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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 28 January 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, 722

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

18 — Sigv Lv 18I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 18’ 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. 722.

Stóðk á Mont, ok minntumk,
mǫrg hvar sundr fló targa
breið ok brynjur síðar
borgum nær, of morgin.
Munða ek, þanns unnði
(ǫndverðan brum) lǫndum,
(faðir minn vas þar þenna
Þórrøðr) konung, forðum.

Stóðk of morgin á Mont, ok minntumk, hvar mǫrg breið targa ok síðar brynjur fló sundr nær borgum. Munða ek konung, þanns forðum unnði lǫndum; Þórrøðr faðir minn vas þar þenna ǫndverðan brum.

I stood one morning in the Alps, and I remembered where many a broad shield, and long mail-shirts, flew asunder near towns. I recalled the king who once enjoyed his lands; Þórðr my father was there early in that period.

Mss: Holm2(73v), 972ˣ(580va), 325VI(41rb), 321ˣ(278), 73aˣ(214r), Holm4(68vb), 61(129vb), 325V(88rb), 325VII(41r), Bb(205rb), Flat(126vb), Tóm(160v) (ÓH); Kˣ(498v), 39(13rb), F(37vb-38ra), J2ˣ(241v), E(4r) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] Stóðk (‘Stod ec’): stóð 325VI, 321ˣ, 325V;    á Mont: ‘ꜳ mænt’ 73aˣ, á mót 61, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, á munt Kˣ;    ok: þá er 325VI, 321ˣ, er 61, 325V, 325VII, en Flat, Tóm;    minntumk: minntisk 325VI, 321ˣ    [2] mǫrg: ‘maugr’ 325V;    hvar: brast 61, Flat, brast í Tóm;    sundr: suðr 325V;    fló (‘flꜹg’): om. 61, Flat, Tóm, var 325VII, flǫg E;    targa: tjarga 972ˣ, 61    [3] brynjur: brynjar 972ˣ, ‘bryni[…]’ 325VI, ‘brynur’ 325V;    síðar: síðan 73aˣ    [4] borgum: ‘b[…]’ 325VI;    nær: mær 321ˣ, nærr 73aˣ, Flat;    of: af 321ˣ    [5] þanns (‘þann er’): so 73aˣ, Holm4, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Kˣ, 39, F, J2ˣ, E, þar er Holm2, 972ˣ, er 325VI, 321ˣ, hann er 61, om. Tóm;    unnði: hendi 61, yndi 325V, endi Flat, ‘hemðe’ Tóm, varði 39, F    [6] ǫnd‑: ‘on‑’ Bb;    ‑verðan (‘‑urþan’): ‘‑urðum’ 972ˣ, ‑verðum Holm4, ‑varðar 325VII, ‘‑urnum’ J2ˣ, E;    brum: bryn 61, 325VII;    lǫndum: landa 325VI, 321ˣ, J2ˣ, E, sundum 325V    [7] faðir: ferð 61, Flat, Tóm;    minn: mín 61, 325V, Tóm;    þar: so Kˣ, 39, F, þá Holm2, 972ˣ, 325VI, 321ˣ, Holm4, 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, J2ˣ, E, þó 73aˣ;    þenna: þessa 325V    [8] Þórrøðr: ‘þororþr’ 972ˣ, ‘þorðre᷎ðr’ Holm4, ‘þordendr’ 61, Flat, ‘þoroðr’ 325V, J2ˣ, ‘þorręnðr’ 325VII, ‘þoradr’ Bb, ‘þorendr’ Tóm, ‘þororðr’ Kˣ, ‘þorðr’ 39;    konung: kóngr 972ˣ, om. Holm4, konungr 325V, Bb, Flat, 39, F, E, konungi Tóm;    forðum: vǫrðum 61

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 21: AI, 271-2, BI, 251, Skald I, 129-30, NN §§1875, 2313, 2480G; Fms 5, 122, Fms 12, 106, ÓH 1853, 236, 300, ÓH 1941, I, 617-18 (ch. 253), Flat 1860-8, II, 371; Hkr 1777-1826, III, 10, VI, 124, Hkr 1868, 520 (MGóð ch. 9), Hkr 1893-1901, III, 16, IV, 182, ÍF 28, 14-15, Hkr 1991, II, 564 (MGóð ch. 7), F 1871, 172, E 1916, 12; Konráð Gíslason 1892, 41, 187, 232, Jón Skaptason 1983, 203, 324-5.

Context: On his way home from a pilgrimage to Rome, Sigvatr learns of the death of King Óláfr in the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad), and it affects him greatly. He speaks this stanza.

Notes: [1] Mont ‘the Alps’: Like OE Muntgeōf, the word may derive from Lat. Mon(te)s Jovis and refer to the Alps, though this is not certain. The context that Snorri provides probably implies that he understood the word this way. The eds of ÍF 28 and Hkr 1991 take ‘mont’ to be a common noun, perhaps meaning ‘mountain’, possibly in the Apennines (ÍF 28). — [2] fló ‘flew’: A sg. verb with coordinate subject (here mǫrg breið targa ok síðar brynjur ‘many a broad shield, and long mail-shirts’) is common in poetry (NS §70). — [4] of morgin; nær borgum ‘one morning; near towns’: Of morgin ‘one morning’ is construed in the present edn with stóðk ‘I stood’ (l. 1), and nær borgum ‘near towns’ with fló ‘(arrows) flew’ (l. 2). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B, followed by ÍF 28; Hkr 1991), interpreting borgum as ‘castles’, construes both phrases with stóðk, while Kock (NN §1875, followed by Olsen 1954, 192) construes them with fló ‘flew’. If the fighting described took place in the west (see Note to ll. 6, 7), nær borgum would help to make that clearer if construed with fló. — [6, 7] þenna ǫndverðan brum ‘in that early period’: An adverbial acc. sg.; brum ‘bud, point of time’ is usually n., but a m. equivalent has been assumed (e.g. LP: brumr; ÍF 28). The phrase is taken here, as in Skj B, to qualify the vas-clause referring to Sigvatr’s father Þórðr. ÍF 28 and Hkr 1991 on the other hand take ǫndverðan brum with the un(n)ði-clause about Óláfr’s lordship (also qualified by forðum ‘formerly’), and they take þenna with the clause about Þórðr, where it stands for þenna brum ‘during that period’ or þenna dag ‘that day’. The exact reference of ǫndverðan brum is difficult to determine, but ‘early in Óláfr’s career’ fits the presumed facts, since Snorri tells us (ÓH 1941, I, 81, ÍF 27, 54) that Þórðr met and became the retainer of Óláfr while the young king was on his viking expedition in the west. For this reason, Olsen (1954, 192-3) takes the description of a battle in the first helmingr to be a report of what Sigvatr had heard from his father about this expedition. — [7] vas ‘was’: Kock (NN §2313) finds this too weak a word for the metrical position, and he proposes emending to vann ‘got’, but this is unnecessary, since the word is unstressed. — [8] Þórrøðr ‘Þórðr’: Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, who served Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson of Jómsborg, and then his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, before meeting Óláfr Haraldsson (ÍF 27, 54). Although the metre demands the older, disyllabic form Þórrøðr, the aðalhending, while adequate, would be improved by the assumption of the later, monosyllabic Þórðr (CVC: Þórr B).

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