Gyqp-eSTfkKm2PhFTf-vTg Bandamanna Saga

Bandamanna Saga

The Story of the Confederates an 1882 translation into English by John Coles

Section Reference 10


Now it is to be told that on the second day after this, people went to the Mount of Laws, and in crowds they went. Now Egill and Gellir gathered their men together. But Úfeigr helped Styrmir and Thórarinn to gather theirs. And when all those who were expected had come to the place, then Úfeigr demanded silence and held forth: -- "Hitherto I have not been meddling with the affair of my son Oddr, but knowing now that here have come together the men who have chiefly busied themselves with this suit, I will first direct my speech, as concerning the suit, to Hermundr, that this being a matter which has been started in a manner unheard of and unexampled, has been proceeded with in the same manner, and therefore is not unlikely in a similar way to come to an end. I now will ask, whether the case may be allowed to be settled peacefully." Hermundr answered: "We will take nothing but self-doom." Úfeigr answered: "I doubt that any example may be found of one man having ever allowed self-doom to eight men in one and the same case, while there are examples enough of one man having done so to another. But since it seems that everything in this suit has gone and must go on in a way unprecedented in other suits, I make this proposal, that two of your confederation act as umpires in the matter." Hermundr answered: "That we are quite willing to agree to, and care not which two of us it shall be." Then Úfeigr said: "You will then allow me the slight vantage of choosing out of the confederates the two I like." "Yea, yea," said Hermundr. Then spake Thórarinn: "Say yea to those things only today which thou mayest not have to regret tomorrow." "What has been said," answered Hermundr, "shall not be unsaid again." Now Úfeigr cast about for bail, which was an easy matter, as with him the money was considered safe. Now people join hands and handsel, that the fines shall stand, which they agree on, whom Úfeigr settles upon as umpires. But the confederates handsel that all criminal proceedings shall be dropped. Now it is so arranged that the confederates shall proceed with their bands up to the wolds. The followers of Gellir and Egill kept together and sat down in a certain place, forming a circle. But Úfeigr went within the circle, and looking round, he lifts the hood of his cloak, stroking his arms, and standing more erect than erst, he blinked his eyes about, and then spoke: "There sittest thou, Styrmir, and most men will think it wondrous that I should not call thee in a case which concerns me, since I owe allegiance to you, and have to look to thee for my support, and especially as thou hast received many good gifts from me, though thou hast requited them all with evil. My mind tells me that thou wert the first of men to set going this matter of enmity against my son Oddr, and hast done most in having the case opened up again, -- therefore I except thee."

"There sittest thou, Thórarinn," said Úfeigr, "and it is a certain thing that thou lackest no wit to pass judgment in this case; yet thou hast been an unserviceable man to Oddr in these matters, and wert the first of men to join Styrmir therein, -- therefore I except thee."

"There sittest thou, Hermundr, a great chieftain, and I am minded to think that it would be well if the decision of the case came to thee, yet no man has been so madly eager since this matter began as thou hast been; for thou hast shown that thou wouldst only show forth dishonour; nor has thy reason been any other than dishonour and avarice, for thou art in no lack of money, -- therefore I except thee."

"There sittest thou, Járnskeggi, and it is not that thou art not accounted of highly enough, why thou shouldst not be umpire in the case; nor wouldst thou deem it a bad thing if it should come to thee to judge, for such is thy ambition, that at Vöðlaþing thou hadst a standard borne before thee, as if thou wert a king, yet thou shalt be no king in this case, -- for I except thee."

Now Úfeigr looked about and spake: "There thou sittest, Skeggbroddi! Is it true that King Harold Sigurðssen said, when thou wert his henchman, that he deemed thee the best fitted man for a king among all who were with him then?" Broddi answered: "The king often spoke well to me; but it does not follow that he always spoke as he thought." Then said Úfeigr: "Thou shalt be king over something else than this case, -- for I except thee."

"There sittest thou, Gellir," says Úfeigr, "and nothing but avarice alone has drawn thee into this case: but thou art in some way to be pitied, being a man of small means, but having many irons in the fire. Now I know not, although I consider all of you worthy of evil only in this case, but that some one had better come out of it with some honour, for there are few of you left, but I cannot bring my mind to choose those whom I have already excepted, and therefore I choose thee, because hitherto thou hast not been charged with wrong-doing."

"There sittest thou, Thorgeirr Hálldorsson," says Úfeigr, "and it is a well-known thing that to thy decision never came a case on which aught depended, for thou knowest not how to sift a case, having no more wits therefor than an ox or an ass, -- therefore I except thee."

Then Úfeigr looked about and spake this ditty:


"Ill is man's fate
In old age to tumble;
Which all men depriveth
Of sight and wisdom.
I had the choice
Of able umpires;
Now's a wolf's tail
Left alone on the hook;


