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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Snorri Sturluson (SnSt)

13th century; volume 3; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

III. Háttatal (Ht) - 102

Skj info: Snorri Sturluson, Islandsk höfding og skjald, 1178-1241. (AII, 52-79, BII, 60-90).

Skj poems:
1. En drape om Skule jarl
2. Háttatal
3. Af et religiøst digt (?)
4. Lausavísur
4. Lausavísur

prose works

Háttatal — SnSt HtIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1094.

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Skj: Snorri Sturluson: 2. Háttatal, 1222-23 (AII, 52-77, BII, 61-88)

SkP info: III, 1132

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

26 — SnSt Ht 26III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 26’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1132.

Fúss brýtr fylkir eisu
fens; bregðr hǫnd á venju;
ránhegnir gefr Rínar
rǫf; spyrr ætt at jǫfrum.
Mjǫk trúir ræsir rekka
raun; sér gjǫf til launa;
ráð á lofðungr lýða
lengr; vex hverr af gengi.

Fúss fylkir brýtr {eisu fens}; hǫnd bregðr á venju; {ránhegnir} gefr {rǫf Rínar}; ætt spyrr at jǫfrum. Ræsir trúir mjǫk raun rekka; gjǫf sér til launa; lofðungr á ráð lýða lengr; hverr vex af gengi.

The eager leader breaks {fire of the fen} [GOLD]; the hand moves according to custom; {the plunder-punisher} [JUST RULER] gives {amber of the Rhine <river>} [GOLD]; people ask about princes. The lord trusts the warriors’ experience very much; a gift looks for rewards; the ruler has power over the people longer; each gains from his following.

Mss: R(47v), Tˣ(50r), W(143), U(47r) (l. 1), U(52r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Fúss: so all others, Fýss R;    brýtr: so all others, ‘b[…]ytr’ R    [6] sér: er Tˣ;    til: so all others, ‘[…]’ R;    launa: so all others, ‘l[…]vna’ R    [8] lengr: lengi Tˣ

Editions: Skj: Snorri Sturluson, 2. Háttatal 26: AII, 59, BII, 68, Skald II, 39; SnE 1848-87, I, 636-7, II, 371, 385, III, 117, SnE 1879-81, I, 4, 77, II, 13, SnE 1931, 228, SnE 2007, 15; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 17.

Context: Snorri calls this variant orðskviðu háttr ‘proverb’s form’. Positions 2-6 in each even line contain an independent clause with a proverb or a gnomic statement.

Notes: [All]: The headings are xix ‘the nineteenth’ () and orðskviðu háttr (U(47r)). As with st. 13, this syntactic pattern occurs quite often in dróttkvætt stanzas, but it is never systematised as in the present stanza, and proverbs are not common. — [2] hǫnd bregðr á venju ‘the hand moves according to custom’: See GunnHám Lv 13/7-8V (Nj 26) and Gamlkan Has 42/5, 8VII. — [4] ætt spyrr at jǫfrum ‘people ask about princes’: The sense must be that people talk about rulers’ generosity, i.e. how well they will reward their men for their service. — [6] gjǫf sér til launa ‘a gift looks for rewards’: This must be a variation on the saying sér æ gjǫf til gjalda ‘a gift always looks for repayments’ (see Gísl ch. 15, ÍF 6, 52). See also Hávm 145/3 (NK 41) ey sér til gildis giǫf ‘a gift always looks for payment’. — [8] lengr (comp. adv.) ‘longer’: Meaning that he will rule the people for the foreseeable future (see Konráð Gíslason 1895-7 and SnE 2007, 130). Lengi ‘long’ () is unmetrical. — [8] hverr vex af gengi ‘each gains from his following’: That is, a ruler’s power and reputation will increase according to the loyalty of his men. Cf. the similar proverb in Anon Mhkv 12/7: hverr mætti gǫfgask af gengi ‘each man could gain stature from the company he keeps’.

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