Lesson #120: The Vinland Sagas

I was reading The Vinland Sagas today (because, really, who doesn’t just randomly decide to read parts of the Icelandic sagas?), and came across some interesting information.*

Erik the Red didn’t discover America because he buried his wealth before setting sail. Well, that’s the short version.

In the fifth chapter of Eirik’s Saga, which is titled “Leif discovers Vinland”, Eirik the Red buries his wealth and sets off to board the ship (to go and “discover” America) when he is thrown from his horse. The other half of The Vinland Sagas, Graenlendinga Saga notes was considered a bad omen for journeys, so Eirik decided to stay in Greenland and send his son off as leader of the expedition. In Eirik’s Saga, Eirik also sends a message to his wife to to dig up the gold and silver as it has brought him bad luck.

I assume the point of the footnote on this passage on this was meant to show why he thought that burying his wealth was the source of bad luck;  it turns out that burying money was illegal in Christian Iceland.

Speaking of footnotes, the other thing I learned is that the printing I own is so old that the native tribes with whom the Vikings had contact are described in the footnotes as “Red Indians”.

You can read Eirik’s Saga (without footnotes) here, but Graenlendinga Saga is only in Old Norse and Icelandic on that site.

*I promise this has nothing to do with my impending trip to Iceland. It was purely by chance. I really like sagas; they’re interesting.


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