Sunday, May 12, 2013

Eitt Skyldi Ganga Yfir Okkr Bæði

It is Mother's Day in the United States. Today we do what we ought to be doing every day.

In Njáls Saga, Njál's wife, Bergþora often nags him and goads him into action. She stirs up her share of mischief. One of the verbs prominently associated with her is eggja, to egg on. And yet, when Njál is stuck in his house, with enemies all about ready to burn the house down on top of him, she and the other women are offered free passage out. She replies:
Ek var ung gefin Njáli, ok hefi ek þvi heitit honum, at eitt skyldi ganga yfir okkr bæði.
I was given to Njál when I was young, and I have therefore promised him that one fate should go over both of us (Njáls Saga 129).
Then she walks back into the house and goes to bed while the house burns down around her.

Mothers are like that.