Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga

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Author: Unknown

Chapter LXXII Grettir Visits the Thing at Hegranes

The time passed on until the spring, when men assembled at the Hegranes Thing. They came in great numbers from all the districts under its jurisdiction, and stayed there a long time, both palavering and merry-making, for there were many who loved merriment in the country round.

When Grettir heard that everybody had gone to the Thing he laid a plan with his friends, for he was always on good terms with those who were nearest to him, and for them he spared nothing which he was able to get. He said he would go to the land to get supplies and that Illugi and Glaum should remain behind. Illugi thought it very imprudent but he let Grettir have his way. He told them to guard the ladder well since everything depended upon that. Then he went to the land and obtained what he wanted. He kept his disguise wherever he went and no one knew that he had come. He heard of the festivities that were going on at the Thing and was curious to see them, so he put on some old clothes that were rather shabby and arrived just as they were going from the Logretta home to their booths. Some of the young men were talking about the weather, said it was good and fair, and that it would be a good thing to have some games and wrestling; they thought it a good proposal. So they sat down in front of their booths. The foremost men in the games were the sons of Thord. Thorbjorn Angle was very uppish and was arranging everything himself for the sports. Every one had to do as he bade, and he took them each by the shoulders and pushed them into the field. The wrestling was begun by the less strong ones in pairs, and there was great sport. When most of them had wrestled except the strongest, there was much talk as to who should tackle the two Thords mentioned above, and there was no one who would do it. They went round inviting men to wrestle, but the more they asked the more their invitation was declined. Thorbjorn Angle looked round and saw a big man sitting there, but could not clearly see his face. He seized hold of him and gave a violent tug, but the man sat still and did not move.

Thorbjorn said: "Nobody has held so firm against me to-day as you. But who is this fellow?"

"My name is Gest."

Thorbjorn said: "You will be wanting to play with us. You are a welcome Guest."

"Things may change quickly," he said. "I cannot join in your games for I have no knowledge of them."

Many of them said that they would take it kindly of him if he, a stranger, would play a little with the men. He asked what they wanted him to do, and they asked him to wrestle with some one. He said he had given up wrestling, though he once used to take pleasure in it. As he did not directly refuse they pressed him all the more.

"Well," he said, "if you want to drag me in you must do one thing for me and grant me peace here at the Thing until I reach my home."

They all shouted and said they would gladly do that. The man who was foremost in urging that peace should be given was one Haf the son of Thorarin, the son of Haf, the son of Thord Knapp, who had settled in the land between Stifla in Fljot and Tungua. He lived at Knappsstad and was a man of many words. He spoke in favour of the peace with great authority and said:

"Hereby do I declare PEACE between all men, in particular between this man here seated who is named Gest and all Godord’s men, full bondis, all men of war and bearers of arms, all other men of this district of the Hegranes Thing whencesoever they have come, both named and unnamed. I declare PEACE and full Immunity in behoof of this newcomer to us unknown, Gest yclept, for the practice of games, wrestling and all kinds of sport, while abiding here, and during his journey home, whether he sail or whether he travel, whether by land or whether by sea. He shall have PEACE in all places, named and unnamed, for such time as he needeth to reach his home in safety, by our faith confirmed. And I establish this PEACE on the part of ourselves and of our kinsmen, our friends and belongings, alike of women and of men, bondsmen and thralls, youths and adults. Be there any truce-breaker who shall violate this PEACE and defile this faith, so be he rejected of God and expelled from the community of righteous men; be he cast out from Heaven and from the fellowship of the holy; let him have no part amongst mankind and become an outcast from society. A vagabond he shall be and a wolf in places where Christians pray and where heathen worship, where fire burneth, where the earth bringeth forth, where the child lispeth the name of mother, where the mother beareth a son, where men kindle fire, where the ship saileth, where shields blink, sun shineth, snow lieth, Finn glideth, fir-tree groweth, falcon flieth the live-long day and the fair wind bloweth straight under both her wings, where Heaven rolleth and earth is tilled, where the breezes waft mists to the sea, where corn is sown. Far shall he dwell from church and Christian men, from the sons of the heathen, from house and cave and from every home, in the torments of Hel. At PEACE we shall be, in concord together, each with other in friendly mind, wherever we meet, on mountain or strand, on ship or on snowshoes, on plains or on glaciers, at sea or on horseback, as friends meet in the water, or brothers by the way, each at PEACE with other, as son with father, or father with son, in all our dealings.

