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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gestumblindi (Gestumbl)

volume 8; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Heiðreks gátur (Heiðr) - 37

not in Skj

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

Not published: do not cite (Gestumbl HeiðrVIII (Heiðr))

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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, 422

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — Gestumbl Heiðr 12VIII (Heiðr 59)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 59 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 12)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 422.

Hvat er þat undra,
er ek úti
fyrir Dellings durum?
Tíu hefir tungur,
tuttugu augu,
fjóra tigu fóta;
fram líðr vættr.
Heiðrekr konungr,
hyggðu at gátu.


What is the wonder that I saw outside before Dellingr’s doors? It has ten tongues, twenty eyes, forty feet; that creature moves forward. King Heiðrekr, think about the riddle.

context: In the H redaction, before propounding the riddle, Gestumblindi says (Heiðr 1924, 65-6): frest eru bǫls bezt, en margr maðr vill at meira leita ok séz því sumum yfir; sé ek nú ok, at allra útfœra verðr at leita ‘delays are the best of misfortunes, but many a man wishes to seek more and because of this some make mistakes; I also see now that all escape routes must be tried’.

notes: Heiðrekr replies (Heiðr 1960, 43): Ef þú ert sá Gestumblindi, sem ek hugða, þá ertu vitrari en ek ætlaða; en frá gyltinni segir þú nú úti í garðinum ‘If you are the Gestumblindi I thought [you were], then you are wiser than I expected; but you speak now of the sow out in the yard’. The prose then adds (Heiðr 1960, 43): Þá lét konungr drepa gyltina, ok hafði hon níu grísi, sem Gestumblindi sagði. Nú grunar konung, hverr maðrinn mun vera ‘Then the king had the sow killed, and she had nine piglets [inside her], as Gestumblindi said. Now the king suspects who the man will be’. The H redaction is somewhat different, giving the solution and explanation first, then a longer exchange between Heiðrekr and Gestumblindi (Heiðr 1924, 66): Þá mælti konungr: ‘eigi veit ek nú, nema vitrir eigi nú hlut í, ok eigi veit ek, hvat manna þú ert.’ Gestumblindi svarar: ‘slíkr em ek, sem þú mátt sjá, ok vilda ek gjarna þiggja líf mitt ok vera lauss af þessum þrautum.’ Konungr svarar: ‘upp skaltu bera gátur, þar til er þik þrýtr ella mik at ráða.’ ‘Then the king said: “I don’t understand now, unless wise men now have a part in this, and I don’t know what sort of man you are.” Gestumblindi answers: “I am such as you can see, and I would wish eagerly to receive my life and be free from these tasks. The king answers: “you must offer riddles until you fail, or I [fail] to interpret them.”’ See also Heiðr 50 Note to [All]. — The solution makes this situation-specific and therefore not a true riddle, requiring foresight rather than logic to be solved. The riddle itself however could easily be answered generically ‘a sow with nine piglets’; cf. Aldhelm’s Scrofa praegnans (Ehwald 1919, 136). A similar feat occurs in a fragment by Pherecydes of Athens, where the seer Mopsus defeats his rival Calchas by correctly stating the number of piglets carried by a pregnant sow (in another version he divines the number of figs on a tree) (West 2007, 364). See also Taylor (1951, 28-31). — In the R redaction this riddle follows Gestumbl Heiðr 33 (Heiðr 80), also about a sow with piglets. — Lines 1-3 are ljóðaháttr, 4-9 fornyrðislag. — [1]: See Note to Heiðr 55/1.

texts: Heiðr 59 (66/42)

editions: Skj Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: D. 5. Heiðreks gátur 26 (AII, 226; BII, 245); Skald II, 127; Heiðr 1672, 151, FSN 1, 485, Heiðr 1873, 244, 342, Heiðr 1924, 66, 80, 139, FSGJ 2, 48-9, Heiðr 1960, 43; Edd. Min. 110.


GKS 2845 4° (2845) 72r, 18 - 72r, 19 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 281 4°x (281x) 99v, 16 - 99v, 17 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
AM 597 b 4°x (597bx) 49v, 28 - 49v, 29 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
UppsUB R 715x (R715x) 29v, 11 - 29v, 13 [1-6] (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
AM 203 folx (203x) 107v, 1 - 107v, 6 (Heiðr)  image  
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