Mánaðarskipt færslusafn fyrir: janúar 2019

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Romina Werth

Cinderella in the North

The Cinderella Paradigm in Laxdæla saga and Njáls saga

Fimmtudaginn 7. febrúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Romina Werth

Cinderella is probably the most popular fairy tale of all times, and has been innumerably adapted and translated within and across cultures. However, Cinderella is not only that one tale about a girl being persecuted by her evil stepmother and marrying a prince after fitting into a delicate slipper, which everybody tends to know or recognize. With its more than thousand variants disseminated throughout the world and with the oldest variants attested from Classical Antiquity, Cinderella is rather a whole tale cycle.

That Cinderella can also be detected in Old Norse literature has been shown by the British folklorist Marian Roalfe Cox as early as 1893. Cox claims Áslaug, daughter of the famous dragon slayer Sigurður in Ragnars saga loðbrókar, to be an early example of Cinderella. According to the Icelandic scholar Einar Ól. Sveinsson, the first recognizable Icelandic variant of this fairy tale is to be found in the chivalric saga Vilmundar saga viðutan, where a kitchen maid is named Öskubuska, which later became the Icelandic rendering of the name Cinderella.

However, no proper Cinderella has to that date been detected in the Sagas of Icelanders,
therefore, this presentation aims at showing how the Cinderella cycle or paradigm has been incorporated in Laxdæla saga and Njáls saga, sometimes with a considerable alteration of motifs in order to fit cultural and literary conventions.

Firstly, the paper focuses on the abducted Irish princess Melkorka in Laxdæla saga, who hides her identity and gets beaten with shoes. Melkorka as well as her illegitimate son Ólafur pái share common motifs belonging to the Cinderella cycle, where items known as recognition tokens play an important role. A more or less distorted adaptation of Melkorka may be found in Njáls saga, where the Irish slave Melkólfur almost loses a shoe after having convicted a crime and where oddly a chunk of cheese exposes the thief.

The paper offers a folkloristic-based reading of episodes of well-known saga texts with a focus on an international folktale pattern, which had been known and reworked in Iceland from the Middle Ages onwards.

Romina Werth holds an MA degree in Folkloristics and is currently a Ph.D. student in Icelandic literature and part-time teacher at the University of Iceland. Her research focuses on the fairy tale and its adaptation in Old Icelandic saga texts.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Marteinn Helgi Sigurðsson

Tyrannicide in AM 291 4to

Jómsvíkinga saga (Uncensored) and Politics in Twelfth-Century Denmark

Þriðjudaginn 29. janúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Marteinn Helgi Sigurðsson

The lecture builds on research behind the new edition of Jómsvíkinga saga in Íslenzk fornrit, vol. 33, eds. Þorleifur Hauksson and Marteinn Helgi Sigurðsson (Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 2018). Jómsvíkinga saga is assumed to have been composed in Iceland c. 1200 and is best known for its entertaining account of how a Danish war-band known as the Jómsvíkingar invaded Norway in the depth of winter and were defeated there at the sea-battle of Hjörungavogur by Earl Hákon of Hlaðir (d. 995), the arch-enemy of Christianity in Norway. The semi-legendary Jómsvíkingar were based in the fortress of Jómsborg in Wendland on the southern coast of the Baltic (Wolin in present day Poland), a region conquered during the Wendish crusades two centuries later by the Danish king Valdimar the Great and Archbishop Absalon of Lund. According to other and more reliable sources, the founder of Jómsborg and the Jómsvíkingar was the Danish king Harald (Bluetooth) Gormsson (d. c. 987). Jómsvíkinga saga ascribes the foundation of the war-band and fortress instead to Pálna-Tóki, a legendary Danish chieftain who is also made the grandfather of Vagn Ákason, the main hero and survivor of the aforementioned sea-battle in Norway. Vagn Ákason was evidently held to have been the forefather of Absalon’s predecessor in Lund, the crusading Archbishop Eskil Kristiarnsen (1137-1178, d. 1181), and the lecture explores how and why the saga exalts Eskil’s tenth-century forefathers at the expense of Harald Bluetooth and his son Swein Forkbeard, the forefathers of Valdimar the Great. The saga’s account of Pálna-Tóki’s assassination of the tyrant-king Harald Bluetooth is central in this regard, and the earliest manuscript of Jómsvíkinga saga, AM 291 4to, contains a far more vivid depiction of Pálna-Tóki’s tyrannicide than other redactions of the saga. According to the saga, Pálna-Tóki killed King Harald in order to avenge the tyrant’s killing of Áki, the innocent brother of Pálna-Tóki’s father. The 291 version evidently links the king’s demeaning death also to his hostility and injustice towards Icelanders, whose communal cursing (níð) of the Danish King is only related in the 291 version. The lecture concludes with speculations about the authorship of the saga and its possible ties to the figure of Arnoldus Tylensis ‘Arnold the Icelander’, a poet, prophet and antiquarian in the service of Valdimar and Absalon who might have made a rather bold ‘cameo appearance’ at a crucial moment in Jómsvíkinga saga.

Marteinn Helgi Sigurðsson er doktor í norrænum fræðum frá Cambridge, Englandi, og M.Phil. í miðaldasögu frá St. Andrews á Skotlandi. Rannsóknarsvið hans eru m.a. nafnfræði, goðafræði, kirkjusaga og trúarlegar bókmenntir á miðöldum. Hann hefur kennt við Háskóla Íslands og Hafnarháskóla og vann með Þorleifi Haukssyni að nýlegri útgáfu Jómsvíkinga sögu í ritröðinni Íslenzk fornrit.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Seán Vrieland

Manuscript variation in a multilingual corpus

The case of Guta Saga

Fimmtudaginn 24. janúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Seán Vrieland

The criteria for selecting which textual variants in medieval texts preserved in manuscripts can be used for determining the relationships between these texts are rarely well defined and often more subjective than one might desire in a research context. Frequently the criteria for selecting (or deselecting) variants is language-specific; for example, the reversal of subject and verb in Old Icelandic (hann fór vs. fór hann) is considered minor variation and cannot be used as a main criterion for grouping manuscripts.

This matter becomes even more complicated when dealing with a text preserved in translation alongside the original language, for which the direct exemplar of the translated text is not always preserved.

Such is the case of Guta Saga, the thirteenth-century pseudohistorical narrative from Gotland best known from the manuscript Stockholm, National Library, B 64, the only complete copy in the original Old Gutnish language. However, the text is also preserved in translation in four manuscripts: one in German, one in Swedish, and two in Danish. Despite representing different branches of the text than that found in B 64, these manuscripts are rarely included in editions or discussions of Guta Saga.

This paper discusses the variation found in Chapter 2 of Guta Saga (the only chapter present in every manuscript) as an example of how to determine what types of variants can be considered significant when working with a multilingual corpus. It will be shown that much variation can be considered language-specific, and therefore not significant when building a corpus. On the other hand, some forms of variation – especially lexical – can be used in determining whether a translation was made directly from the original language of the text (in this case, Old Gutnish) or via a third language.

Finally, it will be show that, in order to understand the life of a medieval text, one must also take translations into account.

Seán Vrieland is a post-doc at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen, where he received his PhD in 2018. His current project focuses on the language and paleography of Old Danish charters, while his broader research interests include linguistics and philology of the Nordic languages, especially Old East Norse.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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