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Runic Dictionary

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Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson (StarkSt)

volume 8; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Víkarsbálkr (Vík) - 33

Starkaðr inn gamli ‘the Old’ Stórvirksson (StarkSt) was a legendary Scandinavian hero, known to Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and possibly Anglo-Saxon traditions. Some sources (e.g. Saxo Grammaticus (Saxo 2015, I, vi. 5. 2, pp. 378-9), one version of Heiðr and Víkarsbálkr (Vík) in Gautr) claim that he was born a giant with six or eight arms, which the god Þórr reduced to two by tearing off the remainder. Both in Saxo and in Gautr, Starkaðr is represented as a hero of prodigious strength and bravery, but influenced by the gods Óðinn and Þórr to commit acts of gross treachery, the best-known of which is his mock sacrifice of his friend, King Víkarr, at Óðinn’s instigation. The mock sacrifice turns into the real thing, and, as a consequence, Starkaðr is repudiated by his warrior companions. Saxo and the Icelandic sources also know Starkaðr as a poet. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 251, 259) heads its list of poets and their patrons with Starkaðr’s name as that of the earliest poet whose identity people remember, adding that he composed about the kings of Denmark. In Ht Snorri Sturluson names a verse-form, Starkaðar lag, after Starkaðr (SnE 2007, 38), while in TGT Óláfr Þórðarson quotes a fragment (StarkSt Frag 1III) which he attributes to him. In Gautr the autobiographical poem Víkarsbálkr ‘Víkarr’s Section’ (VíkVIII) is attributed to Starkaðr.

Víkarsbálkr — StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr)

Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))

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   31   32   33 

SkP info: VIII, 258

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — StarkSt Vík 4VIII (Gautr 12)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 12 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 4)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 258.

Þrévetran mik         þaðan af flutti
Hrosshárs-Grani         til Hörðalands.
Nam ek á Aski         upp at vaxa;
sákat niðja         á níu vetrum.

Hrosshárs-Grani flutti mik þrévetran þaðan af til Hörðalands. Ek nam at vaxa upp á Aski; sákat niðja á níu vetrum.

Hrosshárs-Grani (‘Horse-hair Grani’) carried me off from there at the age of three years to Hordaland. I grew up at Ask; I did not see my kinsmen for nine winters.

Mss: 590b-cˣ(3v), 152(198va), papp11ˣ(5r) (Gautr)

Readings: [1] ‑vetran: so 152, papp11ˣ, ‑veturn 590b‑cˣ    [3] ‑Grani: ‘granne’ 152    [5] Aski: skipi 152    [7] sákat: Stórvirks papp11ˣ    [8] vetrum: sumrum 152, papp11ˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga II 4: AII, 324-5, BII, 344, Skald II, 185; FSN 3, 17-18, Gautr 1664, 21, Gautr 1900, 14-15, FSGJ 4, 14; Edd. Min. 38.

Context: Following the information given in the Context to Gautr 11, the prose text goes on to mention one of the important men in King Herþjófr’s army called Grani, or Hrosshárs-Grani; on this name, see Note to line 3 below. He lived on the island of Fenhring (now Askøy near Bergen; cf. Þul Eyja 4/4III and Note) off the coast of Hordaland at a farm called Askr. Grani abducted Starkaðr, who was then aged three, and took him home to Fenhring, where he stayed for nine years. Gautr 11 and 12 are introduced with Svá segir Starkaðr ‘so says Starkaðr’.

Notes: [1] þrévetran ‘at the age of three years’: Lit. ‘being three winters’. — [3] Hrosshárs-Grani ‘Hrosshárs-Grani (“Horse-hair Grani”)’: Lit. ‘Horse-hair’s Grani’. Grani ‘bewhiskered one’ (AEW: grani) was the name of the legendary hero Sigurðr’s horse. Later in the saga, the figure of Hrosshárs-Grani is revealed to be a manifestation of the god Óðinn (cf. Þul Óðins 4/7III and Note there). Óðinn is associated with horses in several contexts in Old Norse myth, and this may point to his connection with a horse cult (cf. Falk 1924; Simek 1993, 161, 293-4). — [5] á Aski ‘at Askr’: The farm Askr was presumably located at or near the modern village of Ask on the island of Askøy (ON Fenhring), immediately north-west of Bergen and now connected to the city by a bridge. — [8] vetrum ‘winters’: Years were usually measured in winters rather than summers in early Scandinavia, as in other Germanic cultures. Sumrum may have been chosen here by some scribes out of a false belief that the alliteration of ll. 7-8 was on <s> rather than <n>. The age of twelve (9+3) was considered the age of adulthood in early Scandinavia, though later medieval sources place it at sixteen (cf. Grg Ib, 22; Dennis et al. 1980-2000, II, 46).

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