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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Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))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, 279

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

28 — StarkSt Vík 28VIII (Gautr 36)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 36 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 28)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 279.

Skylda ek Víkar         í viði hávum,
Geirþjófs bana,         goðum um signa.
Lagða ek geiri         gram til hjarta;
þat er mér hermast         handaverka.

Ek skylda um signa Víkar, bana Geirþjófs, goðum í hávum viði. Ek lagða geiri til hjarta gram; þat er mér hermast handaverka.

I was obliged to dedicate Víkarr, the slayer of Geirþjófr, to the gods on the high tree. I thrust with the spear to the ruler’s heart; that is for me the most regrettable of the deeds of my hands.

Mss: 590b-cˣ(6r), 152(199vb) (Gautr)

Readings: [2] í viði hávum: ná við hofum 152    [4] um: om. 152    [5] geiri: geir 152    [7] hermast: harmast 152

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga II 20: AII, 327-8, BII, 347, Skald II, 187; FSN 3, 35, Gautr 1900, 31-2, FSGJ 4, 32; Edd. Min. 42.

Context: As for Gautr 34.

Notes: [All]: Starkaðr again refers to external forces, though without specifying which they are, as the causes of his action in sacrificing Víkarr to the gods. The use of the verb signa ‘dedicate, consecrate’ (l. 4) indicates as much, as does the manner of the sacrifice, which follows the pattern that Óðinn is said to have established both for himself (cf. Hávm 138-41) and for those heroes that he took for himself; on this subject see Turville-Petre (1964, 43-8; ARG I, 409-12, II, 49-50; Simek 1993, 242, 249). Characteristic of Odinic sacrifices are the use of a spear to pierce the victim and the mode of sacrifice, hanging on a tree, which is attested both from medieval ethnographic literature, such as Adam of Bremen’s account of the sacrifices at the temple at Uppsala (Schmeidler 1917, 259-60), and from texts like Hávm. — [3] bana Geirþjófs ‘the slayer of Geirþjófr’: Geirþjófr was one of three brothers, mentioned earlier in Gautr, with whom Víkarr fought for dominance over disputed territory. Geirþjófr is said to have been king of Opplandene; cf. Gautr 25/5-8. — [4] signa ‘dedicate’: Although this verb (ultimately from Lat. signare ‘dedicate, consecrate’) appears more frequently in late Christian skaldic poetry, it also occurs in eddic poems (Sigrdr 8/1, Hyndl 28/10), as well as in Egill Lv 5/8V (Eg 9), in contexts that are probably early and not obviously Christian. — [7] hermast ‘the most regrettable’: Some eds adopt the spelling of 152, harmast (so FSN; Gautr 1900; Edd. Min.; FSGJ).

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