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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Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))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, 280

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

29 — StarkSt Vík 29VIII (Gautr 37)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 37 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 29)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 280.

Þaðan vappaðak         viltar brautir,
Hörðum leiðr,         með huga illan,
hringa vanr         ok hróðrkvæða,
dróttinlauss,         dapr alls hugar.

Þaðan vappaðak viltar brautir, leiðr Hörðum, með illan huga, vanr hringa ok hróðrkvæða, dróttinlauss, dapr alls hugar.

From there I wandered bewildering ways, hateful to the Hǫrðar, with a dark mind, lacking in rings and poems of praise, lordless, depressed in my whole mind.

Mss: 590b-cˣ(6v), 152(199vb-200ra) (Gautr)

Readings: [1] vappaðak: so 152, vappaði ek 590b‑cˣ    [2] brautir: götur (‘gótr’) 152    [5] hringa: hrings 152    [6] hróðr‑: so 152, hróðs 590b‑cˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga II 21: AII, 328, BII, 348, Skald II, 187; FSN 3, 35-6, Gautr 1900, 32, FSGJ 4, 32; Edd. Min. 43.

Context: As for Vík 26.

Notes: [All]: Lines 3, 5 and 7 are in kviðuháttr metre, the rest in fornyrðislag (but see Note to l. 1 below). — [All]: Starkaðr’s self-depiction as a social outcast, depressed and lacking the most valuable benefits of a courtly life, especially material wealth, the opportunity to compose poetry and the company of a lord, is strongly reminiscent of similar self-presentation in the Old English poems Deor, ll. 35-41 and (without the poetry theme) The Wanderer ll. 20-9. — [1] þaðan ‘from there’: As Ranisch comments (Gautr 1900, 32 n.), this adv. may be a later addition to the line, because otherwise the line is hypometrical.  — [1] vappaðak ‘I wandered’: The verb vappa ‘wander aimlessly, go unsteadily’ is uncommon in Old Norse, but cf. Egill Lv 39/7V (Eg 69). — [2] viltar brautir ‘bewildering ways’: Viltar ‘bewildering’ is f. acc. pl. of an adj. formed from the p. p. of villa ‘falsify, lead astray’. Ms. 152 has götur ‘paths’ where 579b-cˣ has brautir. — [3] leiðr Hörðum ‘hateful to the Hǫrðar’: Starkaðr was hateful to the Hǫrðar, the people of Hordaland (ON Hǫrðaland), because it was there that he killed Víkarr. According to the prose text (Gautr 1900, 30): ok af þessu verki varð hann fyrst landflótti af Hǫrðalandi ‘and because of this deed he was first banished from Hordaland’. — [5-6] vanr hringa ok hróðrkvæða ‘lacking in rings and poems of praise’: The cpd hróðrkvæði ‘poem of praise’ is a hap. leg., although its two component elements are well attested. It is understood here as an example of the rhetorical figure hysteron proteron, in which that which should come last (rings as a reward for praise-poems) is put first, emphasising that Starkaðr neither has the opportunity to compose praise-poems nor to be rewarded for them. LP: hróðrkvæði, on the other hand, assumes the cpd refers to poetry or generally laudatory opinions expressed by others about Starkaðr, though this seems less likely given that Starkaðr’s poetic skills are attested in a number of Old Norse sources and in Saxo (cf. Clunies Ross 2006a). It is also possible that vanr hringa ok hróðrkvæða could refer to a general lack of courtly culture in the environment in which Starkaðr found himself.

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