that we do battle here at the Thing, and he shall have the property who wins the victory.'

This was also law, that Egil proposed, and ancient custom, that any man had a right to challenge another to wager of battle,[1] whether he were defendant in a cause or prosecutor.

Atli said that he would not refuse this to do battle with Egil. 'For,' said he, 'you propose what I ought to have proposed, seeing that I have enough loss to avenge on you. You have done to death my two brothers, and far shall I be from upholding the right if I yield to you mine own possessions unlawfully rather than fight with you when you offer me this choice.'

So then Atli and Egil joined hands and pledged them to do battle, the victor to own the lands for which they had been disputing.

After this they arrayed them for combat. Egil came forward with helm on head, and shield before him, and halberd in hand, but his sword Dragvandill he suspended from his right arm. It was the custom with those who fought in single combats so to arrange that the sword should need no drawing during the fight, but be attached to the arm, to be ready at once when the combatant willed. Atli had the same arming as Egil. He was experienced in single combats, was a strong man, and of a good courage. To the field was led forth a bull, large and old 'sacrificial beast' such was termed, to be slain by him who won the victory. Sometimes there was one such ox, sometimes each combatant had his own led forth.

And when they were ready for the combat, then ran they each at the other, and first they threw their halberds, neither of which stood fast in the foeman's shield, but both struck in the ground. Then took they both to their swords, and went at it with a will, blow upon blow. Atli gave no ground. They smote fast and hard, and full soon their shields were becoming useless. And when Atli's shield was of no use, then he cast it from him, and, grasping his sword with both hands, dealt blows as quickly as possible. Egil fetched him a blow on the shoulder, but the sword bit not. He dealt another, and a third. It was now easy to find parts in Atli that he could strike, since he had no cover; and Egil brandished and brought down his sword with all his might, yet it bit not, strike he where he might. Then Egil saw that nothing would be done this way, for his shield was now rendered useless. So Egil let drop both sword and shield, and bounding on Atli, gripped him with his hands. Then the difference of strength was seen, and Atli fell right back, but Egil went down prone upon him[2] and bit through[3] his throat.[4] There Atli died.

Egil leapt up at once and ran to where the victim stood; with one hand he gripped his lips, with the other his horn, and gave him such a wrench, that his feet slipped up and his neck was broken; after which Egil went where his comrades stood, and then he sang:

'I bared blue Dragvandill,
Who bit not the buckler,
Atli the Short so blunted[5]
All edge by his spells.
Straining my strength I grappled,
Staggered the wordy foeman;
My tooth I bade bite him.[6],
Best of swords at need.'

Then Egil got possession of all those lands for which he had contended and claimed as rightfully coming to his wife Asgerdr from her father. Nothing is told of further tidings at that Thing. Egil then went first into Sogn and arranged about those lands that he now got into his own power. He remained there for a great part of the spring. Afterwards he went with his comrades eastwards to Vik, then to seek Thorstein, and was there for awhile.

References

  1. wager of battle: "While the first duel (ch. [66]) shows Egil’s noble qualities (courage, loyalty and generosity towards his friends, and fighting ability), the second duel reveals the dark side of his nature: his avarice and stubbornness in pushing a dubious claim to properties in a country where he cannot live, and his own werewolfish, beserk nature." Blaney, Benjamin. The Berserk Suitor (p. 289).
  2. went down prone upon him: „One other passage indicates the wolf in Egil. [...] The motif of biting through an opponent’s throat has been previously discussed. There only remains to be said that this is also the method of attack for werewolves." Blaney, Benjamin. The Berserkr: His Origin and Development in Old Norse Literature (pp. 62-63).
  3. bit through: "Here Egill is in action as a werewolf, using the wolf’s attacking technique of biting the victim’s throat" Holtsmark, Anne. On the Werewolf Motif in Egil’s saga Skallagrímssonar (s. 9).
  4. through his throat: "Egill kills an opponent in a duel by biting through his windpipe – evoking an echo of Völsunga saga, where while the Odinic Völsungs are living as werewolves in the forest, Sigmundr bites Sinfljötli in the windpipe." Finlay, Alison. Egils saga and other poets’ sagas (p. 40).
  5. so blunted: "Göttliche Wesen und übernatürliche Kräfte treten auch zumeist in der Dichtung, nicht im Prosatext, auf. Ein Beispiel dafür ist die Szene, in der Egill Atli inn skammi tötet. Es wird im Prosatext nicht direkt gesagt, daß Atli die Schneide von Egils Schwert stumpf gemacht hat, nur, daß das Schwert ihn nicht verletzt. In der folgenden Strophe (Str. 42) wird aber ganz klar, daß Atli über magische Kräfte verfügt: „eggjar deyfði“.“ Baldur Hafstað. Die Egils saga im Lichte von Mythen, Heldensage und Wikingersage (p. 93).
  6. My tooth I bade bite him: "The phrase ek ber sauð in Egil’s strophe, Egils saga Ch. 65, is explained as a pun: ek bar = bark; sauð = á (acc. af ær, f. ‘ewe’), the whole phrase thus = barká = barka ‘throat’. In support of the equation barká = barka the author adduces two parallels from the first and third grammatical treatises." Jón Helgason. „Ek bar sauð“ (p. 96).

