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Heimskringla thread

  1. Jun 13, 2004 #1

    marcus

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    this is a separate thread for sharing page references
    in the heimskringla of Snorri
    who was a nominally christian Icelander born in 1177

    the Heimskringla is a long book with many chapters
    one chapter for each of the kings of Norway (or rulers in case
    of no norwegian king)

    because it is long, it is hard to find the good parts
    and this is why one needs a thread to exchange information
    about how to find the good parts

    by good parts is meant something very special

    as when the queen of Sweden had so many suitors who wanted to marry her that she asked them all to gather in a certain church and then burned it down
    and then she said "this will teach kinglets not to come wooing me"


    also a good part is where the sons of Bue were all sitting side by side on a log waiting to have their heads chopped off and their conversation was remembered in detail

    but before that there was the drinking party in Denmark where bue said what he would do when they invaded norway, and then all the others felt they should say what they would do-----these conversations are also recorded in considerable detail

    and then there was the time Earl Hakon had to hide in the pigsty

    and the time that someone I forget who put the priests off the boat
    (the Danish king had given him priests and told him to take them back to norway with him-----he did not put them off the boat right away but
    waited until he had a good wind and then dropped them off: this shows Snorri's appreciation of detail)

    the thing about Snorri is, in part, that he belongs to an Icelandic tradition of factual storytelling. there were two recognized kinds of Sagas----the fairytale kind where supernatural stuff happens and the factual historical kind where you try to get everything sober and truthful. there are in existence about on the order of 100 historical sagas from several centuries and they corroborate each other

    people in that time listened to each other carefully and recounted actions precisely and could tell years afterwards what someone said and did.
    Iceland was settled by a small number of families who watched each other and knew quarrels and marriages and lawsuits and stuff, and who had time in the winter to recall and talk about it.

    So back in norway they would welcome guests from Iceland and the Icelanders became like historians---even back in Norway, where they used to go a lot---and Snorri was like a specialist in norwegian history

    and he lived at a time when people had learned how to write so he wrote the stories down

    and a lot of it would probably not interest most of us
    especially at the beginning i do not like it because it deals in a somewhat perfunctory way with gods and stuff like that

    you have to get into it further on and then it gets convincingly factual
    with very little that is supernatural (besides people sometimes having premonitions in their dreams, and well Finns-----Finns, as opposed to normal people, do traffic some in sorcery so you have to watch out for them)

    the problem with Heimskringla is that it is a big book. so if anyone reads it they should please post here which chapters have good parts

    I own the translation by shucks who is he, his name begins with H.
    and he is a really good translator. I will get the book and find out.
    this is a book that when you lend it you dont get it back unless you bug the person
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2004 #2

    Evo

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    Please let me know, I'd like to buy it.

    I found this link to the Heimskringla and this is what I have started reading.

    marcus, if you have a few minutes, can you look at some of it and let me know if the translation is good or if I should wait for the version you have?

    I agree with you that how the original text is translated can make a very big difference.

    http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Heimskringla/
     
  4. Jun 13, 2004 #3

    marcus

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    this is interesting, the quality of translation is a secondary issue,

    let us share passages
    you may not like this one, which is rather gruesome

    chapter 46 of
    http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Heimskringla/trygvason2.html

    it comes very near the beginning of that page. that page begins with chapter 44 so you just scroll down one screen or so
     
  5. Jun 13, 2004 #4

    arildno

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    Well, have a good reading both of you!
    Personally, I absolutely adore Snorri's style, and can't really help you picking out "good parts" (since I love all of it!)

    If you get through Snorri, you might try Saxo Grammaticus, a Danish historian writing a generation prior to Snorri.
    His style is abominable (to say the least), but there's quite a few good parts in between (for example, the original story about Hamlet)
     
  6. Jun 13, 2004 #5

    marcus

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    Look at chapter 27 and 28

    http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Heimskringla/trygvason1.html


    these chapters are about 60 percent down the page
    they are short chapters which both fit on one screen

    in this version he does not throw them overboard but
    "puts them ashore" at the mouth of a fjord as he prepared
    to put out to sea

    these are the priests given to Earl Hakon by Bishop Poppo

    Earl hakon is always causing trouble.


    this Bishop Poppo carried hot irons in his hand which convinced
    King Harald of Denmark to be baptized. you see the King was a sensible man and required empirical evidence :wink:

    for some reason I cant find the story of that proud queen who
    took determined means to discourage her suitors
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2004
  7. Jun 13, 2004 #6

    marcus

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    there it is, chapter 48 in trygvason2
    the story of Sigrid the Haughty
    it was one of her guest halls she burned down with the suitors inside,
    not a church (as I remembered it)

    she comes across as a complex individual

    he should not have been courting her in the first place, you understand

    she gave him excellent entertainment the first time he came
    to visit, but he couldnt make up his mind then and there and had to
    go home to think about it----this was fatal
     
  8. Jun 13, 2004 #7

    Evo

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    Just a bit. :wink:

    It's amazing to me what seemed (acceptable?) back then. I read that part earlier today.

    I did not find chapter 46 too gruesome. The way the tales are told just depict life (and death) the way it was then. I found the part about Sigurd and his hair to be quite clever.
     
  9. Jun 14, 2004 #8

    marcus

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    Evo look at this and weep. His profile says he has a masters in fluid mechanics which means I guess an engineer. do I know an american engineer who likes chaucer?

    No I dont know an american engineer who likes chaucer, not with such zest anyway

    the trouble with Earl hakon was he was a womanizer, he was an OK earl except for that.

    it was his mistress who put him up in her pigsty when there was that uprising of the farmers (and the king had just come from ireland).


