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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 26 May 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, 702

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Sigv Lv 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 3’ 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. 702.

Ek tók lystr, né lastak
— leyfð íð es þat — síðan,
sóknar Njǫrðr, við sverði
— sás mínn vili — þínu.
Þollr, fekkt húskarl hollan
— hǫfum ráðit vel báðir —
látrs, en ek lánardróttin,
linns blóða, mér góðan.

Ek tók lystr við sverði þínu, {Njǫrðr sóknar}, né lastak síðan; sás vili mínn; þat es leyfð íð. {Þollr {látrs {blóða linns}}}, fekkt hollan húskarl, en ek mér góðan lánardróttin; hǫfum báðir ráðit vel.

I accepted, eager, your sword, {Njǫrðr <god> of combat} [WARRIOR], and I will not find fault with it afterwards; this is what I wish; it is a praiseworthy occupation. {Fir-tree {of the lair {of the serpent’s brother}}} [SERPENT > GOLD > MAN], you got a loyal retainer, and I [got] for myself a good liege lord; we have both decided well.

Mss: Holm2(11v), R686ˣ(22v), 972ˣ(77va), J1ˣ(154v), J2ˣ(132r), 325VI(9vb), 321ˣ(49), 73aˣ(32r), 78aˣ(29v), 68(10v), 61(83vb), Holm4(3va), 325V(14va), 325VII(4r), Bb(133va), Flat(83ra), Tóm(101r), 325XI 2 l(1r) (ÓH); Kˣ(247v-248r) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] lystr: ‘daystr’ Bb;    lastak (‘ne ek lasta’): ‘ne e[…] asta’ 325VI, mǫrk lasta 78aˣ, ek lasta 61, en ek lasta Flat, til lasta Tóm    [2] leyfð: ‘[…]eyfð’ 325XI 2 l;    íð es (‘ið er’): ‘ydri er’ 972ˣ, iðn er J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 321ˣ, 68, Holm4, 325V, Bb, Flat, Tóm, iðu 73aˣ, í blank space er 78aˣ, iðn var 61, 325VII;    síðan: síð 78aˣ    [3] sóknar: ‘socuar’ 325XI 2 l;    Njǫrðr: norðr Bb;    við: var R686ˣ, ‘v[...]’ 325VI, með Tóm;    sverði: ‘[…]ði’ 325VI    [4] mínn: mín R686ˣ, 972ˣ, 61, 325V, Flat, Tóm;    þínu: þanninn 325XI 2 l    [5] fekkt (‘fek tv’): tóktu R686ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 78aˣ, tók en 321ˣ, gaztu Kˣ;    húskarl hollan: ‘h[…]’ 325VI, ‘huskarllann’ 325V, ‘huskarll […]ollan’ 325XI 2 l    [6] báðir: ‘baþr’ R686ˣ, ‘báðar’ Flat    [7] látrs: ‘Latturs’ 972ˣ, linns 61, ‘laírs’ 325XI 2 l;    ek: om. Tóm;    ‑dróttin: so J1ˣ, 325VI, 78aˣ, Holm4, 325V, 325VII, 325XI 2 l, ‑dróttinn Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, Bb, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, ‘drotin’ R686ˣ, ‑drótni 68    [8] linns: ‘Lins’ 972ˣ, lands 61, ‘linn(z)’(?) 325XI 2 l;    blóða: bróður J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    mér: mann 321ˣ

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 3: AI, 266, BI, 246, Skald I, 127, NN §671, Fms 4, 90, Fms 12, 78, ÓH 1853, 36, 263, ÓH 1941, I, 82 (ch. 38), Flat 1860-8, II, 39; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 46 (ÓHHkr ch. 41), VI, 74, Hkr 1868, 248 (ÓHHkr ch. 41), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 63, IV, 118, ÍF 27, 55, Hkr 1991, I, 287 (ÓHHkr ch. 43); Konráð Gíslason 1892, 35, 171, Jón Skaptason 1983, 185, 313.

Context: After accepting reward for the previous stanza, Sigvatr becomes a member of the king’s retinue, and he delivers this.

Notes: [1, 3, 4] ek tók við sverði þínu ‘I accepted your sword’: In the ceremony of investiture as a retainer, the king would hold the haft of his sword over his right knee, and the aspiring retainer would grasp the haft with his right hand: see Hirðskrá chs 31, 43 (ed. Meissner 1938; Imsen 2000). — [2] íð ‘occupation’: The reading íðn/iðn in most mss is also possible, and more or less synonymous. — [2] þat ‘it’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B, following Konráð Gíslason 1892 and 1895-7, II, 236) regards this as the object of né lastak ‘I will not find fault with’ (l. 1), but Kock (NN §671) objects that the preceding parenthesis must not end with unstressed es ‘is’. — [4] mínn ‘I’: The older form of minn, with long vowel, is required by the aðalhending. Similar forms with shortening (Lv 6/2, 7/7, 13/8, 18/7) and without (Lv 8/6, 19/2) are required by the hendingar in Sigvatr’s lausavísur; see also ‘Normalisation resulting from linguistic changes’ in General Introduction for discussion of short and long variants. — [8] blóða linns ‘of the serpent’s brother [SERPENT]’: Blóða ‘brother’ adds nothing to the kenning, just as bróðir adds nothing to bróðir gera ‘brother of the wolf/wolves [WOLF]’ (Anon Krm 16/3VIII in AM 6 folˣ), and brœðr adds nothing semantically to brœðr bergrisa ‘giant’s brothers [GIANTS]’ (Grott 9/7, NK 298). The use of ‘brother’ may serve to mark a change of number in some instances including the Grott example, and blóða here could be regarded as gen. pl. In support of that Meissner 239 has several examples of gen. pl. linna ‘of snakes’ as the determinant of gold-kennings, but on the other hand kennings of this type are at least partly motivated by legends of a lone dragon guarding treasure, notably Fáfnir. At all events, linns must not be thought to refer to an earthworm (as by Jón Skaptason 1983, 312-13); linnr alone may refer to a dragon: see LP: 1. linnr.

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