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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Knútdr 11I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa 11’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 781.

Óttarr svartiKnútsdrápa
1011

Svíum ‘the Swedes’

svíar (noun m.): Swedes

[1] Svíum: snǫrum 325V, ‘Suíium’ Tóm, Svía 321ˣ, 73aˣ, ‘Syium’ DG8

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hnekkðir ‘checked’

hnekkja (verb): drive off, reject

[1] hnekkðir: ‘hinckir’ Bb, hnekkir 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, ‘næygðir’ DG8, vægðir FskAˣ

notes

[1] hnekkðir ‘checked’: Hnekkja has a sense of ‘to stop, restrain’, rather than ‘to destroy’. Again, Óttarr is giving Knútr as much praise as possible without committing a positive untruth (see Notes to st. 8/3, 4 knôttut verða and l. 3 below).

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søkkva ‘treasures’

[1] søkkva: ‘savcka’ 325V, ‘sæckva’ 325VII, sókna Flat, FskAˣ, søkkvir 73aˣ, ‘sœkna’ DG8

notes

[1] søkkva ‘with treasures’: Kock, following the majority reading of the mss, interprets søkkva as gen. pl. of søkk n. ‘jewel, treasure, gold’ (see NN §1783), which is rare and even of uncertain existence (see Note to Eyv Hál 1/10); this is followed in ÍF 27, and here. Skj B emends to sóknar, hence ǫrr sóknar ‘generous in/with attack’, a form recorded in no ms. ÍF 29 preserves sókna (gen. pl.) ‘of attacks, war’, the reading of FskAx (and Flat). LP: søkkvi suggests instead that this is the noun søkkvi ‘enemy’, in error for sóknar .

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siklingr ‘Sovereign’

siklingr (noun m.; °; -ar): king, ruler

[2] siklingr: siklinga 75c

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ǫrr ‘generous’

ǫrr (adj.): generous, brave

[2] ǫrr: ‘or’ Bb, ‘órr’ Flat, ‘aur’ Tóm, DG8, fór 73aˣ, ‘orr’ FskAˣ

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en ‘and’

2. en (conj.): but, and

[2] en: inn 61, Bb, Flat, 321ˣ, 325IX 2, in 75c, enn 325V, Tóm, Holm2, 68, K, J2ˣ, DG8, FskAˣ, om. 73aˣ

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mikla ‘much’

mikill (adj.; °mikinn): great, large

[2] mikla: mikli 321ˣ, J2ˣ, 325IX 2, 325XI 1

kennings

mikla beitu ulfs,
‘much wolf’s food, ’
   = CORPSES

much wolf’s food, → CORPSES
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ylgr ‘she-wolf’

ylgr (noun f.; °acc. -i): she-wolf

[3] ylgr: ulfr 75c, 325V, Flat

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þars ‘at the place’

þars (conj.): where

[3] þars (‘þar er’): þá Tóm, þar FskAˣ

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Ô ‘å’

1. á (noun f.; °-r; -r/-ir (aor nom. pl. Gul315e 41‰ repræsenterer if. Suppl4, [$1$] & ed. intr. 32 svag bøjning)): river

[3] Ô in (‘ain’): ‘æyren’ DG8, ‘oon’ FskAˣ

notes

[3] Ô in helga ‘Helgeå’: The battle here took place in (probably) 1026, when the Swedish and Norwegian forces of Ǫnundr Óláfsson and Óláfr Haraldsson launched an attack on Knútr’s Denmark. The site of the battle has traditionally been identified as Helgeå, in the eastern part of Skåne, but a site in Uppland has also been suggested (Gräslund 1986). The outcome of the battle is also somewhat unclear. From one point of view, since the attack on Denmark was unsuccessful, Knútr was clearly the ‘victor’; but the battle itself may well have been inconclusive, and the ASC (‘E’) s. a. 1025 even reports a Swedish victory. See further Moberg (1941, 148-78); Moberg (1987); Moberg (1989); Lawson (1993, 96-100); P. Sawyer (1994, 18-19).

