Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

StarkSt Vík 33VIII (Gautr 41)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 41 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 33)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 286.

Starkaðr gamli StórvirkssonVíkarsbálkr

text and translation

Hlæja rekkar,         er mik sjá,
ljótan skolt,         langa trjónu,
hangar tjálgur,         hár úlfgrátt,
hrjúfan háls,         húð jótraða.

Rekkar, er sjá mik, hlæja ljótan skolt, langa trjónu, hangar tjálgur, úlfgrátt hár, hrjúfan háls, jótraða húð.
‘Men who see me laugh at [my] ugly snout, long muzzle, dangling branches, wolf-grey hair, scabby neck, scarred skin.

notes and context

As for Gautr 39.

This is the final stanza of Vík, according to 590b-cˣ, and it is in a mixture of fornyrðislag and kviðuháttr; ll. 1 and 5 are fornyrðislag, ll. 2 and 6 are hypometrical, while ll. 3 and 7 are kviðuháttr. Shortly after its citation the prose text in all mss of the longer Gautr brings the story of Starkaðr to a rather abrupt end, with a few summary remarks about his later career as a viking, in which he was always victorious. As a concluding stanza to Starkaðr’s life-history, Vík 33 is rather unconvincing; it is a list of Starkaðr’s repulsive physical traits, which one might expect to lead on to further stanzas describing his various adventures, but they do not, leaving one to speculate that there may have been more stanzas not used in the prose saga. — The list of Starkaðr’s physical traits is strongly suggestive of the animal as much as the human. Skoltr (the younger form of skolptr) ‘snout’ (l. 3) and trjóna ‘muzzle’ (l. 4) suggest the long face of an animal, like a bear or a wolf; skoltr is used in two places in Old Norse poetry to refer to figure-heads on ships, possibly dragon heads (cf. HSt Rst 14/5I and Valg Har 10/5II). The adj. úlfgrár ‘wolf-grey’ (l. 6) contributes to this picture, not only by indicating Starkaðr’s age, but also by drawing a comparison with a wolf, an animal frequently symbolic of both physical aggression and the position of social outcast in Old Norse and other Germanic literature (cf. Hildr Lv 1I and Jacoby 1974). The same adj. is used by Egill Skallagrímsson in Arbj 7/5V (Eg 103) of his own grey head. Both Egill and Starkaðr are figures of great physical strength but also have supernatural connections; the animal qualities ascribed to them may be a way of symbolising the mixture of these two sources of their power (cf. Clunies Ross 2015, 83-4).  — [1-2]: These two lines show metrical and alliterative irregularities. Both Gautr 1900 and Edd. Min. replace rekkar ‘men’ in l. 1 with menn ‘men’ to regularise both metre and alliteration, while Skj B addresses the metrical irregularity of l. 2 by indicating that words must be missing between mik ‘me’ and sjá ‘see’. Skald, on the other hand, keeps rekkar in l. 1 and replaces mik ‘me’ in l. 2 with raum, from raumr ‘large, ugly person, giant’ (NN §2613).



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga II 25: AII, 328, BII, 348, Skald II, 188, NN §§2613, 3363; FSN 3, 37, Gautr 1900, 33, FSGJ 4, 34; Edd. Min. 43.


Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.