The Saga of the Volsungs is a work that uses a combination of legends and mythology, as well as epic adventures, to tell the legendary history of Scandinavia. The plot is based on the story of a dragon slayer named Sigurd, who has some magic that helped him fight evil. This saga was written in the 13th century in Iceland when Iceland was a hotbed of cultural development in Europe. This book is a vital part of history because it describes the social life of the Vikings, their belief in the supernatural and the gods, and tells the myths and legends of Scandinavia.
In the Saga of the Volsungs, the Viking society is described as warriors traveling in search of loot, trade, and new lands. Byock (2013) reports that “the epic cycles of the earlier migration period seem to have gained in popularity” (p. 14). The Vikings, sailing to distant lands, not only fought for land and wealth but as Byock (2013) reports, the Vikings “carried with them tales of Sigurd and the Volsungs” (p. 14). Military operations for the Vikings were the absolute norm; children from an early age we’re taught to control weapons and trained to become warriors. Furthermore, even the Viking women performed household duties and were also skilled and strong in fighting. The laws of the Vikings were harsh, but every member of society necessarily enforced them.
The Vikings practiced magic; they believed in monsters, gods, and fate for granted. Supernatural was so materialized in the Viking environment that it became an everyday part of their lives. Therefore, the Vikings did not just use magic or turn to midwives for advice because of long-standing traditions. Sometimes, they tried to change their fate with faith in the gods and courageous decisions. Thus, the existence of the supernatural could not be disputed. In the saga, as well as in the life of the Vikings, gods, monsters, and fate intersect with each other, and Byock (2013) reports that “the second part of the saga takes place in a human world with recognizable social problems.” (p. 19). Scandinavian folklore has an incredible impact on the whole world’s culture, from books about mythical heroes to films in which the gods appear as a normal part of the world.
The moral of the saga is that the fate of people is in the undivided power of the gods. They can listen to the requests of people, as well as judge unjust actions. For example, after Sigi kills Bredi, Byock (2013) claims that “Odin guided Sigi out of the land on a journey” (p. 49). Moreover, this saga serves as a reminder to readers that strength, resilience, and a belief in something unknowable helped the Vikings in their life’s wanderings. I think that the belief in the gods’ power over the human world can be transferred to modern realities since many people still analyze their lives like the Vikings.
In this saga, myths and legends are mixed with historical facts and personalities. Moreover, according to Byock (2013),” an anonymous author was consciously trying to make history from the mythic and legendary material of his sources.” (p. 16). Modern history also often combines many fictional facts or rewritten events, sometimes even on a larger scale than the saga under discussion. For example, in this saga, there are certain additions related to myths and legends. History is often rewritten, and some events from it are simply missing in the modern world.
To sum up, this saga is not an example of a work that pushes for social changes in society; however, it reflects more on the events that are taking place. The most exciting point about this saga was its mixed myths and reality; they just became inseparable from each other. This book has an educational and entertainment value, as it may interest students in exploring Scandinavia’s myths. This saga has a clear organizational structure, which demonstrates a unique style of writing. Moreover, it is possible to achieve even greater clarity in understanding the traditions of the Vikings by developing discussions about myths and legends.
Byock, J. L. (2013). The Saga of the Volsungs. Penguin Books.