Kafli 67

Af ferðum Egils

Egill gerði ferð sína suður á Hörðaland. Hann hafði til þeirrar róðrarferju og þar á þrjá tigu manna. Þeir koma einn dag í Fenhring á Ask. Gekk Egill þar til með tuttugu menn en tíu gættu skips. Atli hinn skammi var þar fyrir með nokkura menn. Egill lét hann út kalla og segja að Egill Skalla-Grímsson átti erindi við hann. Atli tók vopn sín og allir þeir menn er þar voru vígir fyrir og gengu út síðan.

Egill mælti: „Svo er mér sagt Atli að þú munir hafa að varðveita fé það er eg á að réttu og Ásgerður kona mín. Muntu heyrt hafa þar fyrr um rætt að eg kallaði mér arf Bjarnar hölds er Berg-Önundur bróðir þinn hélt fyrir mér. Er eg nú kominn að vitja fjár þess, landa og lausaaura, og krefja þig að þú látir laust og greiðir mér í hendur.“

Atli segir: „Lengi höfum vér það heyrt Egill að þú sért ójafnaðarmaður en nú mun eg að raun um koma ef þú ætlar að kalla til þess fjár í hendur mér er Eiríkur konungur dæmdi Önundi bróður mínum. Átti Eiríkur konungur þá að ráða boði og banni hér í landi. Hugði eg nú Egill að þú mundir fyrir því hér kominn að bjóða mér gjöld fyrir bræður mína er þú tókst af lífi og þú mundir bæta vilja rán það er þú rændir hér á Aski. Mundi eg þá veita svör þessu máli ef þú flyttir þetta erindi fram en hér kann eg engu svara.“

„Það vil eg,“ segir Egill, „bjóða þér sem eg bauð Önundi að Gulaþingslög skipi um mál okkur. Tel eg bræður þína hafa fallið ógilda á sjálfra sinna verkum því að þeir höfðu áður rænt mig lögum og landsrétti og tekið fé mitt að herfangi. Hefi eg til þessa konungs leyfi að leita laga við þig um þetta mál. Vil eg stefna þér til Gulaþings og hafa þar lagaúrskurð um þetta mál.“

„Koma mun eg,“ segir Atli, „til Gulaþings og megum við þar ræða um þessi mál.“

Síðan fór Egill í brott með föruneyti sitt. Fór hann þá norður í Sogn og inn á Aurland til Þórðar mágs síns og dvaldist þar til Gulaþings.

Og er menn komu til þings þá kom Egill þar. Atli hinn skammi var og þar kominn. Tóku þeir þá að tala sín mál og fluttu fram fyrir þeim mönnum er um skyldu dæma. Flutti Egill fram fjárheimtu en Atli bauð lögvörn í mót, tylftareiða, að hann hefði ekki fé það að varðveita er Egill ætti.

Og er Atli gekk að dómum með eiðalið sitt þá gekk Egill mót honum og segir að eigi vill hann eiða hans taka fyrir fé sitt „vil eg bjóða þér önnur lög, þau að við göngum á hólm[1] hér á þinginu og hafi sá fé þetta er sigur fær.“

Það voru og lög er Egill mælti og forn siðvenja að hverjum manni var rétt að skora á annan til hólmgöngu hvort er hann skyldi verja sakir fyrir sig eða sækja.

Atli sagði að hann mundi eigi synja að ganga á hólm við Egil „því að þú mælir það er eg ætti að mæla því að ærinna harma á eg að hefna á þér. Þú hefir að jörðu lagt bræður mína tvo og er mér mikilla muna vant að eg haldi réttu máli ef eg skal heldur láta lausar eignir mínar aflaga fyrir þér en berjast við þig er þú býður mér það.“

Síðan taka þeir Atli og Egill höndum saman og festa það með sér að þeir skuli á hólm ganga og sá er sigur fær skal eiga jarðir þær er þeir deildu áður um.

Eftir það búast þeir til hólmgöngu. Gekk Egill fram og hafði hjálm á höfði og skjöld fyrir sér og kesju í hendi en sverðið Dragvandil festi hann við hægri hönd sér. Það var siður hólmgöngumanna að þurfa ekki að bregða sverði sínu á hólmi, láta heldur sverðið hendi fylgja svo að þegar væri sverðið tiltækt er hann vildi. Atli hafði hinn sama búnað sem Egill. Hann var vanur hólmgöngum. Hann var sterkur maður og hinn mesti fullhugi.

Þar var leiddur fram graðungur mikill og gamall. Var það kallað blótnaut. Það skyldi sá höggva er sigur hefði. Var það stundum eitt naut, stundum lét sitt hvor fram leiða sá er á hólm gekk.

