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141Episodes
Category: History

Discover what Vikings did when they were at home in this fun medieval history and literature podcast about the Icelandic sagas. Hosted by two medieval literature professors with beards.

January 19, 2022

Episode 34a - The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (chapters 1-5)

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In this episode, we dive way down deep into the bag of Sagas of Icelanders to pull out a story that is rarely discussed or even read by experts much less casual fans of medieval Icelandic literature. That doesn't mean it's a bad saga, even if it's a little rough around the narrative edges. This one's got a lot of the fan favorites, including wrestling, surprise killings, a secret love affair, storms at sea, trolls, and a bear who understands Old Norse! Join us as we begin our journey through The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls).

As you can see from the illustration by Jacob Foust (aka skarphedin_illustrator), Gunnar is a real charmer!

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

December 23, 2021

’Twas the Night Before Christmas - A Visit from Glam

In this special Christmas episode of Saga Thing, John and Andy share a curious discovery from a very old journal. Few people know this, but 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (aka A Visit from St Nicholas) by Clement C. Moore was originally inspired by a famous Viking saga about a grumpy outlaw tangling with a supernatural monster. We discuss this exciting revelation and share the story in an effort to brighten your holiday season. Enjoy!

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod (now with sleigh bells)
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music Sleðaferð by Skapti Ólafsson

December 21, 2021

Saga Short 10 - The Tales of Thormod and Thorarin the Overbearing

If you thought we were done with The Saga of the Sworn Brothers, you were mostly correct. In this episode, we fill in a few gaps in the story of what happened around Thorgeir Havarsson's death. We start with Thormod's þáttr, a tale about Thormod's visit to the court of King Cnut and his first meeting with his future BFF, King Olaf of Norway. We follow that up with Thorarin the Overbearing's þáttr, which tells of Thorarin's activities following his ambush on Thorgeir.

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Along the way, we talk about the messy manuscript traditions associated with each tale, the characterization of King Cnut in the tales and sagas of Icelanders, the wonders of quantum cake, and our vague memories of George Burns' Oh, God! trilogy. We conclude the episode with a bit of fan fiction as we speculate on how the fragmentary tale of Thorarin the Overbearing might end and how it could tie into what we know from Fóstbrœðra saga.

Thanks to Jacob Foust for another great original illustration inspired by the stories of medieval Iceland. Follow him on Instagram where he's @skarphedin_illustrator.

Music Credits:

Intro: from “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Poetry Music: "Death Awaits" by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

November 21, 2021

Episode 33g - The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (Judgments)

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The time has come to put Fóstbrœðra saga (The Saga of the Sworn Brothers) on trial. In this episode, we review the whole saga as we run through our favorite judgment categories: Best Bloodshed, Body Count, Nicknames, Notable Witticisms, Outlawry, Thingmen, and Final Ratings. Making this even harder than usual is the fact that Fóstbrœðra saga featured some pretty fantastic examples of the combined Bloodshed/Witticism (bloodicism? wittished?). And as tough as those categories are this time around, we've got an even bigger problem when it comes to Outlawry and Thingmen. Will both Thorgeir and Thormod make it through the Outlawry section and be chosen as thingmen? Do John and Andy have a preference for one over the other? And will Fóstbrœðra saga rate as high as some of the greatest works of medieval Iceland? There's only one way to find out!

Thanks as always to our buddy Jacob Foust for sharing his talents with us once again and producing a series of original illustrations for this saga. Check out more of his work on Instagram - @skarphedin_illustrator.

For those of you interested in digging into some of the sources that John mentioned on parasites in the Middle Ages or the story of how seals keep their testes cool, here you go:

Harvey, Katherine. “Medieval Parasites.” Aeon, 9 April 2019, https://aeon.co/essays/medieval-people-were-surprisingly-clean-apart-from-the-clergy

Rommel, Sentiel A., D. Ann Pabst, and William A McLellan. “Reproductive Thermoregulation in Marine Mammals.” American Scientist vol. 86, no. 5, 1998, pp. 440-448.

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

October 29, 2021

Episode 33f - The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 23-24)

In the final episode of our epic journey through Fóstbrœðra saga (The Saga of the Sworn Brothers) Thormod wraps up his business in Greenland and heads back to Norway and the loving companionship of his new BFF King Olaf. Unfortunately for Thormod and Olaf, there's another would-be king of Norway lurking out there with plans to seize the throne. Will Olaf and Thormod link arms and defeat the aggressor? Or will the loyal warrior-poet follow his king in death? There's only one way to find out!

Stick around for the end of the episode where answer a question from the Runesack and talk about our favorite translations of Beowulf.

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Here we see Grima's vision of doom for Thormod and his friends. How will he get out of this one? Thanks to Jacob Foust, aka @skarphedin_illustrator on Instagram, for his work on this one.

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Review Music - "The Royal Vagabond Medley" by Jocker's Dance Orchestra

Poetry Music - “Teller of Tales” by Kevin MacLeod

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license