The berserkers were ancient Norse warriors who fought with wild or uncontrollable ferocity. Snorri Sturluson mentions them in Ynglinga saga, saying that Odin
could make his enemies in battle blind, or deaf, or terror-struck, and their weapons so blunt that they could no more but than a willow wand; on the other hand, his men rushed forwards without armour, were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit their shields, and were strong as bears or wild bulls, and killed people at a blow, but neither fire nor iron told upon themselves. This was called berserkgangr, "going berserk."
Thor says in Hárbarðsljóð that he slew the brides of the berserkers in Hlesy, for t
hey the worst had perpetrated, the whole people had seduced:
- She-wolves they were,
- and scarcely women.
- They crushed my ship,
- which with props I had secured,
- with iron clubs threatened me,
- and drove away Thialfi.
The story of the twelve berserkers, the sons of Arngrímr and Eyfura, can be found in Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks and Örvar-Odds saga. Other mentions berserkers are in Vatnsdœla saga (9), Hrafnsmál (8, 20) and the Völsunga saga. See also Angantýr.
- Hárbarðsljóð, 37, 39.
- Ynglinga saga, 6.