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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (TGT) 38III

Tarrin Wills (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise 38’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 563.

Anonymous LausavísurStanzas from the Third Grammatical Treatise

text and translation

At kom gangandi,        þar es jǫfrar bǫrðusk;
helt hann upp hǫfði:        ‘hér es þér skattr, sultan.’

Gangandi kom at, þar es jǫfrar bǫrðusk; hann helt upp hǫfði: ‘hér es þér skattr, sultan.’
‘Walking, he arrived where the princes were fighting; he held up a head: ‘here’s treasure for you, sultan.’

notes and context

Cited as an example of sarcasmos (sarcasm), defined as (TGT 1927, 86-7) hatrs-full ok óvinulig spottan … Sarcasmos gerir annat yfirbragð máls en merking ‘malevolent and unfriendly mockery … Sarcasm creates a different appearance for the expression than [its true] meaning’.

The passage from Virgil’s Aeneid to which the Latin text belongs has a number of similarities with the Norse text, however (Book XII, 353-61; Fairclough 2000, 324-7): hunc procul ut campo Turnus prospexit aperto,ante levi iaculo longum per inane secutussistit equos biiugis et curru desilit atque |semianimi lapsoque supervenit, et pede colloimpresso dextrae mucronem extorquet et altofulgentem tingit iugulo atque haec insuper addit:‘en agros et, quam bello, Troiane, petisti,Hesperiam metire iacens: haec praemia, qui me |ferro ausi temptare, ferunt, sic moenia condunt.’ ‘When Turnus saw him far off on the open plain, first following him with light javelin through the long space between them, he halts his twin-yoked horses and leaps from his chariot, descends on the fallen, dying man and, planting his foot on his neck, wrests the sword from his hand, dyes the glittering blade deep in his throat, and adds these words besides: “See, Trojan, the fields and that Hesperia that you sought in war: lie there and measure them out! This is the reward of those who tempt me with the sword; so do they establish their walls!”’ There is some similarity in the battle scene, the approach of the speaker, the cutting of the neck and reference to a prize or treasure in the form of the injury. Attribution of the verse to Óláfr would require assuming that he was familiar with the Aeneid in full rather than via Donatus. — It is unclear exactly how the half-stanza exemplifies sarcasm, perhaps by calling the severed head skattr ‘treasure, tribute’ or the address to the prince as ‘sultan’. — Donatus has an example of a military scene from Virgil (Fairclough 2000, 326-7; cf. Holtz 1981, 673): En agros et quam bello, Troiane, petisti, | Hesperiam metire iacens ‘See, Trojan, the fields and that Hesperia that you sought in war: lie there and measure them out!’. There is, however, insufficient similarity with our stanza to assert with any confidence that Óláfr composed it with the Latin example as a model.



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 [XII], C. Vers om ubestemmelige personer og begivenheder 15: AI, 598, BI, 599, Skald I, 292; SnE 1818, 333, SnE 1848, 199, SnE 1848-87, 182-3, 426, TGT 1884, 31, 115, 234, TGT 1927, 86, 109.


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