Outlaws, trolls and berserkers: Meet the hero-monsters of the Icelandic sagas
This fluid continuity between monstrosity and heroism has been explored extensively in medieval literature: Beowulf or the Táin Bó Cúailnge , (the Cattle Raid of Cooley) – just like the Icelandic sagas – have their fair share of monstrous heroes. But it keeps fascinating us even today.
Shows such as Heroes have added a new shade to this exploration in recent years. Currently, even the humanness of zombies is on the cultural agenda in Warm Bodies or iZombie. Let us hope that, as this exploration continues, as we become more aware of the continuity between the monstrous and the human, we will eventually realise that, often, “the other” is just another “self”.
Featured image: Sigurd and Fafnir ( Public domain ). Fáfnir was a son of the dwarf king Hreidmar. After being affected by the curse of Andvari's ring and gold, Fafnir became a dragon and was slain by Sigurd.
The article ‘ Outlaws, trolls and berserkers: Meet the hero-monsters of the Icelandic sagas ’ by Rebecca Merkelbach was originally published on The Conversation and has been republished under a Creative Commons license.