Short summary - Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu - Epic

Scandinavian literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu

The saga begins with a story about the parents of the main characters. Thorstein, son of Egil and grandson of Skallagrim, lived in the Settlement. He was a smart and worthy man, everyone loved him. Once he took in a Norwegian. He was very interested in dreams. Thorstein dreamed that a beautiful swan was sitting on the roof of his house, to which two eagles flew - one from the mountains, and the other from the south. The eagles began to fight among themselves and fell dead, and then a falcon flying in from the west took the saddened swan with it. The Norwegian interpreted the dream as follows: the pregnant wife of Thorstein Jofrid will give birth to a girl of extraordinary beauty, and two noble people will woo her from the sides from which the eagles flew: both will love her very much and will fight each other to death, and then a third person will woo her, and she will marry him. Thorstein was upset by this prediction and, leaving for the Thing, ordered his wife to leave the boy and throw the girl out. Jofrid gave birth to a very beautiful girl and ordered the shepherd to take her to Thorgerd, the daughter of Egil. When Thorstein returned, Yofrid said that the girl had been thrown out, as he had ordered. Six years passed, and Thorstein went to visit Olaf Pavlin, his son-in-law. Sister Thorgerd showed him Helga, asking for forgiveness for the deceit. The girl was beautiful, Thorstein liked her, and he took her away with him. Helga Beauty grew up with her mother and father, and everyone loved her dearly.

Illugi the Black lived on the White River in Krutoyar. He was second in nobility in the Gorodishchensky Fjord after Thorstein, the son of Egil. Illugi had many children, but the saga speaks of only two, Hermund and Gunnlaug. They say about Gunnlaug that he matured early, was tall, strong and good-looking. He loved to compose stinging poetry, and for this he was nicknamed Serpent Tongue. Hermund was more loved than Gunnlaug. At the age of twelve, Gunnlaug quarreled with his father, and Thorstein invited him to live in Gorodishe. Gunnlaug learned the law from Thorstein and earned universal respect. He and Helga became very attached to each other. Helga was so beautiful that, according to knowledgeable people, there were no women in Iceland more beautiful than her. Once Gunnlaug asked Thorstein to show how a girl is engaged, and performed the ceremony with Helga, but Thorstein warned that it would be only for show.

On Mossy Mountain lived a man named Onund. He had three sons, and they all showed great promise, but Hrafn stood out among them - he was a tall, strong, handsome young man who knew how to compose good poetry. Onund had many kinsmen, and they were the most respected people in the south.

For six years, Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue lived alternately in the Settlement near Thorstein, then at home in Krutoyar. He was already eighteen years old, and now they got along well with his father. Gunnlaug asked Illugi to let him travel, and he bought him half a ship. While the ship was being equipped, Gunnlaug stayed at the Settlement and spent a lot of time with Helga. When he began to woo, Thorstein replied that he must either go overseas or get married - Helga is not a couple who does not know what he wants. But Illugi Black Thorstein could not refuse and promised that Helga would wait for Gunnlaug for three years, and if he did not return on time, Thorstein would give her for another.

Gunnlaug went to Norway, but he had to leave because he angered Jarl Eirik with his arrogance. He sailed to England and composed a song of praise for King Adalrad - for this the king gave him a purple cloak with fur trimmed with gold. Then he killed a famous Viking in a duel: this feat brought him great fame in England and beyond. King Sigtrygg of Dublin presented him with an expensive cloak and a gold wrist weighing one mark for his song of praise. Jarl Sigurd then ruled in Gautland. Once the Gauts argued with the Norwegians, whose jarl is better. Gunnlaug, who was chosen as an arbitrator, spoke to the vis, in which he praised both Jarl Sigurd and Jarl Eirik. The Norwegians were very pleased, and Yard Eirik, having learned about this, forgot about his offense. In Sweden, Gunnlaug met Hrafn, son of Onund, and befriended him. But at the feast at the king Olaf Gunnlaug wanted to be the first to say a song of praise. Hrafn called her pompous and harsh, like Gunnlaug himself. Gunnlaug called Hrafn's song beautiful and insignificant, like Hrafn himself. Before leaving for Iceland, Hrafn said that the former friendship was over and someday he too would shame Gunnlaug. He replied that he was not afraid of threats.

Hrafn spent the whole winter with his father, and in the summer he wooed Helga. Thorstein refused him, citing a promise he had made to Gunnlaug. The following summer, the noble relatives of Hrafn began to woo Helga very persistently, saying that the period of three years had already passed. Then Thorstein went to Illugi the Black. He said that he did not know the exact intentions of his son Gunnlaug. It was decided that a wedding would take place in Gorodishe at the beginning of winter if Gunnlaug did not return and demand that the promise be kept. Helga was very unhappy with the whole arrangement.

Gunnlaug from Sweden went to England, and King Adalrad received him very well. The Danes then threatened with war, so the king did not want to let his warrior go. Half a month before the start of winter, Gunnlaug landed in Lava Bay, and there he was challenged to a fistfight by Thord, the son of a bond from the plain. Gunnlaug won, but sprained his leg - and arrived in Krutoyar on the very Saturday when they were sitting at the wedding feast in Gorodishche. People say that the bride was very sad. When Helga found out that Gunnlaug had returned, she became cold towards her husband. At the end of winter, she and Gunnlaug met during a festival, and the skald presented her with a cloak received from King Adalrad. In the summer everyone went to the Thing: there Gunnlaug challenged Hrafn to a duel, but when Hrafn broke his sword, his relatives stood between them. The next day, a law was passed that all duels in Iceland are now prohibited.

Hrafn came to Krutoyar and offered Gunnlaug to finish the fight in Norway. He told his relatives that he had no joy from Helga and that one of them must die at the hands of the other. When Jarl Eirik forbade them to fight in his realm, they met at a place called Livangr. Gunnlaug killed Hrafn's companions, and Hrafn killed Gunnlaug's companions. Then they began to fight two: Gunnlaug cut off Hrafn's leg, and he asked for a drink. Gunnlaug brought water in his helmet, and Hrafn gave him a dishonorable blow to the head, because he did not want to give in to Helga the Beauty. Gunnlaug killed Hrafn and three days later he himself died of his wound. At this time, Illugi the Black had a dream that the bloody Gunnlaug came to him and told the visa about his death. And Hrafn appeared in a dream to Onund.

In the summer at the Althing, Illugi demanded a viru from Onund because Hrafn had meanly dealt with Gunnlaug. Onund said that he would not pay, but he would not demand vira for Hrafn either. Then Illugi killed two of his relatives, and Hermund, who lost his peace after the death of his brother, pierced one of his nephews with a spear. No one demanded vira for the murder, and this ended the feud between Illuga the Black and Onund of the Mossy Mountain.

Thorstein, the son of Egil, after some time married his daughter Helga to a worthy and rich man named Thorkel. But she had little affection for him, because she could not forget Gunnlaug. The greatest joy for her was to spread out and look for a long time at the cloak he had presented. One day, a serious illness came to Thorkel's house, and Helga also fell ill. She ordered Gunnlaug's cloak to be brought and looked at him intently, and then leaned into her husband's arms and died. Everyone was very sorry about her death.