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28th April 2015

Peter Fisher (1952, English) publishes translation of Saxo’s History of the Danes

Peter Fisher (1952, English) has published a translation of Saxo Grammaticus’s History of the Danes in two parts.

Saxo was probably a canon of Lund Cathedral, at that period a Danish cathedral, and lived at the end of the 12th century. He was in the service of Archbishop Absalon, who encouraged him to write a history of his own country from the beginnings up to his own time, with a strong Christian bias.

Starting with the myths and heroic tales of primitive Scandinavia, Saxo devoted the first nine of his 16 books to legendary material before dealing with the first kings of the Viking age and finished in 1285, after relating the earlier exploits of King Cnut Valdemarsson.

Saxo is the first author to give a full account of Hamlet, whose adventures he relates at some length, the elements of which in a great many respects correspond surprisingly closely with the characters and incidents of Shakespeare’s play.

Edited by Karsten Friis-Jensen and translated by Mr Fisher, part one contains the first 10 books of Saxo’s work and part two contains books 11 to 16, mainly covering the history of the first Danish kings.

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