Monday, April 14, 2008

Thorstein's Reply

In the Icelandic sagas a wry sense of humor is closely bound up with courage. In the saga account of the battle of Clontarf in 1014, where Brian Boru defeated a Viking army, one of the norsemen, Thorstein, did not fleee when the rets of his army broke and ran, but remained where he was, tying his shoestring. An Irish leader, Kerthialfad, asked him why he was not running. 'I couldn't get home tonight,' said Thorstein. 'I live in Iceland.' Because of the joke, Kerthialfad spared his life.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 2nd Edition. Duckworth (London, 1985), p. 121.

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