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Runic Dictionary

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Gestumblindi (Gestumbl)

volume 8; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Heiðreks gátur (Heiðr) - 37

Heiðreks gátur (‘Riddles of Heiðrekr’) — Gestumbl HeiðrVIII (Heiðr)

Not published: do not cite (Gestumbl HeiðrVIII (Heiðr))

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 

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: D. 5. Heiðreks gátur, Gestumblindes gåder (AII, 221-8, BII, 240-7); stanzas (if different): 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38

SkP info: VIII, 433

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Gestumbl Heiðr 21VIII (Heiðr 68)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 68 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 21)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 433.

Hverjar eru þær snótir,
er ganga syrgjandi
at forvitni föður?
Hadda bleika
hafa þær inar hvítföldnu,
ok eigut þær varðir vera.
Heiðrekr konungr,
hyggðu at gátu.


Who are those ladies, who go sorrowing, to the curiosity of their father? They have pale hair, the white-hooded ones, and those women do not have husbands. King Heiðrekr, think about the riddle.

notes: Heiðrekr’s response is (Heiðr 1960, 40): Þat eru bylgjur, er svá heita ‘Those are the billows, that are so called’. The H redaction has the variant (Heiðr 1924, 72): þat eru bylgjur, er heita Ægis meyjar ‘Those are the billows, which are called Ægir’s girls’. This is the first of four riddles with the solution ‘waves’, which draw upon the mythological tradition that the waves can be personified as supernatural women, the nine daughters of the sea-being Ægir (cf. the common noun ægir ‘ocean’) and his wife Rán. The wave-maidens are named in Skm as Himinglæva ‘heaven-bright one’, Dúfa ‘dip’, Blóðughadda ‘bloody-haired one’, Hefring ‘lifting one’, Uðr ‘wave’, Hrǫnn ‘wave’, Bylgja ‘billow’, Bára ‘bore, tidal wave’, Kólga ‘cold one’ (SnE 1998, I, 36); later in Skm Snorri lists the names again, but Bára is replaced by Drǫfn ‘turbid one’ (SnE 1998, I, 95). Cf. Þul Sjóvar 4III and Note [All], from which the translations here are taken; see also Þul Waves 1III. This tradition is reflected in both skaldic and eddic poetry; see e.g. Snæbj Lv 1III, ESk Frag 17III, SnSt Ht 22III, HHund I 28-9. The wave-maidens (like their mother, Rán) are always portrayed as hostile figures. — [1-2]: In 2845 the opening lines of this riddle and the following one (Gestumbl Heiðr 22/1-2 (Heiðr 69)) are reversed. This is followed, presumably on the grounds that 2845 is the main ms., by most eds, including Skj B, Skald, FSGJ and Edd. Min. However, all the other mss are in agreement on the arrangement followed here. — [3]: A difficult phrase, of which the implications are unclear. It also appears as l. 3 of the following two riddles. The preposition at seems to mean that the father’s forvitni has somehow motivated the wave-maidens’ actions in ll. 1-2. If forvitni is understood in its usual sense of ‘curiosity’, and if Ægir is the faðir ‘father’ in question, a desire to know more about the world may be implied; the Ægir portrayed in the frame story of Skm is certainly curious about the Æsir and their deeds. Alternatively, Finnur Jónsson (LP) suggested that here forvitni may mean begœrlidhed, ønske ‘covetousness, desire’, and Clunies Ross (1994b, 175) thinks it probable that the sea was seen by early Scandinavian societies as ‘an entity where male and female principles met and mingled’, suggesting that ‘as both waves and ocean are formed from the same substance, it might be expected that the male-female relationship would have been thought of as incestuous’. On the formula as a potential reflex of traditions about valkyries or other supernatural women, see Burrows (2013). — [5-6]: The quality of being white-hooded describes both waves and young, marriageable women or brides. The juxtaposition of the latter image with l. 6 creates a riddling paradox. Part of the prose solution in the U redaction reads (Heiðr 1924, 132-3): þær fylgia iafnann farmonnum og eru verlausar ‘they always follow seafarers and are without husbands’, suggesting a now-lost variant l. 5. See further Burrows (2013, 202-4). — [5]: The same half-line is found in Heiðr 71/5, also a wave-riddle. These are the only two recorded instances of the adj. hvítfaldinn ‘white-hooded’. On the significance of the faldr as a feminine garment see Perkins (1986-9b). — [6]: The same line is found Gestumbl Heiðr 18/7 (Heiðr 65), applied to wild angelica. The emendation is based on the reading there, and is also made by all other eds. The H redaction places this line as l. 6 of the following riddle (see Note), but the other mss agree on the present arrangement. In its place here, the H-redaction mss have l. 6 of Gestumbl Heiðr 23 (Heiðr 70), also a wave-riddle; this is a weaker combination in terms of sense.

texts: Heiðr 68 (60/52)

editions: Skj Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: D. 5. Heiðreks gátur 20 (AII, 225; BII, 244); Skald II, 126, NN §115; FSN 1, 478, Heiðr 1873, 251, 340, Heiðr 1924, 72, 75, 132, FSGJ 2, 46, Heiðr 1960, 40; Edd. Min. 114.


GKS 2845 4° (2845) 72r, 2 - 72r, 4 [1-6] (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 281 4°x (281x) 100r, 18 - 100r, 19 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
AM 597 b 4°x (597bx) 50v, 1 - 50v, 3 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
UppsUB R 715x (R715x) 27r, 25 - 27v, 3 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
AM 203 folx (203x) 105v, 1 - 105v, 6 (Heiðr)  image  
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