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Runic Dictionary

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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

III. 2. Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise (FoGT) - 47

2.3: Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise — Anon (FoGT)III

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 570. <> (accessed 28 November 2021)

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   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47 

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: D. 3. Vers af den 4. grt. afhandling (AII, 214-19, BII, 231-6); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25

SkP info: III, 581

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — Anon (FoGT) 8III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 581.

Three stanzas (one whole, two couplets) are cited by the author of FoGT to illustrate the rhetorical figure of hypallage, in which the natural relations of two words in a statement are interchanged. The chapter is introduced with the statement: Ypallage verðr þat, er sꜳ er kallaðr þolandi, sem at rettv er gerandi, ęðr sꜳ giorandi, sem at rettv er þolandí, sem herHypallage occurs when he who is rightly active is called passive, or he [is called] active, who is by rights passive, as here’. The metre of st. 8 is alhent ‘completely rhymed’, a variant of dróttkvætt in which there are two pairs of full rhymes in each line; cf. SnSt Ht 44 (SnE 2007, 21). Stanzas 9 and 10 are in dróttkvætt.

Framan unnu gram gunnar
†grafins seiðs† framir meiðar;
biðu Jótar lið ljótan
lagagangs daga strangra.
Lofag sjaldan hóf haldið;
hataz dygð; *rataz lygðir;
tregs halda vegs valdar
veginn arf megindjarfir.

{Meiðar {†seiðs grafins†}}, framir gunnar, unnu framan gram; Jótar biðu ljótan lið lagagangs strangra daga. Lofag sjaldan haldið hóf; dygð hataz; lygðir *rataz; {megindjarfir valdar tregs vegs} halda veginn arf.

{The trees { … }} [GOLD? > MEN], outstanding in battle, overcame the prominent prince; the Jótar experienced an ugly situation of legal proceedings during harsh times. I seldom praise moderation preserved; virtue is destroyed; lies are abroad; {the very bold possessors of slow honour} [CONTEMPTIBLE MEN] keep hold of the slain [man’s] inheritance.

Mss: W(112) (FoGT)

Readings: [6] *rataz: hrataz W

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], D. 3. Vers af den 4. grt. afhandling 5: AII, 215, BII, 232, Skald II, 120, NN §2354; SnE 1848-87, II, 198-9, III, 155, FoGT 1884, 124, 247-52, FoGT 2004, 34, 62, 95-6, FoGT 2014, 6-9, 62-3.

Context: As described in the Introduction to sts 8-10 above. This stanza is followed with the explanation: her er arfrenn veginn kallaðr, sa er maðr var fra vegínn, sa er með rettv hellt, er þeir tokv, er hann drapv ‘here the inheritance is called slain, which was taken from the slain man who by right owned it, and which those who killed him took’.

