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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vagn Ákason (Vagn)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Matthew Townend;

Lausavísa (Lv) - 1

Skj info: Vagn Ákason (AI, 185-6, BI, 175).

According to Jvs (e.g. Jvs 1962, 18), Vagn (Vagn) was the son of Áki and grandson of Pálna-Tóki, founder of the Jómsvíkingar. He is mentioned in Vígf Hák 1/4 and features prominently in later verse and prose accounts of the famous sea-battle between the Jómsvíkingar and the Norwegian jarls at Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen, c. 985). He appears to have survived both the battle and the executions that followed it. The following lausavísa is the only poetry attributed to him in any source.

see Anon. X (Tillæg 1)

Lausavísa — Vagn LvI

Matthew Townend 2012, ‘ Vagn Ákason, Lausavísa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 366. <> (accessed 2 December 2021)


SkP info: I, 366

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Vagn Lv 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Vagn Ákason, Lausavísa 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 366.

Sigvaldi hefr setta
sjalfa oss und kylfu,
en fárhugaðr fnauði
fór heim til Danmarkar.
Hyggr í faðm at falla
fljótt vinkonu sinni,
en fyr borð it breiða
Búi gekk með hugrekki.

Sigvaldi hefr setta oss sjalfa und kylfu, en fárhugaðr fnauði fór heim til Danmarkar. Hyggr at falla fljótt í faðm vinkonu sinni, en Búi gekk fyr it breiða borð með hugrekki.

Sigvaldi has put us ourselves under the cosh, but the little-hearted coward has gone home to Denmark. He thinks to fall swiftly into the embrace of his lady-friend, but Búi has gone over the broad gunwale with courage.

Mss: 291(36v), 7(37v), Flat(25vb), 510(63r) (Jvs)

Readings: [1] hefr: hefir svá 510;    setta: ‘sett⸜d⸝a’ Flat    [2] oss: so 7, Flat, 510, ‘os’ 291;    und: við Flat    [3] en: og 510;    fárhugaðr: fáfróðigr Flat, fáhróðigr 510;    fnauði: flœði 7, flýði Flat, 510    [4] heim: so 7, Flat, ‘⸜heim⸝ aptr’ 291;    ‑markar: ‑merkr Flat, 510    [5] Hyggr: ‘hygzt’ 510    [6] vin‑: so Flat, und 291, ǫrr 7, nú 510    [8] gekk: so 7, Flat, ‘gegc’ 291;    ‑rekki: ‑reiði 510

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [X], Tillæg [1]. Vagn Ákason: AI, 185-6, BI, 175, Skald I, 93; Jvs 1879, 86, Jvs 1882, 118, Jvs 1962, 37-8, Jvs 1969, 188, 216, Flat 1860-8, I, 194

Context: At a point in the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen) when the division and defeat of the Jómsvíkingar has become apparent, and victory looks assured for the Norwegian jarls Hákon Sigurðarson and his son Eiríkr, Sigvaldi, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, flees and (in 291) calls for others to flee too. Vagn speaks the stanza (in 291 as a direct response to Sigvaldi).

Notes: [1] Sigvaldi: The son of Strút-Haraldr of Selund (Zealand), and leader of the Jómsvíkingar after the death of Pálna-Tóki. — [2] und kylfu ‘under the cosh’: LP: kylfa assumes an idiom setja e-n und kylfu ‘to place sby under a club’, hence ‘to put in danger’, cf. ModE under the cosh ‘under pressure or threat’, and this would fit the situation here, where Sigvaldi and Vagn are comrades. — [3] fnauði ‘coward’: A word restricted to poetry, and recorded also in Anon (Mberf) 5/5II. Fnauði is clearly the lectio difficilior compared to the readings in Flat and 7. — [5-8]: The second helmingr sets up a familiar skaldic contrast between the coward at home with a woman, and the brave man in battle (cf., e.g., Vígf Lv, Anon Liðs 3). — [6] vinkonu ‘of his lady-friend’: Only the Flat reading gives good sense here. The cpd vinkona is also recorded in Hjalmþ Lv 3/6VIII (HjǪ 5). The reading for the first syllable in ms. 7, ǫrr ‘swift (man)’, may be an attempt to supply a m. nom. sg. adj. to function as the subject of hyggr ‘thinks’, which otherwise is understood as fnauði ‘the coward’ in l. 3. — [7] borð ‘gunwale’: The sg. ‘plank, planking’ is used here in a collective sense to refer to the ship’s hull (Jesch 2001a, 140). — [8] Búi: According to Jvs, the son of Véseti of Bornholm, and uncle of Vagn. The preceding prose of Jvs (1962, 37) records that Búi shouted ‘Fyrir borð allir Búa liðar’, ‘Overboard all Búi’s men’ and leapt off the ship with his treasure-chests.

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