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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, 70

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

33 — GunnLeif Merl I 33VIII (Bret 101)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 101 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 33)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 70.

‘Hníga fyr brezkum         bragninga kon
siklingar sjau,         sigri numnir.
Ok heilagr verðr         herja deilir
einn af enskum         ǫðlingum sjau.

‘Sjau siklingar, numnir sigri, hníga fyr {brezkum kon bragninga}. Ok {deilir herja}, einn af sjau enskum ǫðlingum, verðr heilagr.

‘Seven kings, deprived of victory, will fall before {the British scion of kings} [KING = Caduallo]. And {the commander of armies} [LEADER = S. Oswald], one of the seven English lords, will become a saint.

Mss: Hb(51v) (Bret)

Editions: Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínússpá II 33: AII, 26, BII, 30, Skald II, 19; Bret 1848-9, II, 50 (Bret st. 101); Hb 1892-6, 279; Merl 2012, 152.

Notes: [All]: Cf. DGB 112 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147.52-3; cf. Wright 1988, 102, prophecy 4): Septem sceptrigeri perimentur, et unus eorum sanctificabitur ‘Seven sceptre-bearers will be killed, and one of them will become a saint’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 146). Gunnlaugr treats this sentence separately from its neighbours, which are covered in I 32. His translation is evidently based on the reading septem ‘seven’, not the variant octo ‘eight’ that occurs in the Π group of mss (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147); see Introduction. The prophecy refers to the death of S. Oswald, narrated in DGB XI (Reeve and Wright 2007, 272-3). Caduallo (variant spelling Cadwallon), king of Gwynedd in North Wales (rendered by Geoffrey as Venedotia) in the first third of the C7th, formed an alliance with Penda of Mercia to overthrow the Anglo-Saxon royal dynasty of Northumbria, but was defeated and killed by Oswald of Northumbria in 633. Oswald met his death at Penda’s hands in 641 (Stenton 1971, 80‑2).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated