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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Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))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, 255

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — StarkSt Vík 1VIII (Gautr 9)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 9 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 255.

As has already been mentioned in the general Introduction to Gautr stanzas, the title Víkarsbálkr ‘Víkarr’s Section’ is only applied in mss of the prose saga to the group of stanzas (Vík 26-33) that deal with the latter part of the hero’s life and the death of Víkarr (Gautr 1900, 31-3). However, it is possible that the title was applied in the Middle Ages to all the stanzas that appear piecemeal in Víkars þáttr and present a poetic autobiography of the hero Starkaðr. It is a reasonable but unprovable assumption that these lausavísur formed part of a long ævikviða that was broken up and distributed throughout the prose account of Starkaðr’s life to provide poetic evidence for his achievements. This assumption presupposes the existence of a version or versions of the poem prior to that of the earliest ms. that contains the prosimetrum of Víkars þáttr. An alternative hypothesis is that stanzas of disparate origin were assembled to form Starkaðr’s ævikviða at a time when the prose text began to take shape in the fourteenth century or gradually thereafter. The stanzas, many of which are presented in small groups of two or three, are introduced by formulae such as we also find in historical sagas, in this case most commonly svá segir Starkaðr ‘thus Starkaðr says’. The stanzas are mostly narrated in the first person, as the words of Starkaðr himself, while the prose narrative in which they are embedded is in the third person. Many of the stanzas of Vík are in a mixture of fornyrðislag with kviðuháttr, both in odd and even lines, when the latter are rendered as catalectic lines.

Vík is absent from mss of the shorter version of Gautr because the whole of Víkars þáttr is absent from it. Thus only mss of the longer version of the saga are witnesses to the text of Vík, and they differ considerably in the number of stanzas they contain. The witness that contains the most stanzas (all thirty-three) is 590b-cˣ, a seventeenth-century ms. probably copied from a medieval exemplar. Ms. papp11ˣ, of c. 1640, omits all but six stanzas of Vík, but, as Ranisch observed (Gautr 1900, ii), usually retains in the prose text the introductory formula svá segir Gautrekr where the stanzas would be expected to appear, thus revealing that many, perhaps most, of these stanzas were likely to have been present in its exemplar. The oldest ms. of the longer Gautr, 152 of c. 1500-25, omits fourteen stanzas, all of which are also omitted in papp11ˣ. A good proportion of the stanzas omitted by both papp11ˣ and 152 (Vík 17-25) were regarded by Ranisch as late interpolations (Gautr 1900, lxxxv-lxxxviii; Edd. Min. xxx-xxxi), and both Finnur Jónsson and Kock followed him in relegating these stanzas to an addendum to the text of Vík with discontinuous numbering of the component stanzas. This policy has not been followed in the present edition out of respect for the integrity of the ms. witnesses.

The following list indicates the distribution of the stanzas of Vík across the ms. witnesses.

Vík 1 (Gautr 9) — 152, 590b-cˣ, papp11ˣ   


Þá var ek ungr

Vík 2 (Gautr 10) — 152, 590b-cˣ, papp11ˣ  

Herr tapaðiz

Vík 3 (Gautr 11) — 152, 590b-cˣ, papp11ˣ   

Þá er Herþjófr

Vík 4 (Gautr 12) — 152, 590b-cˣ, papp11ˣ   

Þrévetran mik

Vík 5 (Gautr 13) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Afl gat ek ærit

Vík 6 (Gautr 14) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Unz Víkarr kom

Vík 7 (Gautr 15) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Hann mældi mik

Vík 8 (Gautr 16) — 152, 590b-cˣ, papp11ˣ  

Þá safnaði

Vík 9 (Gautr 17) — 152, 590b-cˣ, papp11ˣ  

Styr ok Steinþóri

Vík 10 (Gautr 18) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Svá komu vér

Vík 11 (Gautr 19) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Var Víkari

Vík 12 (Gautr 20) — 152, 590b-cˣ  

Var Víkari

Vík 13 (Gautr 21) — 590b-cˣ 

Vart þú eigi

Vík 14 (Gautr 22) — 590b-cˣ     

Mik lét sverði

Vík 15 (Gautr 23) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Ok á síðu

Vík 16 (Gautr 24) — 152, 590b-cˣ   

Sneidda ek honum

Vík 17 (Gautr 25) — 590b-cˣ     

Lét þreksamr

Vík 18 (Gautr 26) — 590b-cˣ    

Átti sér

Vík 19 (Gautr 27) — 590b-cˣ     

Var sínkgjarn

Vík 20 (Gautr 28) — 590b-cˣ     

Réð Friðþjófr

Vík 21 (Gautr 29) — 590b-cˣ     

Réðum um

Vík 22 (Gautr 30) — 590b-cˣ     

Réð Óláfr

Vík 23 (Gautr 31) — 590b-cˣ    

Gengum fram

Vík 24 (Gautr 32) — 590b-cˣ    

Réð Friðþjófr

Vík 25 (Gautr 33) — 590b-cˣ    

Mér gaf Víkarr

Vík 26 (Gautr 34) — 152, 590b-cˣ   

Fylgða ek fylki

Vík 27 (Gautr 35) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Þess erendis

Vík 28 (Gautr 36) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Skylda ek Víkar

Vík 29 (Gautr 37) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Þaðan vappaða ek

Vík 30 (Gautr 38) — 152, 590b-cˣ    

Nú sótta ek

Vík 31 (Gautr 39) — 590b-cˣ     

Hér settu mik

Vík 32 (Gautr 40) — 590b-cˣ     

Sjá þykkjaz þeir

Vík 33 (Gautr 41) — 590b-cˣ     

Hlæja rekkar

Þá var ek ungr,         er inni brann
frækna fjölð         með feðr …
þjóðnær vági         fyr Þrumu innan.

Ek var ungr þá, er fjölð frækna brann inni með feðr … þjóðnær vági fyr innan Þrumu.

I was young then, when a crowd of bold men burnt inside with … father very near the bay inside of Tromøy.

Mss: 590b-cˣ(3v), 152(198rb), papp11ˣ(5r) (Gautr)

Readings: [2] er: at 152;    inni: inni er papp11ˣ    [3] frækna: flokna 152, papp11ˣ;    fjölð: ferð 152    [5] ‑nær vági: so 152, ‘nerunge’ 590b‑cˣ, papp11ˣ    [6] innan: ‘menn annj’ 152

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga II 1: AII, 324, BII, 343-4, Skald II, 185; FSN 3, 16, Gautr 1664, 20 (ll. 1-4), Gautr 1900, 13, FSGJ 4, 13; Edd. Min. 38.

Context: This stanza, immediately followed by Vík 2 (Gautr 10), comes at the end of the first chapter of Víkars þáttr, which gives an account of Starkaðr’s family and of his father, Stórvirkr’s, relationship with King Haraldr of Agder in southern Norway. It mentions that King Haraldr had given Stórvirkr the island of Þruma (Tromøy) in Agder, where the latter established a farm. It then tells how Stórvirkr abducted a woman named Unnr, the mother of Starkaðr and the daughter of Jarl Freki of Hålogaland, and how Jarl Freki’s sons Fjǫri and Fýri burnt Stórvirkr and Unnr and their household inside their farmhouse. Starkaðr himself was fostered by King Haraldr. The stanza is introduced with the words Svá segir Starkaðr frá ‘Starkaðr tells thus about [the events]’.

Notes: [All]: This stanza and Vík 2 (Gautr 10) are presented as a single stanza of fourteen lines by Gautr 1900 and Edd. Min., but divided at the end of l. 6 of this stanza by Skj and Skald. That division has been followed here. Some text appears to be missing from ll. 4-5 of st. 1, where þjóð (l. 5) follows immediately after feðr (l. 4) in the mss, yet seems to belong alliteratively with ll. 5-6. An additional couplet may also be lacking to bring the stanza up to the conventional eight lines; alternatively, the combination of what is here given as two separate stanzas may be better regarded as one long stanza of irregular length. The metre is a mixture of fornyrðislag and kviðuháttr (ll. 1, 3). — [3] frækna ‘of bold men’: Edd. Min., Skj B, Skald and FSGJ have preferred the reading flotna ‘of seamen’, which occurs in one ms., AM 194a folˣ, a ms. close to papp11ˣ but not wholly dependent on it (Gautr 1900, iv-v). — [4] : Although there is no break between feðr and þjóð in l. 5, metre and alliteration require another word than þjóð after feðr and all previous eds have added mínum ‘my’ after feðr, a conjecture that may well be correct. — [5] þjóðnær vági ‘very near the bay’: For reasons already discussed in Note to l. 4 and because the readings of 590b-cˣ and papp11ˣ are garbled, this interpretation is tentative. Skj B and Skald treat þjóðnær as a cpd adv. meaning ‘very near’, in which the element þjóð- is an intensifier, ‘very’, and that interpretation is followed here. — [6] Þrumu ‘Tromøy’: An island in the Skagerrak, near Arendal, Aust-Agder, mentioned in Þul Eyja 3/8III and ESk Lv 14/2III.

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