Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/428

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412 Custom and Belief ifi Icelandic Sagas.

Arnkell used to go to the place where the fire had been, and it licked the stone where the ashes had lain. Soon afterwards it had an apple-gray calf which Arnkell named Glaesir. Arnkell's old fostermother repeatedly begged him to have it destroyed, but in vain, until it had grown to a tremendous size and done much damage, when it finally disappeared. In Laxdcela the ghost of Halbjorn, who was drowned and washed ashore, appeared in the form of a cow.

IV. Tomb-Treasures.

The buried treasure, though, so far as cause and origin goes, it has already been discussed, deserves separate treatment as a fruitful producer of myth. Here myth can be seen in the making. At first treasure was always laid in the ho we ; then the custom decayed, as the natural desire of the son to inherit made itself felt. It was when the custom came into conflict with the desire, that the myths of cursed treasure and dragon guardians grew. The sacrosanctity of the burial-mound was only preserved by the belief that the treasure would carry no luck with it, and that supernatural terrors attended the violation of the howe : hence the supernatural lights, the fiery dragons, the berserks, to be met with in the mythical chapters of many sagas; hence also in myth the Sword of Angantyr and the treasure of Fafnir.

The decay of the custom is marked in the following examples :

1. {Svarfdcsla, 910.) Thorolf was laid in the howe and

some money to honour him.

2. {lb.) Thorgnyr was laid in the howe, and much


3. {Laxdcela, about 900.) Aud was laid in a ship in the

howe, with much money.

4. {Egd's Saga, 925.) Egil put a gold ring on each of

Thorolf's hands.