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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bragi inn gamli Boddason — BragiIII

skalds

Vol. 3, 26 —  — ed. Margaret Clunies Ross

Poetry

Biography

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Biography of) Bragi inn gamli Boddason’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 26.

It is not possible to be precise about either the dates of Bragi Boddason’s (Bragi) floruit or about the details of his life. Some of the latter are almost certainly legendary (e.g. the narratives associated with Bragi Lv 1abIV, VIII and Bragi Troll), while his sobriquet inn gamli ‘the Old’ places him almost in prehistory, seen from an Icelandic viewpoint. Landnámabók (Ldn, ÍF 1, 82) mentions him as being associated by marriage with the family of Arinbjǫrn hersir from Firðir (Fjordane) in Western Norway, and Egils saga (Eg, ÍF 2, 182) places him in the same context. Ldn tells that Bragi’s wife was Lopthœna, daughter of another poet, Erpr lútandi ‘the Stooping’. Bragi seems to have been active as a poet in Norway one or two generations before the settlement of Iceland, hence c. 850-70. In Skáldatal’s list of poets (SnE 1848-87, III, 251, 259, 270), Bragi is the first named skald whose works have survived, at least in part. There he is associated with three patrons: Bjǫrn at Haugi, probably a Norwegian ruler, though some sources consider him Swedish (see Jón Jóhannesson 1940), Eysteinn beli and Ragnarr loðbrók ‘Shaggy-breeches’, there said to be a Danish king who himself composed poetry. Snorri Sturluson (SnE 1998, I, 72-3) associates Bragi’s poem Ragnarsdrápa (Rdr) with Ragnarr loðbrók, and he may be one and the same as the Ragnarr mentioned in Rdr’s refrain and ‘the son of Sigurðr’ referred to in Rdr 2/4. If Bragi’s patron Ragnarr is to be identified with the Viking leader who led an attack on Paris in 845, supposedly died in a snake-pit at the hands of King Ælla of Northumbria, and was the father of the Ingware and Ubba that the F version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle claims led raids on England in the 860s and 70s (de Vries 1928a; McTurk 1991a), then their association is just possible chronologically and geographically, as Ragnarr’s connections within Scandinavia were with Norway as well as with Denmark (Smyth 1977, 17-20).

Alongside information about Bragi the poet, Icelandic traditions also mention a god or supernatural being of this name (Grí 44/7, Lok, Sigrdr 16/2, SnE 2005, 25). In the frame narrative of Skm, Snorri Sturluson represents Bragi as the god who informs a curious sea-giant Ægir about the nature of skaldic diction. The connection between Bragi the poet and Bragi the god is uncertain, but it seems likely that Bragi Boddason’s iconic status as the first skald whose poetry survived into historical times contributed to the formation of the concept of a deity closely associated with the practice of skaldic verse in a courtly context (cf. Anon EirmI, Eyv HákI). Some scholars have linked Bragi and the origin of dróttkvætt with the influence of Irish poetry and culture, but their arguments are inconclusive (cf. Turville-Petre 1971; Kuhn 1983, 272-5; Sayers 1992).

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. Turville-Petre, Gabriel. 1972a. Nine Norse Studies. Viking Society for Northern Research Text Series 5. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  4. ÍF 1 (parts 1 and 2) = Íslendingabók; Landnámabók. Ed. Jakob Benediktsson. 1968. Rpt. as one volume 1986.
  5. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1983. Das Dróttkvætt. Heidelberg: Winter.
  6. ÍF 2 = Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar. Ed. Sigurður Nordal. 1933.
  7. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  8. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  9. Smyth, Alfred P. 1977. Scandinavian Kings in the British Isles 850-880. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  10. McTurk, Rory. 1991a. Studies in Ragnars saga loðbrókar and Its Major Scandinavian Analogues. Medium Ævum Monographs new ser. 15. Oxford: Society for the Study of Mediæval Languages and Literature.
  11. Sayers, William. 1992. ‘Bragi Boddason, the First Skald, and the Problem of Celtic Origins’. Scandinavian-Canadian Studies/Études scandinaves au Canada 5, 1-18.
  12. Vries, Jan de. 1928a. ‘Die westnordische Tradition der Sage von Ragnar Lodbrók’. ZDP 53, 257-302.
  13. Jón Jóhannesson. 1940. ‘Björn at Haugi’. In [n. a.]. 1940. Afmælisrit helgað Einari Arnórssyni sextugum 24. febrúar 1940. Reykjavík: Ísafoldarprentsmiðjar, 135-40. Rpt. 1969 in English trans. by Gabriel Turville-Petre, SBVS 17, 293-301.
  14. Turville-Petre, Gabriel. 1971. ‘Dróttkvætt and Irish Syllabic Measures’. Ériu 22, 1-22. Rpt. in Turville-Petre 1972a, 154-80. First published as ‘Um Dróttkvæði og Írskan Kveðskap’. Skírnir 128, 31-55.
  15. Internal references
  16. Not published: do not cite (EgV)
  17. Not published: do not cite (LdnIV)
  18. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)
  19. Not published: do not cite (RloðVIII)
  20. R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Eiríksmál’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1003.
  21. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Ragnarsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 27.
  22. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Bragi inn gamli Boddason, An exchange of verses between Bragi and a troll-woman’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 63.
  23. R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 171.
  24. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Ragnarsdrápa 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 30.
  25. Not published: do not cite (Bragi Lv 1aIV)
  26. Not published: do not cite ()
  27. Not published: do not cite ()
  28. Not published: do not cite ()
  29. Not published: do not cite ()

other information

Bragi inn gamli Boddason (Bragi)

9th century

Skj AI, 1-5; BI, 1-5

volume 3

main editor: Margaret Clunies Ross

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