Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/421

This page needs to be proofread.

Custom and Belief in Icelandic Sagas. 405

howe, and his son Hogni and SkarpheSinn Njalsson saw the howe open, and Hghts inside, and Gunnar turning round to look at the moon {IVjdla, 990).

Where such beliefs are held, hero-cults may be expected to flourish. In Gunnar we seem to have one in the making ; and another, in a more advanced stage, in Grim, great-great-grandfather of the settler Thorstein Solmunds- son, to whom, according to Landnama, sacrifice was made after death because of his popularity. When Tungu- Odd was buried " where he could overlook the Tongue " {Hoensa-Thoris Saga, 988), and Hafnar-Orm on the head- land in front of the homestead, it was possibly with the idea of their affording protection. The account of Hrapp's burial {Laxdcgla, about 970) illustrates the collision of the belief in the protecting power of the friendly dead with the natural fear of ghosts. At his own wish he was buried upright in the doorway, " that he might oversee the household," as a Greek hero was buried in the gateway, probably with the idea that he could prevent the entry of evil influences. But Hrapp walked, and he was first removed to another spot, and later dug up again and burned, the ashes being thrown out to sea.

A genuine hero-cult seems to appear in the worship of Thorgerd HolgabriiS or HorgabruS. Njdla states that in the temple of Earl Hakon and Gudbrand of Dale there stood the figures of Thor, Thorgerd HorgabruS, and Irpa ; and in Har6ar Saga, Grim.kell, wishing to enquire about the marriage luck of his daughter, went into the temple of Thorgerd HorgabruS. She promised favour to Thorbjorg, but not to HorS, his son, who had desecrated the grave of her brother Soti and stolen his good gold ring. The other references to her are :

I. Snorri {Edda) calls her the daughter of Holgi, king of Halogaland : " they were both sacrificed to, and a howe was cast up to Holgi, one layer of gold or