Njála, 106

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Chapter 106

OF AMUND THE BLIND.

That event happened three winters after at the Thingskala-Thing that Amund the Blind was at the Thing; he was the son of Hauskuld Njal's son. He made men lead him about among the booths, and so he came to the booth inside which was Lyting of Samstede. He made them lead him into the booth till he came before Lyting.

"Is Lyting of Samstede here?" he asked.

"What dost thou want?" says Lyting.

"I want to know," says Amund, "what atonement thou wilt pay me for my father. I am base-born, and I have touched no fine."

"I have atoned for the slaying of thy father," says Lyting, "with a full price, and thy father's father and thy father's brothers took the money; but my brothers fell without a price as outlaws; and so it was that I had both done an ill deed, and paid dear for it."

"I ask not," says Amund, "as to thy having paid an atonement to them. I know that ye two are now friends, but I ask this, what atonement thou wilt pay to me?"

"None at all," says Lyting.

"I cannot see," says Amund, "how thou canst have right before God, when thou hast stricken me so near the heart; but all I can say is, that if I were blessed with the sight of both my eyes, I would have either a money fine for my father, or revenge man for man, and so may God judge between us."

After that he went out; but when he came to the door of the booth, he turned short round towards the inside. Then his eyes were opened,[1] and he said, "Praised be the Lord! Now I see what his will is."[2]

With that he ran straight into the booth until he comes before Lyting, and smites him with an axe on the head, so that it sunk in up to the hammer, and gives the axe a pull towards him.

Lyting fell forwards and was dead at once.

Amund goes out to the door of the booth, and when he got to the very same spot on which he had stood when his eyes were opened, lo! they were shut again, and he was blind all his life after. [3]

Then he made them lead him to Njal and his sons, and he told them of Lyting's slaying.

"Thou mayest not be blamed for this," says Njal, "for such things are settled by a higher power; but it is worth while to take warning from such events, lest we cut any short who have such near claims as Amund had."

After that Njal offered an atonement to Lyting's kinsmen. Hauskuld the Priest of Whiteness had a share in bringing Lyting's kinsmen to take the fine, and then the matter was put to an award, and half the fines fell away for the sake of the claim which he seemed to have on Lyting.

After that men came forward with pledges of peace and good faith, and Lyting's kinsmen granted pledges to Amund. Men rode home from the Thing; and now all is quiet for a long while.

References

  1. his eyes were opened: “Here the Christian God abets Amundi’s “sin” by awarding him a power the old pagan gods were called upon to give in earlier times. The implication is that the old gods were no longer capable of performing what the new God could.” Taylor, Paul Beekman. Njáll grómr: christian morality and Norse myth (p. 168).
  2. Praised be the Lord! Now I see what his will is.: " 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. Conversion and the Genius of the Law: Chapters 100–6 (p. 189).
  3. he was blind all his life after: "It is obvious why critics have been uneasy at this scene [referring to the case of Ámundi the Blind]: since the Christian’s God is the God of Love, Whose commandment it is not to kill, it would appear that at best the Christian author of Njála had a very inadequate understanding of his God; at worst the scene can be read as downright blasphemous. Seen against the background of the metaphor of darkness and vision, however, the message of the episode is clear and unambiguous." Hamer, Andrew. "It seemed to me that the sweetest light of my eyes had been extinguished" (p. 100).

Kafli 106

Sá atburður varð þrem vetrum síðar á Þingskálaþingi að Ámundi hinn blindi var á þingi, Höskuldsson Njálssonar. Hann lét leiða sig búða í millum. Hann kom í búð þá er Lýtingur var inni af Sámsstöðum. Hann lætur leiða sig inn í búðina og þar sem Lýtingur sat.

Hann mælti: „Er hér Lýtingur af Sámsstöðum?“

„Hvað viltu?“ segir Lýtingur.

„Eg vil vita,“ segir Ámundi, „hverju þú vilt bæta mér föður minn. Eg er laungetinn og hefi eg við engum bótum tekið.“

„Bætt hefi eg víg föður þíns fullum bótum og tók við föðurfaðir þinn og föðurbræður en bræður mínir voru ógildir. Og var bæði að eg hafði illa til gert enda kom eg allhart niður.“

„Ekki spyr eg að því,“ segir Ámundi, „að þú hefir bætt þeim. Veit eg að þér eruð sáttir. Og spyr eg að því hverju þú vilt mér bæta.“

„Alls engu,“ segir Lýtingur.

„Eigi skil eg,“ segir Ámundi, „að það muni rétt fyrir guði svo nær hjarta sem þú hefir mér höggvið. Enda kann eg að segja þér ef eg væri heileygur báðum augum að hafa skyldi eg annaðhvort fyrir föður minn fébætur eða mannhefndir enda skipti guð með okkur.“

Eftir það gekk hann út. En er hann kom í búðardyrin snýst hann innar eftir búðinni. Þá lukust upp augu hans.[1]

Þá mælti hann: „Lofaður sé drottinn. Sé eg nú hvað hann vill.“[2]

Eftir það hleypur hann innar eftir búðinni þar til er hann kemur fyrir Lýting og höggur með öxi í höfuð honum svo að hún stóð á hamri og kippir að sér öxinni. Lýtingur féll áfram og var þegar dauður. Ámundi gengur út í búðardyrin. Og er hann kom í þau hin sömu spor sem upp höfðu lokist augu hans þá lukust aftur og var hann alla ævi blindur síðan.[3]

Eftir það lætur hann fylgja sér til Njáls og sona hans. Hann segir þeim víg Lýtings.

„Ekki má saka þig um þetta,“ segir Njáll, „því að slíkt er mjög á kveðið en viðvörunarvert ef slíkir atburðir verða að stinga eigi af stokki við þá er svo nær standa.“

Síðan bauð Njáll sætt frændum Lýtings. Höskuldur Hvítanesgoði átti hlut að við frændur Lýtings að þeir tækju bótina og var þá lagið mál í gerð og féllu hálfar bætur niður fyrir sakastaði þá er hann þótti á eiga. Eftir það gengu menn til tryggða og veittu frændur Lýtings Ámunda tryggðir.

Menn riðu heim af þingi og er nú kyrrt lengi.

Tilvísanir

  1. lukust upp augu hans: “Here the Christian God abets Amundi’s “sin” by awarding him a power the old pagan gods were called upon to give in earlier times. The implication is that the old gods were no longer capable of performing what the new God could.” Taylor, Paul Beekman. Njáll grómr: christian morality and Norse myth (s. 168).
  2. Lofaður sé drottinn. Sé eg nú hvað hann vill.: " 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. Conversion and the Genius of the Law: Chapters 100–6 (s. 189).
  3. var hann alla ævi blindur síðan: "It is obvious why critics have been uneasy at this scene [referring to the case of Ámundi the Blind]: since the Christian’s God is the God of Love, Whose commandment it is not to kill, it would appear that at best the Christian author of Njála had a very inadequate understanding of his God; at worst the scene can be read as downright blasphemous. Seen against the background of the metaphor of darkness and vision, however, the message of the episode is clear and unambiguous." Hamer, Andrew. "It seemed to me that the sweetest light of my eyes had been extinguished" (s. 100).

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