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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 11. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga, 15 [Vol. 1, 682]

[7] austan ‘from the east’: The force of this is uncertain, since Sigvatr was seemingly in Rome at the time of the battle (see Sigv Lv 18; ÍF 28, 14). (a) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) suggests that austan is equivalent to austr ‘in the east, i.e. Norway’ (cf. Sigvatr’s apparent use of austan in Sigv Víkv 9/5 to mean ‘from the east, Norwegian’). See also Note to st. 17/2. In this case austan refers to the source of the news and characterises Norway as easterly, perhaps from the general viewpoint of an Icelander, though not from the specific viewpoint of an Icelander currently in Rome. (b) ÍF 27 suggests more specifically that Sigvatr was í Vesturlöndum ‘in the British Isles’ when he heard the news from Norway, presumably on his way back from Rome. This matches the usage in Sigv Knútdr 7/2, where Knútr in England frá austan ‘learned [news] from the east’, in this case Denmark. (c) Kock (NN §662B) translates austan as i öster ‘in the east’, noting that Sigvatr’s travels c. 1030 took him south and east. This seems to presuppose that austan locates the hearer of the news, rather than the source of the news.


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