[10. dec.] Hvad en bersærker er

I fantasy rollespil og brætspil optræder bersærkere ofte, og de er gerne krigere, som går amok i kampe, bliver umådeligt stærke og ude af stand til at mærke deres sår og skader ind til efter kampen. Bersærkere er ikke fiktive væsner som elvere og dværge, men derimod bygger de på historiske fænomener, imidlertid er meget af det, som ideen om bersærkere bygger på, ikke særligt godt understøttet af kilderne, så i stedet for at kigge på opslagsværkers ofte noget så misvisende billeder af bersærkere, kigger vi på kilderne i stedet. Det begyndte med Egils saga, og derefter var der en historie fra Grettes saga. Nu er turen kommet til Viga-Glums saga, som også har en historie, der udspiller sig ved juletid.

Vi begynder med en historie om bersærken Asgaut:

It happened one winter that a certain Thorstein came to Vorz, who was a great friend of the brothers, and lived in the upland country. He told them of the strait he was in; how the Berserker, who was called Asgaut, had challenged him to the holmgang, because he had refused to give him his sister, and he asked them to escort him to the field with a large number of men, so that the pirate might not seize on his property. He added that Asgaut had killed many of his people, and that he must give up his sister to him if they would not support him; for, said he, I have no confidence in the result of the holmgang, unless I have the benefit of the good luck which attends you.

(kilde)

– snedige spilledere, der har fulgt indlæggene kan se, at der er nogle glimrende oplæg til rollespil i bersærkerhistorierne: Eventyrerne møder en stakkels bonde, der plages af en bersærker, der vil have hans datter, hvis han ikke møder bersærken i holmgang. Mon eventyrerne er helte nok til at tage bondens plads?

(Jeps, jeg har selv brugt ideen i et af mine rollespil)

Historien om Asgaut fortsætter. Sagaens hovedperson indvilliger i at gøre det gode, og Eyiolf konfronterer Asgaut:

Well, observed Eyiolf, my opinion is, that none of our people ought to go back to their homes again, if the man who falls is not avenged, and I think it worse to fight the Berserker after your kinsman is killed than it would be before. So he stepped forward, and Ivar offered to hold the shield for him. Eyiolf answered– It is well offered, but the matter concerns me most, and the old proverb is true, a mans own hand is most to be trusted. Then he went on to the holm, and the Berserker called out, Is that fellow going to fight with me? Is it not true, said Eyiolf, that you are afraid to fight with me? It may be that you are not of the right sort when you fear a big man, and crow over a little one. That has never been laid to my charge, replied the Berserker, but I will explain to you the laws of the combat. If I am wounded I am to get off by paying five marks. Oh, said Eyiolf, I do not feel bound to keep any rules with you, when you set your own price on yourself, and that price is one which in our country would be paid for a thrall. Eyiolf had to strike the first blow, and that first blow he struck in such a way that if fell on the point of the Berserkers shield, and cut it off, and his foot along with it. He got great honour by this feat, and returned home with the brothers. A good deal of money was offered for his acceptance, but he said he had not done the deed for the sake of money, nor for the sake of the lady, but out of friendship for Hreidar and Ivar. Asgaut paid the fine to be released from the duel, and lived a maimed man.

Denne bersærk er alene karakteriseret ved at være en bølle, der vil tilrane sig en kvinde ved at true folk med dueller. I modsætning til bersærkerne Ljot og Snaekoll hidser Asgaut sig ikke op.

Vi nupper lige en historie mere fra Viga-Glums saga.

After they were set down to table, it was said that the man called Biörn with the Iron Skull, and eleven others with him, were come into the homestead. He was a great Berserker, who used to go about to feasts where many people were assembled, and picked a quarrel with any one who chose to say anything which he could take hold of; the he challenged them to the holmgang: and Vigfuss therefore desired that every one should take care what he said.

Bersærken Bjørn med jernkraniet er også bare en bølle, der truer folk med holmgang, mens han mobber dem. I modsætning til de tre andre, vi har kigget på, så optræder Bjørn sammen med 11 mand. Grupper med 12 mand (enten 11+1 eller 12 samt leder) er et tilbagevendende motiv i de islandske sagaer. Mange grupper optræder i dette tal, og det kan både være en refleksion af de tolv (centrale) aser og vaner i Valhalla, eller det er kristent motiv (Jesu 12 disciple efter Israels tolv stammer), som har påvirket saga-materialet.

Om Morten Greis

Historiker, etnolog, brygger, fægter, rollespiller, science fiction entusiast History and Ethnology, brewer and fencer, roleplayer and science fiction enthusiast
Dette indlæg blev udgivet i absindth, Bersærker, historie, Rollespil. Bogmærk permalinket.

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