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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heil 25VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra manna drápa 25’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 889-90.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra manna drápa

text and translation

Maurícíus mikilli stýrir
manna fjöld, er Rómam kannar,
sex þúsundir, sætri huxan,
sex hundruð sem fylgja mundi.
Þanninn frá eg, að þrír tigir tvennir,
þeir eru sex, er kallaz meiri,
Sýrlands nú með sætum jarli
sunnan kvámu og drottni unnu.

Maurícíus stýrir mikilli fjöld manna, er kannar Rómam sætri huxan, sex þúsundir, sem sex hundruð mundi fylgja. Þanninn frá eg, að tvennir þrír tigir, þeir eru sex, er kallaz meiri, kvámu nú sunnan með {sætum jarli Sýrlands} og unnu drottni.
‘Maurice rules over a large crowd of men, who contemplate Rome with sweet thought, six thousand, whom six hundred would accompany. Thus I heard that two sets of thirty, [and] they are six, who are counted in addition, now came from the south with the sweet earl of Syria [= Maurice] and loved the Lord.

notes and context

Sts 25-6 commemorate Maurice (Mauritius) of Agaunum (Saint-Maurice en Valais, Switzerland) and his companions. According to legend, a Roman legion of Christian soldiers from Egypt, the Theban legion, under the command of Maurice, was serving in Gaul (ON Valland), when it mutinied at Agaunum, because its members had been ordered to take part in heathen sacrifices. This act of disobedience led to their martyrdom. Two Icel. versions of Mauritius saga exist, one in a C13th fragment, the other in a ms. from c. 1400 (Unger 1877, I, 643-58; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 325; Foote 1962, 28). Maurice was co-patron of the church at Bær in Borgarfjörður (Cormack 1994, 132). The location of Maurice’s place of martyrdom, on the pilgrimage route to Rome, is noted in Abbot Nikulás’s Leiðarvísir (Lat. Itinerarium ‘travel guide’) recorded in AM 194 8° (1387), I, 15, ll. 4-7. — [3-6]: The play on numbers here is meant to recall the number of men in a Roman legion, 6666 (as noted by Finnur Jónsson in Skj B, though he wrongly glosses tvennir þrír tigu as 20 gange 30 ‘twenty times thirty’).


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 XIV], [B. 10]. Af et digt om hellige mænd 25: AII, 516, BII, 568-9, Skald II, 312; Kahle 1898, 96, 113.


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