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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;

9. Poem about Queen Ástríðr (Ást) - 3

Sigvatr or Sighvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) is said (ÍF 27, 54) to have been the son of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, an Icelander who served, in succession, Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, who campaigned in England, and Óláfr Haraldsson, later king of Norway (r. c. 1015-30) and saint. Þórðr is listed as one of Sigvaldi’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 259, 268), but none of his poetry survives. The family tradition of poetry can also be traced in Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’, said to have been Sigvatr’s sister’s son (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203). Sigvatr was brought up by a certain Þorkell, at Apavatn in south-west Iceland. When nearly fully grown he sailed to what is now Trondheim, where he met up with his father and joined King Óláfr’s retinue. According to Snorri (ÍF 27, 54-6; ÓH 1941, I, 81-3), Sigvatr recited Lv 2-3 at this time, and he interceded with the king on behalf of Icelandic merchants forced to pay a heavy tax in Norway (cf. Sigv Lv 4). It is also likely that this is when Þórðr provided Sigvatr with the material for Víkv (see Introduction to Sigv Víkv), which may be the poem referred to in the prose introduction to Sigv Lv 2 (Fidjestøl 1982, 118). There is no evidence that Sigvatr ever returned to Iceland, and according to the anecdote in which Sigv Lv 11 is preserved, he died on the island of Selja in north-western Norway and was buried at Kristskirkja (Kristkirken) in Trondheim. His poetry records his various journeys to Sweden, England and the Continent, as well as incidents in Norway. We know nothing of Sigvatr’s private life, except that he had a daughter called Tófa, who had King Óláfr himself as her godfather (Sigv Lv 19).

Sigvatr’s surviving poetic oeuvre is both large and remarkably diverse, encompassing different kinds of encomia not only on King Óláfr (Sigv Víkv, Sigv Nesv, Sigv Óldr, Sigv ErfÓl), but also on King Knútr of Denmark (Sigv Knútdr) and the Norwegian nobleman Erlingr Skjálgsson (Sigv Erl, Sigv Erlfl). Sigvatr was godfather to King Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and composed some avuncular words of advice to the boy-king (Sigv BervII). All of these patrons are recognised in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252-4, 258, 260-2, 269), where Sigvatr is also credited with having composed for the Swedish king Ǫnundr Óláfsson (although no such poetry survives, cf. Sigv Knútdr 4/6) and the Norwegian chieftain Ívarr inn hvíti ‘the White’ (cf. Context to Sigv Lv 8). Sigvatr also composed a poem on the Norwegian pretender Tryggvi Óláfsson (Sigv Tryggfl) and is unique in having composed in dróttkvætt in praise of a woman, Óláfr Haraldsson’s widow Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir (Sigv Ást). Several of Sigvatr’s poems are more or less loosely connected sequences of stanzas rather than more formal compositions, and encompass both travelogue (Sigv Austv) and political commentary (Sigv Vestv, Sigv BervII). The latter genre is also well represented in his lausavísur, which also include some remarkably personal stanzas expressing his grief at the death of King Óláfr (Sigv Lv 22-4). Sigvatr’s status as a hǫfuðskáld ‘chief skald’ was recognised in the twelfth century (cf. Esk Geisl 12/8VII). His versatility as a poet has clearly inspired a number of anecdotes focusing on the composition of poetry, mostly of doubtful authenticity (cf. Contexts to Sigv Lv 1, 8, 11, 27; also Introduction to Ótt Hfl). Apart from two fragments preserved in SnE (Sigv Frag 1-2III), Sigvatr’s poetry is transmitted in a wide range of texts within the tradition of the kings’ sagas and is therefore edited in this volume or (in the case of the late Sigv Berv) in SkP II. For general studies of Sigvatr’s life and works, see Paasche (1917), Hollander (1940) and Petersen (1946).

