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Old January 24th, 2014, 12:24 AM   #11
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otherwise he grew tall and handsome and in wisdom he was the best of their children

Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

T. S. Eliot

We in our modern world still persist in belief that ages past where there was no mass of social security nets and laws .
the weak , infirm, crippled were left behind/alone to die.
Yet they had their Erwin Rommels. Their masters of war through acute reasoning and logic.
the nords or 'vikings' were born to war. Like thee spartans they had learnt the rule.
The weak perish.

I personally would love to step back in time and talk with Ivar.
we could stroll [him being carried] to edge of sea and look west.
there Ivar, is the future.

And he would understand. a rare thing

Last edited by Hjarloprillar; January 24th, 2014 at 12:45 AM.
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Old March 7th, 2014, 11:27 PM   #12
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If you read the actual Ragnar Lodbrok Saga, it expressly states that Ivar the Boneless killed Eysteinn Beli's magical cow by sitting on it and crushing the life out of it. He was not a midget, he did not have cartilage instead of bone, he was not impotent. He was incredibly obese, that is, he was Fat. Boneless is a polite way of saying that you could not see his ribs because he was so fat. He was so fat, he could kill a cow by sitting on it. Try to imagine that. When he got older, he was so fat that he couldn't even walk. Poor Ivar did not die of cardiac arrest. At the age of 43, while he was the king of Dublin, he contracted leprosy. Ivar could not bear being a leper. He became despondent and stabbed himself to death with a dagger.

Last edited by alarod; March 8th, 2014 at 12:00 AM.
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Old March 8th, 2014, 12:14 AM   #13
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I think Ivar probably just couldn't get it up!

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Old March 8th, 2014, 05:59 AM   #14

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Originally Posted by The Gushel View Post
I think Ivar probably just couldn't get it up!

That is one explanation (that he was impotent), another is he was small in stature or it's possible he had a disease. A lot of what the saga's say about him is rooted in folklore - one explanation being he was born without any bones - which is impossible. They pretty much say he was cursed.
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Old March 8th, 2014, 10:49 AM   #15
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I'm intrigued by the idea that he had osteogenesis imperfecta. It would explain the nickname and why he had to be carried into battle.
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Old March 8th, 2014, 01:47 PM   #16
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He was popular chieftain and noted to have killed enemies in battle, I find it unlikely he would have had some serious handicap. Carrying important people on a objects isn't an uncommon practice either. Impotent men weren't referred to as boneless in old norse. although I guess it could have been some pun.
Ivar being a 9th century Claude van Damme would be the simplest explanation.

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Old March 8th, 2014, 03:15 PM   #17

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Ivar is said to have died in 873 AD, but his nickname of Boneless does not seem to be in the earliest sources (Anglo-Saxon & Irish Chronicles) and appears to be of a later date than those nicknames given to his father and brothers.

For example, Saxo Grammaticus, in his 'History of the Danes' (written shortly after 1208) says that Iwar [Ivar] was Ragnar's youngest son, and writes;
"Iwar, who was in his seventh year, fought splendidly, and showed the strength of a man in the body of a boy."
Certainly no hint of a disability here, and while Saxo gives the nicknames of Ivar's father Ragnar (Lodbrog), and his brothers Bjorn (Ironside), Siward (Snake-eye) and Erik (Wind-Hat), he gives none for Ivar himself.

But the later (13th Century??) 'Saga of Ragnar' places Ivar as Ragnar's eldest son (rather than youngest as the previous source says), and explains that;
"The boy was boneless and there was cartilage where his bones should have been, but when he was young, he grew so strong that none was his match. He was of all men most handsome in appearance and so wise that none was known who was a wiser councillor than he...Ívar had himself borne on staves, as he could not walk, and he had advice for them [his brothers] in whatever they did.”

The same source says that Ivar was carried into and during battle on a shield, and used a bow and arrow (although that doesn't preclude the use of other weapons). In one battle the troops are faced by a fierce sacred cow called Sibilja;
“Ívar spoke with his carriers, telling them that they should bear him forward so that he might be closer to the front: “And when you see the cow come at us, cast me at her, and it shall go one way or the other-that I shall lose my life, or she shall have her bane. Now you must take one mighty elm-tree and carve it into the shape of a bow, along with arrows.” And when this strong bow was brought to him along with the great arrows that they had made, they did not seem to them usable as weapons to anyone.
Then Ívar encouraged his men to do their best. Then the troops went with great impetuousness and noise, and Ívar was borne before their battle array. Such a great din arose when Síbilja bellowed that they heard it just as well as if they had been silent and standing still. Then that caused it to happen that the troops fought amongst themselves, all save the brothers.
And when this wonder took place, those who bore Ívar saw that he drew his bow as if he held a weak elm branch, and it seemed as if he drew the arrow point back past his bow. Then they heard a louder twang from his bow than they had ever heard before. And then they saw that his arrows flew as swift as if he had shot a strong crossbow and they saw it happen that the arrows came to sit in each of Síbilja’s eyes. And then she fell, but after that she went on headfirst, and her bellowings were much worse than before.
And when she came at them, he commanded them to cast him at her, and he became to them as light as if they cast a little child, because they were not very near the cow when they cast him. And then he came down heavily upon the cow Síbilja, and he became then as heavy as a boulder when he fell on her, and every bone in her was broken, and she received her death.
Then he commanded his men to take him up quickly. And then he was taken up, and his voice was ringing so that all heard when he spoke, and it seemed to all the army as if he was standing near each man, though he was far off. It became perfectly silent as he gave his orders.”

