Njála, 075

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Chapter 75

Thrain Sigfus' son said to his wife that he meant to fare abroad that summer. She said that was well. So he took his passage with Hogni the White.

Gunnar took his passage with Arnfin of the Bay; and Kolskegg was to go with him.

Grim and Helgi, Njal's sons, asked their father's leave to go abroad too, and Njal said, "This foreign voyage ye will find hard work, so hard that it will be doubtful whether ye keep your lives; but still ye two will get some honour and glory, but it is not unlikely that a quarrel will arise out of your journey when ye come back."

Still they kept on asking their father to let them go, and the end of it was that he bade them go if they chose.

Then they got them a passage with Bard the Black, and Olof Kettle's son of Elda; and it is the talk of the whole country that all the better men[1] in that district were leaving it.

By this time Gunnar's sons, Hogni and Grani, were grown up; they were men of very different turn of mind. Grani had much of his mother's temper, but Hogni was kind and good.

Gunnar made men bear down the wares of his brother and himself to the ship, and when all Gunnar's baggage had come down, and the ship was all but "boun," then Gunnar rides to Bergthorsknoll, and to other homesteads to see men, and thanked them all for the help they had given him.

The day after he gets ready early for his journey to the ship, and told all his people that he would ride away for good and all, and men took that much to heart, but still they said that they looked to his coming back afterwards.

Gunnar threw his arms round each of the household when he was "boun," and every one of them went out of doors with him; he leans on the butt of his spear[2] and leaps into the saddle, and he and Kolskegg ride away.

They ride down along Markfleet, and just then Gunnar's horse tripped and threw him off. He turned with his face up towards the Lithe and the homestead at Lithend, and said, "Fair is the Lithe;[3] so fair that it has never seemed to me so fair; the corn fields are white to harvest and the home mead is mown; and now I will ride back home,[4] and not fare abroad at all."[5]

"Do not this joy to thy foes," says Kolskegg, "by breaking thy atonement[6],for no man could think thou wouldst do thus, and thou mayst be sure that all will happen as Njal has said."

"I will not go away any whither," said Gunnar, "and so I would thou shouldest do too."

"That shall not be," says Kolskegg; "I will never do a base thing in this, nor in any thing else which is left to my good faith; and this is that one thing that could tear us asunder; but tell this to my kinsman and to my mother that I never mean to see Iceland again, for I shall soon learn that thou art dead, brother, and then there will be nothing left to bring me back."

So they parted there and then. Gunnar rides home to Lithend, but Kolskegg rides to the ship, and goes abroad.

Hallgerda was glad to see Gunnar when he came home, but his mother said little or nothing.

How Gunnar sits at home that fall and winter, and had not many men with him.

Now the winter leaves the farmyard. Olaf the Peacock asked Gunnar and Hallgerda to come and stay with him; but as for the farm, to put it into the hands of his mother and his son Hogni.

Gunnar thought that a good thing at first, and agreed to it, but when it came to the point he would not do it.

But at the Thing next summer, Gizur the White, and Geir the Priest, gave notice of Gunnar's outlawry at the Hill of Laws; and before the Thing broke up Gizur summoned all Gunnar's foes to meet in the "Great Rift."[7] (1) He summoned Starkad under the Threecorner, and Thorgeir his son; Mord and Valgard the Guileful; Geir the Priest and Hjalti Skeggi's son; Thorbrand and Asbrand, Thorleik's sons; Eyjulf, and Aunund his son. Aunund of Witchwood and Thorgrim the Easterling of Sandgil.

The Gizur spoke and said, "I will make you all this offer, that we go out against Gunnar this summer and slay him."

"I gave my word to Gunnar," said Hjalti, "here at the Thing, when he showed himself most willing to yield to my prayer, that I would never be in any attack upon him; and so it shall be."

Then Hjalti went away, but those who were left behind made up their minds to make an onslaught on Gunnar, and shook hands on the bargain, and laid a fine on any one that left the undertaking.

Mord was to keep watch and spy out when there was the best chance of falling on him, and they were forty men in this league, and they thought it would be a light thing for them to hunt down Gunnar, now that Kolskegg was away, and Thrain and many other of Gunnar's friends.

Men ride from the Thing, and Njal went to see Gunnar, and told him of his outlawry, and how an onslaught was planned against him.

"Methinks thou art the best of friends," says Gunnar; "thou makest me aware of what is meant."

"Now," says Njal, "I would that Skarphedinn should come to thy house, and my son Hauskuld; they will lay down their lives for thy life."

"I will not," says Gunnar, "that thy sons should be slain for my sake, and thou hast a right to look for other things from me."

