Identifying the Ogre: The Legendary Saga Giants

Identifying the Ogre: The Legendary Saga Giants

By Ármann Jakobsson

Fornaldarsagaerne, myter og virkelighed: studier i de oldislandske fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda, eds. Annette Lassen, Agneta Ney and Ármann Jakobsson (Copenhagen, 2009)

Introduction: ‘I remember giants / early born / who long ago / cared for me’

The sibyl of Völuspá begins here prophecy going back to her own past. And her past is surprisingly similar to our pasts: when she was tiny, so very long ago, she was surrounded by huge beings who cared for her. This is a part of individual experience, as scholars have indeed noted, an experience put into words by Marina Warner:

He sees shadows move around him: tall figures with deathly pale faces approaching; they loom over his cot, giant faces, coming closer. Their intense pallot magnifies their hands and faces and attenuates their dark, swathed bodies, but they are offering playthings and sweeties with their big white fingers; they are wheedling and clucking from their whitened lips, which open onto the dark gaping voids of their mouths, from which rise their voices, falsely high-pitched.

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You can follow Ármann Jakobsson on Twitter at @ArmannJa

Top Image: A Norse mythology image from the 18th century Icelandic manuscript SÁM 66

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