Cite as: Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 66 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 19)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 430.
|Hverjar eru þær drósir, er um dróttin sinn
| hlífa um alla daga, |
en inar fegri fara.
Heiðrekr konungr, hyggðu at gátu.
Hverjar eru þær drósir, er vega vápnlausar um dróttin sinn? Inar jarpari hlífa um alla daga, en inar fegri fara. Heiðrekr konungr, hyggðu at gátu.
Who are those girls, who fight weaponless around their lord? The darker ones protect [him] during all the days, but the fairer ones go forth [to attack]. King Heiðrekr, think about the riddle.
Mss: 2845(71v), 281ˣ(100r), 597bˣ(50r), R715ˣ(28r) (ll. 1-3, 5-6) (Heiðr)
Readings:  drósir: so R715ˣ, brúðir all others  um: so 281ˣ, 597bˣ, R715ˣ, om. 2845; dróttin sinn: sinn dróttinn all  vápnlausar: so 281ˣ, 597bˣ, R715ˣ, vápnlausan 2845  jarpari: ‘jorpsku’ 281ˣ, 597bˣ  hlífa: ‘lifa’ 281ˣ, 597bˣ; um: om. 281ˣ, 597bˣ  fara: frýja 281ˣ, 597bˣ, R715ˣ [7-8] abbrev. as ‘h k̄ h’ 2845, abbrev. as ‘heidr: k:’ 281ˣ, abbrev. as ‘h Kongr’ 597bˣ
Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], D. 5. Heiðreks gátur 13: AII, 223-4, BII, 242, Skald II, 126, NN §2833; Heiðr 1672, 147, FSN 1, 473, Heiðr 1873, 249, 338, Heiðr 1924, 68, 71, 134, FSGJ 2, 43, Heiðr 1960, 37-8; Edd. Min. 113.
Notes: [All]: Heiðrekr’s response reads (Heiðr 1960, 38): þat er hnettafl; inar døkkri verja hnefann, en hvítar sœkja ‘that is hnefatafl; the darker defend the hnefi, but the white ones attack’. The H redaction reads (Heiðr 1924, 71): þat er hneftafl; tǫflur drepaz vápnalausar um hnefann ok fylgja honum enar rauðu ‘that is hneftafl; the töflur kill each other without weapons around the hnefi, and the red ones escort him’. Hnefatafl (also called hneftafl or just tafl ‘tables’, an earlier and generic word for board-games) was a game played on a square grid with an odd number of rows per side, leaving a distinct centre square on which stood the hnefi or ‘king’ piece. The hnefi was surrounded by his defenders, outnumbered by the opposing attacking pieces, which started the game on the outer squares of the board, in a 2:1 ratio. The object for the defending side was for the king to reach the outer edge of the board, while the attacking side could win by capturing the hnefi. Evidence of the playing of the game has been found throughout Scandinavia and the British Isles, with analogues in other Northern European cultures. It is mentioned in several places in Old Norse literature, often as an indicator of the players’ status, including in Vsp 8, which relates that the Æsir teflðo ‘played tafl’ in the Golden Age early in the world’s history (Vsp 61 tells that their playing-pieces will be once again discovered in the new world after Ragnarǫk), and in Rv Lv 1/1II, where the ability to play the game is listed among the íþróttir ‘skills’ of Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson, jarl of Orkney. For further information see Helmfrid (2005), Bayless (2005), Murray (1913, 428-37; 1978, 58-64) and Fiske (1905). — [All]: Cf. Heiðr 73 and 79, which also refer to aspects of the game tafl. —  drósir ‘girls’: All mss except R715ˣ have brúðir ‘women, brides’; cf. Heiðr 71/1, which lacks alliteration. Skj B, Edd. Min. and Heiðr 1960 emend to snótir ‘ladies’ (cf. Heiðr 68/1); this is without ms. support. Skald prefers drósir, as here. —  sinn dróttin ‘their lord’: Reversing the mss’ order of these two words restores a metrical line, an emendation also made by Skald. —  vápnlausar ‘weaponless’: The main ms., 2845,
reads vápnlausan m. acc. sg.,
agreeing with dróttin, meaning it is
the lord who is weaponless. The other mss agree on the f. nom. pl. form,
however, supported by the solution in the H redaction, and this is also
culturally more plausible, since women did not normally carry weapons while a
lord normally would.