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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 29II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 29’ 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, pp. 144-5.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonSexstefja

Blóðorra lætr barri
bragningr ara fagna;
Gauts berr sigð á sveita
svans ǫrð konungr Hǫrða.

Bragningr lætr {blóðorra} fagna {barri ara}; {konungr Hǫrða} berr {sigð Gauts} á {ǫrð {svans sveita}}.

The sovereign lets {the blood-grouse} [RAVEN] rejoice in {the eagle’s barley} [CORPSES]; {the king of the Hǫrðar} [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr] wields {the sickle of Gautr <= Óðinn>} [SWORD] on {the corn {of the swan of blood}} [RAVEN > CORPSES].

Mss: R(37v), Tˣ(39v), U(40r), A(14r), B(6v), 744ˣ(44r), C(7r) (SnE); papp10ˣ(40v), 2368ˣ(90), 743ˣ(70v) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] Blóðorra lætr barri: ‘Bloð o… ….barre’ 744ˣ    [2] bragningr: bragning C    [3] Gauts: Gautr papp10ˣ, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    berr: ryðr A, 744ˣ, papp10ˣ, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    sigð: sik U;    á: í A, 744ˣ, papp10ˣ, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ    [4] svans: ‘[...]ans’ B;    ǫrð: verð U, jǫrð A, 744ˣ, papp10ˣ, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    konungr: konungs C;    Hǫrða: harða papp10ˣ, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 376, Skj BI, 346, Skald I, 174, NN §864; SnE 1848-87, I, 486-9, II, 352, 456, 543, 596, SnE 1931, 172, SnE 1998, I, 90; LaufE 1979, 269, 344.

Context: The st. illustrates the statement that kennings for ‘raven’ or ‘eagle’ can be formed by using any masculine bird-name and qualifying it by a reference to blood or corpses as its food. In R, , U the ll. form a complete st. with st. 30 below, but in A and C, and in the transcript of B in 744ˣ, the two helmingar are separated (see further Introduction to Sex).

Notes: [All]: The placing of this helmingr is extremely uncertain: see Context above and Introduction to Sex. — [All]: Ms. B is so damaged that its many illegible places are not registered here; rather the B text is represented by the transcript in 744ˣ. The ll. are also preserved in LaufE, in a text ‘closest to AB’ (Faulkes, LaufE 1979, 268 n.) — [1, 2] blóðorra; ara ‘the blood-grouse [RAVEN]; the eagle’s’: Both these phrases referring to birds are grammatically ambiguous. It is assumed here that blóðorra is acc. sg., object of lætr ‘lets’ and subject of fagna ‘rejoice’, while ara ‘eagle’s’ is the gen. sg. determinant of the kenning whose base-word is barri ‘barley’, l. 1, and which refers to corpses or carrion, but the reverse could also apply (as assumed in Skj B). They could also both be alternatively pl. rather than sg. Orri is usually taken as Lyrurus tetrix, the black grouse (CVC has Tetrao tetrix ‘heathcock, moor-fowl’). — [1] barri ‘barley’: On the collective use of this and other terms for grain, see Note to st. 28/4. — [3, 4] ǫrð svans sveita ‘the corn of the swan of blood [RAVEN > CORPSE]’: The hero cuts down his enemies like corn, making them into carrion. As Fidjestøl (1982, 141) notes, the expression is proleptic, telescoping the phases of action. On the collective use of ǫrð ‘corn’, see Note to st. 28/4.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. LaufE 1979 = Faulkes, Anthony, ed. 1979. Edda Magnúsar Ólafssonar (Laufás Edda). RSÁM 13. Vol. I of Two Versions of Snorra Edda from the 17th Century. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar, 1977-9.
  7. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. Fidjestøl, Bjarne. 1982. Det norrøne fyrstediktet. Universitet i Bergen Nordisk institutts skriftserie 11. Øvre Ervik: Alvheim & Eide.
  9. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  10. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  11. Internal references
  12. Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja’ 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, pp. 108-47.
  13. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Laufás Edda (LaufE)’ 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].

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