Viking sagas published in Danish for the first time

May 11, 2016 - 06:25

The Viking sagas were once considered too vulgar and violent to be published in Danish. But they have now been given a new lease of life and are published in modern Danish for the first time.

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Early Viking Sagas, which include stories about Ragnar Lodbrog and his family, have been translated into modern Danish for the first time (Illustration: Wikipedia / From the book Sagan om Ragnar Lodbrok och hans söner, P. A. Gödecke, 1880)

The Danish Viking Sagas are the inspiration for the popular TV show, Vikings, which captures the history and adventures of famous characters like Ragnor Lodbrog.

But until now, Danes were not able to read the adventures of their ancestors in their own language.

In the 19th century, the Sagas were considered too vulgar, violent, and full of sex to be translated into Danish. Now the first two volumes have been released by Gyldendal publishers, with six more planned for release at a later date.

"The ancient sagas are fast-paced and humorous and unlike the later sagas of Iceland they don’t refrain from elaborate erotic scenes,” says Annette Lassen, lecturer and translator at the University of Copenhagen, in a press release.

“And the characters are mildly colourful: In addition to the Vikings and Norse gods, the stories are teeming with maiden kings, shield maidens, berserkers, giants, and trolls who perform magic," she says.

The so-called Hauksbok from 1300 CE. The book includes the story of Ragnar Lodbrog’s sons. (Photo: University of Copenhagen)

The so-called Ancient Sagas were some of the earliest. They describe the adventures of Danish Vikings and date back to 1100 to 1200 CE.

"There is a great satisfaction that we can now present the sagas of Ragnar Lodbrog and the other Viking heroes in contemporary language so that new generations can benefit from reading these fantastic stories," says Lassen in the press release.

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Read the Danish version of this story on Videnskab.dk
 

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Translated by
Catherine Jex