This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

Gunnlaugr Leifsson (GunnLeif)

13th century; volume 8; ed. Russell Poole;

VIII. 2. Merlínusspá II (Merl II) - 68

Skj info: Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Islandsk munk, d. 1218 (AII, 10-36, BII, 10-45).

Skj poems:
Merlínússpá I
Merlínússpá II

Gunnlaugr Leifsson (GunnLeif, d. 1218 or 1219) was a monk at the Benedictine house of Þingeyrar, a monastery near the shores of Húnaflói, in northern Iceland, that maintained close relations with the seat of the bishop at Hólar (Turville-Petre 1953, 135). Nothing is known concerning Gunnlaugr’s place of birth, upbringing or social origins. He was regarded in his own time as a man of singular Latin learning (LH II, 394-5) and worked in a distinguished historiographic and hagiographic milieu (de Vries 1964-7, II, 246). In a rare personal anecdote, perhaps apocryphal, Arngrímr Brandsson, a Benedictine monk and abbot at Þingeyrar (d. 1361 or 1362), tells that Gunnlaugr attempted to recite his new history of Saint Ambrose at the church at Hólar but was rebuffed by Bishop Guðmundr Arason (LH II, 394-5; Ciklamini 2008, 1). The two men were evidently on good terms at an earlier stage, however (Ciklamini 2004, 66), and, while bishop at Hólar, Guðmundr commissioned Gunnlaugr to prepare a life of Jón helgi ‘the Saint’ Ǫgmundarson and an account of portents and miracles pertaining to Þorlákr Þórhallsson, both in Latin (LH II, 394-5). 

Works ascribed to Gunnlaugr that survive in one form or other include the Latin life of Jón helgi, represented by a close Icelandic translation; the account of Þorlákr’s miracles; a Latin expansion of Gunnlaugr’s Þingeyrar colleague Oddr Snorrason’s life of King Óláfr Tryggvason, extant in the shape of excerpts translated into Icelandic; an Icelandic original version of Þorvalds þáttr víðfǫrla ‘The Tale of Þorvaldr the Far-traveller’ that may at one time have formed part of the life of Óláfr; and a now entirely lost life of Saint Ambrose (LH II, 394-403; Turville-Petre 1953, 194-200; Bekker-Nielsen 1958; de Vries 1964-7, II, 245-7; Würth 1998, 205-6; Ciklamini 2004, 66; Katrín Axelsdóttir 2005). The only work ascribed to Gunnlaugr that appears to survive in a relatively complete state is Merlínusspá ‘The Prophecies of Merlin’ (Merl I and II). It is also the sole medieval instance of a direct verse translation into Icelandic from Latin prose (Würth 1998, 206).

notes
no FJ abbr

Merlínusspá II — GunnLeif Merl IIVIII (Bret)

Russell Poole 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 134.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47   48   49   50   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   58   59   60   61   62   63   64   65   66   67   68 

Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson: Merlínússpá I, fri oversættelse (AII, 10-21, BII, 10-24); stanzas (if different): 43, 45/1-4 | 44 | 45/5-8

SkP info: VIII, 152

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

18 — GunnLeif Merl II 18VIII (Bret 18)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 18 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 18)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 152.

‘Borg mun falla,         — veitk bana þjóðum —
þvíat hon eiðrofa         áðr of gerðisk.
Munu griðbítar         gǫrla drepnir;
geldr Vintóna         vándra manna.

‘Borg mun falla, þvíat hon áðr of gerðisk eiðrofa; veitk bana þjóðum. Griðbítar munu gǫrla drepnir; Vintóna geldr vándra manna.

‘The city will fall, because it had previously perjured itself; I know of death for the people. The breakers of the truce will [be] comprehensively put to death; Winchester will pay for the wicked men.

Mss: Hb(49v) (Bret)

Readings: [2] bana: bana corrected from ‘kana’ Hb

Editions: Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínússpá I 18: AII, 13, BII, 14, Skald II, 8; Bret 1848-9, II, 20-1 (Bret st. 18); Hb 1892-6, 273; Merl 2012, 84.

Notes: [All]: Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.168-9; cf. Wright 1988, 108, prophecy 35): ‘“festinat namque dies qua ciues ob scelera periurii peribunt’” ‘“The day is at hand when your citizens will perish because of their crimes of betrayal”’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). This concludes the speech from the Forest of Dean in DGB. In Merl motifs from prophecies 35 and 36 are intermixed here and in II 19; it is not clear where the Forest’s speech is regarded as ending, but since Gunnlaugr’s use of 2nd pers. sg. forms is confined to II 16 the placement of quotation marks in this edn follows Skald and Merl 2012, which treat only II 16 as direct speech. Bret 1848-9 and Skj B do not use quotation marks in this passage. — [2] veitk ‘I know’: Gunnlaugr’s addition. — [7-8]: The verb gjalda with gen. denotes the cause for which payment is made or suffering incurred (CVC: gjalda 2; Fritzner: gjalda 6). The English idiom ‘pay for’ covers both of these senses. — [7] Vintóna ‘Winchester’: This is the reading of the ms. (not refreshed). It would be tempting to emend to Vintónía, by analogy with II 5/2 and forms in Geoffrey’s text, as is done in Merl 2012, but such a form would produce an unmetrical line and there are parallels elsewhere for Gunnlaugr’s use of variant forms, e.g. Kónan (I 64/1) vs. Kónánus (gen.) (I 72/2).

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.