[Sca-cooks] Sagas (was Re: Questions on coffee)

David Friedman ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Thu Jan 28 10:15:16 PST 2010

>>and someone had to write- and read- all of those sagas.
>The sagas were not written by Vikings, but were oral tales, which 
>their descendants wrote down up to several hundred years later.

There has long been a scholarly controversy as to whether the family 
sagas were an oral literature composed in the tenth and early 
eleventh century, when the events described occurred, transmitted 
orally, and written down in the late 13th and 14th century, or 
whether they were composed by the people who wrote them down, based 
on oral traditions of earlier events. One piece of evidence for the 
latter theory is that they are prose, not verse, which would make it 
harder for them to stay more or less unchanged for three hundred 
years. One piece of evidence for the former theory is Byock's old 
Scientific American article on Egilsaga, which offers evidence that 
the saga describes Egil, his father, and his grandfather with quite a 
lot of details, all of which fit their suffering from a heritable 
defect (Padgett's syndrome) not identified until the 19th century.

But in any case, I think it is clear that the people who wrote and 
read the sagas weren't vikings, although some of those who composed 
them and first listened to them might have been.

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list