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Runic Dictionary

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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;

12. Lausavísur (Lv) - 30

Sigvatr or Sighvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) is said (ÍF 27, 54) to have been the son of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, an Icelander who served, in succession, Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, who campaigned in England, and Óláfr Haraldsson, later king of Norway (r. c. 1015-30) and saint. Þórðr is listed as one of Sigvaldi’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 259, 268), but none of his poetry survives. The family tradition of poetry can also be traced in Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’, said to have been Sigvatr’s sister’s son (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203). Sigvatr was brought up by a certain Þorkell, at Apavatn in south-west Iceland. When nearly fully grown he sailed to what is now Trondheim, where he met up with his father and joined King Óláfr’s retinue. According to Snorri (ÍF 27, 54-6; ÓH 1941, I, 81-3), Sigvatr recited Lv 2-3 at this time, and he interceded with the king on behalf of Icelandic merchants forced to pay a heavy tax in Norway (cf. Sigv Lv 4). It is also likely that this is when Þórðr provided Sigvatr with the material for Víkv (see Introduction to Sigv Víkv), which may be the poem referred to in the prose introduction to Sigv Lv 2 (Fidjestøl 1982, 118). There is no evidence that Sigvatr ever returned to Iceland, and according to the anecdote in which Sigv Lv 11 is preserved, he died on the island of Selja in north-western Norway and was buried at Kristskirkja (Kristkirken) in Trondheim. His poetry records his various journeys to Sweden, England and the Continent, as well as incidents in Norway. We know nothing of Sigvatr’s private life, except that he had a daughter called Tófa, who had King Óláfr himself as her godfather (Sigv Lv 19).

Sigvatr’s surviving poetic oeuvre is both large and remarkably diverse, encompassing different kinds of encomia not only on King Óláfr (Sigv Víkv, Sigv Nesv, Sigv Óldr, Sigv ErfÓl), but also on King Knútr of Denmark (Sigv Knútdr) and the Norwegian nobleman Erlingr Skjálgsson (Sigv Erl, Sigv Erlfl). Sigvatr was godfather to King Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and composed some avuncular words of advice to the boy-king (Sigv BervII). All of these patrons are recognised in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252-4, 258, 260-2, 269), where Sigvatr is also credited with having composed for the Swedish king Ǫnundr Óláfsson (although no such poetry survives, cf. Sigv Knútdr 4/6) and the Norwegian chieftain Ívarr inn hvíti ‘the White’ (cf. Context to Sigv Lv 8). Sigvatr also composed a poem on the Norwegian pretender Tryggvi Óláfsson (Sigv Tryggfl) and is unique in having composed in dróttkvætt in praise of a woman, Óláfr Haraldsson’s widow Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir (Sigv Ást). Several of Sigvatr’s poems are more or less loosely connected sequences of stanzas rather than more formal compositions, and encompass both travelogue (Sigv Austv) and political commentary (Sigv Vestv, Sigv BervII). The latter genre is also well represented in his lausavísur, which also include some remarkably personal stanzas expressing his grief at the death of King Óláfr (Sigv Lv 22-4). Sigvatr’s status as a hǫfuðskáld ‘chief skald’ was recognised in the twelfth century (cf. Esk Geisl 12/8VII). His versatility as a poet has clearly inspired a number of anecdotes focusing on the composition of poetry, mostly of doubtful authenticity (cf. Contexts to Sigv Lv 1, 8, 11, 27; also Introduction to Ótt Hfl). Apart from two fragments preserved in SnE (Sigv Frag 1-2III), Sigvatr’s poetry is transmitted in a wide range of texts within the tradition of the kings’ sagas and is therefore edited in this volume or (in the case of the late Sigv Berv) in SkP II. For general studies of Sigvatr’s life and works, see Paasche (1917), Hollander (1940) and Petersen (1946).

Lausavísur — Sigv LvI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘ Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 698. <> (accessed 4 July 2022)

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 

Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 13. Lausavísur (AI, 265-75, BI, 246-54); stanzas (if different): 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

SkP info: I, 724

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

19 — Sigv Lv 19I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 19’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 724.

Dróttinn, hjalp, þeims dóttur
— dýrrs þínn vili — mína
heim ór heiðnum dómi
hóf ok nafn gaf Tófu.
Helt und vatr inn vitri
— varðk þeim feginn harða
morni — mínu barni
móðrakkr Haralds bróðir.