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in ‘’

2. inn (art.): the

[3] Ô in (‘ain’): ‘æyren’ DG8, ‘oon’ FskAˣ

notes

[3] Ô in helga ‘Helgeå’: The battle here took place in (probably) 1026, when the Swedish and Norwegian forces of Ǫnundr Óláfsson and Óláfr Haraldsson launched an attack on Knútr’s Denmark. The site of the battle has traditionally been identified as Helgeå, in the eastern part of Skåne, but a site in Uppland has also been suggested (Gräslund 1986). The outcome of the battle is also somewhat unclear. From one point of view, since the attack on Denmark was unsuccessful, Knútr was clearly the ‘victor’; but the battle itself may well have been inconclusive, and the ASC (‘E’) s. a. 1025 even reports a Swedish victory. See further Moberg (1941, 148-78); Moberg (1987); Moberg (1989); Lawson (1993, 96-100); P. Sawyer (1994, 18-19).

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helga ‘Helge’

heilagr (adj.; °helgan; compar. -ari, superl. -astr): holy, sacred

notes

[3] Ô in helga ‘Helgeå’: The battle here took place in (probably) 1026, when the Swedish and Norwegian forces of Ǫnundr Óláfsson and Óláfr Haraldsson launched an attack on Knútr’s Denmark. The site of the battle has traditionally been identified as Helgeå, in the eastern part of Skåne, but a site in Uppland has also been suggested (Gräslund 1986). The outcome of the battle is also somewhat unclear. From one point of view, since the attack on Denmark was unsuccessful, Knútr was clearly the ‘victor’; but the battle itself may well have been inconclusive, and the ASC (‘E’) s. a. 1025 even reports a Swedish victory. See further Moberg (1941, 148-78); Moberg (1987); Moberg (1989); Lawson (1993, 96-100); P. Sawyer (1994, 18-19).

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ulfs ‘wolf’s’

1. ulfr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i; -ar): wolf

kennings

mikla beitu ulfs,
‘much wolf’s food, ’
   = CORPSES

much wolf’s food, → CORPSES
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beitu ‘food’

1. beita (noun f.; °-u; -ur): food, meal

[4] beitu: ‘beit(ꜹ)’(?) 325V, beita Bb

kennings

mikla beitu ulfs,
‘much wolf’s food, ’
   = CORPSES

much wolf’s food, → CORPSES
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heitir ‘which is called’

2. heita (verb): be called, promise

[4] heitir: heitit 61, heiti 73aˣ, 68, ‘[…]’ 325XI 1, ‘næitír’ DG8, heita FskAˣ

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þars ‘where’

þars (conj.): where

[5] þars (‘þar er’): om. Tóm

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hrafn ‘the raven’

hrafn (noun m.; °hrafns; dat. hrafni; hrafnar): raven

[5] hrafn né: hrafni 75c, Bb, 68, hrafnar 325VII, R(33v), R(37r), né hrafnar Tóm, hrafn J2ˣ, frán né DG8, ‘hrafnin næ’ or ‘hrafmn næ’ A(13r), hrafn of C(5r)

notes

[5] hrafn né svalta ‘the raven did not at all go hungry’: A number of mss read hrafni and omit , suggesting confusion in transmission (from hrafn né to ‘hrafne’, i.e. normalised dat. sg. hrafni). Similarly a number of mss, including those of Hkr, omit before svalta, presumably because it is not needed for sense; and -a (-at in some mss) supply a double, emphatic negative.

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‘did not’

né (conj.): nor

[5] hrafn né: hrafni 75c, Bb, 68, hrafnar 325VII, R(33v), R(37r), né hrafnar Tóm, hrafn J2ˣ, frán né DG8, ‘hrafnin næ’ or ‘hrafmn næ’ A(13r), hrafn of C(5r)

notes

[5] hrafn né svalta ‘the raven did not at all go hungry’: A number of mss read hrafni and omit , suggesting confusion in transmission (from hrafn né to ‘hrafne’, i.e. normalised dat. sg. hrafni). Similarly a number of mss, including those of Hkr, omit before svalta, presumably because it is not needed for sense; and -a (-at in some mss) supply a double, emphatic negative.

