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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Hókr Eirfl 5I

[1, 4] hykkat vægð at vígi, ógnharðan spǫrðu sik ‘I do not believe there was mercy during the onslaught [or that] the battle-hard one [Eiríkr] spared himself’: (a) This sentence is awkward syntactically, because it presupposes two parallel constructions that are dependent on the verb hykkat ‘I do not believe’ (l. 1); namely vægð ‘mercy’ (with a suppressed vesa ‘be’) and ógnharðan spǫrðu sik ‘the battle-hard one spared himself’; spǫrðu is past inf. of spara ‘save’. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) takes jarl ‘the jarl’ (l. 3) as the object of hykkat and subject of spǫrðu (past inf. of spara ‘save’), and assigns ógnharðan to the second clause (ógnharðan jǫfur ‘the battle-hard prince). He construes the first clause as follows: Hykkat jarl spǫrðu sik vægð at vígi, translated as Jeg tror ikke jarlen sparede sig ved eftergivenhed under kampen ‘I do not believe that the jarl spared himself by letting up during the fight’. The problem is that this seems to assume that vægð is dat. sg. and is either to be construed with spara or as an adverbial dat., but both of these would be non-standard usages (cf. Fritzner: spara; NN §557). Moreover, Finnur’s interpretation results in tortuous syntax and a tripartite l. 3. The present edn follows Kock (NN §557) and ÍF 29.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  5. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.


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