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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

III. 4. Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) - 38

not in Skj

2.2: Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise — Anon (TGT)III

Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 536. <> (accessed 30 June 2022)

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38 

cross-references:  21 = Anon (TGT) 17III 

in texts: Gramm, TGT, TGT 1, TGT 2, TGT 3, TGT 4, TGT FJ 1

SkP info: III, 536

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


The poetry in this grouping (Anon (TGT)) comprises thirty-seven anonymous stanzas in the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) which cannot be attributed to any known poet or named poem. (Anon (TGT) 21 referred to in SkP VII, 671 is now numbered 17 and to avoid confusion no number 21 appears here.) The authorship, date and provenance of TGT are discussed in the Introduction to this volume along with the mss and previous editions.

All of the anonymous poetry in TGT occurs in the second part of the treatise, conventionally known as Málskrúðsfræði ‘The lore of rhetoric’. The poetry is cited to illustrate rhetorical figures based ultimately on Book III of the Ars Maior of Donatus (Holtz 1981, 653-74; see Introduction to this volume). References to the Hiberno-Latin commentaries on Donatus, in particular, Sedulius Scottus (CCCM 40B), are included in the Notes where they provide a clearer source for TGT’s understanding of the grammatical concepts in Donatus.

In addition to the poetry here, nine fragments which are anonymous in TGT are attributed in this edition to Óláfr hvítaskáld ‘White Skald’ Þórðarson (Ólhv Frag 1-9) on the basis of Óláfr’s authorship of the treatise and the close correspondence of these stanzas with corresponding examples of figures in the Latin grammatical tradition. There are three further anonymous fragments which are said to belong to named poems in TGT, and they are included elsewhere in this edition under their titles (Hafliðamál (Anon Hafl); Kúgadrápa (Anon Kúgdr); Bjúgar vísur (Anon Bjúgvís)). For the full sequence of poetic citations in TGT, see Introduction to this volume.

The poetry is presented here in the order in which the stanzas occur in TGT. Finnur Jónsson (Skj) grouped the anonymous stanzas in TGT under various headings, mostly in the anonymous twelfth-century section (Anonyme digte og vers [XII]). The majority of stanzas are included under C. Vers om ubestemmelige personer og begivenheder ‘Stanzas about unidentified persons and events’ (sts 2-3, 5-11, 13-15, 18-20, 22-26, 28-34, 38 in this edition). Here Finnur divides the poetry into thematic groups. In addition, further anonymous material is categorised as anonymous twelfth-century poetry under the following Skj headings: D. Vers, hentydende til sagn og lign. ‘Stanzas referring to legends and similar’ (st. 1 in this edition); B. Vers om bestemte personer og begivenheder ‘Stanzas about identified persons and events’ (sts 16, 37); G [5]. Andre religiøse vers og herhen hørende digtbrudstykker ‘Other religious stanzas and poetic fragments belonging here’ (sts 17, 35, 36). Stanza 27 in the present edition is given in Skj under anonymous poetry from the tenth century (II. B. 3. Om Tor ‘About Thor’). Finnur omits our st. 4 and, following SnE 1848-87, assigns st. 12 in this edition to Einarr Skúlason’s Øxarflokkr (ESk Øxfl; see Introduction to st. 12).

The anonymous poetry in TGT is cited as very short fragments. Only eleven stanzas are longer than two lines, and there are no full (eight-line) stanzas. However, although they are apparently fragmentary, very few of the stanzas are syntactically incomplete, the exceptions being sts 5, 12/5, 24, 29; sts 33 and 34 are complete phrases but contain no verb.

Both the form and the subject matter of these fragments are highly diverse. A number of metres are represented, including kviðuháttr (sts 13, 20, 33-4), inn grœnlenzki háttr (sts 14, 23), málaháttr (18, 19, 38) and fornyrðislag (sts 22, 24-5), in addition to dróttkvætt (the remainder). Subjects include praise of rulers (sts 18-20, 22-4, 32-4), battles (sts 2-3, 7-9, 24-5, 30-1, 38), legends (st. 1), pagan myth (st. 27), Christian prayer and doctrine (sts 17, 19, 36), other Christian topics (st. 35), women (sts 10, 26, 28), sea voyages (sts 4, 11, 14), a gift of an axe (st. 12), court scenes (sts 13, 15), and historical events (sts 16, 37). Some fragments are too short to have any identifiable topic.

There is no extant internal or external information that can help establish a date for the composition of the anonymous stanzas in the treatise. Their language has been normalised to c. 1250, the date of the treatise and terminus ante quem for the poetry it contains.

Mss A, B and W are used here, with A as the main ms. (where complete). The question of the relative value of B and W (see Introduction to this volume) has almost no bearing on the reconstruction of these stanzas: only sts 1-7 are found in B, and only in one place is it necessary to make a decision between the readings of B or W (st. 4, where A lacks aðalhending). Finnur Jónsson uses W as the base ms. for the text in Skj A. His preference in general for A’s readings in Skj B shows that in practice he considered A the better ms., as is also seen in his later edition of the treatise (TGT 1927) which is based on A. There are, however, some instances in Skj B where he prefers readings from W despite A’s readings being as good as or preferable to W’s.

The Latin technical terms used by Óláfr often have different spellings from those used in the standard Latin grammatical tradition. The treatise’s spellings, where different, are included below in brackets after the standard terms.

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