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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/427

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CtistoTfi and Belief hi Icelandic Sagas. 4 1 1

reason why the two burials should be different ; the circumstances of the two murders were as nearly alike as Vestein's avenger could make them. If it had been a case of the Viking brother and the brother who stayed on the farm, the reason for distinction would be evident ; but Vestein was a sea-goer. Possibly only a very rich man or one who was sole owner of his ship could afford to be buried in it ; the saga does not say whether Vestein was sole or part owner of his.

The eyes of a dead man were supposed to have an evil influence ; hence in two sagas we meet with unwillingness on the part of the living to pass in front of a corpse. In the case of Thorolf {Eyrbyggja, 986), this is easily under- stood, for he had been malicious and mischief-making in life. His son Arnkell bade no one pass in front of him till the corpse rites were done, and he was removed from the house through a hole broken in the wall behind his seat. The same precaution was taken after the death of Skallagrim {Egla, 934), though he had been a great chieftain.

Ghosts were not always malignant, though always dreaded ; as a rule it was those who had been most troublesome alive who were malignant after death These turn into a kind of vampire, like Glam in Gretti's Saga, and the above-named Thorolf in Eyrbyggja. In the case of the latter haunting, the cattle were " troll-ridden," the shepherd found dead, coal-black, with every bone broken : the sheep died ; the birds who perched on the grave fell dead ; thunderous noises were heard at night. But this ghost recognised the ties of kinship, for though he had quarrelled with his son Arnkell alive, dead he did no harm "where Arnkell was." He was reincarnated in a way curiously reminiscent of Irish legend. A ghost was usually laid in Iceland, by the digging up and burning of the body, the ashes being thrown out to sea. After Thorolf's ghost had been laid in this fashion, a cow belonging to his son