Full text: Iceland 1930

and poet. He put the coping-stone, as it were, on Icelandic history 
writing. His immortal work, the ‘Heimskringla‘, is the history of the 
Kings of Norway from the earliest times to the fall of Eysteinn in 
1177. In scientific exactness, in splendid stateliness and purity of 
diction it far surpasses all other works on the Norwegian Kings. 
Snorri makes copious use of the writings of his predecessors, some- 
times embodying whole passages from them in his work, but polishing 
them and rejecting all spurious matter and skilfully weaving them into 
a connected saga, where one thing prepares and leads up to another. 
His characters are drawn with masterly skill, and in profound under- 
standing of all sorts of men, heathen and Christian, and their motives, 
he stands almost unrivalled among historians. His style combines ease 
and stateliness in a rare degree in its simple grace of movement. 
Snorri is justlv numbered among the greatest historians of all times, 
and ‘in dramatic conception of historv he surpasses even Thucydides’ 
(E. Mogk). 
And later, when Snorri’s nephew, Sturla Thérdarson, had written 
the sagas of King Héakon Héikonarson and his son, King Magnis 
lagabatir (the Law-Mender), the Icelanders had succeeded in present- 
ing an unbroken record of the Norwegian Kings from pre-historic times 
down to the year 1280. But they did more. They wrote about the 
colonization of Greenland by the Icelanders and of their life there; 
about the discovery of Vinland (America) and the voyages thither; 
lhey wrote the Farepinga saga (the Saga of the Faroese) about the 
colonization of the Faroe Islands, the quarrels of the islanders, the 
introduction of Christianity there, and how the isles came under Nor- 
wegian rule; they put together the history of the Orkney Earls (Orkn- 
epinga saga, Jarla saga), telling the story of these islands from their 
colonization by the Norsemen down to about 1170; and finally, they 
wrote a collection of stories of the Kings of Denmark (Knptlinga 
saga), from Harald Gormsson, called Bluetooth, to the death of Knut 
the Saint in 1186. The Vnglinga saga deals in the main with Sweden, 
but, besides, the history of that country is often touched upon in the 
lives of the Norwegian Kings. 
Besides all these historical works the Icelanders, at the close of the 
thirteenth century, began to write down those sagas which are known 
under the title of Fornaldarségur Nordurlanda or sagas of olden times 
in Scandinavia. For centuries many of them had, no doubt, been 
handed down from generation to generation, and told for purposes of 
entertainment. before they were deemed worthy of being reduced to

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