Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Death of a Norseman

It is always interesting how differently people expressed ideas at various times and places. I am practicing my Old Norse by reading Hrolfs Saga Kraka. I became interested in the poor fellow hiding in a bone-pile in a hall. Clearly Bodvarr hauled him out of the pile to help him. The other men in the hall notice Bodvarr and Hottr (the guy from the bone-pile) sitting at a table and start flinging bones at them. One of them throws a large knucklebone at them which Bodvarr catches and flings back at him. "Hann fekk bana" "He fetches death." In the Zoega, 'fa' means to 'grasp with both hands'. That he does. It almost looks like a middle voice verb. i.e. 'fetches death for himself'. It sounds good but it is just a plain old past indicative which started out with a 'ng' and it turned into a 'kk'.
I have to wonder - why is there a pile of bones in the mead-hall. Doesn't anyone clean it out?

4 comments:

Anachronist said...

Nah, why to clean such a nice pile of bones? Honestly, a bone comes in handy in the best of houses...;) You can throw it, you can gnaw at it...

Tracy said...

Left for the dogs?

The Red Witch said...

Hottr was building a shield wall for himself and living in it. Ibn Fadlan wrote that the Rus were filthy people. He was probably correct. They were just slobs.
Maybe after Bodvarr used one of those bones to break someone's head open, they decided it was time to clean up a bit.

Anachronist said...

The Rus are even now filthy people - of course not all of them, certainly not the city dwellers, but still...it's enough to visit a village off the beaten track.