Gunnlaugr Leifsson (GunnLeif)
13th century; volume 8; ed. Russell Poole;
VIII. 1. Merlínusspá I (Merl I) - 103
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).
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 5 August 2021)
Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson: Merlínússpá I, fri oversættelse (AII, 10-21, BII, 10-24); stanzas (if different): 43, 45/1-4 |
SkP info: VIII, 140
7 — GunnLeif Merl II 7VIII (Bret 7)
Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 7 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 7)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 140.
|‘Illr es annarr; allir svelta,
þeirs af bekki bergja drekku.
|Þós inn þriðja þyngst at reyna; |
deyja þeir allir, es þar drekka af;
né hræ guma hyljask foldu.
‘Annarr es illr; allir svelta, þeirs bergja drekku af bekki. Þós inn þriðja þyngst at reyna; allir deyja, þeir es þar drekka af; né hyljask hræ guma foldu.
‘The second is bad; all those who taste a drink from the stream will die. Yet the third is most grievous to try; all those who drink from it will die; nor will men’s corpses be covered with earth.
Mss: Hb(49r) (Bret)
Readings:  bekki: bekkjar Hb
Editions: Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínússpá I 7: AII, 11, BII, 11, Skald II, 7; Bret 1848-9, II, 16 (Bret st. 7); Hb 1892-6, 272; Merl 2012, 71-2.
Notes: [All]: Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 151.149-51; cf. Wright 1988, 107, prophecy 31): Qui bibet de altero indeficienti fame peribit, et in facie ipsius pallor et horror sedebit. Qui bibet de tercio subita morte periclitabitur, nec corpus ipsius subire poterit sepulchrum ‘Whoever drinks from the second will die of a thirst that cannot be quenched, and a ghastly pallor will appear on his face. Whoever drinks from the third will die a sudden death, and no one will be able to bury his body’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 150). The notion of pallor et horror is not represented in Merl. — [3-4] bergja drekku af bekki ‘taste a drink from the stream’: The refreshed reading bekkjar is emended to bekki ‘stream’ (dat. sg.) in this edn. Bret, Skj B, Skald and Merl 2012 have bergja af drekku bekkjar ‘taste a drink of the stream’, lit. ‘taste from a drink of the stream’. But the emendation provides a better fit with the attestations of bergja in ONP: bergja 1, where the prep. af represents the source of the thing tasted rather than the thing itself. —  guma (gen. pl.) ‘men’s’: This form is not uncommon, beside gumna; cf. ANG §401. 3. Gen. pl. guma also occurs at II 16/10 and II 35/5.