    BTW I was wrong about the extent of superstition. Now on re-reading Snorri I see supernatural prescience in dreams and a widespread belief that people (even ordinary, not just Finns) can do sorcery.

    so I was wrong, there was more credulity than I remembered. but maybe there is still an idea there

    Hollander calls the farmers of the Trondheim district "farmers" and not serfs or bondsmen or peasants etc. I think he got that right. they act like
    rather independent freehold farmers. so there are little nuances that differ in the translation but it is not a big deal

    I am very glad you found this online Snorri

    heimskringla means (world-circle) sort of ....what?
    it is the first word in the original, so the book is named after its first word
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2004
  10. Jun 14, 2004 #9

    Evo

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    Not to my knowledge, and I know more than my fair share of engineers. :wink:

    marcus, I love your commentary on this thread! It has humour and wit. It makes reading the chapters even better!

    I love reading chronicles like this. Getting an inside look into the minds of people that lived back then is so fascinating to me.

    Your input makes it even better. :smile:
     
  11. Jun 14, 2004 #10

    marcus

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    not an uncommon experience when sharing a book
    your interest got me to fetch that one off the
    shelf, and led to considerable pleasure

    I'm thinking that a lot of Medieval literature must
    be online

    eg many icelandic sagas
    dante
    medieval germans like Walther von der Vogelweide
    early secular lyric poets/songwriters like William of Aquitaine
    (who was the grandfather of Eleanor---she has a bit more
    name-recognition)

    people must do this, I mean co-read medieval classics online
    for amusement and comment on some kind of
    message board

    what languages do you read in.
    I read a bit of french italian mittelhochdeutsch, but only
    in some cases with the help of a pony
    that is, I tend to enjoy a passage of Inferno only
    after having looked at an english version so I know
    what it's about already
     
  12. Jun 14, 2004 #11

    marcus

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    Happy Birthday Arildno
    hope you had a good 33rd trip around the sun
    (the board says it's Arildno's birthday today)

    why dont you join us for some medieval pleasure-reading
    which will help to keep everything regular
    see Canto V of the inferno, F and P would have been saved
    considerable inconvenience if there had been a third member of their book club.

    maybe, for all I know, the good thing about Saxo Grammaticus (besides the name) is just what you mentioned: his abominable style

    can you find Saxo in english online? will the translator be able to
    achieve the proper pitch of abomination

    another medieval writer I love is Procopius
    does anyone know his Secret History of the empress theodora
    hoo wah!
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2004
  13. Jun 14, 2004 #12

    Evo

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    Who was the author?

    Yes, I'm finding quite a bit online, which is really nice. Now I just wish I had more time to read!

    She was a remarkable woman. Have you read Eleanor of Aquitane & the Four Kings by Amy Kelly?

    I have seen some historical literature review sites, but mainly it was just posting a book review. Hmmm, I should do a search.

    Only English fluently. I used to be able to read French when I was younger, but due to lack of use, I struggle now.
     
  14. Jun 14, 2004 #13

    Evo

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    Happy birthday Arildno!!

    Arildno, you must join in. I am afraid I am bit too lowbrow for someone with the level of knowledge marcus has. Although marcus would never come out and say so.

    The same place I found the Heimskringla, the University of Berkeley Online Medieval & Classical Library has it.

    http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/DanishHistory/

    Thanks to you, I just found it, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/procop-anec.html at a wonderful site for Medieval and ancient history from Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.

    I'm like a kid in a candy store!! :tongue2:

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook.html
     
  15. Jun 14, 2004 #14

    marcus

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    the location of our eyebrows is not at issue

    you have found a treasure on the web

    merely look, if you have not already, at Chapter 9 paragraph 9

    Slaves to whom the duty was entrusted would then scatter grains of barley from above into the calyx of this passion flower, whence geese, trained for the purpose, would next pick the grains one by one with their bills and eat.

    is it not well-translated? the "whence geese"...

    the outrage of procopius is akin to love for the lady
    (it reaches that height)
     
  16. Jun 14, 2004 #15

    marcus

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    I can do without Saxo Grammaticus for the while,
    however anyone wanting to see the story of Amleth
    the son Gorwendil who feigned madness and took
    revenge on his uncle Feng can look in book III
    about 3/5 of the way down the page. It continues on
    into book IV. Saxo is long-winded
     
  17. Jun 14, 2004 #16

    marcus

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    Theodora's father was a bear-trainer and her mother was a stage mom.
    She herself became a circus-performer and so delighted the Emperor Justinian that he married her.

    If she ever did anything bad in the book I am sure it was made up by Procopius, for he had a rabid clerical imagination.
     
  18. Jun 15, 2004 #17

    marcus

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    has anyone (besides me) been to Ravenna and seen the
    largescale portraits of Theodora and Justinian in the Cathedral there?

    it is fine mosaic work
    Theodora is surrounded by her ladies.
    the trained geese are nowhere in sight
     
  19. Jun 15, 2004 #18

    Evo

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    He definitely has a very poor opinion of her. I wonder how much of it is true. Some talented geese. :bugeye: I need to go to sleep, my mind is fried, but it's hard to stop reading.
     
  20. Jun 15, 2004 #19

    marcus

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    these people built the Agia Sophia----the greatest domed building of its time---justinian's people, theodora's

    Procopius was a member of their court, worked for them and knew them personally. And wrote this account of them that has a kind of
    surreal authenticity

    Oh yes, goodnight Evo. I was just talking to myself (didnt expect you were about)
     
  21. Jun 15, 2004 #20

    arildno

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    Long-winded??
    That's the worst understatement I've ever heard!!
    He is tedious, repetitious, fond of saying the same more than once, going about in circles, writing long sentences witout content, paraphrasing himself over and over again..

    (I think I just had a saxogrammatical fit here..:wink:)
     
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