Cite as: Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 4 (Gusi finnakonungr, Lausavísur 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 555.
|Hvat er þat manna, er mér í móti ferr
ok skríðr sem vargr af viði?
Æðru skaltu mæla,
| ef þú undan kemz |
þrysvar fyr Þrumu; því tel ek þik ósnjallan.
Hvat er þat manna, er ferr í móti mér ok skríðr sem vargr af viði? Skaltu mæla æðru, ef þú kemz undan þrysvar fyr Þrumu; því tel ek þik ósnjallan.
What kind of man is that, who comes towards me and creeps like a wolf from the wood? You will have to speak words of fear, if you escape three times before Þruma; for this reason I account you cowardly.
Mss: 343a(55v), 471(52r) (Ket)
Readings:  ok skríðr: skríðr þu 471  ef þú undan kemz: om. 471  þrysvar fyr Þrumu: þrysvar í Þrumu firði 471  því tel ek þik ósnjallan: þik tel ek ósnjallan 471
Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 8. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ketill hœngs saga II 2: AII, 279-80, BII, 301, Skald II, 159; FSN 2, 119, FSGJ 2, 161, Anderson 1990, 48, 91, 433; Edd. Min. 78.
Context: This stanza is a continuation of Gusi’s reply to Ketill’s greeting stanza. It continues without prose intervention in the saga text, which indicates no change of speaker.
Notes: [All]: Gusi’s stanza is a fairly standard provocation of an
enemy, implying, first, that Ketill must be some kind of outlaw (vargr, see Note to l. 3 below) and, second, that he is
a coward when it comes to fighting. — [All]: The first half-stanza is composed in ljóðaháttr, whilst the second is in fornyrðislag. Previous eds with the exception of Anderson (1990, 433) have regarded the words því tel ek þik ósnjallan (343a) or the corresponding variants in the other mss as prose rather than as the last line of the stanza. In this case the whole stanza would be composed in ljóðaháttr. Three reasons can be adduced as arguments for regarding the last part of Gusi’s reply as verse rather than prose: (1) it contains a word (því 343a) which alliterates with þrysvar and Þrumu (or the variants) in the preceding line; (2) it is a continuation of the thought expressed in the previous lines; (3) eddic poetry provides many examples of stanzas composed in two different metres (cf. Skí). —  ok skríðr sem vargr af viði ‘and creeps like a wolf from the wood’: The words vargr and viðr alliterate in several other texts (HHund I 41/3-4, HHund II 33/7-8, Anon Sól 9/6VII). The word vargr is used as a term for ‘wolf’ but also for a ‘criminal’ and occasionally ‘outlaw’ (cf. von See 1999c, 118-20). Like wolves, outlaws are associated with forests (cf. the designation of outlaws as skógarmenn ‘men of the forest’). Gusi’s characterisation of Ketill here may evoke the idea of both outlaw and wolf, as is the case in the other texts adduced above. —  þrysvar fyr Þrumu ‘three times before Þruma’: The word Þrumu is usually interpreted here as the name of an island in Agder in southern Norway (cf. LP: 1. Þruma 1; Note to Þul Eyja 3/8III). In mss 343a and 471 the place mentioned is identified in a prose remark (FSGJ 2, 161): þeir fundust fyrir Ófara-Þrumu ‘they [i.e. Ketill and Gusi] met near Ófara-Þruma’. In 471 the p. n. appears in the stanza as Þrumu firði ‘Þruma fjord’. In the reading í þrumu which appears in some mss (papp32ˣ, 109a IIˣ and 1006ˣ) the word þruma could be interpreted in another way, namely as a poetic designation for ‘battle’: as Finnur Jónsson notes (LP: 2. þruma), the common noun þruma means ‘thunder, noise’ and appears as a variant reading to the synonym þrima as a poetic designation for ‘battle’ in Þhorn Gldr 1/2I. Since Ketill meets the Saami Gusi shortly after he leaves the home of Brúni north of Finnmark and returns to Brúni after he has killed Gusi, an island (or fjord) in southern Norway does not accord well with the geography of the saga (Ketill’s home is in Namdalen in Nord-Trøndelag).