Dróttinn, hjalp, þeims hóf dóttur mína heim ór heiðnum dómi ok gaf nafn Tófu; dýrrs vili þínn. {Inn vitri, móðrakkr bróðir Haralds} helt barni mínu und vatr; varðk harða feginn þeim morni.

Lord, help him who lifted my daughter home out of heathendom and gave [her] the name Tófa; worthy is your will. {The wise, mind-bold brother of Haraldr} [= Óláfr] held my child under the water; I grew exceedingly glad about that morning.

Mss: DG8(91r) (ÓHLeg); Flat(187ra), Flat(92vb), Tóm(122v), 73aˣ(126v), 71ˣ(105r), 76aˣ(134v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] dóttur: dœmir 71ˣ    [2] mína: minni DG8, Flat(92vb), 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ, vinni Flat(187ra), skíri minni Tóm    [3] ór: af 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ    [5] und: undir Flat(92vb), við 71ˣ;    vatr: so Flat(92vb), vatn DG8, 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ, váttr Flat(187ra), Tóm    [6] harða: so Flat(187ra), Flat(92vb), Tóm, harðla DG8, 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ    [8] ‑rakkr: ‘‑íackr’ Tóm

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 11: AI, 268-9, BI, 248-9, Skald I, 128; ÓHLeg 1849, 47, 110, ÓHLeg 1922, 57, ÓHLeg 1982, 134-5; Fms 5, 177, Fms 12, 109, ÓH 1849, 47, 110, Flat 1860-8, II, 112, III, 241, ÓH 1941, II, 687, 699, 700; Konráð Gíslason 1892, 42, 202-13, Jón Skaptason 1983, 193, 319.

Context: King Óláfr shows Sigvatr honour by standing godfather to his daughter; in Flat(187ra) it is added that the daughter’s name was Tófa. In 73aˣ it is said that both the king and queen stood godparents to the girl.

Notes: [All]: On the date and nature of the stanza, see Note to l. 8. — [2] mína ‘my’: This reading, found in none of the mss, was first adopted in CPB II, 142. Konráð Gíslason (1892, 203) explains that mína must have been altered to minni (dat. sg.) ‘my’ by a copyist who pronounced þínn with a short vowel and who believed that vowel plus -nn- could not rhyme with vowel plus -n- (cf., e.g., Lv 3/4 and Note). — [3-4] hóf ór heiðnum dómi ‘lifted out of heathendom’: Konráð Gíslason (1892, 205) argues that this is a secondary meaning for the phrase, and the meaning here should be the original one, ‘(lift up an unbaptized infant and) hold it over the baptismal font’. Olsen (1954, 190) compares the ecclesiastical expression suscipere de baptismo, lit. ‘lift out of baptism’. — [4] Tófu ‘Tófa’: Olsen (1954, 193-5) argues that Óláfr named her after the sister of Sigvaldi jarl, patron of Sigvatr’s father (see Note to Lv 18/8). — [5] vatr ‘the water’: This early variant form of vatn is also evidenced in some mss of ESk Sigdr I 4/8II: hvatr Jórðánar vatri (see Note ad loc.). Sigvatr uses vatn- (: vitni) in Lv 23/5. See Konráð Gíslason (1892, 205-8, 213). — [7] morni ‘morning’: This dat. sg. form of morgunn/morginn is indicated by the skothending on barni; cf. Anon Pét 51/8VII morni : forna, and see LP: morgunn. — [8] bróðir Haralds ‘brother of Haraldr [= Óláfr]’: Óláfr was the half-brother of Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson. But if, as Finnur Jónsson supposes (Skj), this lausavísa dates to the period 1020-7, Haraldr would have been a young boy at the time, and it seems unlikely that Óláfr should be praised as the brother of a child. Such a phrase would be more appropriate after Haraldr, aged fifteen, had fought by Óláfr’s side in the autumn of 1030 at the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad), where Óláfr died. Accordingly, Olsen (1954, 189-92; so earlier Konráð Gíslason 1892, 203) takes Dróttinn, hjalp þeim ‘Lord, help him’ (l. 1) to be a plea for the repose of Óláfr’s soul, and this would date the stanza between the autumn of 1030 and 3 August 1031, when Óláfr was declared a saint. (See Edwards 1982-3, 38-9 for petitions containing hjalp in skaldic and runic contexts.) This would put the composition of the stanza into the same period as that of Lv 18, to which Olsen sees it as a companion.

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