Roughton, Philip G. Icelandic Saints in Different Guises

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  • Author: Roughton, Philip G.
  • Title: Icelandic Saints in Different Guises: Hagiography in Þorláks saga and Egils saga
  • Published in: AM 645 4to and AM 652/630 4to: Study and Translation of Two Thirteenth-Century Icelandic Collections of Apostles‘ and Saints‘ Lives. Ph.D. Diss.
  • Place, Publisher: Boulder: University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Year: 2002
  • Pages: 37-59
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Roughton, Philip G. "Icelandic Saints in Different Guises: Hagiography in Þorláks saga and Egils saga." AM 645 4to and AM 652/630 4to: Study and Translation of Two Thirteenth-Century Icelandic Collections of Apostles‘ and Saints‘ Lives. Ph.D. Diss. Boulder: University of Colorado at Boulder, 2002, pp. 37-59.

  • Key words: literary elements, intertextuality, author (höfundur, textatengsl, bókmenntaleg einkenni)



Contents

Annotation

Roughton’s PhD thesis addresses links between Sagas of Icelanders, Bishops and Saints, and in one chapter Egils saga is compared with Þorláks saga helga. Roughton points out that the story of Egil’s life is developed in a similar way to most of the sagas of the lives of holy men. On the other hand, the depiction of Egil is a kind of inversion of the typical depiction of a saint. As an example, Roughton takes motifs which appear in both sagas whereby the saga heroes respond very differently to their environment and the environment responds very differently to them, although the narrative framework is the same. Instead of resembling Christ, like heroes of Sagas of Saints generally do, Egil resembles the heathen god Óðinn, who is a god of travel, disguise (metamorphosis), poetry, runic inscription, hospitality and friendship. Egil is effectively a kind of “apostle” to Óðinn and punishes those who do not follow his commandments. Roughton examines how this interpretation of the saga helps support the theory that Snorri Sturluson wrote the saga and intentionally blended together secular and sacred motifs. Contemporary sources and other works attributed to Snorri paint a picture of a man who is a blend of historian, hagiographer, skald, saga writer and to some extent an Icelandic independence hero. Roughton proposes that Snorri possibly wrote the saga to warn his fellow countrymen of the encroachment of a foreign monarch. He also reflects on whether Egils saga is indicative of the development in Icelandic historiography when vita (saint's life) becomes saga (saga of an Icelander).

Lýsing

Doktorsritgerð Roughtons fjallar um tengsl Íslendingasagna við biskupa- og dýrlingasögur. Í einum kaflanum er Egils saga borin saman við Þorláks sögu helga. Roughton bendir á að sagan af ævi Egils sé byggð upp með svipuðum hætti og flestar þær sögur sem fjalla um ævi heilagra manna. Aftur á móti sé myndin sem dregin sé upp af Agli nokkurs konar andhverfa dýrlingsmyndar. Sem dæmi tekur Roughton minni sem koma fyrir í báðum sögunum þar sem söguhetjurnar bregðast mjög ólíkt við umhverfi sínu og umhverfið bregst ólíkt við þeim, þó að frásagnarramminn sé hinn sami. Í stað þess að líkjast Kristi, líkt og hetjur dýrlingasagna gera allajafna, líkist Egill hinum heiðna guði Óðni, sem er guð ferðalaga, dulargerva (hamskipta), skáldskapar, rúnaristna, gestrisni og vináttu. Egill sé í raun nokkurs konar „postuli“ Óðins og refsar þeim sem fara ekki eftir hans boðorðum. Roughton skoðar hvernig þessi túlkun á sögunni kemur heim við þá kenningu að Snorri Sturluson hafi skrifað söguna og blandað viljandi saman veraldlegum og kirkjulegum minnum. Samtímaheimildir og önnur verk sem eignuð eru Snorra draga upp mynd af manni sem er blanda af sagnfræðingi, helgisagnaritara, skáldi, söguhöfundi og að vissu leyti íslenskri sjálfstæðishetju. Roughton setur fram þá kenningu að Snorri hafi hugsanlega skrifað söguna til að vara samlanda sína við ágangi erlends konungsvalds. Hann veltir einnig fyrir sér hvort Egils saga sýni þá þróun í sagnaritun Íslendinga þegar vita (ævi dýrlings) verður að sögu (Íslendingasögu).

See also

References

Persónur: Egill – “Egill is as extraordinary a child as any future Christian bishop, yet his ugliness, precotiousness, impetuosity, verbosity, and hostility are in direct opposition to the standard qualities of character so often found in the friends of God.” (41).

Links

  • Written by: Álfdís Þorleifsdóttir
  • English translation: Jane Appleton
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