Notes: [All]: As has been noted by previous eds, some of the rhymes in this stanza (e.g. lof- : hóf, l. 5 and dygð : lygð-, l. 6) suggest a late date of composition. That is also corroborated by the fact that in l. 5, an odd line of Type XE3, metrical position 4 is occupied by a trimoraic nomen (hóf ‘moderation’). — [All]: The stanza juxtaposes several short moralising statements in alhent metre, whose message is cleverly reinforced by the double aðalhending in each line. Examples of alhent in the skaldic corpus are not numerous; for a list see SnE 2007, 83. The speaker of the stanza ( the ‘I’ of l. 5) seems to be reflecting on contemporary events with which he is clearly out of sympathy. Björn Magnússon Ólsen (FoGT 1884, 250-2) suggested that the stanza (and ll. 3-4 and 7-8 in particular) might be an allusion to the situation in Denmark in the interregnum of 1332-40 when the kingdom was divided into four parts. He proposed that the reference to Jótar ‘Jutlanders’ (l. 3) might allude to the situation in Northern Jutland in which there was an uprising against the German count Gert (Gerhard III of Holstein), who was the real ruler of the area, and widely despised. He may be the ‘prominent prince’ (framan gram) of l. 1. This uprising led to Gert’s death at the hands of Niels Ebbesen and his brothers and ultimately to Valdimar IV’s ascent of the throne in June 1340. Gert was assasinated in April 1340. As the stanza represents the events troubling the Jótar as past (cf. biðu ‘they experienced’ l. 3), while using the pres. tense later, Björn Magnússon Ólsen argued that this stanza must date from some time in later 1340 after the news of Gert’s death had reached Iceland. However, it is by no means certain that ll. 7-8 refer to a specific historical circumstance, as they could easily be interpreted, along with ll. 5-6, as a general comment on the moral deterioration of the times. — [1, 2] framir gunnar ‘outstanding in battle’: Lit. ‘of battle’. Understood here as an adjectival phrase qualifying the kenning meiðarseiðs grafins† (see following Note), in which framir ‘outstanding’ qualifies meiðar ‘trees’. This interpretation has been ruled out by most previous eds (with the exception of Sveinbjörn Egilsson) because another form of the same adj. occurs as the first word of l. 1. They have then been forced to emend framir (l. 2). FoGT 1884, Skj B and FoGT 2004 all emend to tamir ‘familiar, ready’, translated as a cpd adj. ‘ready for battle’ with gunnar (l. 1). Kock (Skald) emends to frafir ‘swift’ (pl. of frár). However, the repetition of different forms of the same lexical unit may be explained as a product of the poet’s use of the alhent metre. — [2] meiðar seiðs grafins† ‘the trees … [GOLD ? > MEN]’: The noun meiðar ‘trees’ appears to be the base-word of a man-kenning, but the phrase seiðs grafins, of which the most obvious translation would be ‘of the engraved/buried coalfish’, does not provide the necessary determinant. Several interpretations of the two untranslated words, which probably form a kenning for gold, have been proposed, but none of them are entirely satisfactory. The emendation eiðs gramnis ‘of the isthmus of the snake [GOLD]’ was adopted by FoGT 1884, Skj B and FoGT 2004, but gramnis is unmetrical, as a disyllabic word with a short first syllable is expected here. The emendation of grafins to gramnis was first proposed by Jón Ólafsson of Svefney (1786, 61), and has been followed by all subsequent eds except Kock (Skald and NN §2354), who retains grafins. This unattested ms. form may be a variant of the snake-heiti grafningr (cf. Þul Orma 2/3). Ms. W’s seiðs ‘of the saithe/coalfish’ could also form the base-word of a snake-kenning, but would be otiose in this sense if grafins also denotes a snake. Hence eds have emended seiðs to eiðs ‘of the isthmus’ to provide a base-word that will produce a gold-kenning following the model ‘land of the snake’. Jón Ólafsson (1786: seidr) suggested that seiðr here might mean ‘sorcery, magic’ (specifically, pulpitum, cui insidebant venefici ‘a platform on which wizards sat’), giving the gold-kenning seiðr gramnis ‘platform of the snake’, but such a usage of seiðr is unprecedented (cf. FoGT 1884, 248). Sveinbjörn Egilssson (SnE 1848-87, III, 155) saw a sword-kenning in seiðr gramnis, glossed as ignis clypei ‘fire of the shield’. Seiðr in the sense of ‘sorcery’ is not used in gold-kennings either as base-word or determinant; cf. Meissner 223-43. — [3] lið ‘situation’: Liðr usually means ‘joint, part, term’, but in certain idiomatic uses has the sense of a specific place or time; cf. LP: 1. liðr 1. — [4] strangra daga ‘during harsh times’: Gen. of elapsed time; cf. NS §140. — [5] lofag sjaldan haldið hóf ‘I seldom praise moderation preserved’: A kind of litotes. The speaker seldom praises moderation because it is hardly ever found to occur. — [6] *rataz ‘are abroad’: Ms. W has ‘hrataz’. Hrata means ‘tumble down, fall’, rata ‘travel, roam’ (also ‘collapse’). Konráð Gíslason (Nj 1875-89, II, 362-3) first proposed reading rataz, which gives a somewhat better sense with lygðir ‘lies’ and is to be preferred metrically. — [7] tregs vegs ‘of slow honour’: Another litotes. The sense is that the men referred to have no honour. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends tregs to tregt, taking it with hóf ‘moderation’ (l. 5), but this fragments the syntax and is an unnecessary emendation. — [8] veginn arf ‘the slain [man’s] inheritance’: This phrase was apparently the rhetorical reason for quoting st. 8, as it illustrates the figure of hypallage, transferring the quality of a man who had been killed to the inheritance for which, presumably, his attackers killed him. The usage is rather strained, however, as Björn Magnússon Ólsen (FoGT 1884, 250) noted, and strengthens the likelihood that the stanza was invented by the author of the treatise.

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