The Poet and the Spae-Wife: An Attempt to Reconstruct Al-Ghazal’s Embassy to the Vikings
Saga-Book, Vol.15, No.3 (1960)
The original source for the embassy of al-Ghazal to the Vikings was Abu-1-Kattab-Umar-ibn-al-Hasan-ibn- Dihya, who was born in Valencia in Andalucia, about 1159, and died, almost an octogenarian, in Cairo, in 1235. The facts and anecdotes in the story were derived from Tammam-ibn-Alqama, vizier under three consecutive amirs in Andalucia during the ninth century, who died in 896. Tammam-ibn-Alqama had had the details direct from al-Ghazal and his companions.The only manuscript of ibn-Dihya’s work was acquired by the British Museum in 1866: it is entitled Al-mutrib min ashar ahli’l Maghrib (‘An amusing book from poetical works of the Maghrib’). The Arab text of the story of the embassy with a few omissions was first published by Reinhart Dozy, Recherches 3rd ed., II, appendix, Ixxxi-lxxxviii, then by A. Seippel, Rerum normannicarum fontes arabici, Oslo, 1896, 13-20; and in Norwegian by Birkeland. A French translation by Dozy was reprinted by Fabricius in 1893 (see note 3). There was also a German translation by Georg Jacob, Arabische Berichte van Gesandten an Germanische Fiirstenhofe aus d. 9 u. 10. Jahrhundert, Berlin/Leipzig, 1927, 37-42. Jon Stefansson published in English an abbreviated version of Dozy’s French translation in Saga-Book,VI,1908-9, 37ff.