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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Tóki Lv 1VIII (HjǪ 1)

Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 1 (Tóki víkingr, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 493.

Tóki víkingrLausavísa1


In these two stanzas, Tóki the viking and Hjálmþér exchange formulaic insulting greetings before fighting one another. Tóki issues the challenge to fight when he discovers Hjálmþér has killed his brother Kollr.

text and translation

Hverir eru skálkar,         er skipum ráða,
heldr harðsnúnir,         happalausir?
Vér skulum lýði         lífi ræna
ok með oss öllum         auði skipta.

Hverir eru skálkar, er ráða skipum, heldr harðsnúnir, happalausir? Vér skulum ræna lýði lífi ok skipta öllum auði með oss.
‘Who are the rogues who command the ships, rather stubborn [and] luckless? We will rob the men of life and divide all the wealth among us.

notes and context

The stanza is spoken by Tóki, described as large and of evil appearance, when he catches sight of Hjálmþér’s ships and men.

The insulting terms of the challenge are intentionally significant. Skálkr in the sense ‘rogue’ (l. 1) appears in Old Norse texts from c. 1320, possibly influenced by Middle Low German (AEW, ONP, Fritzner: skalkr); its earlier and more common meaning is ‘slave, servant’. Lýðr ‘the men’ (l. 5) is often used of ‘common folk’. — Gould (1909, 214-15), cites the rhetorical parallels in the exchange between adversaries here and those in an episode of ÞorstVík among a number of similarities between the two texts, the latter of which in his view served as a source for this confrontational episode in HjǪ



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. 16. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Hjálmþérs saga ok Ǫlvis I 1: AII, 333, BII, 353-4, Skald II, 191; HjǪ 1720, 12, FSN 3, 461, FSGJ 4, 187, HjǪ 1970, 11, 72, 124.


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