Og er þeir voru búnir til hólmgöngu þá hlaupast þeir að og skutu fyrst spjótum og festi hvorki spjótið í skildi, námu bæði í jörðu staðar. Síðan taka þeir báðir til sverða sinna, gengust þá að fast og hjuggust til. Gekk Atli ekki á hæl. Þeir hjuggu títt og hart og ónýttust skjótt skildirnir. Og er skjöldur Atla var mjög ónýttur þá kastaði hann honum, tók þá sverðið tveim höndum og hjó sem tíðast. Egill hjó til hans á öxlina og beit ekki sverðið. Hann hjó annað og hið þriðja. Var honum þá hægt að leita höggstaðar á Atla að hann hafði enga hlíf. Egill reiddi sverðið af öllu afli en ekki beit hvar sem hann hjó til.

Sér þá Egill að eigi mun hlýða svo búið því að skjöldur hans gerðist þá ónýtur. Þá lét Egill laust sverðið og skjöldinn og hljóp að Atla og greip hann höndum. Kenndi þá aflsmunar og féll Atli á bak aftur en Egill greyfðist að niður[2][3] og beit í sundur[4] í honum barkann.[5] Lét Atli þar líf sitt. Egill hljóp upp skjótt og þar til er blótnautið stóð, greip annarri hendi í granarnar en annarri í hornið og snaraði svo að fætur vissu upp en í sundur hálsbeinið. Síðan gekk Egill þar til er stóð föruneyti hans. Þá kvað Egill:

Beitat nú, sá er brugðum,
blár Dragvandill randir
af því að eggjar deyfði[6]
Atli fram hinn skammi.
Neytti eg afls við ýti
örmálgastan hjörva.
Jaxlbróður lét eg eyða,
eg bar sauð.[7] með nauðum.

Síðan eignaðist Egill jarðir þær allar er hann hafði til deilt og hann kallaði að Ásgerður kona hans hefði átt að taka eftir föður sinn. Ekki er getið að þá yrði fleira til tíðinda á því þingi. Egill fór þá fyrst inn í Sogn og skipaði jarðir þær er hann hafði þá fengið að eiginorði. Dvaldist hann þar mjög lengi um vorið. Síðan fór hann með föruneyti sitt austur í Vík. Fór hann þá á fund Þorsteins og var þar um hríð.


Tilvísanir

  1. við göngum á hólm: "While the first duel (ch. [66]) shows Egil’s noble qualities (courage, loyalty and generosity towards his friends, and fighting ability), the second duel reveals the dark side of his nature: his avarice and stubbornness in pushing a dubious claim to properties in a country where he cannot live, and his own werewolfish, beserk nature." Blaney, Benjamin. The Berserk Suitor (s. 289).
  2. greyfðist að niður: „One other passage indicates the wolf in Egil. [...] The motif of biting through an opponent’s throat has been previously discussed. There only remains to be said that this is also the method of attack for werewolves." Blaney, Benjamin. The Berserkr: His Origin and Development in Old Norse Literature (s. 62-63).
  3. greyfðist að niður: "Egill‘s behavior corresponds perfectly to his "wolfish" appearance [...] fighting against Atli he discovers that no weapon can harm his adversary and still wins the combat by biting through Atli‘s throat. This "heroic feat" reminds us of a similar act undertaken by the legendary Sigurd, biting his son Sinfjotli while they were both living in a forest as two wolves." Guriewitch, Elena A. and Inna G. Matiuschina. Poetical mead (s. ??).
  4. beit í sundur: "Here Egill is in action as a werewolf, using the wolf’s attacking technique of biting the victim’s throat" Holtsmark, Anne. On the Werewolf Motif in Egil’s saga Skallagrímssonar (s. 9).
  5. í honum barkann: "Egill kills an opponent in a duel by biting through his windpipe – evoking an echo of Völsunga saga, where while the Odinic Völsungs are living as werewolves in the forest, Sigmundr bites Sinfljötli in the windpipe." Finlay, Alison. Egils saga and other poets’ sagas (s. 40).
  6. eggjar deyfði: „Göttliche Wesen und übernatürliche Kräfte treten auch zumeist in der Dichtung, nicht im Prosatext, auf. Ein Beispiel dafür ist die Szene, in der Egill Atli inn skammi tötet. Es wird im Prosatext nicht direkt gesagt, daß Atli die Schneide von Egils Schwert stumpf gemacht hat, nur, daß das Schwert ihn nicht verletzt. In der folgenden Strophe (Str. 42) wird aber ganz klar, daß Atli über magische Kräfte verfügt: „eggjar deyfði“.“ Baldur Hafstað. Die Egils saga im Lichte von Mythen, Heldensage und Wikingersage (s. 93).
  7. eg bar sauð: "The phrase ek ber sauð in Egil’s strophe, Egils saga Ch. 65, is explained as a pun: ek bar = bark; sauð = á (acc. af ær, f. ‘ewe’), the whole phrase thus = barká = barka ‘throat’. In support of the equation barká = barka the author adduces two parallels from the first and third grammatical treatises." Jón Helgason. „Ek bar sauð“ (s. 96).

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