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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 64VIII (Bret 132)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 132 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 64)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 102.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Kalla mun Kónan         Káðvaládrus
ok skilfinga*         Skotlandi af.
Rýkr af grimmu         Gǫndlar éli;
verðr it mikla         malmþing háit.

‘Káðvaládrus mun kalla Kónan ok skilfinga* af Skotlandi. Rýkr af {grimmu éli Gǫndlar}; {it mikla malmþing} verðr háit.
‘‘Cadwallader will summon Conan and kings from Scotland. Smoke will rise from the savage storm of Gǫndul <valkyrie> [BATTLE]; the great metal-encounter [BATTLE] will be waged.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 115 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 149.110-11; cf. Wright 1988, 105, prophecy 20): Cadualadrus Conanum uocabit et Albaniam in societate accipiet ‘Cadualadrus will summon Conanus and make Scotland his ally’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 148). This predicts the expulsion of the foreigners and the restoration of Welsh hegemony under the ancestral British king Cadualadrus (Taylor 1911, 90). He was assisted by a pan-Celtic alliance. One participant in it was Brittany, among whose rulers Conanus was a favourite name, harking back to Conanus Meriadocus (Welsh Cynan Meiriadoc), who figures in DGB as a leader in the conquest of the territory that became Brittany; Tatlock (1950, 158) remarks that ‘Conanus … is an obvious symbol for Brittany’. The other participant was Scotland (Tatlock 1950, 414 n. 45; Bromwich 1978, 320-1). According to DGB XI (Reeve and Wright 2007, 278-9), Cadualadrus was remembered as the last native king to rule Britain before the Saxon monarchy; Geoffrey envisages his return in the style of Arthur. The identification of this Cadualadrus with a C7th king of Gwynedd proposed by Merl 2012 does not fit this scenario. In Armes Prydein, from which Geoffrey derives this prophecy, Cadwallader and Conan appear as prophesied saviours of the Britons (Faletra 2008, 134). As if to signal the importance of this juncture, Gunnlaugr amplifies Geoffrey’s text with a battle excursus.



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 64: AII, 31, BII, 37, Skald II, 23; Bret 1848-9, II, 61 (Bret st. 132); Hb 1892-6, 281; Merl 2012, 177-8.


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