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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vitgeirr seiðmaðr (Vitg)

9th century; volume 1; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Lausavísa (Lv) - 1

Skj info: Vitgeirr seiðmaðr, Norsk; omkr. 900. (AI, 33, BI, 29).

Skj poems:

Aside from the brief sections in Hkr (Hhárf), ÓT, and ÓH which relate the episode containing this stanza, Vitgeirr seiðmaðr ‘Sorcerer’ (Vitg) is not mentioned elsewhere. According to the prose texts, he was a Norwegian who lived in Hǫrðaland (Hordaland), around 900.

Lausavísa — Vitg LvI

Kari Ellen Gade 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Vitgeirr seiðmaðr, Lausavísa’ 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. 141.


Skj: Vitgeirr seiðmaðr: Lausavísa (AI, 33, BI, 29); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: I, 141

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Vitg Lv 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Vitgeirr seiðmaðr, Lausavísa 1’ 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. 141.

Þats vô lítil,         at vér síðim
karla bǫrn         ok kerlinga,
es Rǫgnvaldr síðr         réttilbeini
hróðmǫgr Haralds         á Haðalandi.

Þats lítil vô, at vér síðim, bǫrn karla ok kerlinga, es Rǫgnvaldr réttilbeini, hróðmǫgr Haralds, síðr á Haðalandi.

It is [does] little harm that we perform sorcery, children of lowly men and women, when Rǫgnvaldr réttilbeini, Haraldr’s glorious son, performs sorcery in Hadeland.

Mss: (74v), F(13ra), J1ˣ(43r), J2ˣ(42v) (Hkr); 61(2va), 53(2rb), Bb(2vb-3ra), Flat(6rb) (ÓT); Holm2(2r), R686ˣ(2r), 972ˣ(11va), 325VI(2rb), 73aˣ(4r), 78aˣ(2r-v), 68(2r), 61(75vb), 325V(2vb), Tóm(91v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Þats (‘Þat er’): so all others, þá er Kˣ;    lítil: lítit J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [2] at: þótt J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Bb, Flat, R686ˣ, 61(75vb);    síðim: seiðim 61(2va), 53, Bb, Flat, 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 61(75vb), 325V, seiðum R686ˣ, 972ˣ, Tóm    [3] karla bǫrn: karlbornir menn Tóm    [5] síðr: seiðir 61(2va), 53, Bb, Flat, 972ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 325V, Tóm, seiðr Holm2, R686ˣ    [7] hróð‑: ‘Hord‑’ R686ˣ, hróðr‑ 73aˣ, 61(75vb), þjóð‑ 325V    [8] Haðalandi: Haðaland 972ˣ

Editions: Skj: Vitgeirr seiðmaðr, Lausavísa: AI, 33, BI, 29, Skald I, 18; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 150, ÍF 26, 138-9 (HHárf ch. 34), F 1871, 58; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 10 (ch. 4), Flat 1860-8, I, 44; ÓH 1941, I, 9 (ch. 1).

Context: King Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ Hálfdanarson, who has taken a strong dislike to sorcery, sends a message to Vitgeirr in Hǫrðaland (Hordaland) commanding him to cease that practice. The stanza is Vitgeirr’s response to Haraldr’s request.

Notes: [All]: On the practice of seiðr ‘sorcery’, see Strömbäck (1935) and Buchholz (1968). — [All]: In ÓH in Bb(120ra) the stanza is paraphrased as prose: ok quad þat vera litil mvni þott ver seidím born ok kerlíngar. En raugnvalldr seidir rettilbeiní þiodmagr konungs ahadalandi ‘and said it to be of little interest if we perform sorcery, children and lowly women, when Rǫgnvaldr réttilbeini, the king’s mighty son, performs sorcery in Hadeland’. — [2] síðim (1st pers. pl. pres. subj.) ‘perform sorcery’: Both síðim (from síða, first class strong verb) and seiðim (from seiða, weak verb) are possible grammatically and metrically, but the strong verb is preferred here (see Note to l. 5 síðr below). — [3] karla bǫrn ‘children of lowly men’: The line is hypometrical, i.e. in the catalectic metre kviðuháttr rather than in fornyrðislag. — [5] Rǫgnvaldr: The son of Haraldr hárfagri and Snæfríðr (see Ættartal [Genealogy] II.2 in ÍF 28). He was later burned inside his house, along with eighty sorcerers, by his brother, Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’. In the words of Hkr (ÍF 26, 139), ok var þat verk lofat mjǫk ‘and that deed was greatly praised’. — [5] síðr (3rd pers. sg. pres. indic.) ‘performs sorcery’: The weak form (seiðir) creates a hypermetrical odd line (see Note to l. 2 above). — [6] réttilbeini: The meaning of this nickname is unclear. Possibilities include ‘with equally long legs’ (Finnur Jónsson 1907, 221 and LP: réttilbeini); ‘one who stretches his legs’ (LP: réttilbeini); and ‘straight in build’ (ÍF 26, 126 n. 1).

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