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.

Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

login: password: stay logged in: help

Gunnlaugr Leifsson (GunnLeif)

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

VIII. 1. Merlínusspá I (Merl I) - 103

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 I (‘The Prophecies of Merlin I’) — GunnLeif Merl IVIII (Bret)

Russell Poole 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 38.

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   69   70   71   72   73   74   75   76   77   78   79   80   81   82   83   84   85   86   87   88   89   90   91   92   93   94   95   96   97   98   99   100   101   102   103 

Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson: Merlínússpá II (AII, 22-36, BII, 24-45)

SkP info: VIII, 67

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

29 — GunnLeif Merl I 29VIII (Bret 97)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 97 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 29)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 67.

‘Honum fulltingir
Fenrir sjóvar,
þeims Affríkar
útan fylgja.
Verðr kristnibrot
of kyni þjóðar;
þó munu sjalfir
síðar nøkkvi
enskir lýðir
allir skírask.

 

The Fenrir <mythical wolf> of the sea, which Africans follow from overseas, will help it. There will be a breakdown of Christianity among the kindred of the people; yet the English people will themselves all be baptised somewhat later.

notes: Cf. DGB 112 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145.45-6; cf. Wright 1988, 102, prophecy 3): Sublimabit illum aequoreus lupus, quem Affricana nemora comitabuntur. Delebitur iterum religio ‘It [the Germanic worm] will be raised by a wolf from the sea, who will be accompanied by the forests of Africa. Religion will be destroyed again’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 144). The events prophesied here are narrated in DGB XI: the Saxons call for assistance from Gormundus, the king of the Africans, who has just subdued Ireland and therefore can be called the ‘wolf from the sea’; he brings an army composed of 160,000 Africans (J. S. Eysteinsson 1953-7, 100; for text see Reeve and Wright 2007, 256-7; on Geoffrey’s sources for the story of Gormundus see Tatlock 1950, 135-8). The first sentence is absent from some mss of DGB (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145) but must have been available to Gunnlaugr. Gunnlaugr rationalises the figurative ‘the forests of Africa’ and adds the idea that despite the breakdown of religion the English will in due course be baptised, as foreshadowed in DGB XI (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 258-9; J. S. Eysteinsson 1953-7, 100) and fully narrated in Bede HE I, 23-6 and Henry of Huntingdon HA Book III.

texts: Bret 97

editions: Skj Gunnlaugr Leifsson: Merlínússpá II 29 (AII, 25-6; BII, 29-30); Skald II, 18; Bret 1848-9, II, 48 (Bret st. 97); Hb 1892-6, 279; Merl 2012, 148-9.

sources

AM 544 4° (Hb) 51r, 34 - 51v, 1 (Bret)  transcr.  image  image  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated