Sunday, 30 September 2012

Trolls, Namings And Sayings

Later in Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973), we are told something about unsavory witchcraft (See earlier post, "Witchcraft"):

" 'Night after night he was at work on his witching stool, with his kettles and runestaves and bones.' " (p. 206)

The witch king is said to worship a boar which, when it attacks, is described as a "...troll-boar..." (p. 209)

- so here is a second troll-beast. (See earlier post, "Beast.")

King Hrolf comes slightly more to the fore in Chapter VI (of VIII) and it is here that he gains his nickname "Kraki" so it as if his character is still forming before us. The bestowal of the name by which a hero will later be known is always a significant event.

Hrolf's mother, Yrsa, utters a memorable phrase:

" 'Like old times? No, dead years can no more be reborn than dead men.' " (p. 213)

Fantasy characters can comment on life in ways recognizable to the reader.

Hrolf says:

" 'Men seek fame that their memory may not die with them.' " (p. 217)

Men live for different purposes:

in this age, celebrity fame may be fleeting;
Christian contemporaries and successors of Dark Age Pagans lived for a reward in Heaven;
some people amass wealth to bequeath to their heirs;
Buddhists seek to end rebirth;
some, skeptical about a hereafter, study and meditate in order to realize whatever understanding and enlightenment are possible before death.

Anderson comments on his characters:

"To us, their behavior seems insanely egoistic; but to them, each was first a member of his family and only second - however greedy for wealth and fame - himself." (p. xx)

Among Pagans, Jews and Christians, family transmits tradition. A fellow University student commented that the transition from Judaism to Catholicism to Protestantism to secularism is a move away from the family towards the individual. I am happy to live at the secular end of that transition.

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