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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, ‘ 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 1 July 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, 705

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Sigv Lv 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 5’ 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. 705.

Áðr hefk gótt við góða
grams stallara alla
átt, þás ossum dróttni,
ógndjarfs, fyr kné hvarfa.
Bjǫrn, fazt opt at árna,
íss, fyr mér at vísa
góðs, meguð gótt of ráða
gunnrjóðr, þvít vel kunnuð.

Áðr hefk átt gótt við alla góða stallara ógndjarfs grams, þás hvarfa fyr kné dróttni ossum. Bjǫrn, fazt opt at árna góðs fyr mér at vísa; meguð, {{íss gunn}rjóðr}, of ráða gótt, þvít kunnuð vel.

Until now I have had good dealings with all the good marshals of the terror-bold prince [Óláfr], those who stroll about before the knee of our lord [as supplicants]. Bjǫrn, you managed often to gain something good for me from [our] leader; you are able, {reddener {of war-ice}} [(lit. ‘war-reddener of ice’) SWORD > WARRIOR], to give good advice, because you understand well [how to].

Mss: Holm2(17v), 325V(22va-b), R686ˣ(35r-v), 972ˣ(122va), J1ˣ(175v), J2ˣ(145r), 325VI(15vb), 75a(7vb-8ra), 73aˣ(46v), 78aˣ(45r-v), 68(16v), 61(88va), Holm4(8vb-9ra), 75c(9r), 325VII(8v), Flat(85rb), Tóm(106r) (ÓH); Kˣ(271v), Bb(143va) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] Áðr: so 73aˣ, 61, Holm4, Kˣ, átt Holm2, 325V, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, 68, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, Bb, at R686ˣ, J1ˣ;    gótt: ‘got’ R686ˣ, Bb, om. 68, 325VII;    við: ‘[…]’ 325VI, om. 68    [2] grams: gram‑ 325VII;    stallara: ‘skallara’ Tóm    [3] átt: so 73aˣ, 61, Holm4, Kˣ, áðr Holm2, 325V, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 68, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, Bb, að 78aˣ;    ossum: ‘or..’ 78aˣ, ‘o[…]’ 61, ossa Flat, ǫllum Tóm;    dróttni: ‘drotttu’ R686ˣ, blank space 78aˣ, ‘drorttin’ Tóm, ‘drótin’ Bb    [4] ‑djarfs: ‘‑d[…]rfs’ 325VI, ‑djarfr Bb;    fyr (‘fyrir’): of 972ˣ, 68, 75c, um 325VII, Flat, Kˣ, ‘vf’ Tóm;    hvarfa: hverfa R686ˣ    [5] fazt (‘faztu’): fantu R686ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, áttu 972ˣ, 68, 61, fórtu Tóm, fæztu Bb;    opt: orð Holm4;    árna: ‘arnea’ J1ˣ    [6] íss: so R686ˣ, J1ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, Kˣ, ís Holm2, 325V, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, 68, Holm4, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, Bb;    at: so 325V, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 61, Holm4, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, Kˣ, af Holm2, 68, Bb;    vísa: vísu 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, 61, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm    [7] góðs: góð Holm4, gjóðs Flat, Tóm;    meguð: megið 325V, megi J1ˣ, J2ˣ, mega Flat;    gótt: ‘gutt’ 325VII, ‘got’ Bb;    ráða: ræða Holm4    [8] ‑rjóðr: ‑djarfr J1ˣ, J2ˣ, ‑rjóðs Tóm;    þvít (‘þvi at’): alls Kˣ;    kunnuð: kunnið 325V, 972ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, 325VII, kunni Tóm

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 6: AI, 267, BI, 247, Skald I, 128, NN §§1854B, 2008F; Fms 4, 135, Fms 12, 82, ÓH 1853, 55, 268, ÓH 1941, I, 135 (ch. 53), Flat 1860-8, II, 57; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 81, VI, 80-1, Hkr 1868, 274 (ÓHHkr ch. 70), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 112-13, IV, 119, ÍF 27, 92, Hkr 1991, I, 314 (ÓHHkr ch. 71); Konráð Gíslason 1892, 36, 175, 231, Jón Skaptason 1983, 188, 314.

Context: When King Óláfr Haraldsson sends his marshal Bjǫrn digri ‘the Stout’ on a dangerous mission to the east to try to arrange a reconciliation with King Óláfr Eiríksson of Sweden (in 1018: see Introduction to Sigv Austv), Bjǫrn asks Sigvatr to accompany him. Bjǫrn and Sigvatr are on excellent terms, and Sigvatr speaks this stanza. (The prose is arranged somewhat differently in Flat, making Sigvatr’s participation in the mission seem less of an afterthought.)

Notes: [All]: The Bb text for Lv 5-7 belongs to the Hkr redaction, being copied from a ms. akin to K (ÓH 1941, II, 1116), while the greater part of Bb belongs to the ÓH redaction. — [1, 3] áðr … átt ‘until now … had’: For a parallel to the transposition of these two words in most ÓH mss, see Nj 1875-8, II, 211. — [2]: The line is virtually identical to Steinn Úlffl 1/4II. — [5] Bjǫrn: Bjǫrn digri fell defending his lord Óláfr in his last battle at Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad, 1030). He is praised as a paradigm of heroism in Sigv ErfÓl 18. — [5] fazt ‘you managed’: The verb is 2nd pers. sg. pret. indic. of m. v. fetask. — [8] þvít ‘because’: Ternström (1871, 39) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) read alls ‘since’, with .

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