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svalta ‘go hungry’

1. svelta (verb): die, hunger (strong, intrans.)

[5] svalta: svelta 61, 75c, Bb, 68, 325XI 1, U, sveltat 325V, W, sultut 325VII, J2ˣ, svaltat Flat, 325IX 2, DG8, A(10v), A(13r), C(5r), sultu Tóm, sveltir 321ˣ, sveltut 73aˣ, ‘sualtar’ Tˣ(38v), ‘svalt[...]’ C(6r)

notes

[5] hrafn né svalta ‘the raven did not at all go hungry’: A number of mss read hrafni and omit , suggesting confusion in transmission (from hrafn né to ‘hrafne’, i.e. normalised dat. sg. hrafni). Similarly a number of mss, including those of Hkr, omit before svalta, presumably because it is not needed for sense; and -a (-at in some mss) supply a double, emphatic negative.

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hvatráðr ‘bold-minded’

hvatráðr (adj.): quick-witted, resourceful

[6] hvatráðr: hvatráð Holm2, hvatr DG8, ‘hatraadr’ C(5r)

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láði ‘the territory’

2. láð (noun n.): earth, land

[6] láði: ‘laþ[…]’ U

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ógnar ‘of battle’

ógn (noun f.; °-ar; -ir): terror, battle

[7] ógnar: om. R(33v), Tˣ(35r), added in a later hand W

kennings

Ýgr stafr ógnar,
‘Fierce staff of battle, ’
   = WARRIOR

Fierce staff of battle, → WARRIOR

notes

[7] stafr ógnar ‘staff of battle [WARRIOR]’: The words ógnar stafr were lacking from W and have been added in a later hand. They have also been supplied from an unknown source in LaufE (1979, 374, and see 173), whose text of the remainder of ll. 5-8 is copied from W and not of independent value. 

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stafr ‘staff’

stafr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -; -ir): staff, post, stave, stick

[7] stafr: stafs 61, staf 75c, Flat, starf Bb, Tóm, 68, ‘stefr’ 321ˣ, æfr J2ˣ, 325XI 1, om. R(33v), Tˣ(35r), stafr added in a later hand W

kennings

Ýgr stafr ógnar,
‘Fierce staff of battle, ’
   = WARRIOR

Fierce staff of battle, → WARRIOR

notes

[7] stafr ógnar ‘staff of battle [WARRIOR]’: The words ógnar stafr were lacking from W and have been added in a later hand. They have also been supplied from an unknown source in LaufE (1979, 374, and see 173), whose text of the remainder of ll. 5-8 is copied from W and not of independent value. 

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fyr ‘against’

fyr (prep.): for, over, because of, etc.

[7] fyr jǫfrum: om. C(5r)

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jǫfrum ‘princes’

jǫfurr (noun m.): ruler, prince

[7] fyr jǫfrum: om. C(5r);    jǫfrum: ‘iꜹfr(e)’(?) 325VII, ‘jof(ar)m’(?) Bb, ‘jefrum’ 321ˣ    [7, 8] jǫfrum ýgr tveimr við kyn beima: abbrev. as ‘i. v t við k b’ C(6r)

notes

[7, 8] tveimr jǫfrum ‘two princes’: The reference is no doubt to Ǫnundr Óláfsson and Óláfr Haraldsson, though it is clear from the reference in the ASC (‘E’) s. a. 1025 to a certain Ulf and Eglaf (Eilífr, or perhaps an error for Óláfr) that an assortment of Swedish and Norwegian nobles opposed Knútr at the battle.

