Page:The Heimskringla; or, Chronicle of the Kings of Norway Vol 1.djvu/227

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KINGS OF NORWAY.

213

and many of his descendants followed his example. But the burning of the dead continued, long after that time, to be the custom of the Swedes and Northmen. Iceland was occupied in the time that Harald Haarfager was the King of Norway. There were scalds in Harald's court whose poems the people know by heart even at the present day, together with all the songs about the kings who have ruled in Norway since his time; and we rest the foundations of onr story principally upon the songs which were sung in the presence of the chiefs themselves or of their sons, and take all to be true that is found in such poems about their feats and battles: for although it be the fashion with scalds to praise most those in whose presence they are standing, yet no one would dare to relate to a chief what he, and all those who heard it, knew to be a false and imaginary, not a true account of his deeds; because that would be mockery, not praise.

OF THE PRIEST ARE HINN ERODE.

The priest Are hinn Frode[1] (the Wise), a son of Thorgils the son of Gellis, was the first man in this country who wrote down in the Norse language narratives of events both old and new. In the beginning of his book he wrote principally about the first settlements in Iceland, the laws and government, and next of the lagmen[2], and how long each had administered the law; and he reckoned the years at first, until the time when Christianity was introduced into Iceland, and afterwards reckoned from that to his own times. To this he added many other subjects, such as the lives and times of kings of Norway and Denmark,

  1. Are Frode was born in Iceland 1067, and lived to 1148, or according to some 1158.
  2. Lagmen were district judges appointed by the Things to administer the law.