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Gunnlaugr Leifsson (GunnLeif)

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

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

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, ‘ Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 134. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1222> (accessed 25 September 2021)

stanzas:  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, 160

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

27 — GunnLeif Merl II 27VIII (Bret 27)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 27 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 27)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 160.

‘Þrjá klekr hann unga
því hreiðri í;
eigi es hegra kyn
hugþekkt firum.
Þars vargr ok bjǫrn
ok at vísu refr
slœgr ok sínum
sjaldan verr alinn.

 

It will hatch three young in that nest; the offspring of the heron is not loved by men. A wolf will be there, also a bear and assuredly a fox sly and seldom born [one] worse to its own [kind].

notes: Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.188-9; cf. Wright 1988, 109, prophecy 41): Tria oua procreabuntur in nido, ex quibus uulpes et lupus et ursus egredientur ‘In the nest it will lay three eggs, from which will hatch a fox, a wolf and a bear’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). Gunnlaugr does not show awareness of the variant quattuor ‘four’ found in some mss (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153): see Introduction. In the ensuing stanzas Gunnlaugr somewhat amplifies Geoffrey’s story of the fox; some details of Gunnlaugr’s characterisation and kenning diction are very similar to those in Skaufhala bálkr (Svart Skauf); see further II 28/8, 9 and Notes there. — [3-4]: Gunnlaugr again amplifies on the nature of the heron, taking his cue from detestabilis ales ‘accursed bird’ in DGB 116 (see II 26 Note to [All]).

texts: Bret 27

editions: Skj Gunnlaugr Leifsson: Merlínússpá I 27 (AII, 15; BII, 15-16); Skald II, 10; Bret 1848-9, II, 25 (Bret st. 27); Hb 1892-6, 274; Merl 2012, 91-2.

sources

AM 544 4° (Hb) 49v, 28 - 49v, 33 (Bret)  transcr.  image  image  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated