Faroese Oral Tradition and Icelandic Saga: The case of Ásmund Cycle


  • Chiara Benati


Faroe Island, Oral Tradition, Heroic poetry, Icelandic saga


Abstract The character Ásmund – Faroese Ásmundur – appears at least in six Faroese heroic ballads: Gríms ríma (CCF nr. 52), Heljars kvæði (CCF nr. 63), Frúgvin Olrina (CCF nr. 81), Sniolvs kvæði (CCF nr. 91), Tíðriks kongs ríma (CCF nr. 97) and Torbjørn Bekil (CCF nr. 98). In addition, Ásmund, the Champion-Killer, is also mentioned in the so-called Dvørgamoy ballads (CCF 6, 7, 8, 9), a large group of texts dealing with all the three thematic cores which, in Faroese oral tradition, are connected to the character Sigurd of the Nibelung tradition, the Dietrich epic and the Ásmund tradition itself. A systematic study of the Ásmund matter in the Faroese oral tradition and its relation to the Icelandic Ásmundar saga kappabana has never been conducted. The present study aims, therefore, to analyse the reception of the Ásmund narrative in the Faroes, in the basis of all the texts recorded. The image we get from this analysis shows the complexity of the development of this narrative’s material, which, far from being linear, is repeatedly altered and contaminated with other heroic traditions. Keywords: Faroe Islands, Oral tradition, Heroic poetry, Icelandic saga Fazit