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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to GunnLeif Merl I 25VIII (Bret 93)

[All]: Cf. DGB 112 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145.41; cf. Wright 1988, 102, prophecy 2): Insule occeani potestati ipsius subdentur, et Gallicanos saltus possidebit ‘The islands of the ocean will fall under his sway and he will occupy the glades of France’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 144). As noted by J. S. Eysteinsson (1953-7, 99), Gunnlaugr appears to draw on a wider knowledge of legends of Arthur’s conquests than this Latin sentence would supply, taken on its own, and shows interest in the North Atlantic and Scandinavian regions. This, along with the mention of the Romans in I 26, could have been derived direct from DGB IX-XI (see Introduction). It could also, however, with much greater convenience have been derived from a commentary. Alain de Flandres, for instance, annotates as follows (Wille 2015, 161): Hyberniam namque, Islandiam, Scotiam, Orcadum insulas, Gothlandiam, Norguegiam, Datiamque sub iugum misit et suo subiecit imperio ‘For he subjugated Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, the Orkney islands, Gotland, Norway and Denmark and subjected them to his imperial rule’ (cf. Hammer 1935, 26, and, for another commentary with similar content, Hammer 1935, 8). Arthurian incursions into Scandinavian territories would not necessarily have been judged improbable or incongruous by Gunnlaugr’s audience; Haukr Erlendsson makes occasional changes to the text of Bret ‘in order to reveal connections with Scandinavian history, particularly with Norwegian royal dynasties’ (Tétrel 2010, 494). On the other hand, there is no mention in Merl, at least as extant, of Iceland, which both Geoffrey and the commentators included in Arthur’s dominions (cf. Tatlock 1950, 107). Gunnlaugr appears to correct the designation of Denmark and Norway as islands, which again is a designation in Geoffrey that is reproduced by the commentators (cf. Tatlock 1950, 107), instead placing them in explicit parallel (Denmark) or implicit parallel (Norway) with France.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Eysteinsson, J. S. 1953-7. ‘The Relationship of Merlínússpá and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia’. SBVS 14, 95-112.
  3. Reeve, Michael D., and Neil Wright. 2007. Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. An Edition and Translation of De gestis Britonum [Historia regum Britanniae]. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  4. Tatlock, J. S. P. 1950. The Legendary History of Britain. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  5. Wright, Neil, ed. 1988. The Historia Regum Britannie of Geoffrey of Monmouth. II. The First Variant Version: A Critical Edition. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.
  6. Tétrel, Hélène. 2010. ‘Trojan Origins and the Use of the Æneid and Related Sources in the Old Icelandic Brut’. JEGP 109, 490-514.
  7. Wille, Clara, ed. and trans. 2015. Alain de Flandres, Prophetie und Politik: die Explanatio in Prophetia Merlini Ambrosii des Alanus Flandrensis. Lateinische Sprache und Literatur des Mittelalters 49. Bern: Lang.
  8. Hammer, Jacob. 1935. ‘A Commentary on the Prophetia Merlini (Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, Book VII)’. Speculum 10, 3-30.
  9. Internal references
  10. 2017, ‘ Unattributed, Breta saga’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 38. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=125> (accessed 22 September 2021)

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