Poem about Queen Ástríðr — Sigv ÁstI

Judith Jesch 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Poem about Queen Ástríðr’ 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. 645.

stanzas:  1   2   3 

Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 9. Et digt om dronning Astrid, o. 1036 (AI, 248, BI, 231-2)

in texts: Hkr, MGóð

SkP info: I, 645

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


Note: The following transcriptions have been entered to aid the editing process. These may not have been fully reviewed and checked and may therefore not be reliable. You may wish to consult the manuscript images. Any corrections can be notified to the database editor.

1. Kx - 495r/11-495r/18
Hrein getum hála lꜹna | hnos fiold lofi osso | olafs dǫtr su er átti | jofurr sigrhvatastr digri | þings beið herr a hꜹngrum | hund margr svia grundar | ꜹstr er astrið lysti | Olafs sonar málom
39 - 12rb/26-12rb/30
Hræin getom hala lꜹ | hnossfiolþ lvfi osso olafs dætr su er atti iof | vʀ sighvataztr digri. þings bæið herr ahvngrom | hundmargr svia grvnndar austr er astriþ lys | ti olafs sonar málum.
F - 37rb/13-37rb/16
hrein getom hála lꜹnat hnos | fiolþ liði osu olafs dǫtr sv er atti iofvʀ sighvataztr digri. | þings beið herr a hvngrom hvndmargr svia grvɴdar ꜹstr er astriþ | lysti olafs sonar málum.
J2x - 239v/6-239v/9
Hveim getum hala lꜹna | hnos fiold lofi ossa | olafs dætr er atti jofuʀ | sigr hvataztr digri
E - 3r/21-3r/23
Hueim getom hala launa hnosfiǫlð lofi ossa O | lafs dǫttr er atti iǫfuʀ sigr huatastr digri þing beið herr á haumgrom hundmargr svia grun | dar auster er astri lysti. Olafs sonar malum.
2. Kx - 495r/19-495r/26
Mattit hon v hætna | heilráð svia deila | meiʀ þott Magnus veri | marg neɴinn son hennar | olli hon þvi at allri | átleifð Haraldz knatti | mest með matcom kristi | Magnus konungr fagna
39 - 12rb/30-12rb/34
Mattið hon v hætna | heilrað svia dæila mæiʀ þót magnus veri marg | neɴiɴ son hennar. olli hon þui at allri átt læyf | ð haralds knatti mest m mattcom cristi magnus konungr | fagna.
F - 37rb/16-37rb/19
Mattid hon v hætna heil rað svia | deili meiʀ þott magnus veri margneɴinn son hennar. olli hon þvi at | allri att leyfð haralldz knatti. mest m matkom kristi mag | nvs konungr fagna.
J2x - 239v/10-239v/13
mattið hon við hætna | heilrað Svia deila | meiʀ þo at Magnus væri | margrnennin sonr hennar
E - 3r/23-3r/25
Mattið hon við hætna heilrað suia deila meiʀ þo | at magnus væri margnennin sonr hennar olli hon þviat allri ætleifð haʀalds knatti mest m maᴛkvm | kristi. magnus konungr fagna.
3. Kx - 495r/27-495v/6
Mildr a mennzco at gialda | Magnus enn þvi fognum | þat gerþi vin virþa || viðlendan azstriþi | hon hefr sva comit sinum | sꜹɴ at fá mun ǫɴur | orð gere ec dros til dyrþar | divprað kona stiupi
39 - 12rb/34-12rb/38
Milldr amænzco at giallda magnus | enn þvi faugnom þat gerði vin virða viðlændan | aztriði. hon hofr sva comit sinom sauɴ at | fa mun onnor orð geri ec dros til dyrðar diup rað | cona stiupi.
F - 37rb/19-37rb/22
Milldr átt meɴzko at giallda magnus eɴ | þvi fꜹgnom þat gerþi vin virþa viðlendan astriþi. hon hefer sva komit | sinom sꜹɴ at fa mun ꜹɴur orð geri ek dros til dyrðar divp rað kona | stivpi.
E - 3r/25-3r/27
Milldr a menzku giallda magnus en þui fǫgnum þat gǫrðe vin vir|ða viðlendan astriði hon hefir sua komit sinom sǫn at fa man ǫnnur orð giǫrig dros til dyrðar | diuprað kona stiupi.
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated