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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Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))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, 270

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

17 — StarkSt Vík 17VIII (Gautr 25)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 25 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 17)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 270.

With Vík 17 (Gautr 25) begins what Ranisch (Gautr 1900, xxxiii-xxxvi, lxxxv-lxxxviii; Edd. Min. xxx-xxxi) followed by Skj and Skald have considered an interpolation in Vík, consisting of Vík 17-24 (Gautr 25-32). All these stanzas are in 590b-cˣ alone. However, the surrounding prose text is also in 152 and papp11ˣ, and, in the latter, a few of the formulae introducing the stanzas as Starkaðr’s utterances can be found, showing that these stanzas were not peculiar to the tradition represented by 590b-cˣ. An alternative hypothesis to account for the absence of these stanzas in 152 and papp 11ˣ might then be that their scribes (or their scribes’ exemplars) chose to exclude a set of stanzas that were available to them as well as to the compiler of 590b-cˣ. For a discussion of the concept of interpolation in skaldic editing, see Introduction to SkP VIII, Section 5. The following principal reasons have been adduced for considering the stanzas as interpolations or at least as of differing origin from the rest of Vík (see further Section 6 of the Introduction). All but two (Vík 21/1-4 and 23, Gautr 29 and 31) are third-person narratives, whereas the majority of stanzas in Vík are in the first person, presented as Starkaðr’s direct speech. Gautr 25-32, including most of Gautr 31, are in kviðuháttr metre, whereas the dominant metrical form of Vík is fornyrðislag, sometimes interspersed with kviðuháttr lines. Both the prose text and Vík 19 (Gautr 27) introduce the figure of Jarl Neri and the theme of his extreme miserliness, thus establishing a connection with the Gjafa-Refs þáttr. Neri is presented as one of Víkarr’s two sons.

Lét þreksamr         þriðja sinni
Hildar leik         háðan verða,
áðr Upplönd         unnin yrði
ok Geirþjófr         um gefinn helju.

Þreksamr lét {leik Hildar} verða háðan þriðja sinni, áðr Upplönd yrði unnin ok Geirþjófr um gefinn helju.

The powerful one had {the play of Hildr <valkyrie>} [BATTLE] held for a third time before Opplandene could be won and Geirþjófr given over to death.

Mss: 590b-cˣ(4v) (Gautr)

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga α 1: AII, 328-9, BII, 349, Skald II, 188; FSN 3, 25, Gautr 1900, 22, FSGJ 4, 22; Edd. Min. 41.

Context: The prose saga turns to Geirþjófr, the brother of Víkarr’s adversary, King Herþjófr. Geirþjófr seeks revenge for Víkarr’s killing of Herþjófr and assembles a huge fighting force in Upplǫnd (Opplandene), while Víkarr travels there with a large army to oppose him. A seventeen-day battle ensues, which Víkarr wins, and Geirþjófr is killed. Víkarr now becomes king of Upplǫnd and Þelamǫrk (Telemark), taking over the latter while its king, Friðþjófr, another brother of Herþjófr, is away. The stanza is introduced with the words: Þess getr Starkaðr, at sú var hin þriðja orrosta Víkars konungs, er hann hafði unnit á Upplǫndum ‘Starkaðr reports that that was the third battle of King Víkarr, which he had fought in Opplandene’.

Notes: [All]: The stanza is in the metre kviðuháttr, a variant of fornyrðislag in which the odd lines consist of three, rather than four, metrical positions, and the even lines are regular fornyrðislag. For a discussion of the metre and its uses, see General Introduction in SkP I, Section 4.3. — [2] þriðja sinni ‘for a third time’: No other times are mentioned in either the prose or the poetry, suggesting that both may have been shortened. The prose introduction to this stanza also suggests the compiler may have been aware of the lack of information at his disposal to cover the content of this stanza.

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