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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.

September 24, 2013

Episode 3a - Eyrbyggja Saga

In Episode 3a, John and Andy discuss the difficulties of trying to cover Eyrbyggja Saga in one episode…which they then totally fail to do successfully.  So we present the first of a two-part episode! Never fear, there’s plenty here to enjoy.  You’ll meet Snorri the goði and his rival Arnkel Thorolfsson.   Listen as they battle for control of Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  This is a tale of fortunes and misfortunes, sweeping conflicts between huge kin-groups, the rise and fall of chieftains, and the little people that get swept up in the mess.  But it also features a steamy love affair, a dispute over fine linens, and the exploits of a spectral seal.  Don’t miss a moment!!!

Eyrbyggja Saga (Penguin Classics)

September 13, 2013

Episode 2: Hrafnkel’s Saga

Our grand quest to place the sagas of the Icelanders on trial begins with an acknowledged classic–the relatively brief (but totally epic) Hrafnkels saga Freysgoði. The story of a harsh chieftain who falls from power and rises again, the men who band together against him, and the horse at the center of it all,Hrafnkels saga offers a listener-friendly introduction to the complex and blood-drenched world of the Icelandic sagas. And it comes with torture! 

Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (Penguin Classics)

But is that enough to earn it a top score from John and Andy, or will the saga be judged harshly for its lack of scope and poor treatment of animals? Find out now!

September 13, 2013

Episode 1c: What is a saga?

Now that you're an expert in medieval Icelandic history, you're probably wondering about Icelandic literary expression.  And why wouldn't you?  In this episode, John and Andy answer the question they probably ought to have covered right away . . . what is a saga, exactly?  Strap yourself in for a whirlwind introduction to the genre of saga literature.  Expect to hear an overview of the different kinds of sagas medieval Icelanders produced.  Along the way, you'll find out the difference between a family saga and a lying saga, discover the wonders of bookprose and freeprose theory, and learn a little something about a guy named Njal.  All in all, it's good clean fun for the whole family.

September 13, 2013

Episode 1b: Medieval Iceland - Conflict, Conversion, and Collapse

In this second part of our first episode, we explore the socio-political structure of Commonwealth Iceland, its conversion to Christianity, and the end of the Commonwealth era. How does a man kill his enemy politely? Why was Iceland's religious future decided under a blanket fort? Who killed Snorri Sturluson in the basement with the knife? And what happens when John lets his sheep loose on Andy's lawn? Find out here!

September 13, 2013

Episode 1a: The Settlement Age

Welcome to the first episode of Saga Thing!  After John and I recorded the Hrafnkel's saga episode, we decided it would be beneficial for both us and our listeners to cover some basic "backgroundy stuff" before going any further.  It was meant to be a quick 45 minute episode.  The result is three "mini-episodes" of varying lengths.  

In this, our first installment of episode 1, we introduce the podcast and address the discovery of Iceland, the Settlement Age, and some interesting tidbits about life in early medieval Iceland.  We hope you enjoy!