"All thy care will come to nothing," says Njal; "quarrels will turn thitherward where my sons are as soon as thou art dead and gone." [8]

"That is not unlikely," says Gunnar, "but still it would mislike me that they fell into them for me; but this one thing I will ask of thee, that ye see after my son Hogni, but I say naught of Grani, for he does not behave himself much after my mind." [9]

Njal rode home, and gave his word to do that.

It is said that Gunnar rode to all meetings of men, and to all lawful Things, and his foes never dared to fall on him.

And so some time went on that he went about as a free and guiltless man.

References

  1. better men: “If this biographical appendix seems unnecessary, it, too, has a reflexive function, for Kolskeggr’s absence, together with those of Þráinn and the Njálssons, is construed as an immediate cause of Gunnarr’s death. ‘Now people were saying that the district was being emptied of its best men,’ the author remarks in Ch. 75, and again, one page later, ‘They all felt that it would be easy to catch Gunnarr, now that Kolskeggr and Þráinn¬ and many other friends of his were away.” Clover, Carol J. Open composition: the Atlantic interlude in Njáls saga (p. 285).
  2. on the butt of his spear: “Inlaid this renowned episode lies an insight into the pattern of the inner life of Gunnar's character, and of the dilemma he faces in the saga.” Howson, George. The death of Gunnar (pp. 117-18).
  3. Fair is the Lithe : " Here a genuine feeling for nature seems to be expressed, yet it is not seen with the eyes of an esthete or an artist, but with the eyes of the practical farmer. It is neither rivers nor waterfalls, mountains nor glaciers that conjure up the winged words, but ‘whitening grain and the home field mown’; in other words, the fat of the land." Sigurður Magnússon. Nature in Icelandic poetry. (p. 505)
  4. I will ride back home: "This can be seen as a final concern with his honor – as with Achilles (Iliad 9, 412–416), he [Gunnar] has a choice between a long and inglorious life, and a short but glorious life, and like a true hero he chooses the latter." Cook, Robert. Heroism and heroes in Njáls saga (p. 75)
  5. Fair is the Lithe....and not fare abroad: “The beauty he [Gunnarr] had earlier seen in Hallgerðr and her hair is now seen even more clearly in the ripened crops and cut hay of his farm. As landscape description unrelated to the tactical detail of plot is rare in the sagas, the hair and grass element of the here unstated homology is given much of the relief achieved by others [sic] means in the taðskeggling episode.” Sayers, William. Njáll's beard, Hallgerðr's hair, and Gunnarr's hay. (p.20)
  6. by breaking thy atonement: "Njáls saga is often understood as the great general compendium of Icelandic experience, but it might also be viewed as a rather pointed comment on the ultimate failure of that experience. It foregrounds the unsurpassed hero Gunnarr of Hliðarendi, who makes the wrong decision and elects to stay in Iceland in contravention of a legal agreement, or, metaphorically, who elects to remain within the confines of an Icelandic heroic tradition that is doomed." Andersson, Theodore M.. The King of Iceland (p. 933).
  7. Gizur summoned all Gunnar's foes to meet in the "Great Rift.: "As I indicated, Gunnar’s enemies include all kinds of people, many of them without a streak of villainy. The author nicely makes the two Thorgeirs serve as emblems for the moral range of people who will kill Gunnar, from Mord to Gizur." Miller, William Ian. The Two Thorgeirs and Death of Gunnar: Chapters 67–77 (p. 134).
  8. as soon as thou art dead and gone: "Die Kraft nützt nichts ohne Klugheit; aber ebenso wenig nützt Klugheit ohne Kraft. Das letztere ersehen wir aus Nials Geschick. So lange dieser und Gunnar durch unerschütterliche Freundschaft verbunden bleiben, sind sie unüberwindbar. Wie aber Gunnar fällt, weil er aufgehört, Nials klugen Rathschägen zu folgen, so fällt auch Nial, weil ihm Gunnars kräftiger Freundesarm fehlt." Goetz, Wilhelm. Die Nialssaga: ein Epos und das germanische Heidenthum (p. 97).
  9. after my mind: "Even if we have established that there is doubt regarding the positive portrayal of Njáll in the saga, this is not the case with Gunnar, a much more classic Íslendingasögur hero, although also not devoid of his fair share of complexities. We are meant to identify with this character, and his call to protect one son and forsake the other is not a decision we are meant to criticize. And if he prefers one child over the other, why can’t Njáll?” Tirosh, Yoav. Víga-Njáll: A New Approach Toward Njáls saga (p. 223).

Kafli 75

Þráinn Sigfússon sagði það konu sinni að hann ætlaði að fara utan það sumar. Hún sagði að það væri vel. Tók hann sér þá fari með Högna hinum hvíta. Gunnar tók sér fari með Arnfinni hinum víkverska og Kolskeggur.

Þeir Grímur og Helgi Njálssynir báðu föður sinn leyfa að þeir færu utan.

