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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, 703

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Sigv Lv 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 4’ 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. 703.

Gǫrbœnn mun ek Gunnar
gammteitǫndum heitinn
— áðr þôgum vér ægis
eld —, ef nú biðk felda.
Landaura veit, lúru
látrþverrandi, af knerri
enn of ganga, engis
— ek hef sjalfr krafit— halfa.

Ek mun heitinn gǫrbœnn {{Gunnar gamm}teitǫndum}, ef nú biðk felda; áðr þôgum vér {eld ægis}. Veit, {{{engis lúru} látr}þverrandi}, halfa landaura of ganga enn af knerri; ek hef sjalfr krafit.

I will be called importunate {by gladdeners {of the vulture of Gunnr <valkyrie>}} [(lit. ‘vulture-gladdeners of Gunnr’) RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIORS] if now I ask for skins; already we [I] have received {the flame of the sea} [GOLD]. Allow, {diminisher {of the lair {of the halibut of the meadow}}} [(lit. ‘lair-diminisher of the halibut of the meadow’) SERPENT > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN], half the landing tax to go again from the merchant ship; I have myself requested [it].

Mss: Holm2(11v), R686ˣ(22v), 972ˣ(77va), J1ˣ(154v-155r), J2ˣ(132r), 325VI(9vb), 321ˣ(49), 68(10v), 61(83vb), Holm4(3va), 325V(14va-b), Bb(133vb), Flat(83ra), Tóm(101r), 325XI 2 l(1r) (ÓH); Kˣ(248r) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] Gǫr‑: ger 325VI, 321ˣ, Tóm, ‘Geyr‑’ Kˣ;    ‑bœnn: bœn R686ˣ, beini 325VI, 321ˣ, ‘bænninn’ 61, ‘ben’ Bb, ‘bén’ 325XI 2 l;    mun: vil 325VI, 321ˣ, maðr 68;    ek: ok 68;    Gunnar: gunnum 972ˣ, gǫfgum 325VI, 321ˣ, gumnar Flat    [2] gamm‑: ‘gn̄‑’ 68, gams 61, Holm4, 325V, Flat, Tóm, ‘gan‑’ Bb;    ‑teitǫndum: ‘‑tettendum’ R686ˣ, hnykkjǫndum 61, ‘‑tertvm’ Bb, reit erum Flat, teit erum Tóm;    heitinn: so 68, Holm4, 325V, Flat, Tóm, 325XI 2 l, Kˣ, heita Holm2, 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 321ˣ, hetta R686ˣ, veita 325VI, þykkja 61, heitin Bb    [3] áðr: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 l;    þôgum: þagni Flat, þægum Tóm;    vér: við Flat    [4] eld: eið 972ˣ, elds 325VI, 321ˣ;    ef: en 61, 325V, Flat, 325XI 2 l, enn Holm4, Tóm;    biðk (‘bið ec’): ‘luð ek’ J1ˣ, bið 321ˣ, Bb, ‘bit ec’ Tóm;    felda: feldar 61, 325V    [5] lúru: ‘lyru’ 68, 61, lundi 325V, Flat, Tóm    [6] látr‑: so Kˣ, láð‑ Holm2, R686ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 68, 61, 325V, Bb, Flat, Tóm, læ 325VI, 321ˣ, látrs Holm4, 325XI 2 l;    ‑þverrandi: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 68, 61, Holm4, 325V, Bb, Flat, Tóm, 325XI 2 l, Kˣ, ‑þverranda Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ;    af: at Flat, ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 l;    knerri: ‘Kneri’ 972ˣ, ‘knæri’ J1ˣ, ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 l    [7] of ganga: of fanga Holm2, R686ˣ, 68, 325V, Bb, Flat, 325XI 2 l, ‘offanga’ 972ˣ, Holm4, afganga J1ˣ, af ganga J2ˣ, 325VI, 321ˣ, ófangann 61, á fanga Tóm, ofganga Kˣ;    engis: engan Holm2, 972ˣ, 68, 61, Tóm, Kˣ, engi R686ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 321ˣ, 325XI 2 l, ǫngum Holm4, 325V, engin Bb, ungum Flat    [8] sjalfr: sjalf J1ˣ, þôgu Holm4, 325XI 2 l;    krafit: ‘kufan’ R686ˣ, ‘karfit’ 972ˣ, kraft 61;    halfa: halfra 325VI

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 4: AI, 266, BI, 247, Skald I, 127, NN §1401; Fms 4, 90 (ÓH ch. 70), Fms 12, 78, ÓH 1853, 36, 263, ÓH 1941, I, 83 (ch. 38), Flat 1860-8, II, 39; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 46, VI, 75, Hkr 1868, 249 (ÓHHkr ch. 41), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 63-4, IV, 118-19, ÍF 27, 56, Hkr 1991, I, 287-8 (ÓHHkr ch. 43); Konráð Gíslason 1892, 35, 171, 230, Jón Skaptason 1983, 186, 313.

Context: This stanza follows closely upon the preceding two. In ÓH and in Flat it is prefaced with the remark only that Sigvatr came to King Óláfr from Iceland, and he spoke this stanza. In Hkr is found the longer explanation that Sveinn jarl Hákonarson has his men collect half the landing tax from Icelandic vessels arriving in the district of Þrándheimr (Trøndelag), jarls Eiríkr and Hákon having the other half, but when King Óláfr assumes control in the area, he also has his men collect half the tax. The Icelandic merchants, who resent having to pay twice, ask Sigvatr to intercede for them, and he delivers this stanza to the king. 

Notes: [1] gǫrbœnn ‘importunate’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj BI, 684) corrects this to gerbœnn on the assumption that the first element derives from poetic geri ‘greedy one’, hence ‘wolf’ (see LP: gerbœnn). But Kock (NN §1401) is no doubt right that it derives from Gmc *ȝarw- ‘eager, ready’. Most of the many ms. spellings represent <ǫ>, and can be taken to support Kock’s interpretation. — [4] felda ‘skins’: The landing tax was commonly paid in skins: see Grg Ib, 195. — [7] of ganga; engis ‘to go; of the meadow’: This is not the reading of any ms., but it seems to offer the best solution in these difficult lines. The main alternatives are: (a) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) reads af ‘from’ for of, though he omits the word from his prose order. This reading requires that af and ganga be taken from different mss. He also reads engjar (so already Fms 4), identical in meaning to engis ‘of the meadow’. The word does not take this form in any ms., and the commonest reading in the mss, engi, is more plausibly a corruption of engis than of engjar. (b) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 27, followed by Jón Skaptason 1983) reads offanga, engi, taking the former word to be a gen. pl. meaning ‘great gains’ and the latter word as the first element of a cpd engilúru ‘meadow-halibut’ in tmesis. The sense of the helmingr would then be ‘Give up the half of the landing tax from the merchant ship, generous lord; I have again unsolicited asked that I be given much’. The reading of Hkr 1991 is similar, but with ofganga, a gen. pl. taken to mean ‘overbearing conduct’, i.e. too great a request. It should be noted that there do not seem to be any other instances of veita in the sense ‘give up’.

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