This source certainly portrays Ivar as being disabled, but he has immense upper body strength, and it would be hard to believe that a person with brittle bone disease would be conscious, let alone able to continue to lead his men, after having been thrown across a battlefield into the path of a raging animal.
The whole episode contains the miraculous - his giant bow, his ability to alter his body weight, his voice that reaches alll members of his army. Ivar is incredibly strong, handsome and wise. But it also includes a clue to Ivar's nickname. In the passage quoted above he says "...cast me at her [the cow], and it shall go one way or the other-that I shall lose my life, or she shall have her bane." Now the cow dies, i.e. she has her bane; but Ivar doesn't, therefore he is 'Baneless' (Boneless)

Another late source I found, the later 13th century 'Tales of Ragnar's Sons', doesn't mention Ivar as having a disability, but does say;
“Ivar the Boneless was king in England for a long time. He had no children, because of the way he was: with no lust or love—but he wasn’t short of cunning and cruelty. And he died of old-age in England and was buried there.”

This looks like the origin of the theory that 'boneless' meant impotence or homosexuality. The source doesn't say this, only that he wasn't interested in sex. Since the source doesn't particularly like Ivar, adding the sin of homosexuality to his character, or the humiliation of impotence, would have been an ideal opportunity to blacken Ivar's memory. But the source fails to do this. To me this implies that such suggestions were not being made, or were known not to be true.

Last edited by Moros; March 8th, 2014 at 03:17 PM.
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Old March 8th, 2014, 03:49 PM   #18
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Ivar had four sons, so how could he be impotent? His wife was probably a very large woman though. None of Ivar's sons were described as being particularly fat, so Ivar probably had an eating disorder. He probably got leprosy from handling contaminated food. The story says that as long as the magical cow mooed, the sons of Ragnar could not beat Eystein Beli. They tried shooting its eyes out with arrows, but still it mooed. Finally, four very strong Vikings carried Ivar close to the cow on a large iron shield and launched him through the air. Ivar landed on the cow, killing it instantly. This is why I believe he must have been extremely fat, to crush a cow. If he couldn't walk later in life, it's because he got too fat to walk. Ivar probably ate the equivalent of a cow each night for dinner. What I said above is the actual story, you can't make this stuff up. It's sad he got leprosy. The "cow" could have been a wooden replica with a cow's head with a priest inside mooing. In this case, when Ivar crushed the wooden cow, he also killed the priest inside.

Last edited by alarod; March 8th, 2014 at 04:25 PM.
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Old March 8th, 2014, 04:24 PM   #19

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Hi Alarod. What are your sources? My post contains the actual text from the sources that we have about Ivar. He was not extremely fat. Tradition is that he couldn't walk from early childhood. The story about the cow I presented verbatim (and in general agrees with your summary, though not conclusion). Where do you get that he had children?
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Old March 8th, 2014, 04:49 PM   #20
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Hi Moros. The cow story comes from the old Ragnar Lodbrok Saga, and the easiest place to read it is the Wiki article on Eysteinn Beli. Everything I have read on Ivar gives him a wife and sons. The kings of Dublin and Waterford traced their descent from him, so it's likely he had sons. Geni says his wife's name was Fruen and that his sons were Guthorm, Halfdan, Barid, Sitric, Ragnald, and Sigfrith, six sons. I think this shows that, whatever other problems Ivar may have had, his equipment was in working order. And he seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time with his wife, so I doubt he was gay. Midgets and people with terrible bone diseases have a hard time reproducing, and he had no problems on this score. His wife loved him, she must have been pretty big herself (she wasn't crushed). Fat men were considered quite handsome in the early 1900s (like President Taft). Ivar could still have been handsome, if a tad overweight. No one really knows how Ivar acquired his name, but I think it unlikely that he had a bone disease or was a midget, as they would not survive long in those times. The cow story sounds like he had a massive weight. I think "Boneless" was just a euphemism for fat. Also, the old chronicles are vague and contradictory on Ivar's end. Some say he caught a "loathesome disease," others say he "ended his own life." To me, it sounds like he caught a bad disease and killed himself. Now having read your entire post, I see that you quoted the actual Saga. Great work!

Last edited by alarod; March 8th, 2014 at 06:32 PM.
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