Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga

Author: Unknown

Chapter XX Thorfinn’s Return. Grettir Visits the North

When Yule-tide was past, Thorfinn made ready for his homeward journey and dismissed his many guests with gifts. He sailed with all his men and landed near the place where the boat-houses were.

They saw a ship lying on the sand which they at once recognised as his great boat. Thorfinn had heard nothing of the vikings and told his men to put him on shore, "for I suspect," he said, "that they are not friends who have been at work here."

Thorfinn was the first to land, and went straight to the boathouse, where he saw a craft which he knew at once to be that of the berserks. He said to his men: "I suspect that things have taken place here such that I would give the whole island and everything that is in it for them not to have happened."

They asked how that was.

"Vikings have been here, men whom I know as the worst in all Norway, namely Thorir Paunch and Ogmund the Bad. They will not have dealt gently with us. I mistrust that Icelander."

Then he spoke many things to his men. Grettir was at home and detained the men from going down to the shore. He said he did not care if the bondi got a little fright from what he saw. The goodwife asked his leave to go down, and he said she was mistress of her own ways, but that he was not going. So she hurried away to greet Thorfinn and embraced him joyfully. He was rejoiced to see her and said: "God be praised that I see you well and my daughter too. But what has happened to you since I left?"

"It has ended well," she said. "But we were nigh to suffering a disgrace which could never have been wiped out, had not your winter-guest aided us."

Thorfinn said: "Let us sit down and you shall tell me everything."

Then she told him fully all that had happened, praising highly Grettir’s courage and resourcefulness. Thorfinn was silent while she was speaking, and when she had finished he said: "True indeed is the word, `Long shall a man be tried’. But where is Grettir?"

"He is at home in the hall," she answered.

Then they went up to the house. Thorfinn went to Grettir and turned towards him and thanked him with the fairest words for his courageous conduct.

"I will say a word to you," he said, "which few would say to their friend. I would it might happen that you should need the help of a man, for you to know whether I count for anything or not; I cannot repay what you have done for me as long as you are not in straits. You shall have in my house whatever you desire, and shall be in the highest honour in my household."

Grettir thanked him and said he would have accepted his offer even if he had made it earlier.

Grettir stayed there the rest of the winter in high favour with Thorfinn. The fame of his deed spread through all Norway, especially in those parts where the berserks had ravaged most mercilessly. In the spring Thorfinn asked him what he would like to do. He said he would go North to Vagar while the fair was on there. Thorfinn said that any money which he required should be at his service; Grettir said he did not want more just then than enough to pay for his living. Thorfinn said that was his due, and brought him to a ship, where he gave him the excellent short sword. Grettir kept it as long as he lived; it was a most precious possession. Thorfinn bade him come to him if ever he wanted any help.

Grettir then travelled to Vagar, which was crowded with people. Many whom he had never set eyes on before greeted him warmly because of his exploit in killing the vikings, and several of the leading men invited him to stay with them, but he preferred to return to his friend Thorfinn. So he took his passage in a trading ship belonging to one Thorkell, a man of some consideration in Salfti in Halogaland. Grettir went to visit Thorkell in his home, where he received a hearty welcome and a very pressing invitation to stay there for the winter. Grettir accepted the invitation and stayed the winter with Thorkell, who treated him with great honour.


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Chicago: Unknown, "Chapter XX Thorfinn’s Return. Grettir Visits the North," Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, trans. Armour, M. A. (Margaret-Ann) in Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: Unknown. "Chapter XX Thorfinn’s Return. Grettir Visits the North." Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, translted by Armour, M. A. (Margaret-Ann), in Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: Unknown, 'Chapter XX Thorfinn’s Return. Grettir Visits the North' in Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, trans. . cited in , Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from