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The Tale of Bolli Bollason

The Tale of Bolli Bollason
August 04, 2012, 09:33:24 AM
Bolli and his brother Thorleik Bollason, sons of Bolli, son of Thorleik, son of Hoskuld, great great grandson of Ketil Flat-nose, son of Bjorn Buna, a powerful hersir in Norway.

Bolli and Thorleik are from Iceland but are back visiting Norway and staying with King Olaf:
As the spring advanced the brothers discussed their traveling plans, and Thorleik asked Bolli whether he wished to sail for Iceland that summer, 'or do you wish to remain in Norway longer?'
Bolli answered, 'I intend to do neither, and to tell you the truth when I left Iceland I had intended that people would not hear of me settling down next door.  I want you, brother, to take over our ship.'
Thorleik was saddened at the prospect of their parting, 'but you will have your way as in everything else, Bolli.'
When they told these same plans to the king, he answered, 'Do you not wish to dwell here with us any longer, Bolli?  I would prefer you to stay here with me for a while, and I will offer you the same title that I have conferred upon your brother Thorleik.'
To this Bolli answered:  'More than willing enough am I, my lord, to enter your service, but I intend first to travel to the destination which I originally set out for and where I have long wished to go.  Should I manage to return I will gladly accept this offer of yours.'
'You will decide your course yourself, Bolli, as you Icelanders usually intend to have your own way in most things.  But I have to say that I regard you, Bolli, as the most remarkable man to have come from Iceland during my day.'
Once Bolli had received the king's leave, he made ready for his journey and boarded a cog heading south to Denmark.  He took a great deal of wealth with him and was accompanied by several of his companions.  He and King Olaf parted the best of friends, and the king gave Bolli worthy farewell gifts.  Thorleik remained behind with King Olaf, while Bolli proceeded south to Denmark.  He spent the winter there and was shown great honour by powerful men.  He conducted himself there in a style no less luxurious than he had in Norway.  After a year in Denmark, Bolli began to journey through foreign countries, not stopping until he reached Constantinople.  After a short time there he entered the company of the Varangian guard, and we know no reports of northerners having entered the service of the Byzantine emperor before Bolli Bollason.  He spent many years in Constantinople, where he was regarded as the most valiant of fighters in any perilous situation, where he was among the foremost of them.  The Varangians thought highly of Bolli during his stay in Constantinople.

Saga of the People of Laxardal, section 73

That summer at the Althing Bolli met with Gudmund the Powerful, and the two conversed together at length.
Gudmund said, 'I want to say, Bolli, that it's men like you that I want to count among my friends.  I invite you to come north for a fortnight's feast, and will be disappointed if you fail to accept.'
Bolli answered that he would certainly accept this honour from a man such as him and promised to make the journey.  There were others who made him offers of friendship as well.  Arnor Crone's-nose invited him to a feast at Miklabaer.  A man named Thorstein who lived at Hals, the son of Hellu-Narfi, invited Bolli to stay with them on his way south again, as did Thord of Marbaeli.  When the Althing ended Bolli rode home.
That summer a ship made land at Dagverdarnes and was drawn ashore there.  Bolli lodged twelve of the merchant crew at Tunga over the winter and provided for them generously.  They all remained there until Christmas had passed.  Bolli then intended to make his promised visits to the north, had horses shod and made preparations for the journey.  They were a party of eighteen, with all of the merchant sailors bearing arms.  Bolli was wearing a black cape with his splendid spear, King's Gift, in his hand.  They rode northward until they reached Marbaeli, where Thord gave them a good welcome.  They spent three nights there in festive hospitality.  Then they rode to Miklabaer, where Arnor received them warmly.  The festivities were superb.
Arnor then spoke:  'You have done well, Bolli, in paying me this visit.  In doing so, I feel you have declared your great comradeship for me.  And no better gifts will remain here with me than the ones you accept at parting.  My friendship is also yours for the asking.  But I suspect not everyone in this district feels well inclined towards you.  Some of them, especially the Hjaltsons, feel they have been robbed of their honour.  I intend to follow you north as far as the Heljardal heath when you leave here.'
Bolli answered, 'I wish to thank you, Arnor my host, for all the honour you have shown me, and it will certainly improve our company if you ride along with us.  We plan on proceeding peacefully through this district, but if anyone should make any attempts to attack us, we may well repay them in kind for their trouble.'

Bolli Bollason's Tale, section 5

Re: The Tale of Bolli Bollason
August 07, 2012, 03:14:49 PM
Lots of contrast against our own time. Today anonymity is craved and often assured in a sea of unremarkable equals. Then, reknown for deeds few could achieve and reputation were coveted and had real value. Today's fame usually doesn't mean notoriety unattainable by almost anyone.

What's different for us is a commitment to virtues like honor, fidelity and valour and the fitness to pull it off against adversity. Fame doesn't require anything so challenging - just some media producer or PAC sugar daddy who digs you as the most likely tool.

Weapons were forged unique, had their own deed-laden history by their master's hand and named. Today they are mass machined equally, hoarded or collected and seldom or never utilized except for show or trade.

Re: The Tale of Bolli Bollason
August 11, 2012, 03:47:12 PM
Weapons were forged unique, had their own deed-laden history by their master's hand and named.

King's Gift!  And the sword from the Laxardal Saga, wielded by Olaf Peacock, was none other than Leg Biter!

The Sagas are like The Lord of the Rings only one thousand times better.