The Hrafnkels saga is an Icelandic saga telling of struggles between
chieftains in the east of Iceland in the 10th century. The eponymous
main character, Hrafnkell, starts out his career as a fearsome duelist
and a dedicated worshipper of the god Freyr. After suffering defeat,
humiliation, and the destruction of his temple, he becomes an atheist.
His character changes and he becomes more peaceful in dealing with
others. After gradually rebuilding his power base for several years,
he achieves revenge against his enemies and lives out the rest of his
life as a powerful and respected chieftain. The saga has been read as
the story of a man who realizes that the true basis of power is not
belief in the gods but the loyalty of one's subordinates. It is widely
read today and appreciated for its logical structure, plausibility and
vivid characters. For these reasons, it has served as a test case in
the dispute on the origins of the Icelandic sagas.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
Valentinian I was elected Roman Emperor by officers of the Roman
military at Nicaea, Bithynia.
John Wesley, a minister of the Church of England, chartered the first
Wallace Carothers invented nylon, a synthetic polymer.
The 228 Incident: Civil disorder in Taipei and Keelung was brutally
suppressed by the Chinese Nationalist military.
The final episode of the television series M*A*S*H was broadcast, and
became the most-watched television program in history.
Wikiquote of the day:
"Of all our infirmities, the most savage is to despise our being." --
Michel de Montaigne