"Our hands we lay together, all and every to hold well the PEACE and the words we have spoken in this our faith, in the presence of God and of holy men, of all who hear my words and here are present."

Many said that a great word had been spoken. Gest said: "You have declared and spoken well; if you go not back upon it, I will not delay to show that of which I am capable."

Then he cast off his hood and after that all his upper garments. Each looked at the other and woe spread over their lips; for they knew that it was Grettir who had come to them, by his excelling all other men in stature and vigour. All were silent and Haf looked foolish. The men of the district went two and two together, each blaming the other, and most of all blaming him who had declared the peace. Then Grettir said: "Speak plainly to me and declare what is in your minds, for I will not sit here long without my clothes. You have more at stake than I have, whether you hold the peace or not."

They answered little and sat themselves down. The sons of Thord and their brother-in-law Halldor then talked together. Some wished to uphold the peace and some not. Each nodded to the other. Then Grettir spoke a verse:

"Many a man is filled with doubt.
A twofold mask has the prover of shields.
The skilful tongue is put to shame.
They doubt if they shall hold the troth."

Then said Tungu-Steinn: "Think you so, Grettir? Which then will the chieftains do? But true it is that you excel all men in courage. See you not how they are putting their noses together?"

Grettir then said:

"Together they all their noses laid;
they wagged their beards in close converse.
They talked with each other by two and two,
regretting the peace they afore declared."

Then said Hjalti the son of Thord: "It shall not be so; we will hold the peace with you although our minds have altered. I would not that men should have the example of our having broken the peace which we ourselves gave and declared. Grettir shall depart unhindered whithersoever he will, and shall have peace till such time as he reach his home from this journey. And then this truce shall have expired whatever happen with us." They all thanked him for his speech, and thought he had acted as a chieftain should under such circumstances. Thorbjorn Angle was silent. Then it was proposed that one or the other of the Thords should close with Grettir, and he said that they might do as they chose.

One of the two brothers Thord then came forward. Grettir stood upright before him and Thord went for him with all his might, but Grettir never moved from his place. Then Grettir stretched over across his back and seizing his breeches tripped up his foot and cast him backwards over his head so that he fell heavily upon his shoulders. Then the people said that both the brothers should tackle him together, and they did so. There arose a mighty tussle, each in turn having the advantage, although Grettir always had one of them down. Now one, now the other was brought to his knees or met with a reverse. So fiercely they gripped that all of them were bruised and bloody. Everybody thought it splendid sport, and when they ceased thanked them for their wrestling. Those that were sitting near judged that the two together were no stronger than Grettir alone, although each had the strength of two strong men. They were so equal that when they strove together neither gained the advantage. Grettir did not stay long at the Thing. The bondis asked him to give up the island, but this he refused to do, and they accomplished nothing.

Grettir returned to Drangey where Illugi rejoiced much at seeing him again. They stayed there in peace and Grettir told them of his journeys; so the summer passed. All thought the men of Skagafjord had acted most honourably in upholding their peace, and from this may be seen what trusty men lived in those days, after all that Grettir had done against them. The less wealthy ones among the bondis began to talk amongst themselves and say that there was little profit in keeping a small share of the island, and now offered to sell their holdings to the sons of Thord, but Hjalti said he did not want to buy them. The bondis stipulated that any one who wanted to buy a share should either kill Grettir or get him away. Thorbjorn Angle said that he was ready to take the lead, and would spare no pains to attack Grettir if they would pay him for it. Hjalti his brother resigned to him his share of the island because Thorbjorn was the more violent and was unpopular. Several other bondis did the same, so that Thorbjorn Angle got a large part of the island at a small price, but he bound himself to get Grettir away.

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Chicago: Unknown, "Chapter LXXII Grettir Visits the Thing at Hegranes," Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, trans. Armour, M. A. (Margaret-Ann) in Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga Original Sources, accessed July 18, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=16MVKLTQJ8C56AB.

MLA: Unknown. "Chapter LXXII Grettir Visits the Thing at Hegranes." Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, translted by Armour, M. A. (Margaret-Ann), in Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, Original Sources. 18 Jul. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=16MVKLTQJ8C56AB.

Harvard: Unknown, 'Chapter LXXII Grettir Visits the Thing at Hegranes' in Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, trans. . cited in , Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga. Original Sources, retrieved 18 July 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=16MVKLTQJ8C56AB.