Oedipus Borealis: The Aberrant Body in Old Icelandic Myth and Saga
Oedipus borealis is a discussion of aberrance in the mythic and legendary hero as he appears in thirteenth-century Icelandic narratives, and in the quasi-historical figures in the saga literature who are modeled on him. The opening chapter on Greek myth presents Oedipus of Thebes as the paradigm of the aberrant hero, his sexual deviance linked in mythic logic with his foot anomaly, and, most importantly, with his greatness. of the Norse gods and their nemesis, the Giants, conform to a similar pattern of deviance, with physical disabilities (blindness, deafness, muteness) linked to supernatural power, and monstrosity to sexual vitality. In saga figures such as the skalds Egil Skalla grimsson, Kormak, or Thormod Kolbrunsskald, disability and deviant sexuality are linked to poetic skill. Figures as diverse as the revenant, the berserk, the outlaw Grettir, and St. Olaf show that the pattern is very widely disseminated in Old Icelandic. Illustrated. Lois Bragg is Professor of English at Gallaudet University.
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