Robinson, Peter. Vikings and Celts

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  • Author: Robinson, Peter
  • Title: Vikings and Celts
  • Published in: Introductory Essays on Egils saga and Njáls saga
  • Editors:John Hines, Desmond Slay
  • Place, Publisher: London: Viking Society for Northern Research
  • Year: 1992
  • Pages: 125-39
  • E-text: Viking Society Web Publications
  • Reference: Robinson, Peter. "Viking and Celts." Introductory Essays on Egils saga and Njáls saga, pp. 125-39. Eds. John Hines, Desmond Slay. London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 1992.

  • Key words:


Contents

Annotation

In his article, Peter Robinson discusses the past research on the relation between Celtic tradition and Old Norse literature, and he uses Njáls saga among other examples. He aims to find a middle way between Sophus Bugge's position, which states that Old Norse literature is rooted in Celtic tradition, and the opposite statement, which posits that due to the scarcity of loan words and absence of Irish heroes in Old Norse literature, no influence can be affirmed. Robinson then lists the loan words, Irish historical documents dealing with Norse people, personal names in sagas and parallels between Norse and Celtic stories, to show that contact existed. He points then to the gradual augmentation of these parallels from the 14th century on. His interpretation is based on Einar Ólafur Sveinsson’s theory about slavery and prestige. The Celts who arrived to Iceland during the settlement period were usually slaves, and thus their stories must have enjoyed little prestige. However, as time went on, the motifs of these stories were integrated in Norse tradition, as their origins were forgotten. In conclusion, he states that the creative freedom, new creative techniques such as prolepsis, and the passionate way of telling stories which seem to be fundamental for the development of the sagas are owed to the Celtic tradition.He thus recommends the reading of Celtic material to Old Norse students, and proposes a list of books to start with.


Lýsing

Í grein sinni fjallar Peter Robinson um eldri rannsóknir á sambandinu milli forn norræna bókmennta og keltnesku hefðarinnar, þar sem hann notar, meðal annars Njáls sögu sem dæmi. Hann leitast við að finna milliveg milli hugmynda Sophus Bugge annars vegar, sem segir að forn norrænar bókmenntir eigi rætur að rekja til keltneskar menningar, og hins vegar þeirra sem á öndverðu meiði og segja að vegna strjálla lánsorða og fjarveru írskra hetja í forn norrænum bókmenntum sé ekki hægt segja til um áhrifin með fullri vissu. Í framhaldinu telur Robinson upp lánsorðin og vísar til sagnfræðilegra heimilda um samskipti norrænna manna og kelta til að sýna fram á að samskiptin hafi í raun verið til staðar og bendir á að hliðstæð dæmi frá 14 öld og áfram sem sýni stigmagnandi aukningu á slíkum samskiptum. Í túlkun sinni styðst hann við kenningu Einars Ól. Sveinssonar um þrældóm og virðingu en í henni kemur fram að keltneskt fólk hafi komið til Íslands á landnámsöld og þá oftast sem þrælar, þar af leiðandi hafi sögur þeirra ekki notið jafn mikillar virðingar innan samfélagsins. Hins vegar hafi keltnesku sagnaminnin með tímanum sameinast norrænu sagnahefðinni og uppruni þeirra fallið í gleymsku. Að lokum segir Robinson að grundvallar þættir í þróun Íslendingasagnanna eins og sköpunarfrelsi, aukin áhersla á sagnagerð og ný frásagnartækni eins og fyrirboðar sé meira og minna tilkomið vegna keltneskra áhrifa. Hann mælir þess vegna með því að nemendur í norrænum fræðum lesi keltneskt efni og leggur fram lista af bókum til aflestrar.

See also

References

Chapter 12: kom þoka mikil: "The simplest approach is to equate parallel motifs with direct influence, and then start pursuing parallel motifs through literature. For example, there are many mists in Celtic stories (e.g.in the Mabinogion, Jones 1989, 43) similar to the magic mist that protects Þjóstólfr from his pursuers in Njáls saga." (p. 129).

Chapter 20: Njáll: "But, as the centuries passed their stories were dissolved into the mainstream of Norse tradition: their Celtic origins were forgotten, and these stories became part of the common stock. There is some excellent evidence in favour of this. For instance, the names Njáll and Kormákr: both names are unquestionably Irish, yet neither of the sagas of these two gives any hint of an Irish connection in the families of the heroes. … One must conclude that the authors simply were not aware that the names were Irish." (p. 131).

Chapter 157: Brían konungur: "Further, it is not true that no saga contains any Irish story or any Irish hero. Kjalnesinga saga contains a garbled version of the Irish story of Cúchukain's killing of his son … And, of course, there is the account of the battle of Clontarf at the end of Njáls saga." (p. 128).

Links

  • Written by: Barbora Davídková
  • Icelandic translation: Andri M. Kristjánsson
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