Njála, 105

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Chapter 105

OF THORGEIR OF LIGHTWATER.

There was a man named Thorgeir who dwelt at Lightwater; he was the son of Tjorfi, the son of Thorkel the Long, the son of Kettle Longneck. His mother's name was Thoruna, and she was the daughter of Thorstein, the son of Sigmund, the son of Bard of the Nip. Gudrida was the name of his wife; she was a daughter of Thorkel the Black of Hleidrargarth. His brother was Worm Wallet- back, the father of Hlenni the Old of Saurby (1).

The Christian men set up their booths, and Gizur the White and Hjallti were in the booths of the men from Mossfell. The day after both sides went to the Hill of Laws, and each, the Christian men as well as the heathen, took witness, and declared themselves out of the other's laws, and then there was such an uproar on the Hill of Laws that no man could hear the other's voice.

After that men went away, and all thought things looked like the greatest entanglement. The Christian men chose as their Speaker Hall of the Side, but Hall went to Thorgeir, the priest of Lightwater, who was the old Speaker of the law, and gave him three marks of silver (2) to utter what the law should be, but still that was most hazardous counsel, since he was an heathen.

Thorgeir lay all that day on the ground, and spread a cloak over his head, so that no man spoke with him; but the day after men went to the Hill of Laws, and then Thorgeir bade them be silent and listen, and spoke thus: "It seems to me as though our matters were come to a dead lock, if we are not all to have one and the same law; for if there be a sundering of the laws, then there will be a sundering of the peace, and we shall never be able to live in the land. Now, I will ask both Christian men and heathen whether they will hold to those laws which I utter?"

They all said they would.

He said he wished to take an oath of them, and pledges that they would hold to them, and they all said "yea" to that, and so he took pledges from them.

"This is the beginning of our laws,"[1] he said, "that all men shall be Christian here in the land, and believe in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,[2] but leave off all idol- worship, not expose children to perish, and not eat horseflesh. It shall be outlawry if such things are proved openly against any man; but if these things are done by stealth, then it shall be blameless."

But all this heathendom was all done away with within a few years' space, so that those things were not allowed to be done either by stealth or openly.

Thorgeir then uttered the law as to keeping the Lord's day and fast days, Yuletide and Easter, and all the greatest highdays and holidays.

The heathen men thought they had been greatly cheated; but still the true faith was brought into the law, and so all men became Christian here in the land.

After that men fare home from the Thing.

ENDNOTES:

(1) Kettle and Thorkel were both sons of Thorir Tag, the son of Kettle the Seal, the son of Ornolf, the son of Bjornolf, the son of Grim Hairycheek, the son of Kettle Haeing, the son of Hallbjorn Halftroll of Ravensfood.

(2) This was no bribe, but his lawful fee.

References

  1. This is the beginning of our laws,: "If you want a quick conclusion, it can somewhat unfairly be boiled down to this: things went from bad, but bearable, before Christianity, to worse and barely bearable after. Some people change their style of dying, but most importantly, it becomes harder to maintain the peace. The rules governing violence seem more under stress afterwards. In both post and pre-Christian Njáls saga revenge thrives, but in the earlier period it adhered better to norms of proportionality than after the Conversion." Miller, William Ian. Why is Your Axe Bloody? (p. 189).
  2. believe in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: "It is undoubtedly no coincidence that Ari and supposedly Þorgeirr talk only about baptism, the formal requirement of Christianity, without mentioning the accompanying faith in a single god. This would have entailed using the difficult concept goð (God), a neuter word in the pagan context, where it was most often used in the plural, but a masculine term for Christians, of necessity used only in the singular. [Footnote 130] "... Later texts add the requirement of believing in a single god (trúa á einn goð...). Njáls saga further elaborated the requirement as faith "in one god, father and son and holy spirit". Jochens, Jenny. Late and Peaceful. (p. 650).

