Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Blue Edged Sword

In chapter 129 of Njal's Saga, while the house of Njal is burned with everyone in it, Kari Solmundarson escaped from the blaze and leaves so that he can avenge the deaths of Njal and his household but the edge of his sword has turned blue. It is suggested that the fire has turned the edge soft but, in true heroic fashion, he proposes to harden it with the blood of his enemies.
One can recognize some ideas that Tolkien borrowed from Njal's Saga. Such as Sam, the loyal dog of Gunnar, who dies with Gunnar. The Old Norse 'Sam' and the English 'Samwise' are not related but, who is to say if the Old Norse was what Tolkien had in mind when he created Sam Gamgee. It appeared that way to me and to a fellow student in that class.


Tracy said...

A blue-edged sword - very Tolkien! Though no suggestion the blade has softened, it's just sensitive to the presence of Orcs.

The Red Witch said...

I may come across that part yet. Orc is an anglo saxon word. Shortened 'orcneas' from Beowulf. It in turn comes from Orcus, Roman god of the underworld so I translated it as 'undead' because there are so many 'dauder' in Old Norse.