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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 41VIII (Bret 109)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 109 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 41)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 77.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

Þá kórónask         kapps hvítdreki,
ok saxneskir         seggir ríkja.
En eirjǫfurr         ofan at stíga
verðr af brǫttum         borgararmi.

Þá kórónask hvítdreki kapps, ok saxneskir seggir ríkja. En eirjǫfurr verðr at stíga ofan af brǫttum borgararmi.
‘Then the white serpent of belligerence will be crowned and Saxon men will rule. And the copper lord has to climb down from the sheer city wall.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 112 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147.65; cf. Wright 1988, 103, prophecy 7): Exin coronabitur Germanicus uermis et aeneus princeps humabitur ‘Then the Germanic worm will be crowned, and the prince of bronze buried’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 146). Gunnlaugr’s elaboration on the passing of the bronze prince raises the question of whether his copy-text contained the variant reading humiliabitur ‘will be humbled’, found in mss O and M, as also in mss a, H and R of the First Variant Version and the commentary by Alain de Flandres (Wille 2015, 129), rather than the standard reading humabitur ‘will be buried’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147, Wright 1988, 103). Alain explains the bronze horseman allegorically, as representing the British people (Wille 2015, 129), and Gunnlaugr’s understanding, in speaking of this figure climbing down, may have been similar.


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 41: AII, 27-8, BII, 32, Skald II, 20; Bret 1848-9, II, 53 (Bret st. 109); Hb 1892-6, 279; Merl 2012, 158. 


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