From Iceland — RECAP: Saga of Eiríkur the Red

RECAP: Saga of Eiríkur the Red

Published June 30, 2016

RECAP: Saga of Eiríkur the Red
Grayson Del Faro
Photo by
Inga María Brynjarsdóttir

Let’s just get this out of the way upfront: forget what the history books told you because Columbus did not “discover” the Americas. Several hundred years before he set out across the Atlantic, the Norsemen sailed along the coasts of what is now Canada and made settlements there, if only temporarily. But lemme tell you something else: they didn’t “discover” the Americas either. I should hope it’s not news to you that there were millions of indigenous people already thriving there for lawd-knows-how-long. I mean, how do you even “discover” a place where people already live?

Despite the tenuous encounters with the natives described in this saga, there luckily remains no Saga of Ísak the Inuit-Skull-Crusher or anything of that shitty sort. So we’ll content ourselves with the Saga of Eiríkur the Red, the story of the Norse settlements in Greenland and the sarcastically quotation-marked “discovery” of North America.

Iceland is green and Greenland is STFU

This story begins with the usual entire chapter of who was the son of who before getting to part where Greenland is named. Then some guy named Eiríkur is outlawed from Iceland and goes to live in a land he’d heard spoken of to the west. He calls it Greenland, hoping people will want to settle there if “it has a nice name.” This is the origin of that stupid phrase which anyone who’s ever told any English speaker that they’ve been to Iceland have probably heard: “Iceland is green and Greenland is ice, right?” Whether or not you responded with, “And your eye is black, bitch” and a punch to their dumb face, you can blame Eiríkur for starting it.

Eiríkur’s buddy Þórbjörn goes out to live with him in Greenland. It’s a bad fishing year for them over there, but some witch comes around offering to tell the future. They make her some porridge from goat milk and animal hearts (yum) but she also needs someone to sing some kind of incantation called a “weird song.” Luckily, Þórbjörn’s daughter Guðríður knows it so she’s got the witch’s back. She foretells the fishing will be fine and that Guðríður will find a hella hot husband in Greenland but eventually go back to Iceland to have many awesome babies. Score!

Morals of the story:

  1. If it’s not your country, interact with the people there on their terms or GTFO.
  2. When you go on vacation, bring your loved ones back a nice souvenir, not Christianity. Maybe something more useful, like a magnet.

So Eiríkur’s son Leifur (you might have heard of him by his anglicized name Leif Eiriksson) goes to Norway, gets converted, and brings back the worst souvenir ever: Christianity. Then there is an illness that kills a bunch of people, but their corpses all get up and start wreaking all kinds of havoc because they weren’t given Christian burials. This is remedied for Christ’s literal sake.

Then, for no goddamn reason at all, they decide to go to Vinland, even though it’s never been mentioned before and they presumably haven’t named it. They sail along the coast of what is presumably now Nunavut, giving the regions very beautiful names like Flat-slab-of-stone-land and Border-of-the-forest-land. They have two Scottish people with them, who can apparently run “faster than wild beasts,” and they use them to scout out a nice place to stay for winter.

When they come back with a handful of grapes, which totally don’t grow wild in Newfoundland, they decide to settle there. But the fishing sucks balls and everyone is starving so they eat some random whale that washes up on shore and everyone gets sick. When one dude says he recited a poem for the god Þórr and the whale must be a gift from him in return, they all pray to Jesus instead. Suddenly, the fishing and hunting gets better and everyone is happy, most especially Jesus and his ego.

Tit for tat

They split into two teams to explore more, one team heading back north and promptly drowning while the other heads south and doesn’t drown. They set up in a nice forest and after encountering the natives, they begin to trade with them. This only lasts until one of their bulls escapes and scares the natives shitless. They disappear and reappear to attack the Norsemen, who all run for their lives.

Freydís, Eiríkur’s daughter, yells that they’re all pussies and they should stand up for themselves. They ignore her (like pussies) and keep running. Then she picks up a sword, turns to face the native army, whips out her tit (not even kidding), and begins smacking it with the sword. This sends the attackers running. Then all hail the fearless boob-warrior!

They decide that despite the land being good for farming, there are already people there and maybe it would be best to go back whence they came. The rest of the saga is fucking boring, so we’ll just leave it here as a lesson. Too bad it’s too late for Columbus to learn it.

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