Njál's Saga Part 4

Last time

  • Njala just died.
  • People heard news and sad


  • Supporting Flosi and the Burners (not to be replicated)
    • Supporters
      • Hall of Sida, Flosi's father in law
      • Sigfussons
      • Eyjolf Bolverksson
      • Bjarni Brodd-Helgason
      • Chieftains from the East Fjords
    • How does Flosi get much of his support?
      • Pays for it
  • Supporting Kari Solmundarson (not to be replicated - see slides for full)
    • Mord
    • Ingjald
    • Hjalti
    • Thorgeir Skorargeir (given battle-axe)
    • Asgrim
    • Thorhall Asgrimsson (given spear)
    • Gizur
    • Chieftains from the north
    • Snorri
  • Legal Battle
    • Separate summons for attack and for wounds
    • Eyjolf attempts to find "defenses"
    • Thorhall has a legal answer to all situations
    • Eyjolf uses his trick and claims case invalid as Flosi has given us his goðorð (264)
    • Mord summons new cases to fifth court
      • Makes mistake when only removes 6 judges
    • Lawful settlements vs. Blood Judgements
      • This legal case is a case against the law, and for blood
      • "If the best lawyers can't make it work, why do we bother?"
      • The back and forth of legal case mirros blood feuds
    • Eyjolf declares suit invalid due to mistake
    • How accurate is this?
      • Some does compare accurately to the gray goose laws
      • Over-dramatized, it's a story, but bits are accurate
  • Actual Battle
    • Law fails (the wrong people are even going to be outlawed), only response left.....?
      • Need for vengeance!
      • Time for blood
    • Thorhall (best legal expert left alive loses control) heads to court, makes first killing
      • Hears news, stabs his wound and heals it, springs to 5th court, and kills a guy
    • Entire assembly involved
      • Either fighting or jeering
      • Are they supposed to have weapons at the Thing?
        • nooooo - this is bad
      • "both sides made ready and armed themselves; both sides had put markings on their helmets" (254)
        • Preparing for battle even before case begins
        • Foreshadowing maybe, but they probably expected battle
    • Hall of Sida and Snorria Godi (274) make peace
  • Terms of Settlement
    • Hall of Sida gives up his son's compensation (275)
      • His son died during fight
      • Waiving rights in interest in peace
    • Threefold compensation for Njal
    • Twofold compensation for Bergthora
    • Skarphedin equal to Hoskuld (3x)
    • Twofold for Grim and Helgi each
    • Single for all others except none for Thord Karason
    • None for Eyjolf due to "unfairness and wrong-doing"
      • He accepted payment for legal advice
    • Flosi declines compensation, Skafti offered none
      • Why Flosi refuses? Peneance?
    • 275 - Weighing injuries/deaths vs. other side. Imbalances paid.
    • Lesser outlawry for Flosi, but full for some others
    • 278 - Hall waived compensation for son's death, but offered it anyways
      • Expressing gratitude for making peace
  • Aftermath - Iceland
    • Kari and Thorgeir Skorargeir not part of settlements
    • They go after Flosi and Sigfussons (280)
      • Spare Ketil of York (relative)
      • Regarded as "good thing" despite legal period
    • Settlement between Flosi & Sigfussons and Thorgeir (283)
      • How does Kari advice Thorgeir? Why isn't he part of deal?
        • Injuries are much greater than what's been done so far, Kari left out of settlement to go kill more people
    • Kari and Bjorn (285)
      • Kill 5 more of the Sigfussons, wound Grani
      • Kill three more, spare Ketil (again) (292)
      • Is Bjorn typical?
        • No, cowardice is bad
        • Has his moments of bravery
        • Someone to identify with?
        • "Bare is the back of the brotherless man"
  • Aftermath - Abroad
    • Flosi and Earl Sigurd (295)
      • When confesses to killing Helgi, he's arrested, and Hall's son settles
      • Flosi is doing his time
    • Kari and Gunnar Lambason (297)
      • Gunnar lying about details
      • Kari hears, cuts off Gunnar's head
      • Flosi defends Kari
    • Battle of Clontarf - Sigtrygg vs. Brian Boru
      • Earl Sigurd and many of Flosi's men support Sigtrygg
      • All Flosi men killed except Thorstein Hallsson
    • Kari kills Kol Thorsteinsson in Wales (309)
    • How is Flosi presented?
      • Very honourably at the end here
      • Never wanted conflict, good man
      • Redemption
    • Pilgrimages to Rome
      • Flosi - absolution from the Pope at end of outlawry
      • Kari - same thing, after he's killed everyone he needed to kill
      • Probably literary device
    • Helga Njalsdottir (Kari's wife) dies in Iceland
  • Final Settlement
    • Flosi returns to Iceland, fulfilled his part
    • Kari returns, shipwrecked, seeks shelter with Flosi
    • Marriage between Hildigunn and Kari
      • All debts paid

Miller's Article

  • Student notes
    • Idea of superiority with emotions
    • Concept of linguistically expressing emotion equating to experiencing emotion
  • Saga emotions, obstacles
    • These sagas are filled with much more emotion than you'd think
    • Lots of obstacles between us experiencing these sagas today, when it was written
    • How do you feel when...?
      • Sport teams winning
      • Failing an exam
      • Fighting with best friend
      • Spouse dies - hard for us to know this pain, but we know others that have known it. We can empathize here.
      • Return from dangerous voyage - Relief, again empathy, we can know this secondhand.
      • Children killed - again, we can experience this pain secondhand
      • Former romantic partner starts dating other people - anger, rejection, jealousy, etc.
  • Imposing our emotional expectations on saga characters
    • Tempting to assume that since saga characters don't express how we'd expect, they don't have emotions. this is bad
    • Emotional eloquence == emotional depth?
      • At the whims of translator here
    • Limits of language
      • Special viking terms in article - read up on these
  • Emotions and Violence
    • Men vs. Women, Old vs. Young


  1. Consider the rule that in medieval Iceland, men must be direct and women must be indirect. To what extent is this true for Njala characters?
    • Men
      • Direct?
        • People getting killed (on midterm, be more specific)
        • Njal & Gunnar providing compensation (most legal things)
        • Killing in sleep is murder, killing awake is a fight....
      • Indirect?
        • Cloak thrown on pile of compensation
        • Skammkel & Otkel. All of Skammkel's lies
        • Njal and 5th court, getting Hoskuld a godurd
        • Sigurd making insulting verses
        • Most of what Mord does
          • Even when Gunnar and Otkel are fighting on his lawn
        • Flosi and the cloak could be argued either way (which counts)
    • Women
      • Direct?
        • Insulting to face
      • Indirect?
        • Magic is feminine and indirect
        • Fight between Hallgerd and Bergthora
        • Direct activity generally can only happen through male proxy
        • Draping cloak and inciting violence
    • Look for this
  2. Is Njal a Christian hero? How is Christianity presented in the text, and why?
    • Start thinking. We'll come back to this.

Reading Guide for Next Week

  • Female characters (may have been composed by woman)
  • Read first have and think about gender of author
  • Hrut and Huskuld - same people in Njala, but different in Laxdaela. How and Why?
  • Pay attention to property
  • Hauntings and Sorcery
  • Interactions with slaves
  • Vigdis, Thord, and Thorolf conflict important

Last posts

  1. Njál's Saga Part 3

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  2. Markov Processes Notes

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  3. Chemistry 1 Notes

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  4. Njál's Saga Part 2

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  5. Njál's Saga Part 1

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