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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Sigv Lv 17I

[1-4]: The interpretation is close to that of Finnur Jónsson (Skj B); it includes the assumption that leggr is used impersonally (so LP: leggja 8c). The clause en gjalda fé ‘and pay out money’ is difficult to account for in historical terms. Kock (NN §677) would have allvalds ‘mighty ruler’s’ in l. 4 modify orði ‘word, talk’, and he construes verðk in l. 3 with both fyr æðruorði in l. 3 and fé gjalda in l. 4 in a kind of zeugma: ‘I am the subject of talk of fear … I must pay out money’, though he takes the sense of fé gjalda to be ‘lose money’. Thus he proposes the sense ‘I will be called timid by the king, and I will lose my reward’. A similar meaning is assumed in ÍF 27 and Hkr 1991, as well as by Jón Skaptason (1983, 202), for en fé gjalda, but the loss of money is there assumed, it seems, to be due to loss of possessions upon fleeing. Hellberg (1981a, 14-17) understands the reference to be to the practice of fulfilling one’s feudal obligation by supplying money rather than troops to King Knútr. Unless, like Hellberg, one rejects Snorri’s account of the context, there does not seem to be any very convincing way to account for en fé gjalda if en means ‘and’, as assumed here and in other eds. The other main option would be to take it as an instance of en = er ‘who’, which would fit the fact that the enemies of the king are said in Lv 13 to have been paying Óláfr’s countrymen and supporters to desert him. See CVC: en 2 ‘which’, though it is regarded as a ‘mere peculiarity or false spelling’.


  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. Nj 1875-89 = Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson. 1875-89. Njála: Udgivet efter gamle håndskrifter. Íslendingasögur udgivne efter gamle haandskrifter af Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskrift-selskab 4. Copenhagen: Thiele.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  7. Hellberg, Staffan. 1981a. ‘Kungarna i Sigvats diktning. Till studiet av skaldedikternas språk och stil’. SI 32, 3-22.
  8. ÍF 6 = Vestfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Björn K. Þórólfsson and Guðni Jónsson. 1943.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  11. Jón Skaptason. 1983. ‘Material for an Edition and Translation of the Poems of Sigvat Þórðarson, skáld’. Ph.D. thesis. State University of New York at Stony Brook. DAI 44: 3681A.


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