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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Poem about Queen Ástríðr — Sigv ÁstI

Sigvatr Þórðarson

Judith Jesch 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Poem about Queen Ástríðr’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 645.

 

The three stanzas of this poem by Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv Ást) concern Ástríðr, daughter of King Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson and widow of King Óláfr Haraldsson of Norway, praising her for her energetic support of her young stepson Magnús Óláfsson (later inn góði ‘the Good’) on his return to Scandinavia in 1035. It is unique in the surviving skaldic corpus in being a dróttkvætt poem of praise, rather than a love-poem, addressed to a woman (some possible parallels are discussed in Jesch 1994, 6). According to an anecdote preserved in ÓHLeg (1982, 132) and interpolated texts of ÓH (1941, II, 688-9, 702-6), Ástríðr may also have been the subject of an improper poem by Sigvatr’s nephew Óttarr svarti (Jesch 1994a, 17; Jesch 2006b, 251-3).

Although Magnús Óláfsson’s return from Russia, at the age of ten, to claim the throne of Norway in 1035 is widely narrated in the kings’ sagas, only Hkr (ÍF 28, 4-5) mentions the part played by his stepmother Ástríðr in this process. Snorri Sturluson’s account there seems largely based on Sigvatr’s poem (Jesch 1994a, 11-13). It is not possible to judge whether the poem was ever any longer than these three stanzas, but reconstruction is unproblematic, as the stanzas are cited continuously and appear to form a well-rounded whole. There are some similarities with Sigv Lv 28-30 which may suggest some kind of literary or contextual connection (Jesch 1994a, 13-14).

Along with Sigv Lv 28-30, the three stanzas of Ást are cited in MGóð in Hkr but not in ÓH (1941, I, 614-15), whose shorter account of the return of Magnús to Norway lacks the Ástríðr episode. The Hkr mss Kˣ, 39, F, J2ˣ (sts 1/1-4, 2/1-4 only) and E are used below, with Kx as the main ms. Editorial choices are discussed more fully in Jesch (1994a, 1-5).

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Jesch, Judith. 1994a. ‘In Praise of Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir’. SBVS 24, 1-18.
  3. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  4. Jesch, Judith. 2006b. ‘The “Meaning of the Narrative Moment”: Poets and History in the Late Viking Age’. In Tyler et al. 2006, 251-65.
  5. Internal references
  6. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  7. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr / Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. clxxiii.
  8. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. clxxvi-clxxix.
  9. Not published: do not cite (MGóðII)
  10. Matthew Townend 2017, ‘(Biography of) Óttarr svarti’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 335.
  11. Judith Jesch 2017, ‘(Biography of) Sigvatr Þórðarson’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 347.
  12. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 28’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 734.
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Information about a text: poem, sequence of stanzas, or prose work

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