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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Knútdr 4I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa 4’ 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. 772.

Óttarr svartiKnútsdrápa

Brunnu byggðir manna,
buðlungr, fyr þér ungum;
opt lézt húss of heiptir
herkall búendr gerva.

Buðlungr, byggðir manna brunnu fyr ungum þér; opt lézt búendr gerva herkall of {heiptir húss}.

King, settlements of people burned before you in your youth; often you caused the residents to make a war-cry on account of {the destroyer of the house} [FIRE].

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

Readings: [1] manna: so with ‘mann membrin margin JÓ    [2] buðlungr: buðlung 20dˣ    [3] húss of: hús ok all

Editions: Skj AI, 297, Skj BI, 273, Skald I, 140, NN §734; Fms 11, 188, Fms 12, 248, SHI 11, 177, Knýtl 1919-25, 37, ÍF 35, 105 (ch. 8).

Context: This stanza is quoted directly after st. 3, with brief introductory words.

Notes: [3] of heiptir húss ‘on account of the destroyer of the house [FIRE]’: Emendation seems necessary in this line, and no solution is entirely satisfactory. (a) The proposal of Kock (NN §734; Skald, and followed by ÍF 35) is adopted here, namely to emend hús ok to húss of, thus creating a fire-kenning with heiptir (f. acc. pl.) ‘destroyer’, lit. ‘hatreds, hostilities’ (cf. Meissner 100-1), with of as a causal prep. ‘on account of’. Such an emendation creates a parallelism between the two couplets in this helmingr. (b) Skj B and Knýtl 1919-25 emend heiptir to heiptar (hence herkall heiptar ‘a war-cry of destruction’), but retain ms. ok, taking hús ok with byggðir manna in l. 1, hence ‘people’s settlements and houses’. However, herkall heiptar seems somewhat pleonastic, and such syntax seems strained, and out of keeping with Óttarr’s practice in the rest of this poem, where he tends to favour end-stopped two-line clauses.


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  7. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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