Essay 5 - Albert Ho May 1 2004 GERST 103 Viking Madness...

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Albert Ho May 1, 2004 GERST 103 – Viking Madness Essay #5 REVISION A Big Fat Greek Saga The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue naturally contains many elements common to the Icelandic sagas. Gunnlaug, the protagonist of the saga, is skilled at fighting, just as the main characters of the sagas tend to be. Elements such as the protagonist’s skill with poetry and blood revenge make an appearance in Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue’s Saga just as they do frequently in such sagas as Njal’s Saga and Egil’s Saga . However, a number of foreign elements make an appearance in Gunnlaug’s Saga as well. These foreign elements are all tied with the love theme, which is a theme not often encountered in the Icelandic sagas. They include a tragic ending, an exceedingly beautiful woman, a love symbol, battle for love and the existence of romantic love. These are all thematic elements found frequently throughout Greek mythological stories in which the central theme is love, and it is very unusual for such elements to appear in the Icelandic sagas. In addition to the Greek thematic elements, Gunnlaug’s Saga contains interesting parallels to events in the Greek myths. In the Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent- Tongue , there exists a significant Greek presence illustrated by the unusual elements of the love theme and events not normally found in the Icelandic sagas. The central theme of the saga is the love between Gunnlaug and Helga. Although love themes certainly exist in the sagas, they are often not a central theme and do not cause controversy between the characters. Greek mythology, however, usually does 1
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centralize love in a story. In Gunnlaug’s Saga , love for the same woman causes a deadly competition between the two leading male characters, leading to the prevailing Greek element of tragedy. The immortalization of love through symbols is a prevailing element in Greek romantic tragedies. After the tragedy, the love between Gunnlaug and Helga continues through the existence of Helga’s cloak. Helga is described as an exceedingly beautiful woman; the sagas are usually rather modest when speaking of the beauty of a
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