Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)
11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;
1. Víkingarvísur (Víkv) - 15
2. Nesjavísur (Nesv) - 15
3. Austrfararvísur (Austv) - 21
4. Óláfsdrápa (Óldr) - 1
5. Vestrfararvísur (Vestv) - 8
6. Poem about Erlingr Skjálgsson (Erl) - 1
7. Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson (Erlfl) - 10
8. Tryggvaflokkr (Tryggfl) - 1
9. Poem about Queen Ástríðr (Ást) - 3
10. Knútsdrápa (Knútdr) - 11
11. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga (ErfÓl) - 28
12. Lausavísur (Lv) - 30
II. Bersǫglisvísur (Berv) - 18
III. Fragments (Frag) - 2
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).
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.
Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 13. Lausavísur (AI, 265-75, BI, 246-54); stanzas (if different): 5 |
SkP info: I, 736
30 — Sigv Lv 30I
Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 30’ 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. 736.
|Ástríði lát œðri,
Alfhildr, an þik sjalfa,
þér þótt þinn hagr stórum
— þat vildi goð — batni.
Alfhildr, lát Ástríði œðri an þik sjalfa, þótt hagr þinn batni þér stórum; goð vildi þat.
Álfhildr, set Ástríðr higher than yourself, though your position is improving for you greatly; God willed it.
Mss: Kˣ(500v), 39(13va-b), F(38rb), J2ˣ(243r), E(4v) (Hkr); 761bˣ(311v)
Readings:  ‑hildr: ‑hildi E  þér þótt: þér 39, om. F; hagr: hagr hefir F  batni: batnat F
Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 32: AI, 275, BI, 254, Skald I, 131; Hkr 1777-1826, III, 14, VI, 127, Hkr 1868, 522 (MGóð ch. 10), Hkr 1893-1901, III, 21, IV, 186, ÍF 28, 20, Hkr 1991, 568 (MGóð ch. 9), F 1871, 174, E 1916, 13; Konráð Gíslason 1892, 42, 192-3, Jón Skaptason 1983, 214, 330.
Context: As for Lv 29.
In Norway, after Queen Ástríðr and Álfhildr, the queen mother, have an exchange
of words, Sigvatr speaks this helmingr.
Notes:  Ástríði ‘Ástríðr’: A daughter of the Swedish King Óláfr and stepmother of Magnús Óláfsson through her marriage to King Óláfr Haraldsson of Norway; see, e.g., Fsk (ÍF 29, 179) and Hkr (ÍF 27, 146). She promoted Magnús’s interests and is the subject of a poem by Sigvatr (Sigv Ást). See also Note to Lv 28 [All]. —  Alfhildr ‘Álfhildr’: Mother of Magnús Óláfsson. According to Hkr (ÍF 27, 209), she was known as konungs ambôtt ‘the king’s servant or concubine’, though of good family, and belonged to King Óláfr’s household. The tension between Álfhildr and Queen Ástríðr once Álfhildr arrives at Magnús’s court is described in Hkr (ÍF 28, 14). —  þér ‘for you’: Konráð Gíslason (1892) explains the word, which might otherwise seem pleonastic, as an intensifier, signifying Sigvatr’s warning to Álfhildr that the improvement in her circumstances (since she is now mother to a king) should be matched by an improvement in her attitude. —  goð vildi þat ‘God willed it’: The verb vildi may instead be subjunctive, producing the sense ‘God would wish it’, as observed by Jón Skaptason (1983, 214).