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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Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))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, 276

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

25 — StarkSt Vík 25VIII (Gautr 33)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 33 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 25)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 276.

Mér gaf Víkarr         valamálm,
hring inn rauða,         er ek á hendi ber,
mér þrímerking,         en ek Þrumu honum;
fylgða ek fylki         fimtán sumur.

Víkarr gaf mér valamálm, hring inn rauða, er ek ber á hendi, mér þrímerking, en ek [gaf] honum Þrumu; ek fylgða fylki fimtán sumur.

Víkarr gave me costly metal, the red [gold] ring, which I wear on my arm, [a ring] three marks in weight for me, and I [gave] him Tromøy; I followed the ruler for fifteen summers.

Mss: 590b-cˣ(5v) (Gautr)

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga II 17: AII, 327, BII, 347, Skald II, 187; FSN 3, 31, Gautr 1900, 28, FSGJ 4, 28; Edd. Min. 42.

Context: The prose narrative concludes its account of the conflict between Friðþjófr and Víkarr with the latter dominant. The beginning of the Gjafa-Refs þáttr is then woven into the narrative, which introduces its protagonists, Neri (already sketchily present) and Refr, while keeping sight of King Víkarr and his champion Starkaðr. It tells that their friendship was strengthened with mutual gift-giving: Víkarr gave Starkaðr a gold bracelet of three marks’ weight and Starkaðr reciprocated by giving Víkarr the island of Tromøy (Þruma), which King Haraldr of Agder had once given his father Stórvirkr. This stanza is then cited (in 590b-cˣ alone) as evidence that Starkaðr stayed with Víkarr for fifteen summers sem hann segir ‘as he says’.

Notes: [All]: The metre of this stanza is fornyrðislag, but l. 2 is hypometrical. — [2] valamálm ‘costly metal’: The same cpd occurs in Hyndl 9/2. The first element, vala-, may derive from the gen. pl. of Valir ‘Celtic southerners, French people’, in the sense ‘exotic, foreign, costly’ or from velja ‘choose’ (cf. LP: valamálmr), in the sense ‘choice, selected’.

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