Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ívarr Ingimundarson (Ív)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Sigurðarbálkr (Sig) - 45

Skj info: Ívarr Ingimundarson, Islandsk skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 495-502, BI, 467-75).

Skj poems:

Details from Ívarr’s life are known from his þáttr in Mork (1928-32, 354-6) and in H-Hr (Fms 7, 103-6). He was an Icelander of good family and could have been the son of Ingimundr inn gamli ‘the Old’ Þorsteinsson of Vatnsdalur, who had a son called Ívarr (see LH 1894-1901, II, 59-60). According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254-5, 262-3, 276), Ívarr composed about King Magnús berfœttr ‘Barelegs’ Óláfsson (d. 1103) and Magnús’s sons Eysteinn (d. 1122) and Sigurðr jórsalafari ‘Jerusalem-farer’ (d. 1130), as well as about Sigurðr slembidjákn ‘Fortuitous-deacon’ (?) (d. 1139). Only his poem about the latter survives. See also SnE 1848-87, III, 619-22.

Sigurðarbálkr (‘Bálkr about Sigurðr’) — Ív SigII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Ívarr Ingimundarson, Sigurðarbálkr’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 501-27.

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Skj: Ívarr Ingimundarson: Sigurðarbǫlkr, o. 1140 (AI, 495-502, BI, 467-75); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46

in texts: Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, MbHg, Mork

SkP info: II, 501-27

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


All sts of SigurðarbálkrBálkr about Sigurðr’ (Ív Sig) are preserved in SslembMork. Fsk (FskBˣ, FskAˣ), MbHgHkr (, 39, F, E, J2ˣ and 42ˣ) and H-Hr (H, Hr) cite sts 10 and 13. Stanzas 14-15, 17-18, 22, and 24-25 are also preserved in F, which is not a Hkr ms. at this point. Mork has been chosen as the main ms. (except for st. 13, where the Mork reading is corrupt). The entire Sig was copied from Mork in AM 761b 4°ˣ (761bˣ at 200r-208r) by Árni Magnússon. That ms. has no independent value, but variants from 761bˣ are given when Mork contains corrupt readings and Árni was the first to suggest the correct forms.

Sig is a poem in fornyrðislag that commemorates the turbulent life of Sigurðr slembidjákn Magnússon (see Slembir Lv, above, and ‘Royal Biographies’ in Introduction to this vol.), and it was composed after Sigurðr’s death in 1139. Stanzas 1-13 recall Sigurðr’s youth, his warlike exploits in Orkney and Scotland, his journeys to Rome and Palestine and his return to the Western Isles. His election as king of Norway after the killing of his half-brother, Haraldr gilli(-kristr) ‘Servant (of Christ)’ is described in st. 13, followed by a series of sts (14-23) that are devoted to Sigurðr’s exile to Denmark (in 1137) and his campaigns in Denmark and Sweden. The next section of the poem (sts 24-33) records Sigurðr’s and Magnús inn blindi’s return to Norway (in 1138) and their rampage along the Norw. coast. The final section (sts 34-45) gives an account of the battle of Holmengrå in Hvaler, present-day Sweden, including the death of Magnús inn blindi and the capture, torture, and execution of Sigurðr (on 12 November 1139). For a useful overview of these events, see Anderson 1922, II, 186-90. The poem forms the backbone of SslembMork, and it must have been known to Eiríkr Oddsson, the compiler of the no longer extant *Hryggjarstykki, the first prose account of Sigurðr’s life and death (see Bjarni Guðnason 1978, 47, 89; Andersson and Gade 2000, 46). Stories about Sigurðr (and perhaps even Sig itself) must also have been available to Saxo (see Notes to sts 42 and 45 below).

Throughout the poem, Ívarr introduces overt echoes from poems in the eddic Sigurðr-cycle, and he must have done so intentionally to lend additional glory to Sigurðr slembir by indirectly comparing him to Sigurðr the Dragon-slayer.

The name of the poem, Sigurðarbálkr, is preserved in MbHgHkr (ÍF 28, 298) and in H-Hr (Fms 7, 200). Bálkr means ‘section, partition’ and it could be that the name was chosen because the poem consists of a sequence of sections documenting Sigurðr’s life (see above). The order of the first twelve sts is problematic, because there is a discrepancy between the sequence of events as described in the prose texts of Hkr and Mork. Finnur Jónsson (Skj) rearranged the order of the sts to fit the Hkr prose. However, as Fidjestøl (1982, 159) points out, as long as Mork is the only version which cites the poem in its entirety, the sequence of sts cannot be corrected from other sources and Mork is followed here (though see Knudsen 1975). In the present edn, the poem contains forty-five sts. Skj (and Skald) assigns an additional half-st. in fornyrðislag to Sig, but that attribution is uncertain and it has been edited in this vol. as Anon (Hsona) 2. The present order of sts is as follows: sts 2-7 = Skj 6-11; sts 8-9 = Skj 2-3; st. 10 = Skj 12; sts 11-12 = Skj 4-5. Because Anon (Hsona) 2 (= Skj 26) has been edited separately, the sts after Sig 25 in the present edn are numbered one lower that those given in Skj. For a detailed discussion of the transmission of the poem and the relations between prose and poetry in Mork, Hkr and Fsk, see Andersson and Gade 2000, 46-56. For a discussion of Ív Sig, Gísl Magnkv and eddic poetry, see Neckel 1908, 424-31.

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