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Runic Dictionary

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Gísl Illugason (Gísl)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

1. Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr (Magnkv) - 20

Gísl belonged to the Icel. family of the Gilsbekkingar, who were said to be descendants of the C9th poet Bragi inn gamli ‘the Old’ Boddason (BragiIII). Gísl was the great-grandson of the skald Tindr Hallkelsson (TindrI), the uncle of poet Gunnlaugr ormstunga ‘Serpent-tongue’ Illugason (GunnlIV). See ÍF 3, 331, Genealogies II a-b in ÍF 3 and SnE 1848-97, III, 625-6. Details about Gísl’s life are given in Gísls þáttr Illugasonar (GíslIll) in H-Hr (Fms 7, 29-40; ÍF 3, 329-42) and in Jóns saga helga (JBp; JBp 2003, 10, 63-72). Gísl was born in 1079, and when he was six years old, his father was killed by a certain Gjafvaldr, a slaying Gísl later avenged. King Magnús berfœttr ‘Barelegs’ Óláfsson sentenced Gísl to death for the killing of Gjafvaldr, who was one of his retainers, but Gísl escaped execution (see Gísl Lv below). He then travelled with Magnús to Ireland in charge of hostages and became Magnús’s court poet (Skáldatal, SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 276). He also seems to have participated in Magnús’s expedition to the west in 1098 and in his campaign in Sweden (c. 1100-2; see Magnkv 11 and 19). Gísl later lived in Iceland until old age and had one son, Einarr (JBp 2003, 72). In addition to the memorial poem below composed about Magnús berfœttr, Gísl is said to have composed another encomium to Magnús on the occasion described in the lv. below, but no sts from that poem survive (see SnE 1848-87, III, 626-7; ÍF 3, 340-1).

Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr — Gísl MagnkvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Gísl Illugason, Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 416-30. <> (accessed 2 December 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20 

Skj: Gísl Illugason: 1. Erfikvæði um Magnús berfœtt, o. 1104 (AI, 440-4, BI, 409-13)

SkP info: II, 426-7

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

15 — Gísl Magnkv 15II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Gísl Illugason, Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr 15’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 426-7.

Vágr þrútnaði,        en vefi keyrði
steinóðr á stag        storðar galli.
Braut dýrr dreki        und Dana skelfi
hrygg í hverri        hafs glymbrúði.

Vágr þrútnaði, en {steinóðr galli storðar} keyrði vefi á stag. Dýrr dreki und {skelfi Dana} braut hrygg í {hverri glymbrúði hafs}.

The sea swelled, and {the raging destruction of the sapling} [STORM] drove the sails against the stays. The precious dragon beneath {the terrifier of the Danes} [= Magnús] broke the back in {every roaring-bride of the ocean} [WAVE].

Mss: Mork(23v) (Mork); H(90r), Hr(62ra) (H-Hr); F(58vb)

Readings: [8] glym‑: glaum‑ F

Editions: Skj: Gísl Illugason, 1. Erfikvæði um Magnús berfœtt 15: AI, 443, BI, 412, Skald I, 203; Mork 1867, 146, Mork 1928-32, 322, Andersson and Gade 2000, 302, 486 (Mberf); Fms 7, 51 (Mberf ch. 25); F 1871, 272 (Mberf).

Context: As st. 14 above.

Notes: [2-3] keyrði vefi á stag ‘drove the sails against the stays’: See Note to Valg Har 6/6. — [5] dreki ‘dragon’: A Viking longship with a carved head on the prow (and sometimes on the stern as well; see Falk 1912, 39-42, 105-7 and Jesch 2001a, 127-8). See also st. 16/7 below. — [6] skelfi Dana ‘the terrifier of the Danes [= Magnús]’: This kenning could allude to Magnús’s early campaign against the Danes (see Bkrepp Magndr 1 and Note to Bkrepp Magndr 11/5). — [8] glymbrúði hafs ‘roaring-bride of the ocean [WAVE]’: In ON mythology Ægir was a personification of the sea. His bride was the goddess Rán (see SnE 1998, I, 36 and Note to SnH Lv 6/3), who also personified the destructive powers of the ocean. The sense of this cl. is that the dragon-ship cut through the crest of every wave (broke their backs). For similar imagery portraying vigorous sailing as fights between ships and waves (depicted as destructive female powers), see HHund I 28-30 and HHj 18-23 (NK 134, 144-5).

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