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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (Ragn) 7VIII (Ragn 37)

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 37 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar 7)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 697.

Anonymous LausavísurLausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar

text and translation

Fylgðum Birni báðir
at branda gný hverjum
— váru reyndir rekkar —
en Ragnari stundum.
Var ek, þar er bragnar börðuz
á Bolgaralandi;
því bar ek sár á síðu;
sittu innar meir, granni!

Fylgðum báðir Birni, en stundum Ragnari, at {hverjum gný branda}; váru reyndir rekkar. Ek var, þar er bragnar börðuz á Bolgaralandi; því bar ek sár á síðu; sittu innar meir, granni!
‘We both accompanied Bjǫrn, and sometimes Ragnarr, in every clash of swords [BATTLE]; they were proven warriors. I was where men fought in Bolgaraland; hence I bore a wound in my side; sit further in, neighbour!

notes and context

The second of the two speakers states that both of them were followers of Bjǫrn (járnsíða) and Ragnarr, and the prose which follows the stanza confirms that they have finally recognised one another as former companions.

The Ragnarr and Bjǫrn referred to in ll. 1 and 4 are presumably Ragnarr loðbrók, the hero of Ragn, and Bjǫrn járnsíða ‘Ironside’, the second of Ragnarr’s five sons by Kráka-Áslaug (see the Contexts of Ragn 7 and 8 above). On the historical prototype(s) of Ragnarr loðbrók, see the Introduction. The historical prototype of Bjǫrn járnsíða appears to have been one Berno, who according to the Chronicon Fontanellense for 855 (Pertz 1829, 304) and the contemporary Annales Bertiniani for 858 (Rau 1969, 96-7) was active between those years as a viking leader on the Seine. This Berno also seems to have been the prototype of the viking leader referred to as Lotroci regis filius, nomine Bier Coste … ferree ‘the son of King Lothrocus, named Bier of the Iron Side’ by William of Jumièges, writing in c.1070 (van Houts 1992-5, I, 8-11, 16-17). According to William, this Bier, son of Lothrocus, sailed with the viking Hastingus to Rome in order to conquer it, but bad weather forced them to land at Luni, which they took by a ruse and destroyed, mistaking it for Rome. On discovering their mistake they parted company and Bier sailed first to England, suffering shipwreck en route, and then to Frisia, where he died (van Houts 1992-5, I, 8-9, 22-7). William’s account of the conquest of Luni by Hastingus, derived from Dudo of St Quentin (who makes no mention of Bier; see Lair 1865, 129-38) is almost certainly unhistorical (de Vries 1923a, 254-5; 1928d, 122-5; Christiansen 1998, 16-20, 184 n. 88); it finds an echo in Ragn’s account of how the sons of Ragnarr, having proceeded victoriously to Luni, abandoned there the idea of going as far as Rome (see the Context of Ragn 23, above, and McTurk 1991a, 108-10, cf. 206-7, 226-7). It is not impossible, however, that Bier’s historical prototype Berno was active in the Mediterranean as well as on the Seine (de Vries 1923a, 253-6). — [8]: No more specific translation than what is given above is possible, in view of the inconsistency in the accompanying prose of Ragn; see the Note to st. 36/2, above.


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. 2. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ragnarssaga loðbrókar X 6: AII, 241, BII, 260, Skald II, 135; FSN 1, 298 (Ragn ch. 20), Ragn 1891, 222-3 (ch. 20), Ragn 1906-8, 173, 220 (ch. 19), Ragn 1944, 128-31 (ch. 21), FSGJ 1, 284 (Ragn ch. 19), Ragn 1985, 152 (ch. 19), Ragn 2003, 67 (ch. 19), CPB II, 353.


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