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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bragi Frag 2III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 56.

Bragi inn gamli BoddasonFragments
123

This helmingr (Bragi Frag 2) is extant in several mss of SnE, including R, used here as the base ms., , W, U and B. All standard editions of Bragi’s poetry (Skj, Skald, but with less certainty SnE 1998, I, 180) include this half-stanza, numbered 20, as part of Bragi Rdr. However, there is nothing to support this inclusion, since the mythic incident alluded to is different from the other known subjects of Rdr and different also from Bragi’s other fragmentary ekphraseis. The referent of the demonstrative pronoun hinn ‘the one, that one’ which begins the helmingr, is uncertain. Based on our knowledge of Old Norse myth, there are two potential referents, Óðinn and Þórr, but it is not possible to determine with certainty which one Bragi had in mind.

Snorri Sturluson, however, seems to have assumed that the helmingr referred to the god Óðinn, as he associates the feat of hurling the giant Þjazi’s eyes into the sky, where they became two stars, with one element of the compensation the gods paid Þjazi’s daughter Skaði for killing her father. Snorri gives a lengthy narrative of Þjazi’s theft of the goddess Iðunn and the gods’ killing of the giant, followed by Skaði’s journey to Ásgarðr seeking vengeance for her father, in the introductory section of Skm (SnE 1998, I, 1-2). There he has the narrator Bragi comment: Svá er sagt at Óðinn gerði þat til yfirbóta við hana at hann tók augu Þjaza ok kastaði upp á himin ok gerði af stjǫrnur tvær ‘It is said that Óðinn did this as compensation to her: he took Þjazi’s eyes and threw them up into the sky and made two stars out of them’. Snorri depends in large part for this mythic narrative on Þjóð Haustl, which he quotes later in Skm, but there is no reference to the present incident in the extant stanzas of that poem.

Another version of the myth of how Þjazi’s eyes became stars is found in the eddic poem Hárb, a senna or exchange of invective between the gods Óðinn and Þórr. In st. 19 Þórr boasts that it was he who killed Þjazi and threw his eyes into the sky, where they are visible to all men as the greatest signs of his deeds.

Hinn, es varp á víða
vinda ǫndurdísar
of manna sjǫt margra
munnlaug fǫður augum.

Hinn, es varp augum {fǫður {ǫndurdísar}} á {víða munnlaug vinda} of sjǫt margra manna.

The one who threw the eyes {of the father {of the ski-dís <minor female deity>}} [= Skaði > = Þjazi] into {the wide hand-basin of winds} [SKY/HEAVEN] above the dwellings of many men.

Mss: R(26r), Tˣ(26v), W(56), U(29r), B(5r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] víða: víðu B    [2] ǫndurdísar: ‘aundr disar’ Tˣ, ‘ondvr disa’ W    [3] of: yfir all;    sjǫt: ‘svt’ U    [4] munn‑: mun‑ W, U, B;    fǫður: ‘faudr’ Tˣ, fjǫgur W;    augum: augu W

Editions: Skj AI, 4, Skj BI, 4, Skald I, 3; SnE 1848-87, I, 318-19, II, 314, 526, III, 49, SnE 1931, 114, SnE 1998, I, 34.

Context: This helmingr, introduced with the words Svá sem kvað Bragi skáld ‘Just as Bragi the poet said’, occurs in that section of Skm that exemplifies kennings for the sky (himinn).

Notes: [2] ǫndurdísar ‘of the ski-dís <minor female deity>’: The ski-dís is the giantess Skaði, daughter of Þjazi (see Introduction). In Gylf (SnE 2005, 23-4) Snorri gives a description of Skaði, whose marriage to the sea-god Njǫrðr was one of the gods’ compensations to her for her father’s death at their hands (the latter and the circumstances of their marriage are described in Skm, SnE 1998, I, 2). Skaði and her father are associated with mountains at a place called Þrymheimr ‘Noise world’, and she is said in Gylf to be fond of skiing and shooting wild animals with bow and arrows, hence her name ǫndurguð eða ǫndurdís ‘ski-deity or ski-dís’ (SnE 2005, 24). — [3] of ‘above’: Most eds normalise all mss’ yfir ‘over, above, on top of’ to the more archaic of to produce a regular dróttkvætt line. — [3] sjǫt margra manna ‘the dwellings of many men’: This n. noun may be sg. ‘dwelling’ or pl., as translated here.

References

  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. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  5. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  6. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  7. Internal references
  8. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ 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].
  9. (forthcoming), ‘ Snorri Sturluson, Skáldskaparmál’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=112> (accessed 19 September 2021)
  10. (forthcoming), ‘ Snorri Sturluson, Gylfaginning’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=113> (accessed 19 September 2021)
  11. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘ Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Ragnarsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 27. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1130> (accessed 19 September 2021)
  12. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘ Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Haustlǫng’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 431. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1438> (accessed 19 September 2021)
  13. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 56.
  14. Not published: do not cite ()
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