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ýgr ‘Fierce’

2. ýgr (adj.): fierce

[7, 8] jǫfrum ýgr tveimr við kyn beima: abbrev. as ‘i. v t við k b’ C(6r)    [8] ýgr: uggr 75c, Bb, Flat, ungr Tóm, yggr Holm2, J2ˣ, 325XI 1, yggir DG8

kennings

Ýgr stafr ógnar,
‘Fierce staff of battle, ’
   = WARRIOR

Fierce staff of battle, → WARRIOR
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tveimr ‘two’

tveir (num. cardinal): two

[7, 8] jǫfrum ýgr tveimr við kyn beima: abbrev. as ‘i. v t við k b’ C(6r)    [8] tveimr: ‘tvein’ 325V, ‘tvemr’ Bb, R(33v), ‘[…]’ 325XI 1, tveir Tˣ(38v)

notes

[7, 8] tveimr jǫfrum ‘two princes’: The reference is no doubt to Ǫnundr Óláfsson and Óláfr Haraldsson, though it is clear from the reference in the ASC (‘E’) s. a. 1025 to a certain Ulf and Eglaf (Eilífr, or perhaps an error for Óláfr) that an assortment of Swedish and Norwegian nobles opposed Knútr at the battle.

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við ‘against’

2. við (prep.): with, against

[7, 8] jǫfrum ýgr tveimr við kyn beima: abbrev. as ‘i. v t við k b’ C(6r)

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kyn ‘the race’

1. kyn (noun n.; °-s; -): kin

[7, 8] jǫfrum ýgr tveimr við kyn beima: abbrev. as ‘i. v t við k b’ C(6r)

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beima ‘of men’

beimi (noun m.; °; -ar): man

[7, 8] jǫfrum ýgr tveimr við kyn beima: abbrev. as ‘i. v t við k b’ C(6r)    [8] beima: ‘bæinia’ DG8

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

In ÓH and Hkr, the stanza is quoted after Snorri’s lengthy account of the battle of Á in helga (Helgeå), and in ÓHLeg and Fsk the context is the same battle. In SnE, ll. 5-8 are quoted first to exemplify the use of stafr ‘staff, stave’ in man-kennings and then to illustrate láð as a heiti for ‘earth, land’.

The stanza is introduced in ÓH and Hkr (ÍF 27, 280), Óttarr svarti rœðir um fund þenna í þeiri drápu, er hann orti um Knút inn ríkaÓttarr svarti tells of this encounter in the drápa which he composed about Cnut the Great’. In ÓHLeg (1982, 146), it is introduced with Þessar orrostu mintizt Ottar, er hann orte um Knut konong ‘Óttarr commemorated this battle, when he composed about King Knútr’; virtually identical wording occurs in Fsk. There are thus no grounds for doubting that the stanza is from a poem by Óttarr in honour of Knútr (see further Townend 2001, 159-61), yet there must be some uncertainty as to whether it belongs with the rest of the poem. Unlike sts 1-10, this stanza is not preserved in Knýtl, but rather in ÓH and Hkr, ÓHLeg, Fsk (ll. 1-4 only), and SnE (ll. 5-8), and such a wide distribution may indicate a substantially different transmission from sts 1-10. Its subject matter is markedly different too, though the phrase þrøngvir Svía ‘oppressor of the Swedes’ in st. 5/8 suggests that the other stanzas were also composed post-1026, and so the observed difference in subject matter might disappear if we possessed other stanzas from the poem. In addition, it is notable that the syntax of the stanza does not observe the ‘couplet’ form found in many of the preceding stanzas. — [1-4]: In terms of syntax, Skj B gives the first helmingr as hnekkðir … þars … ‘checked … at the place which’, while Kock (NN §620; Skald) prefers fekk … þars ... ‘received … at the place which’. But it may be that one does not have to choose: the two activities (hnekkðir and fekk) are occurring in the same place. — [2]: The best mss of ÓH read f. acc. sg. mikla ‘much, great’, agreeing with beitu ‘food, bait’, and this lectio difficilior is thus presumably the original reading and is retained here. This line, however, clearly prompted a number of scribes or other transmitters of the poem to re-interpretation (see Readings). Some of the variants may have arisen from the instinctive temptation to read the whole line as a single, nom.-case noun phrase *siklingr ǫrr inn mikli ‘the generous great king’, which also produces a division of the first helmingr into two couplets. 

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