Kafli 105

Þorgeir hét maður er bjó að Ljósavatni. Hann var Tjörvason Þorkelssonar langs. Móðir hans hét Þórunn og var Þorsteinsdóttir, Sigmundarsonar, Gnúpa-Bárðarsonar. Guðríður hét kona hans. Hún var dóttir Þorkels hins svarta úr Hleiðrargarði. Hans bróðir var Ormur töskubak, faðir Hlenna hins gamla úr Saurbæ. Þeir Ketill og Þorkell voru synir Þóris snepils, Ketilssonar brimils, Örnólfssonar, Björnólfssonar, Grímssonar loðinkinna, Ketilssonar hængs, Hallbjarnarsonar hálftrölls úr Hrafnistu.

Kristnir menn tjölduðu búðir sínar og voru þeir Gissur og Hjalti í Mosfellingabúð.

Um daginn eftir gengu hvorirtveggju til Lögbergs og nefndu hvorir votta, kristnir menn og heiðnir menn, og sögðust hvorir úr lögum annarra og varð þá svo mikið óhljóð að Lögbergi að engi nam mál annars. Síðan gengu menn í braut og þótti öllum horfa til hinna mestu vafninga.

Kristnir menn tóku sér til lögsögumanns Hall af Síðu. En Hallur fór að finna Þorgeir goða frá Ljósavatni og gaf honum til þrjár merkur silfurs að hann segði upp lögin. En það var þó ábyrgðarráð er hann var heiðinn.

Þorgeir lá dag allan og breiddi feld á höfuð sér svo að engi maður mælti við hann.

En annan dag gengu menn til Lögbergs.

Þá beiddi Þorgeir sér hljóðs og mælti: „Svo líst mér sem málum vorum sé komið í ónýt efni ef eigi hafa ein lög allir. En ef sundur skipt er lögunum þá mun sundur skipt friðinum og mun eigi við það mega búa. Nú vil eg þess spyrja kristna menn og heiðna hvort þeir vilja hafa lög þau er eg segi upp.“

Því játuðu allir. Hann kvaðst vilja hafa svardaga af þeim og festu að halda. Þeir játuðu því allir og tók hann af þeim festu.

„Það er upphaf laga vorra,[1]“ sagði hann, „að menn skulu allir vera kristnir hér á landi og trúa á einn guð, föður og son og anda helgan,[2] en láta af allri skurðgoðavillu, bera eigi út börn og eta eigi hrossakjöt. Skal fjörbaugssök á vera ef víst verður en ef leynilega er með farið þá skal vera vítislaust.“

En þessi heiðni var afnumin á fárra vetra fresti að eigi skyldi þetta heldur gera á laun heldur en opinberlega. Hann sagði þá um drottinsdagahald og föstudaga, jóladaga og páskadaga og allra hinna stærstu hátíða.

Þóttust heiðnir menn mjög sviknir vera en þá var þá í lög leidd trúan og allir menn gervir kristnir hér á landi.

Fara menn við það heim af þingi.

Tilvísanir

  1. Það er upphaf laga vorra: "If you want a quick conclusion, it can somewhat unfairly be boiled down to this: things went from bad, but bearable, before Christianity, to worse and barely bearable after. Some people change their style of dying, but most importantly, it becomes harder to maintain the peace. The rules governing violence seem more under stress afterwards. In both post and pre-Christian Njáls saga revenge thrives, but in the earlier period it adhered better to norms of proportionality than after the Conversion." Miller, William Ian. Why is Your Axe Bloody? (p. 189).
  2. trúa á einn guð, föður og son og anda helgan: "It is undoubtedly no coincidence that Ari and supposedly Þorgeirr talk only about baptism, the formal requirement of Christianity, without mentioning the accompanying faith in a single god. This would have entailed using the difficult concept goð (God), a neuter word in the pagan context, where it was most often used in the plural, but a masculine term for Christians, of necessity used only in the singular. [Footnote 130] "... Later texts add the requirement of believing in a single god (trúa á einn goð...). Njáls saga further elaborated the requirement as faith "in one god, father and son and holy spirit". Jochens, Jenny. Late and Peaceful. (s. 650).

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