Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 5. Vestrfararvísur, 4 [Vol. 1, 621]

[5-8]: On the overall interpretation of this helmingr, see Note to [All] above. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV, 144; LP: kaupa) failed to make full sense of it, and the interpretation presented here develops that of Kock in NN §633 (as do ÍF 27 and Jón Skaptason 1983). The key points in Kock’s interpretation are the following. En(n) in l. 7 is taken as normalised an, hence meira an, lit. ‘more than, to a greater degree than’. Keypt (l. 7), lit. ‘bought, traded, bargained’ (inf. kaupa), belongs with hǫfðum ‘heads’, meaning that the sides indulged in reciprocal killings, and supplies the understood inf. kaupa to complete the auxiliary verb mundi ‘was able’ (l. 8). It is assumed here that þeir ‘they’ refers back to the farmers and Óláfr, and that meira modifies keypt hǫfðum ‘deal in heads’, contrasted with kaupa saman heiptir which means something like ‘cancel out animosities’, based on the idea of ‘exchange’ that is implicit in the verb. Kaupa saman ‘to have dealings, exchange’ is attested in HHj 3/7 (NK 141). Although there are no parallels for it taking an object (here heiptir ‘animosities’) there is a certain similarity with the expression rœkja heiptir manna ‘carry out the animosities of men’ (Þorm Þorgdr 7/3-4V (Fbr 10)). Unlike Kock, both ÍF 27 and Jón Skaptason (1983) take meira with af fári ‘out of rage’ and Jón adds the suggestion that þeir refers back to Hákon and Óláfr, who are both mentioned in the previous helmingr, resulting in his translation ‘They [Hákon and Óláfr] have traded heads [killed each other’s men] with too much violence for Hákon now to bring about reconciliation’.

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