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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 33VIII (Bret 101)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 101 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 33)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 70.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Hníga fyr brezkum         bragninga kon
siklingar sjau,         sigri numnir.
Ok heilagr verðr         herja deilir
einn af enskum         ǫðlingum sjau.

‘Sjau siklingar, numnir sigri, hníga fyr {brezkum kon bragninga}. Ok {deilir herja}, einn af sjau enskum ǫðlingum, verðr heilagr.
‘‘Seven kings, deprived of victory, will fall before the British scion of kings [KING = Caduallo]. And the commander of armies [LEADER = S. Oswald], one of the seven English lords, will become a saint.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 112 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147.52-3; cf. Wright 1988, 102, prophecy 4): Septem sceptrigeri perimentur, et unus eorum sanctificabitur ‘Seven sceptre-bearers will be killed, and one of them will become a saint’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 146). Gunnlaugr treats this sentence separately from its neighbours, which are covered in I 32. His translation is evidently based on the reading septem ‘seven’, not the variant octo ‘eight’ that occurs in the Π group of mss (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147); see Introduction. The prophecy refers to the death of S. Oswald, narrated in DGB XI (Reeve and Wright 2007, 272-3). Caduallo (variant spelling Cadwallon), king of Gwynedd in North Wales (rendered by Geoffrey as Venedotia) in the first third of the C7th, formed an alliance with Penda of Mercia to overthrow the Anglo-Saxon royal dynasty of Northumbria, but was defeated and killed by Oswald of Northumbria in 633. Oswald met his death at Penda’s hands in 641 (Stenton 1971, 80‑2).


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: Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínússpá II 33: AII, 26, BII, 30, Skald II, 19; Bret 1848-9, II, 50 (Bret st. 101); Hb 1892-6, 279; Merl 2012, 152.


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