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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Svart Skauf 38VIII

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Svartr á Hofstöðum, Skaufhala bálkr 38’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 982.

Svartr á HofstöðumSkaufhala bálkr

text and translation

‘Það hlægir mig:         þó mun hier koma
ór ætt minni         annarr verri.
Hann mun mann gjöra         margan sauðlausan
og aldri upp giefa         ilt að vinna.

‘Það hlægir mig: þó mun annarr verri koma hier ór ætt minni. Hann mun gjöra margan mann sauðlausan og aldri giefa upp að vinna ilt.
‘‘This cheers me: another, worse, will nonetheless emerge here out of my family. He’ll make many a man sheepless and never desist from doing harm.

notes and context

[1-4]: Guðbrandur Vigfússon (CPB II, 610) calls attention to a possible parallel in Virgil’s Æneid (Book 4, l. 625, Mynors 1969, 195): exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor ‘arise, some avenger, from our bones’. It comes from a bitter speech by Dido, after Aeneas and his men have sailed away from Carthage and she realises that he has betrayed her. She curses the immigrants from Troy (read human Icelanders) and says that there will always be enmity between them. She hopes that some avenger may arise (read descendant of Skaufhali) from her bones to persecute the settlers of Troy with fire and sword. The parallel is not very close, however, and it cannot be taken as proof that Svartr knew that poem, because examples of sons avenging their fathers abound in Old Norse literature. — [2]: The Rask87ˣ version of this line, normalised as að þó muni koma lit. ‘that yet might come’, is unmetrical. Because of the omission of the adv. hier ‘here’, the h- alliteration found in 603 (hlægir ‘cheers’ (l. 1) and hier (l. 2)) is lost, and we must assume illicit alliteration on k- (see Note to l. 1 above), or, more unlikely, on þ- (Það ‘that’ (l. 1) and þó ‘yet’ (l. 2)). Regardless of where the alliteration falls, the line is unmetrical. For muni ‘might’, see Note to st. 37/6. — [5-6]: The Rask87ˣ version of these lines is equally plausible and can be paraphrased as follows in prose: Hann mun gjöra marga menn sauðlausa ‘he’ll make many men sheepless’.



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

Kölbing 1876, 245, Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 234, CPB II, 384, Jón Þorkelsson 1922-7, 159, Páll Eggert Ólason 1947, 68-9.


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