Njáll mælti: „Erfið mun ykkur verða utanferðin svo að tvísýnt mun verða hvort þið fáið haldið lífinu en þó munuð þið fá sæmd í sumu og mannvirðing en eigi örvænt að af leiði vandræði er þið komið út.“

Þeir báðu jafnan að fara og varð það að hann bað þá fara ef þeir vildu. Réðu þeir sér þá far með Bárði svarta og Ólafi Ketilssyni úr Eldu. Og er nú mikil umræða á að mjög leysist á braut hinir betri menn[1] úr sveitinni.

Þeir voru menn frumvaxta synir Gunnars, Högni og Grani. Þeir voru menn óskaplíkir. Hafði Grani mikið af skaplyndi móður sinnar en Högni var vel að sér.

Gunnar lætur flytja vöru þeirra bræðra til skips. Og þá er öll föng Gunnars voru komin og skip var mjög búið þá ríður Gunnar til Bergþórshvols og á aðra bæi að finna menn og þakkaði liðveislu öllum þeim er honum höfðu lið veitt.

Annan dag eftir býr hann ferð sína til skips og sagði þá öllu liði að hann mundi ríða í braut alfari og þótti mönnum það mikið en væntu þó tilkomu hans síðar. Gunnar hverfur til allra manna. Er hann var búinn gengu menn út með honum allir. Hann stingur niður atgeirinum[2] og stiklar í söðulinn og ríða þeir Kolskeggur í braut. Þeir ríða fram að Markarfljóti. Þá drap hestur Gunnars fæti og stökk hann af baki.

Honum varð litið upp til hlíðarinnar og bæjarins að Hlíðarenda og mælti: „Fögur er hlíðin[3] svo að mér hefir hún aldrei jafnfögur sýnst, bleikir akrar en slegin tún, og mun eg ríða heim aftur[4] og fara hvergi.“[5]

„Gerðu eigi þann óvinafagnað,“ segir Kolskeggur, „að þú rjúfir sætt þína[6] því að þér mundi engi maður það ætla. Og muntu það ætla mega að svo mun allt fara sem Njáll hefir sagt.“

„Hvergi mun eg fara og svo vildi eg að þú gerðir,“ segir Gunnar.

„Eigi skal það,“ segir Kolskeggur, „hvorki skal eg á þessu níðast og á engu öðru því er mér er til trúað og mun sjá einn hlutur svo vera að skilja mun með okkur en seg það frændum mínum og móður minni að eg ætla ekki að sjá Ísland því að eg mun spyrja þig látinn, frændi, og heldur mig þá ekki til útferðar.“

Skilur þá með þeim. Ríður Gunnar heim til Hlíðarenda en Kolskeggur ríður til skips og fer utan.

Hallgerður verður fegin Gunnari er hann kom heim en móðir hans lagði fátt til. Gunnar situr nú heima þetta haust og veturinn og hafði ekki margt manna með sér.

Ólafur pái bauð Gunnari til sín og Hallgerði en bað hann fá bú í hendur móður sinni og Högna syni sínum. Gunnari þótti fýsilegt fyrst og játaði því en þá er að kom þá vildi hann eigi.

En á þingi um sumarið lýsa þeir Gissur sekt hans að Lögbergi. En áður þinglausnir voru stefndi Gissur öllum óvinum Gunnars í Almannagjá:[7] Starkaði undan Þríhyrningi og Þorgeiri syni hans, Merði og Valgarði hinum grá, Geir goða og Hjalta Skeggjasyni, Þorbrandi og Ásbrandi Þorleikssonum, Eilífi og Önundi syni hans, Önundi úr Tröllaskógi, Þorgrími úr Sandgili.

Gissur mælti: „Eg vil bjóða yður að vér förum að Gunnari í sumar og drepum hann.“

Hjalti mælti: „Því hét eg Gunnari hér á þingi þá er hann gerði mest fyrir mín orð að eg skyldi eigi vera í aðförum við Gunnar, skal og svo vera.“

Síðan gekk Hjalti í braut en þeir réðu aðför við Gunnar er eftir voru og höfðu handtak að og lögðu við sekt ef nokkur gengi úr. Mörður skyldi halda njósnum nær best gæfi færi á honum og voru þeir fjórir tigir manna í þessu sambandi. Þótti þeim sér nú mundu lítið fyrir að veiða Gunnar er á brautu var Kolskeggur og Þráinn og margir aðrir vinir Gunnars. Riðu menn heim af þingi.

Njáll fór að finna Gunnar og sagði honum sekt hans og ráðna aðför við hann.

