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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Knútdr 3I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa 3’ 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. 771.

Óttarr svartiKnútsdrápa

Herskjǫld bart ok helduð,
hilmir, ríkr af slíku;
hykkat, þengill, þekkðusk
þik kyrrsetu mikla.
Ætt drap Jóta dróttinn
Játgeirs í fǫr þeiri;
þveit rakt — þrár est heitinn —
þeim, stillis konr, illan.

Bart herskjǫld, hilmir, ok helduð, ríkr af slíku; hykkat, þengill, þik þekkðusk mikla kyrrsetu. {Dróttinn Jóta} drap {ætt Játgeirs} í þeiri fǫr; {konr stillis}, rakt þeim illan þveit; est heitinn þrár.

You carried the war-shield, prince, and prevailed, powerful by such means; I do not think, lord, you cared much for sitting in peace. {The lord of the Jótar} [DANISH KING = Knútr] struck {the kindred of Eadgar} [THE ENGLISH] on that expedition; {ruler’s son} [= Knútr], you dealt them a harsh blow; you are called defiant.

Mss: (12), 20dˣ(5r), 873ˣ(6r), 41ˣ(5r) (Knýtl)

Readings: [4] kyrr‑: hyr‑ 20dˣ    [7] rakt: so 41ˣ, rakr with rakt in margin JÓ, rakt with rakr in margin 20dˣ, 873ˣ;    est (‘ert’): er 20dˣ    [8] konr: so with kom in margin JÓ, kom with konr in margin 20dˣ, 873ˣ, kom 41ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 297, Skj BI, 273, Skald I, 140, NN §733; Fms 11, 187-8, Fms 12, 247-8, SHI 11, 176, Knýtl 1919-25, 37, ÍF 35, 104 (ch. 8).

Context: Knútr lands in England and begins ravaging.

Notes: [1] helduð ‘prevailed’: This assumes an unusual intransitive use of halda ‘hold, keep’; it may be that herskjǫld ‘war-shield’ or a more general ‘land/power’ is the understood object. — [3-4] þik þekkðusk ‘you cared’: Lit. ‘you to have cared’. An acc. with past inf. construction following hykkat ‘I do not think’. — [5, 6] ætt Játgeirs ‘the kindred of Eadgar [THE ENGLISH]’: Eadgar was king of England 959-75. Ætt Játgeirs, if taken narrowly, could signify the royal family alone, but Knútr’s attacks were against the English people more generally, cf. Ótt Hfl 11/1-2 ǫld enskrar ættar ‘the people of English race’. — [5] drap ‘struck’: As in st. 2/3, the mss present a single 3rd pers. verb in a stanza of otherwise 2nd pers. narration. The form is also retained in ÍF 35 but emended to 2nd sg. drapt ‘you killed’ in Skj B and Skald. — [7] þveit ‘blow’: According to LP: þveitr, only recorded here in skaldic verse. CVC: þveitr suggests that the word is equivalent to þviti ‘sling-stone’ and that the construction here is comparable with ljósta e-n illum steini ‘to strike sby with an evil stone’ (see ÞjóðA Sex 22/3, 4II).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  9. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  10. Knýtl 1919-25 = Petersens, Carl af and Emil Olsen, eds. 1919-25. Sǫgur danakonunga. 1: Sǫgubrot af fornkonungum. 2: Knýtlinga saga. SUGNL 66. Copenhagen: SUGNL.
  11. Internal references
  12. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 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. 755.
  13. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 22’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 136-7.

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