Saga of Sworn Brothers: Don’t Laugh At Viking Axe

Viking Rollo in Vikings TV series

For long, scholars have been arguing about the Viking Saga of Sworn Brothers. The forever debate revolves around whether this piece of work presented the bravery of the warriors or reflected nothing but violent society. Whatever the result might be, there is only one thing we know for sure. If anyone dared to behead others with their axe just for fun, it’s the Vikings.

The common expression is that “He stood so poised for the blow” or “He stood so convenient for hewing”. But hardly do we know about the origin of this expression. As you might guess, it comes from the Viking Saga of Sworn Brothers.

Fóstbrœðra saga or the Saga of Sworn Brothers was the work written down in Iceland around the 1200s. It revolved around the two sworn brothers Torgeir Hávarsson and Tormod Bersasson, both of whom lived in the 11th century.

Viking Saga of Sworn Brothers. Torgeir was a savage Viking warrior
In some account, Torgeir was described as a psychopath

Torgeir (973 – 1023AD) was an extremely skilled warrior who showed no mercy in battle. The more experienced he became in battle, the more savage he became. If ever asked about what he liked the most, he would answer “killing”. Indeed, Torgeir loved to kill people both on impulse and on commission. Sometimes, he found himself bored so he walked out grabbing someone and SWISH. He just beheaded someone he didn’t habour any hatred. Just like Loki in Norse mythology, Torgeir would find something to amuse himself no matter how serious the problem can be to other people.

The Misfortune Shepherd on Hvassafell

At the very young age, Torgeir learnt that only axe and shield could protect his life. This used to be a common knowledge to any Viking men in their time. With the insanity in his head, his goal was to master his axe.

Then his father got killed. As a Viking son, Torgeir had to seek revenge for the father’s death. He first killed someone on his own responsibility. But this was a life transition in Torgeir’s life. Because it opened a new chapter of a murderer for this responsible son.

In one version of this Viking Saga of Sworn Brothers, Torgeir appeared as a psychopath.

On one night, the shepherd returned back to his home. But he lingered in the courtyard to talk to some fellows. He leaned on the shepherd’s rod because of a tiring hard working day. He bent forward, his rear in the air, and his neck stretching forward. When Torgeir saw him standing in such position, he stepped close, swinging his axe and cutting him in the neck.

A sound of swish came and went quickly. Then Torgeir continued his journey ahead. No strange expression could we find on his face back then. He behaved like nothing important happened, like he had just killed a small creature whose life weighed nothing. Everyone in the courtyard became speechless and confused.

Later, when someone asked him why he did such a thing. Torgeir simply answered that “he stood so convenient for hewing that I cannot resist the temptation”


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