„Vel þykir mér þér fara,“ sagði Gunnar, „er þú gerir mig varan við.“

„Nú vil eg,“ segir Njáll, „að Skarphéðinn fari til þín og Höskuldur sonur minn og munu þeir leggja sitt líf við þitt líf.“

„Eigi vil eg,“ segir Gunnar, „að synir þínir séu drepnir fyrir mínar sakir og áttu annað að mér.“

„Fyrir ekki mun það koma,“ sagði Njáll. „Þangað mun snúið vandræðum þá er þú ert látinn[8] sem synir mínir eru.“

„Eigi er það ólíklegt,“ segir Gunnar, „en eigi vildi eg að það hlytist af mér til. En þess vil eg biðja að þér sjáið á með Högna syni mínum. En eg tala ekki til Grana því að hann gerir ekki margt að mínu skapi.“ [9]

Reið Njáll heim og hét því.

Það er sagt að Gunnar reið til allra mannfunda og lögþinga og þorðu aldrei óvinir hans á hann að ráða. Fór svo fram nokkura hríð að hann fór sem ósekur maður.

Tilvísanir

  1. betri menn: “If this biographical appendix seems unnecessary, it, too, has a reflexive function, for Kolskeggr’s absence, together with those of Þráinn and the Njálssons, is construed as an immediate cause of Gunnarr’s death. ‘Now people were saying that the district was being emptied of its best men,’ the author remarks in Ch. 75, and again, one page later, ‘They all felt that it would be easy to catch Gunnarr, now that Kolskeggr and Þráinn¬ and many other friends of his were away.” Clover, Carol J. Open composition: the Atlantic interlude in Njáls saga (s. 285).
  2. stingur niður atgeirinum: “Inlaid this renowned episode lies an insight into the pattern of the inner life of Gunnar's character, and of the dilemma he faces in the saga.” Howson, George. The death of Gunnar (s. 117-18).
  3. Fögur er hlíðin : " Here a genuine feeling for nature seems to be expressed, yet it is not seen with the eyes of an esthete or an artist, but with the eyes of the practical farmer. It is neither rivers nor waterfalls, mountains nor glaciers that conjure up the winged words, but ‘whitening grain and the home field mown’; in other words, the fat of the land." Sigurður Magnússon. Nature in Icelandic poetry. (s. 505)
  4. mun eg ríða heim aftur: "This can be seen as a final concern with his honor – as with Achilles (Iliad 9, 412–416), he [Gunnar] has a choice between a long and inglorious life, and a short but glorious life, and like a true hero he chooses the latter." Cook, Robert. Heroism and heroes in Njáls saga (s. 75)
  5. Fögr er hliðin... ok fara hvergi: “The beauty he [Gunnarr] had earlier seen in Hallgerðr and her hair is now seen even more clearly in the ripened crops and cut hay of his farm. As landscape description unrelated to the tactical detail of plot is rare in the sagas, the hair and grass element of the here unstated homology is given much of the relief achieved by others [sic] means in the taðskeggling episode.” Sayers, William. Njálls beard, Hallgerðrs hair, and Gunnars hay. (s.20)
  6. að þú rjúfir sætt þína: "Njáls saga is often understood as the great general compendium of Icelandic experience, but it might also be viewed as a rather pointed comment on the ultimate failure of that experience. It foregrounds the unsurpassed hero Gunnarr of Hliðarendi, who makes the wrong decision and elects to stay in Iceland in contravention of a legal agreement, or, metaphorically, who elects to remain within the confines of an Icelandic heroic tradition that is doomed." Andersson, Theodore M.. The King of Iceland (s. 933).
  7. stefndi Gissur öllum óvinum Gunnars í Almannagjá: "As I indicated, Gunnar’s enemies include all kinds of people, many of them without a streak of villainy. The author nicely makes the two Thorgeirs serve as emblems for the moral range of people who will kill Gunnar, from Mord to Gizur." Miller, William Ian. The Two Thorgeirs and Death of Gunnar: Chapters 67–77 (s. 134).
  8. þá er þú ert látinn: "Die Kraft nützt nichts ohne Klugheit; aber ebenso wenig nützt Klugheit ohne Kraft. Das letztere ersehen wir aus Nials Geschick. So lange dieser und Gunnar durch unerschütterliche Freundschaft verbunden bleiben, sind sie unüberwindbar. Wie aber Gunnar fällt, weil er aufgehört, Nials klugen Rathschägen zu folgen, so fällt auch Nial, weil ihm Gunnars kräftiger Freundesarm fehlt." Goetz, Wilhelm. Die Nialssaga: ein Epos und das germanische Heidenthum (s. 97).
  9. að mínu skapi: "Even if we have established that there is doubt regarding the positive portrayal of Njáll in the saga, this is not the case with Gunnar, a much more classic Íslendingasögur hero, although also not devoid of his fair share of complexities. We are meant to identify with this character, and his call to protect one son and forsake the other is not a decision we are meant to criticize. And if he prefers one child over the other, why can’t Njáll?” Tirosh, Yoav. Víga-Njáll: A New Approach Toward Njáls saga (s. 223).

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