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Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

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Gamli gnævaðarskáld (Ggnæv)

10th century; volume 3; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

1. Poem about Þórr (Þórr) - 1

Only two helmingar composed by Gamli gnævaðarskáld (Ggnæv) are known, both recorded in mss of SnE (SnE 1998, I, 16, 103). Nothing is known of Gamli’s origin or dates, though the pagan subject-matter of Ggnæv Þórr has suggested a date in the tenth century (Skj; SnE 1998, I, 222). Previous editors have assumed he was an Icelander, though there is no proof of this. The nickname gnævaðarskáld is recorded in SnE (SnE 1998, I, 103), though its meaning is uncertain. It may derive from the verb gnæfa ‘to tower high’. Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 460) speculates that the name may indicate that Gamli composed about someone with the nickname Gnævaðr ‘raised high, towering’; Lind (1920-1, cols. 113-14). It is assumed, though without certainty, that the Gamli credited with the Poem about Þórr (Ggnæv Þórr) is the same as the Gamli gnævaðarskáld credited with the Fragment, though only in the latter case is the nickname mentioned in the mss.

Poem about Þórr — Ggnæv ÞórrIII

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Gamli gnævaðarskáld, Poem about Þórr’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 189.

stanzas:  1 

Skj: Gamli gnævaðarskáld: 1. Af et digt om Tor (AI, 140, BI, 132); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: III, 189

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Ggnæv Þórr 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gamli gnævaðarskáld, Poem about Þórr 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 189.

Meðan gramr, hinns svik samðit,
snart Bilskirnis, hjarta,
grundar fisk með grandi
gljúfrskeljungs nam rjúfa.

Meðan {gramr Bilskirnis}, hinns samðit svik hjarta, nam rjúfa snart {fisk grundar} með {grandi {gljúfrskeljungs}}.

While {the ruler of Bilskirnir <mythical hall>} [= Þórr], the one who did not plan treachery in his heart, quickly smashed {the fish of the sea-bed} [= Miðgarðsormr] with {the destruction {of the gully-whale}} [GIANT > = Mjǫllnir].

Mss: R(22r), Tˣ(22r), W(47), U(27v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Meðan: þá er U;    samðit: so U, samði all others    [2] Bilskirnis: bilskirni U    [4] nam: mun U

Editions: Skj: Gamli gnævaðarskáld, 1. Af et digt om Tor: AI, 140, BI, 132, Skald I, 73, NN §1893; SnE 1848-87, I, 256-7, II, 309, III 16-17, SnE 1931, 95-6, SnE 1998, I, 16.

Context: The citation comes among a number of others exemplifying kennings for the god Þórr. It is introduced with the words: Svá kvað Gamli ‘So said Gamli’.

Notes: [All]: The helmingr seems to be the second part of a stanza, introduced in R, and W by the conj. meðan ‘while’. Ms. U has the introductory þás (þá er) ‘when’, which has been preferred by Skj B and Skald. Gamli describes Þórr’s smashing the World Serpent, Miðgarðsormr, with his hammer, Mjǫllnir, when they fought in the ocean. — [1] samðit ‘did not plan’: Ms. U’s reading, with suffixed neg. particle ‑t, has been preferred (with all other eds) over the majority mss’ samði ‘planned’, on grounds of sense, because the god Þórr had a reputation for guilelessness: in Norse myth, he nowhere plans treachery against the gods’ enemies, but acts on their behalf, usually with physical violence, to control or eradicate them. — [2] Bilskirnis ‘of Bilskirnir <mythic hall>’: Name of Þórr’s hall, according to Grí 24/3 and Gylf (SnE 2005, 22). For possible etymologies, see AEW: Bilskirnir. — [2] hjarta ‘in his heart’: Understood here as an adverbial dat. (so Skj B), but it is possible to construe it, as Kock does (NN §1893), as the subject of the rel. clause hinns hjarta samðit svik ‘whose heart did not plan treachery’. — [4] gljúfrskeljungs ‘of the gully-whale [GIANT]’: The cpd is a hap. leg. but its referent is not in doubt. Gljúfr is a wild ravine or gully through which rivers flow, while skeljungr is a kind of whale, possibly a humpback; the word occurs in Þul Hvala 2/3 and in Konungs skuggsjá (Holm-Olsen 1983, 16). For giant-kennings with base-words meaning ‘whale’, see Meissner 258-9.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated