Mannakjöt and Mannakrof: Human Identity in Ketils Saga Hængs and Örvar-Odds Saga

Rebecca Drake

Abstract


This article seeks to examine the presentation of human identity in Ketils saga hængs and Örvar-Odds saga. It does this in two ways, by examining words used to refer to the human as meat (mannakjöt and mannakrof), through which the human is presented as animal, and by examining the cultural mindset surrounding the cooking practices of monsters and men. I will focus on two key examples which reveal how these two sagas reveal human identity. The first of these is Ketill´s destruction of a giant´s hunting pits, in which he has discovered human flesh. The second example is taken from Oddr´s visit to Giantland, where he eats boiled meat that has been prepared by a giant. From these analyses, this article will conclude that these sagas acknowledge little distinction between the human and the monstrous, despite attempts to characterise either by the way in which they cook and perceive of meat. Consquently, these sagas reveal a complex understanding of human identity within a certain cultural mindset, in which the human is deconstructed, either to horrific or puzzling effect. 


Keywords


human identity; human flesh; boiled meat; fornaldarsögur; Ketils saga Hængs; Örvar Odds saga

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