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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (FoGT) 38III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Fourth 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. 617.

Anonymous LausavísurStanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise

Stanzas 38-41 illustrate various types of repetition, called epimone (FoGT: epimenon). This figure appears in both the Doctrinale (Reichling 1893, 177-8, ll. 2630-3) and the Graecismus (Wrobel 1887, 5, ll. 34-6). The Graecismus (ibid., 11-12, ll. 3-12) also deals with repetition of single words, as in the FoGT examples, in its chapter on the colours of rhetoric. As Longo (FoGT 2004, 218) has noted, both the Doctrinale and the prose of FoGT emphasise the frequency with which these figures appear in religious writings (theologia). However, FoGT is at pains to align the different kinds of repetition illustrated in sts 38-41 with the indigenous skaldic verse-forms called in SnSt Ht dunhent ‘echoing-rhymed’, iðurmælt ‘repeatedly spoken’ and greppaminni ‘poets’ reminder’, and does so with considerable ingenuity (see Longo 2006b for a detailed analysis). The metre runhent is used in all four stanzas (fornyrðislag Type B).

Eg em synda bót
og sæmdar hót;
eg birti sál;
eg bæti mál.

Eg em bót synda og hót sæmdar; eg birti sál; eg bæti mál.

I am the remedy of sins and the mark of honour; I illuminate the soul; I improve speech.

Mss: W(118) (FoGT)

Editions: Skj AII, 166, Skj BII, 183, Skald II, 95; SnE 1848-87, II, 240-1, FoGT 1884, 147, 291, FoGT 2004, 54, 78, 152-3, FoGT 2014, 42-3, 135.

Context: See Introduction to sts 38-41. Stanza 38 illustrates repetition of single words at the beginnings of lines, which the prose text compares to the skaldic verse-form greppaminni ‘poets’ reminder’. Greppaminni, however, as illustrated in SnSt Ht 40, is in dróttkvætt metre and is characterised by a series of questions posed in the first helmingr and answered in the second.

Notes: [All]: Although each of sts 38-41 is free-standing, both syntactically and in terms of sense, sts 38 and 41 can be understood to form an outer semantic envelope, as it were, with their sentiments only appropriate as the words of Christ to mankind. Stanzas 39 and 40 also belong together in sense and can be read as referring to the properties of heaven. — [2] og ‘and’: FoGT 1884, 291 emends og to ek in order to have every line begin with the same word.


  1. Bibliography
  2. 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.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. FoGT 1884 = Björn Magnússon Ólsen, ed. 1884. Den tredje og fjærde grammatiske afhandling i Snorres Edda tilligemed de grammatiske afhandlingers prolog og to andre tillæg. SUGNL 12. Copenhagen: Knudtzon.
  5. FoGT 2004 = Longo, Michele, ed. [2004]. ‘Il Quarto Trattato Grammaticale Islandese: Testo, Traduzione e Commento’. Dottorato di Ricerca in ‘Linguistica Sincronica e Diacronica’ (XV Ciclo). Palermo: Università degli Studi di Palermo, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia.
  6. Longo, Michele. 2006b. ‘Alcune considerazioni sul quarto trattato grammaticale islandese’. In Melazzo 2006, 153-65.
  7. Reichling, Dietrich, ed. 1893. Das Doctrinale des Alexander de Villa-Dei. Monumenta Germaniae paedagogica 12. Berlin: A. Hofmann & Comp. Rpt. 1974. Burt Franklin Research and Source Works Series, Studies in the History of Education 11. New York: Burt Franklin.
  8. Wrobel, I., ed. 1887. Eberhardi Bethuniensis Graecismus. Corpus grammaticorum medii aeui I. Bratislava: G. Koebner.
  9. FoGT 2014 = Clunies Ross, Margaret and Jonas Wellendorf, eds. 2014. The Fourth Grammatical Treatise. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  10. Internal references
  11. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘The Fourth Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  12. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1094.
  13. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 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. 1147.

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