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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 39VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Lilja 39’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 608-9.

Anonymous PoemsLilja

text and translation

Undraz tók inn forni fjandi
fæddan mann, er skilja var bannað,
og þvílíkt, sem andinn segði
orðin slík af tungu forðum:
‘Þykki mier, sem nýjung nökkur
nálgiz heim og ættir beima;
eitthvað klókt mun drottinn dikta:
duldr em eg, því að ferr af huldu.

Inn forni fjandi tók undraz fæddan mann, er var bannað skilja, og þvílíkt sem andinn segði slík orðin af tungu forðum: ‘Mier þykki, sem nökkur nýjung nálgiz heim og {ættir beima}; drottinn mun dikta eitthvað klókt; eg em duldr, því að ferr af huldu.
‘The old fiend was amazed at the newborn man, whom he was prohibited from understanding, and it was as if the spirit spoke words like these with his tongue long ago: ‘It seems to me that some new thing draws near to the world and families of men [MANKIND]; the Lord will be devising something clever; I am ignorant, because it is being kept secret.

notes and context

This st. marks the beginning of a soliloquy by Lucifer which continues to the end of st. 43. It is based on the patristic idea that the Fall had given the devil juridical rights over the human race. The Incarnation was consequently regarded as a trap for the devil: the humanity of Jesus deceived Lucifer into thinking that he was a man like all others, whom he could dominate as he had all humans since the sin of Adam and Eve. The twofold danger for Lucifer in this assumption was that by unjustly attempting to punish a sinless man, he would lose his right to punish sinners, and that by attempting to devour the immortal Christ, he would be overcome and himself be consumed (see Aulén 1951, 47-55, and Wee 1974 on this topos). Paasche (1957, 535) and Schottmann (1973, 201) point out an analogue in an ON miracle story, three versions of which are printed in Mar 1871, 180-8; 473-81; 1147-9. The sources for the text are a miracle of S. Hugh recorded in Peter the Venerable’s De miraculis (Petrus Cluniacensis, cols 880-1) and a homily of Maximus of Turin (Maximus Taurinensis, Homilia XXXVII, cols 303-8). The analogue to Lucifer’s soliloquy comes from the homily of Maximus: Hverr er þessi maðr, er sva geck inn i heim þenna, at ek uissa eigi? Veit ek at hann er af konv fęddr ok upprvnninn, enn þat er mer blint, hvern veg hann er getinn ... Miøk er þessi lvtr vndarligr ok oheyðr fyrr i verolldu ‘Who is this man, who has come into the world in such a way that I did not know about it? I know that he is born of a woman and comes from her, but I am blind to how he was conceived ... This thing is very strange and until now unheard of in the world’ (Mar 1871, 186, 479). Cf. also the hymn Pange, lingua, gloriosi: Hoc opus nostrae salutis / ordo depoposcerat, / Multiformis proditoris / ars ut artem falleret... ‘Order demanded this work of our salvation, that artifice should bring down the artifice of the many-formed deceiver...’ (AH 2, 44)



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: Eysteinn Ásgrímsson, Lilja 39: AII, 376, BII, 400, Skald II, 218.


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