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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gríms saga loðinkinna (GrL) - 7

Gríms saga loðinkinna (GrL)

Skaldic vol. 8; ed. Beatrice La Farge

verse introduction manuscripts contents

Gríms saga loðinkinna ‘The Saga of Grímr Hairy-cheek’ (GrL) is a short fornaldarsaga, which continues the family history of Ketill hœngr ‘Salmon’ by recounting the adventures of his son, Grímr, by the giantess-like Hrafnhildr, daughter of a Saami man named Brúni. Together with Ketils saga hœngs (Ket), Áns saga bogsveigis (Án) ‘Saga of Án Bow-bender’ and Ǫrvar-Odds saga (Ǫrv) ‘Saga of Arrow-Oddr’, this group of fornaldarsögur is often referred to as the sagas of the Hrafnistumenn, because all of their protagonists are claimed in their sagas to have come from the island of Hrafnista (Ramsta), off the coast of Namdalen, Norway. Although in their extant forms none of these sagas are preserved in mss earlier than the fifteenth century (except for two versions of Ǫrv, Holm perg 7 4° and AM 344 4°), there is reason to assume that some at least of the subject-matter, including some of the poetry recorded in the sagas, is older. See Introductions to the stanzas from Án, Ket and Ǫrv for references to the Hrafnistumenn in other Old Norse sources. In line with the normalisation policy of this edition, the texts of the stanzas edited here are normalised to a standard appropriate to Icelandic of the period 1250-1300.

GrL is extant in two late medieval mss plus one fifteenth-century fragment of a single leaf, AM 567 IV 4° (567IV). The saga contains seven stanzas, all of which appear in the two oldest complete mss of the saga, AM 343 a 4° (343a) of c. 1450-75 and AM 471 4° (471) of c. 1450-1500. As 343a also provides the best readings, its text has been adopted as the base ms. for this edition. Readings are also given from 471 and occasionally, when it has the better text, adopted from there. There are, in addition, more than forty paper mss from the seventeenth century and later, some of whose readings have been cited from time to time in the Notes, chief among them GKS 1006 folˣ (1006ˣ), AM 173 folˣ (173ˣ),  AM 340 4°ˣ (340ˣ), two codices from the seventeenth century bound together as AM 109 a 8°ˣ (109a Iˣ and 109a IIˣ; cf. Anderson 1990, 2, 73-5, 145), and AM 342 4°ˣ (342ˣ). On the four redactions or ms. traditions and their oldest representatives see Introduction to Ket. The ms. NKS 1778 b 4°ˣ contains stanzas which are radically different from those contained in other mss; however, it is uncertain whether they represent a genuine medieval tradition or were not perhaps composed by Björn Jónsson á Skarðsá (d. 1655; see Anderson 1990, 271-8, 426-8). A detailed discussion of the ms. tradition can be found in Anderson (1990, 1-13). Although not all seven stanzas appear in all the mss, the order in which they appear never varies.

The stanzas edited below are all composed in fornyrðislag metre. The first five stanzas constitute a hostile dialogue (senna) between Grímr and two beings described in the saga as troll-women (tröllkonur), Feima and Kleima, and has parallels in several other fornaldarsögur, as well as in HHj (cf. Introduction to sts 1-5 and Notes to GrL 1 and 5/8; cf. HjǪ ch. 12, FSGJ 4, 205-7; Frið ch. 3, FSGJ 3, 87-8). A similar hostile exchange appears in Ket ch. 5 (FSGJ 2, 168-72); here it is Grímr’s father Ketill hœngr who sails away on a hunting and fishing expedition during a famine and meets a troll-woman, Forað, whom he kills with one of the arrows known as Gusisnautar ‘Gusir’s gifts’; it is with one of these same arrows that Grímr kills Kleima (GrL ch. 1, FSGJ 2, 188). GrL 6 and 7 are spoken by Grímr in an episode which also has parallels in Ket (see Introduction to sts 6-7). In the corresponding episodes in Ket Grímr’s father Ketill also speaks several stanzas.

The following editions have been cited here: FSN 2, 145-6, 154-5, FSGJ 2, 186-8, Anderson 1990, 60-1, 66, 111-12, 121-2, 444-5, 448-9, 196; Edd. Min. 85, 96.

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