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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 1I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 1’ 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. 665.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonErfidrápa Óláfs helga
12

Tolf ‘twelve’

tolf (num. cardinal): twelve

kennings

tolf viðu bála elfar
‘twelve trees of the pyres of the river ’
   = MEN

the pyres of the river → GOLD
twelve trees of the GOLD → MEN
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frák ‘I heard’

1. fregna (verb): hear of

notes

[1, 5] frák; leitk ‘I heard; I saw’: If these are taken literally, Sigvatr was not present at the capture of the Swedish party, but did witness their subsequent hanging.

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tekna ‘were captured’

2. taka (verb): take

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elfar ‘of the river’

elfr (noun f.): river

kennings

tolf viðu bála elfar
‘twelve trees of the pyres of the river ’
   = MEN

the pyres of the river → GOLD
twelve trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[1, 2] bála elfar ‘of the pyres of the river [GOLD]’: Bál ‘pyre’ as the base-word in gold-kennings is not normally pl. (Meissner 229-30, though cf. Kálf Kátr 11/6VII), but Meissner notes (Meissner 226) that the pl. can be used in gold-kennings, not only for poetic emphasis but also to suggest individual items of gold. Bála may, alternatively or additionally, have been preferred for its disyllabic form.

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elfar ‘of the river’

elfr (noun f.): river

kennings

tolf viðu bála elfar
‘twelve trees of the pyres of the river ’
   = MEN

the pyres of the river → GOLD
twelve trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[1, 2] bála elfar ‘of the pyres of the river [GOLD]’: Bál ‘pyre’ as the base-word in gold-kennings is not normally pl. (Meissner 229-30, though cf. Kálf Kátr 11/6VII), but Meissner notes (Meissner 226) that the pl. can be used in gold-kennings, not only for poetic emphasis but also to suggest individual items of gold. Bála may, alternatively or additionally, have been preferred for its disyllabic form.

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tálaust ‘without equivocation’

tálauss (adj.): without equivocation

[2] tálaust: ‘tallaust’ 972ˣ, Peringskiöld 1697 I

notes

[2] tálaust ‘without equivocation’: The first element is either f. ‘pair’ (cf. SnE 1998, I, 106; LP: tálauss) or tál-, i.e. tôl ‘deceit’ (cf. Sigv Erlfl 8/3). The former is assumed here, on the basis of the spelling of the main ms. and because the concept of ‘deceit’ does not seem relevant.

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viðu ‘trees’

1. viðr (noun m.; °-ar, dat. -i/-; -ir, acc. -u/-i): wood, tree

kennings

tolf viðu bála elfar
‘twelve trees of the pyres of the river ’
   = MEN

the pyres of the river → GOLD
twelve trees of the GOLD → MEN
Close

bála ‘of the pyres’

bál (noun n.; °-s; -): fire

kennings

tolf viðu bála elfar
‘twelve trees of the pyres of the river ’
   = MEN

the pyres of the river → GOLD
twelve trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[1, 2] bála elfar ‘of the pyres of the river [GOLD]’: Bál ‘pyre’ as the base-word in gold-kennings is not normally pl. (Meissner 229-30, though cf. Kálf Kátr 11/6VII), but Meissner notes (Meissner 226) that the pl. can be used in gold-kennings, not only for poetic emphasis but also to suggest individual items of gold. Bála may, alternatively or additionally, have been preferred for its disyllabic form.

Close

bála ‘of the pyres’

bál (noun n.; °-s; -): fire

kennings

tolf viðu bála elfar
‘twelve trees of the pyres of the river ’
   = MEN

the pyres of the river → GOLD
twelve trees of the GOLD → MEN

notes

[1, 2] bála elfar ‘of the pyres of the river [GOLD]’: Bál ‘pyre’ as the base-word in gold-kennings is not normally pl. (Meissner 229-30, though cf. Kálf Kátr 11/6VII), but Meissner notes (Meissner 226) that the pl. can be used in gold-kennings, not only for poetic emphasis but also to suggest individual items of gold. Bála may, alternatively or additionally, have been preferred for its disyllabic form.

