This is somewhat scattered, matching the format in class...

Feel free to email her with additional questions.

General Format

  • 15 multiple choice
    • More involved than D2L quizzes, more to do with in-class discussion
    • 2 points each
  • 10 prompts for short answer (5 lines), choose 8. 5 points each
  • 4 prompts for half page, essayish. Choose 3 of those. 10 points each.
  • Read the directions, you'll do great.
  • If you choose 9 of the 10 short answer, she'll only look at the first 8.
  • Points literally translate to how many "points of information". Can be bullet points...
  • On the final there will be a proper essay, but here bullet points is fine.


  • Dates - remember the slide where there were a bunch of dates (2nd powerpoint of class)?
    • When they started settling Iceland - 874
    • Commonwealth began (althing established, all land claimed) - 930
    • Maybe when the Icelanders converted to Christianity - 1000
    • No dates for sagas in particular
  • Why did the Icelander's leave Norway? King Harald's rule
  • Why Iceland? No indigenous population to displace. Close enough to trade but still be independent.
  • No specific founders are important...
  • Local assemblies happened 2x a year, larger assemblies also 2x a year, and Althings once a year
  • Structure?
    • Godi (chieftains)
    • Thingmen follow Godis for opportunities to gain honour (children, legal, famine, etc.)
    • Chieftains rule
  • Law?
    • No writing down, needed Lawspeaker who had to memorize it. Only elected official in Iceland. Ultimate legal authority. Recite 1/3 of the law each year.
    • No lawyers - people who knew the law very well and they gave it freely for honour. No profession, just something that individuals would do. Community service.
      • Mord Valgersson (sp?) expected payment a few times
      • Egil (not the good one) accepted payment from Flosi
  • Relative value of silver? No.
  • What is the Balanced Exchange Model? (see slide, rigorous definition)
    • Anything that happens to you or someone that you're connected with needs to be paid for.
    • Quid pro quo
    • Provide examples...
      • Halgerd and Bergthora is an excellent example if you also mention husband's actions. For husbands, balanced by silver, for wives, balanced by killings.
      • Kari and the burners - Kari wasn't part of the settlement, allowed (legally) to take blood compensation with Thorgerd. Kari is allowed to take more since he is owed more.
      • Bolli jr. gets more settlement from sons since father wasn't compensated
      • Kjartan humiliating Bolli in his household for theft done towards him
      • Kjartan buys land from Bolli in exchange for theft.
      • Egil in exchange for insults
    • How was the weight determined?
      • Decided by the arbitors and public sentiment.
      • Friends tell you how much you could do before you seemed "greedy"
      • Value of a man has been established in 1117 to be 48oz of silver
      • Peer pressure
  • Duels?
    • In Iceland, not many.
    • Usually attached to legal case at assembly
    • In Norway, can also happen in the wild
    • Last honourable resort - settlement desired above all else (again, in Iceland)
    • When could a duel be ok?
      • Literally whenever until Christianity arrived
      • Bad dishonourable duels:
        • One-sided duels
        • Cheating
        • Using magic

External Readings

  • Discussions that you remember? Check if there are powerpoints on the material (this is a good measure).
    • In defense of revenge
    • Servitude and sexuality
    • Article on Laughter
    • Emotions in the sagas


  • Seidr Magic?
    • Bad kind, witchcraft
    • Raising earth spirits with runes, using it to drive the king/queen from Norway
    • Evil practitioners
    • Meant to Harm

Njal as a Christian Hero

  • How could we argue this?
    • Moderates situations, very peaceful, almost always advocates for arbitration.
    • Never carries a weapon except after the death of his son
    • Always a proponent of Christianity - one of the first to convert
    • His body doesn't burn (similar to a saint)
    • Starting the 5th court (even though selfish) as a reason
  • Who else could be a Christian hero?
    • Kjartan - First to fast during lent in such an amazing way. Kjartan was totally against it, but then became huge proponent. If we interpret avoidance of conflict as a sign of hero, then him not converting friends/family is argument. His willing to be killed by Bolli (turn the other cheek) could be argued.
    • King Olaf (in Laxdaela) makes strong push to convert by taking people hostage. Be specific with evidence, but argument exists.

Flosi and Njal after the death of Hoskuld Thrainsson

  • Njal added the silk robe, Flosi takes offense
  • Motivations for sabotage, reasons why robe was added

Names and Spelling

  • Need to know the differences between Thorolfs, etc.
  • Know spelling, but many will be typed out.

Njal's Saga

  • People brought weapons. This is notable.


  • Purpose?
    • Demonstrated intellect
    • Gained honour by being good poet
    • Mend fences, poetry can be currency
    • Display emotions - socially acceptable way to display for men.
      • Egil's poem about the loss of his sons
      • Egil's poem in praise of Erinbjorn (sp?)
    • Catharses
      • Egil was suicidal, and then his daughter goads him into making a poem, and he feels better
    • Gift
    • Related to Runic magic/Odinic magic (myths)
    • To insult or Taunt
      • Egil's saga has a ton of examples
    • Poetry is a way to scribe things

Direct and Indirectness

  • Skallgrim gets the axe, it breaks, he writes a poem
    • Most direct would have been to take them back to King Erik
    • Has a proxy, so not really direct
    • Incredibly bold, so somewhat direct
  • Thorgerd saves Egil by goading him to write poetry
    • Indirect and womanly, allowed since women are supposed to act that way.
  • Difficult, relative to other actions
  • Rules are different for men and women


  • Know how one gains honour
  • Reciprocity

Grounds for divorce?

  • Breaking gender roles
    • Women wearing breeches
    • Men wearing low cut shirts
    • No consequences in women acting in a male way
    • Men who act in womanly way (Nid) have consequences

Otkel and Sorcery...

  • Destroy sorcerers body
    • Shallow grave? Seems easier for Draugr...
    • Unknown significance...
  • Draugrs? Falls under magic
    • How are they warded off?


  • Prophecy is the only branch of seidr magic that isn't evil since it is shared with the community for the greater good
  • Njal's saga - Njal is supernaturally prophetic, or he's just really good at predicting human action. (From literary perspective, foreshadows well)
  • Hrut's foreshadowing

TODOs for Me...

Make family diagrams and story summaries for each saga...

Reading for Next Week

  • Much shorter (whee!!!)
  • Geesly Saga (sp?)
  • 60 pages
  • Outlaw saga
  • Rooting for main character, the outlaw
  • Phallic Aggression saga
  • More poetry, more insults
  • Syllabus missing 1 reading... More info later...
  • Quiz opens this Friday