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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson (StarkSt)

volume 8; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Víkarsbálkr (Vík) - 33

not in Skj

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Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))

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SkP info: VIII, 262

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — StarkSt Vík 8VIII (Gautr 16)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 16 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 8)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 262.

Þá safnaði         Sørkvi ok Gretti,
Haralds arfþegi         Hildigrími,
Erp ok Úlfi,         Áni ok Skúmi,
Hróa ok Hrotta,         Herbrands syni,

{Arfþegi Haralds} safnaði þá Sørkvi ok Gretti, Hildigrími, Erp ok Úlfi, Áni ok Skúmi, Hróa ok Hrotta, syni Herbrands,

{Haraldr’s heir} [= Víkarr] then gathered Sørkvir and Grettir, Hildigrímr, Erpr and Úlfr, Án and Skúmr, Hrói and Hrotti, son of Herbrandr,

Mss: 590b-cˣ(4r), 152(198va), papp11ˣ(5v) (Gautr)

Readings: [3] Haralds: Harald 152, papp11ˣ;    arfþegi: ‘ok horfþegi’ 152, ok arfþegi papp11ˣ    [6] ok: om. 152;    Skúmi: so papp11ˣ, Skúmi with i corrected from u above the line 590b‑cˣ, Skútu 152    [7] Hróa ok: ok Hróa 152;    Hróa: Hrók ok papp11ˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga II 8: AII, 325, BII, 345, Skald II, 185-6; FSN 3, 19-20, Gautr 1664, 23, Gautr 1900, 16-17, FSGJ 4, 16; Edd. Min. 39.

Context: After Víkarr has got Starkaðr off the floor at Askr, he equips him with clothes and weapons and gathers a troop of champions (kappar) and duellists (hólmgǫngumenn). Vík 8 and 9 (Gautr 16 and 17) are then introduced with the words Svá segir Starkaðr ‘So says Starkaðr’.

Notes: [6] Skúmi ‘Skúmr’: This pers. n. is assumed to be the dat. sg. of skúmr ‘brown gull, skua, chatterer, gossip’, but some eds (Gautr 1900; Edd. Min.; FSGJ) prefer the form Skúmu, from the nom. sg. Skúma ‘Dusky’ (?). There is certainly evidence for the existence of skúma as a nickname; cf. Biography of the poet Þorleifr skúma in SkP I, where various forms of skúma and skúmr and their likely meanings are discussed.

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