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olli ‘caused’

valda (verb): cause

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Ôleifr ‘Óláfr’

Óláfr (noun m.): Óláfr

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eir ‘the merci’

eir (noun f.): mercy < eirsamr (adj.): merciful

[4] eirsamr: ‘eiarsamr’ R686ˣ, eirlaust 972ˣ, Peringskiöld 1697 I

notes

[4] eirsamr ‘merciful’: No text has precisely this spelling, but it seems to be indicated by the readings and by the context. Eirsamr is preferable as the lectio difficilior, while the variant eirlaust ‘mercilessly’ is doubtless influenced by ‑laust in l. 2. Kock (NN §1870) points out that Sigvatr uses the paradox of the gentle, merciful king dealing ruthlessly with miscreants again in st. 5.

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samr ‘ful’

samr (adj.; °compar. -ari): same < eirsamr (adj.): merciful

[4] eirsamr: ‘eiarsamr’ R686ˣ, eirlaust 972ˣ, Peringskiöld 1697 I

notes

[4] eirsamr ‘merciful’: No text has precisely this spelling, but it seems to be indicated by the readings and by the context. Eirsamr is preferable as the lectio difficilior, while the variant eirlaust ‘mercilessly’ is doubtless influenced by ‑laust in l. 2. Kock (NN §1870) points out that Sigvatr uses the paradox of the gentle, merciful king dealing ruthlessly with miscreants again in st. 5.

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Svía ‘of the Swedes’

svíar (noun m.): Swedes

kennings

sóknstríðs tyggja Svía
‘of the battle-hard king of the Swedes ’
   = Óláfr sœnski

the battle-hard king of the Swedes → Óláfr sœnski
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tyggja ‘king’

tyggi (noun m.): prince, sovereign

[5] tyggja: so 972ˣ, Peringskiöld 1697 I, ‘tiggi’ R686ˣ

kennings

sóknstríðs tyggja Svía
‘of the battle-hard king of the Swedes ’
   = Óláfr sœnski

the battle-hard king of the Swedes → Óláfr sœnski
Close

leitk ‘I saw’

líta (verb): look, see; appear

[5] leitk (‘leit ek’): so Peringskiöld 1697 I, ‘lett ek’ R686ˣ, lét ek 972ˣ

notes

[1, 5] frák; leitk ‘I heard; I saw’: If these are taken literally, Sigvatr was not present at the capture of the Swedish party, but did witness their subsequent hanging.

Close

sóknstríðs ‘of the battle-hard’

sóknstríðr (adj.): [battle-hard]

kennings

sóknstríðs tyggja Svía
‘of the battle-hard king of the Swedes ’
   = Óláfr sœnski

the battle-hard king of the Swedes → Óláfr sœnski
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firum ‘for the men’

firar (noun m.): men

[6] firum: fyr um Peringskiöld 1697 I

notes

[6] firum ‘for the men’: Kock (NN §656) suggests reading this with sóknstríðs, giving ‘hard in battle against men’, but this construction seems awkward, and what Kock calls Finnur Jónsson’s paranteskonglomerat ‘conglomeration of parentheses’ is preferable in a helmingr where there is interlacing of clauses under any interpretation.

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Heljar ‘Hel’

1. hel (noun f.; °-jar, dat. -ju): death, Hel, hell

notes

[7] Heljar ‘Hel’: The realm of the dead, and the monstrous goddess presiding over it (see Note to HSt Rst 34/1, 4).

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Sigars ‘of Sigarr’

Sigarr (noun m.): Sigarr

kennings

hesti Sigars
‘the horse of Sigarr ’
   = GALLOWS

the horse of Sigarr → GALLOWS

notes

[8] hesti Sigars ‘the horse of Sigarr <legendary king> [GALLOWS]’: See Note to Eyv Hál 4/5.

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hesti ‘the horse’

hestr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i; -ar): horse, stallion

kennings

hesti Sigars
‘the horse of Sigarr ’
   = GALLOWS

the horse of Sigarr → GALLOWS

notes

[8] hesti Sigars ‘the horse of Sigarr <legendary king> [GALLOWS]’: See Note to Eyv Hál 4/5.

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

ÓH 1941, I, 110 (ch. 45) and Hkr (ÍF 27, 74-7) recount that, early in his reign, King Óláfr’s men capture and hang Ásgautr, one of the two messengers sent by King Óláfr of Sweden to collect taxes from the farmers of Norway, along with his eleven followers. The stanza is cited only in the transcriptions of the lost Uppsala ms.

The surviving texts of this stanza seem to derive from the lost Uppsala ms. (*U) of ÓH (see ÓH 1941, II, 1086).

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