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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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

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, 728

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

23 — Sigv Lv 23I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 23’ 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. 728.

Hafa láti mik heitan
Hvíta-Kristr at víti
eld, ef Ôleif vildak
— emk skirr of þat — firrask.
Vatnœrin hefk vitni
— vask til Rúms í haska—
— ǫld leynik því aldri —
annarra þau manna.

Hvíta-Kristr láti mik hafa heitan eld at víti, ef vildak firrask Ôleif; emk skirr of þat. Hefk þau vatnœrin vitni annarra manna; vask í haska til Rúms; aldri leynik ǫld því.

May White-Christ let me have hot fire for punishment if I wanted to abandon Óláfr; I am guiltless about that. I have those abundant-as-water testimonies of other people; I was in peril on the way to Rome; never shall I conceal that from people.

Mss: Holm2(73v), 972ˣ(580va), 325V(88va), 321ˣ(278-279), 73aˣ(214r-v), Holm4(69ra), 61(129vb), 325VI(41va), 325VII(41r), Bb(205rb-va), Flat(126vb), Tóm(160v) (ÓH); Kˣ(499v), 39(13rb-va), F(38ra), J2ˣ(242r), E(4v) (Hkr); A(5v-6r), W(106) (TGT, l. 6)

Readings: [1] heitan: ‘heitann’ 972ˣ, Flat, J2ˣ, heita 61    [2] at: á Bb;    víti: víta 325V    [3] eld ef: ‘el[…]’ 325VI;    Ôleif vildak (‘ek Olaf villda’): so 972ˣ, 321ˣ, 61, 325VII, Bb, Kˣ, ek Óláf vildak Holm2, 325V, Holm4, Flat, Tóm, F, J2ˣ, E, ek Óláf vildi 73aˣ, Óláf vildag 325VI, 39    [4] emk (‘ek em’): er ek 325VI, Flat, ek er 39;    skirr: skýr 321ˣ;    of þat (‘om þat’): so 972ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, 325VI, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, 39, F, E, at því Holm2, 325V, J2ˣ, E, af því Holm4, 325VII, Bb    [5] Vatn‑: vant Kˣ;    ‑œrin: so 321ˣ, 73aˣ, Holm4, 325VI, Flat, Kˣ, F, J2ˣ, E, œrit Holm2, 972ˣ, 325VII, Bb, œrinn 325V, Tóm, œrins 61, ‘yrin’ 39;    hefk (‘hefi ec’): berrek 61, hœfi 325VII, ‘hofr ek’ 39    [6] vask (‘vasc’): ‘vareker’ 325V, ‘vársk’ Holm4, ‘vask ek’ 61, Flat, W    [7] leynik (‘leyni ec’): leynir 61, leyfi ek Bb, leyni Flat, Tóm, ‘læni ec’ 39    [8] þau: þo 73aˣ, þau with ‘svo’ written above 325VII, því Bb, svá Flat

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 25: AI, 273, BI, 252, Skald I, 130, NN §3133A; Fms 5, 123, Fms 12, 107, ÓH 1853, 236, 301, ÓH 1941, I, 618 (ch. 254), Flat 1860-8, II, 372; Hkr 1777-1826, III, 12, VI, 126, Hkr 1868, 521 (MGóð ch. 9), Hkr 1893-1901, III, 18-19, IV, 183-4, ÍF 28, 17, Hkr 1991, II, 566 (MGóð ch. 8), F 1871, 173, E 1916, 12; SnE 1848-87, II, 138-9, TGT 1884, 39, 73, TGT 1927, 64, 101, TGT 1998, 170-1; Konráð Gíslason 1892, 41, 189, 232, Jón Skaptason 1983, 207, 326.

Context: In ÓH and Hkr, Sigvatr then goes to his farmstead. He hears many people accuse him of deserting King Óláfr (since he was on a pilgrimage to Rome at the time of the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad); cf. Þorm Lv 20 and Context). He speaks this stanza. In Flat and in 73a (ÓH 1941, II, 830-1), the stanza is a response to the same criticism, but the incident immediately follows when he has returned from Denmark, fleeing in the middle of the night after having been warned that he has been recognized by his poetry (see Lv 27 and Context) and will be captured and killed because of King Knútr’s enmity to the friends of Óláfr. In TGT, l. 6 is quoted in the section on metaplasmus to provide an example of sineresis (vas ek > vask).

Notes: [2] Hvíta-Kristr ‘White-Christ’: The only other skaldic occurrence of this name for Christ is Þdís SaintIII; for other examples, see CVC: hvítr B. II. 1. In medieval Celtic texts, Christ is often called ‘white’, since the words for ‘white’ (Irish bán, Welsh gwyn) also mean ‘holy’, and this may be the origin of the Norse usage. Alternatively, ‘white’ may arise from the wearing of white baptismal garments by converts. — [4] skirr ‘guiltless’: The dictionary form, skírr, mars the aðalhending, and skirr is adopted by most eds (over the objection of Kock, NN §3133A); see ‘Normalisation resulting from linguistic changes’ in General Introduction for discussion of short and long variants. — [5] vatnœrin ‘abundant-as-water’: Seemingly a hap. leg. (LP: vatnœrinn). — [6] haska ‘peril’: A short form of hásk-, indicated by the aðalhending on vask; cf. Note to l. 4 skirr

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