Icelandic Sagas
The Icelandic Sagas are tales of heroes and their deeds written in Iceland between the 12th and 15th centuries. These heroes were usually kings of Norway, early founders of Iceland or legendary Germanic figures from the 4th to 8th centuries. The word saga in Icelandic means a story or history so they are a mixture of oral tradition, stories passed from generation to generation by word of mouth, and historical fact. They were written down after AD 1000 when Iceland adopted Christianity and missionaries taught Icelanders the Latin alphabet. The oldest saga is The First Saga of St. Olaf written in around 1180 and recounts the miracles performed by the Saint. The greatest one is called Njáls saga and tells the tale of two heroes, Njál and Gunnar. Gunnar is young and inexperienced while Njál is has all the traditional qualities of a Norse hero - he is wise, loyal and brave, and can also foresee the future.