"And with me it has fared after the fashion of wolves, who eat each other up until they come to the tail, not knowing till then what they are about. I have had to choose between many chieftains, but now he alone is left from whom no one looks for aught but evil; and who has proved himself to be a man of unfair dealings beyond all others, and recks nothing what he does to gain money, if he only gets it; and it may be said in his excuse, for not having been particularly nice as to his share in this matter, that many a one has been netted in it, who was called a righteous man before, and has cast away from him his worth and manliness in exchange for iniquity and avarice. Now no one would expect me to choose him, from whom every man may look for evil, for there shall not be found another equally sly fellow in your company. Yet I must be content to choose him, every one else having been excepted." Egill spake, and smiled at the same time: "It befalls, as it has often befallen before, that honour comes to me, yet not because others intended it. Now, Gellir, we have to take our business in hand, let us stand up and go away and talk the matter over between us." They did so, and walked away thence and sat down. Then said Gellir: "What have we got to say about this?" Egill said: "It is my counsel to award a small fine, as I do not see what else we can do, since in any case we shall reap a little favour for this." "Shall it not be enough if we make the fine of the value of thirteen ounces of any current goods," said Gellir, "for this case was started very wrongly, and therefore it is all the better the less they shall be pleased with the award; but I am not eager to undertake the declaration of it, for I am afraid it will be received badly." "Do whichever thou choosest," said Egill, "to declare the award or to undertake the defence of it." "Then I choose," said Gellir, "rather to declare it." Now they went to meet the confederates. Then said Hermundr: "Stand we up, and listen to the shame that shall befall." Then said Gellir: "We shall not be wiser by waiting; it will all come to one thing, and my and Egill's award is, that a fine of thirteen ounces of silver be paid to us confederates." Then said Hermundr: "Did I understand it right, didst thou say thirteen tens of ounces of silver?" Egill answered: "Surely, Hermundr, thou wert not sitting upon thy ear for thou wert standing! thirteen ounces, certainly! and in such wares as are offerable only to paupers, for it shall be paid in rags of shields, and bits of broken rings, and in whatever trifles can be collected for it; and you may like the worst." Then said Hermundr: "Now, Egill, thou hast betrayed us!" "Is it so," said Egill; "dost thou find that thou art betrayed?" "Betrayed, indeed, I deem myself, and thou art the man I have to thank for it" Egill answered: "I deem it well to have betrayed a man who trusts in no one, not even in himself, the which I can prove, for thou didst hide thy money away, that thou intendedst that even though it should come into thy mind to look for it, you should never find it." Hermundr answered: "This is like thy other lies, Egill. Thou didst say the other winter, when thou earnest home after having been invited by me from your abode of poverty during Christmas, the which thou acceptedst gladly as might be expected; but when Yule was over, sadness settled upon thee, and no wonder, having to look forward to a return to starvation; but I, finding it out, offered thee to remain still with another man with thee, which offer thou tookst and wast very glad of it. But in the spring after Easter, when thou returnedst to Borg, thou spreadest the news, that thirty horses, turned out into ice and snow, and had all been eaten." Egill answered: "I think it would be difficult to say too much about the flaws of your household; but of these horses I think that few or even none were eaten. But that all men know, that neither I nor my people are ever of lack of food, though my circumstances as to money being not always equally easy. But of the state of thy own house, the less you say the better." "I should like," said Hermundr, "that we two should not have to meet next summer at the 'Þing' again." Answered Egill: "Now I will say that which I thought would never come over my lips, namely, to thank you for what thou hast said; for as to me, it has been foretold, that I shall die of old age, but the sooner the trolls take you, the better." Then spake Styrmir: "He, who tells the worst of thee, Egill, tells the truest tale, even he who calls thee a rogue." "That is all right," said Egill; "the more thou blamest me, and the more proofs thou bringest in support of it, the better, because I was told that at a banquet you amused yourself by choosing your equals, and that thou choosest for thy equal none but myself. Now it is certain," said he further, "that thou hast about thee some mighty garments to clothe thyself in, about which other people know nothing; and thou must have the best knowledge of thyself as of thy other matters. But in this we are unlike to each other, that we both engage in lending other people assistance, and I give all I can, sparing myself in nought, but thou takest to thy heels, as soon as a few blacklegs are aloft. It is also true that my household always lies heavily on me, and I spare food to no man, but thou art stingy of meat, as may be seen from this, that thou hast a bowl, which is called 'Meatsome,' the contents of which no one knows about, no matter how many may be the visitors to your house except thou alone. Now it is no dishonour to me that my servants endure hardships when want is at the door, but it is a greater dishonour to starve one's household when there is nothing lacking. Now look about and try to see who that man is." Then Styrmir was silent. Next Thórarinn stood up, and Egill spoke and said: "Hold thy peace, Thórarinn, and sit down, and put no word in in this matter, for I shall have such reproaches to lay on thee, as that thou wouldst wish that thou hadst better been silent." Thórarinn answered: "Let wholesome rede be taken whencesoever it come;" and he sat down and was silent Then said Thorgeirr: "All men see, that this is a vain award and a foolish to make only thirteen ounces of silver and no more for such a great case as this is." "But I thought," said Egill, "that thou wouldst find this award a right significant one, as indeed thou shalt find out, if thou lookest about, and thinkest for thyself, for thou wilt surely not have forgotten, that at the Leet of Rangá, the son of a cot carl left thee with marks of thirteen bumps upon thy pate, for which thou didst award to thyself thirteen ewes with lambs, which reminder I should have thought thou wouldst not deem a bad one." Thorgeirr was silent, but Skeggbroddi and Járnskeggi would have no exchange with Egill. Then Úfeigr sang a song in order that this "Þing" and the end of this affair should be borne in mind by many. And Egill answered: "Thou mayest well boast, that never did one man set his course against so many chieftains combined against him."

Now after this people went home to their booths. Then spake Gellir to Egill: "I would that we both should keep together with our men." And so they did. Now during the remainder of the "Þing," there was much secret enmity about, and the confederates were most highly indignant at the turn their affair had taken. But the awarded money nobody would have. And thus people rode away from the "Þing."


28 December 2019 saga, bandamanna, norse, viking, translated, english Read Book