This article accompanies the fable
This was the cynical option -- Viking invaders as guests? Or maybe these are Russians arriving in London? Cynicism is governed by self-interest and none of the other paintings has a sense of humor. There are arguments even today as to whether the Varangians were positive or negative "guests" in ancient Rus', just as many Londoners don't know what to make of the on-going Russian invasion... Londongrad.
Yet Roerich obviously intended the title of this painting from 1901 without irony. He was the most cosmic of the great Russian nationalist painters and he was fascinated by ancient Russia, its folklore, its history and its religious beliefs, from the Viking northwest to the distant Orient.
When he met Diaghilev and Stravinsky to collaborate on a ballet set in ancient pagan times, he met some real cynics...