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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 2I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 2’ 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. 666.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonErfidrápa Óláfs helga
123

til ‘the’

til (prep.): to

[1] til: om. Flat, ok 761bˣ

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enda ‘whole’

endi (noun m.): end

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ôss ‘The god’

2. Áss (noun m.; °áss, dat. ási/ás; ásar): god

kennings

Ôss gneista
‘The god of the sword ’
   = WARRIOR = Óláfr Haraldsson

The god of the sword → WARRIOR = Óláfr Haraldsson
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gneista ‘of the sword’

gneisti (noun m.): sword, spark

kennings

Ôss gneista
‘The god of the sword ’
   = WARRIOR = Óláfr Haraldsson

The god of the sword → WARRIOR = Óláfr Haraldsson
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ok ‘and’

3. ok (conj.): and, but; also

[2] ok: om. 761bˣ

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þar ‘there’

þar (adv.): there

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reisti ‘established’

rísta (verb): carve, raise

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kristnihald ‘Christianity’

kristnihald (noun n.): [Christianity]

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þats ‘which’

þats (conj.): that, which

[3] þats (‘þat er’): þar er 761bˣ

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heldu ‘maintained’

halda (verb): hold, keep

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hverr ‘each’

2. hverr (pron.): who, whom, each, every

kennings

hverr veitir beita sverðs
‘each benefactor of the swingers of the sword ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

the swingers of the sword → WARRIORS
each benefactor of WARRIORS → GENEROUS MAN

notes

[3, 4] hverr veitir ... heldu ‘each benefactor ... maintained’: The pairing of the sg. subject hverr veitir ‘every benefactor’ with pl. verb heldu ‘maintained’ follows the logic of sense, rather than strict grammatical concord (cf. NS §66b Anm. 1, 2). As in st. 1/2, metrical considerations may also be in play.

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veitir ‘benefactor’

veitir (noun m.): giver

kennings

hverr veitir beita sverðs
‘each benefactor of the swingers of the sword ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

the swingers of the sword → WARRIORS
each benefactor of WARRIORS → GENEROUS MAN

notes

[3, 4] hverr veitir ... heldu ‘each benefactor ... maintained’: The pairing of the sg. subject hverr veitir ‘every benefactor’ with pl. verb heldu ‘maintained’ follows the logic of sense, rather than strict grammatical concord (cf. NS §66b Anm. 1, 2). As in st. 1/2, metrical considerations may also be in play.

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sverðs ‘of the sword’

sverð (noun n.; °-s; -): sword

kennings

hverr veitir beita sverðs
‘each benefactor of the swingers of the sword ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

the swingers of the sword → WARRIORS
each benefactor of WARRIORS → GENEROUS MAN
Close

sverðs ‘of the sword’

sverð (noun n.; °-s; -): sword

kennings

hverr veitir beita sverðs
‘each benefactor of the swingers of the sword ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

the swingers of the sword → WARRIORS
each benefactor of WARRIORS → GENEROUS MAN
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beita ‘of the swingers’

beitir (noun m.): steerer

kennings

hverr veitir beita sverðs
‘each benefactor of the swingers of the sword ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

the swingers of the sword → WARRIORS
each benefactor of WARRIORS → GENEROUS MAN

notes

[3, 4] hverr veitir ... heldu ‘each benefactor ... maintained’: The pairing of the sg. subject hverr veitir ‘every benefactor’ with pl. verb heldu ‘maintained’ follows the logic of sense, rather than strict grammatical concord (cf. NS §66b Anm. 1, 2). As in st. 1/2, metrical considerations may also be in play.

Close

beita ‘of the swingers’

beitir (noun m.): steerer

kennings

hverr veitir beita sverðs
‘each benefactor of the swingers of the sword ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

the swingers of the sword → WARRIORS
each benefactor of WARRIORS → GENEROUS MAN

notes

[3, 4] hverr veitir ... heldu ‘each benefactor ... maintained’: The pairing of the sg. subject hverr veitir ‘every benefactor’ with pl. verb heldu ‘maintained’ follows the logic of sense, rather than strict grammatical concord (cf. NS §66b Anm. 1, 2). As in st. 1/2, metrical considerations may also be in play.

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Áðr ‘previously’

áðr (adv.; °//): before

notes

[5, 6] áðr fyrr ‘previously’: This appears to be a tautologous construction. Kock (NN §2777) emends adv. fyrr ‘before’ to fyrri on metrical grounds (referring to NN §2502C), but fyrri was originally an adj., only becoming an adv. at a later stage (LP: fyrri 5), and it is not clear what the adj. would qualify. The adv. fyrr is therefore retained in this edn.

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þeim ‘it’

hann (pron.; °gen. hans, dat. honum; f. hon, gen. hennar, acc. hana): he, she, it, they, them...

[5] þeim: því Flat, 761bˣ

notes

[5] þeim ‘it’: The emendation (from því n. dat. sg.) is required because the antecedent of the pron., Upplǫnd ‘Opplandene’ is pl. ‘It’ is used in the translation since the reference is to a region.

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eyðar ‘destroyers’

eyðir (noun m.): destroyer

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
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ellifu ‘Eleven’

ellifu (num. cardinal): eleven

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN

notes

[6] ellifu ‘eleven’: Snorri Sturluson (ÓH 1941, I, 155; ÍF 27, 107), following Ótt Hfl 19, mentions five kings who had ruled in Norway before Óláfr defeated them all. ÓHLeg (1982, 72) mentions eleven kings but does not cite any stanza. The citation of Styrmir which introduces this stanza (see Context above) repeats an earlier statement also ascribed to Styrmir that King Óláfr had taken the kingdoms of eleven kings in Opplandene away from the Swedish King Óláfr (Flat 1860-8, II, 67).

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fyrr ‘’

fyrr (adv.): before, sooner

notes

[5, 6] áðr fyrr ‘previously’: This appears to be a tautologous construction. Kock (NN §2777) emends adv. fyrr ‘before’ to fyrri on metrical grounds (referring to NN §2502C), but fyrri was originally an adj., only becoming an adv. at a later stage (LP: fyrri 5), and it is not clear what the adj. would qualify. The adv. fyrr is therefore retained in this edn.

Close

hella ‘of the cave’

1. hella (noun f.; °-u; -ur): cave, slab

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
Close

hella ‘of the cave’

1. hella (noun f.; °-u; -ur): cave, slab

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
Close

hella ‘of the cave’

1. hella (noun f.; °-u; -ur): cave, slab

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
Close

mildings ‘of the lord’

mildingr (noun m.; °-s): ruler, generous one

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
Close

mildings ‘of the lord’

mildingr (noun m.; °-s): ruler, generous one

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
Close

mildings ‘of the lord’

mildingr (noun m.; °-s): ruler, generous one

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
Close

máls ‘of the speech’

1. mál (noun n.; °-s; -): speech, matter

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
Close

máls ‘of the speech’

1. mál (noun n.; °-s; -): speech, matter

kennings

Ellifu eyðar máls mildings hella
‘Eleven destroyers of the speech of the lord of the cave ’
   = GENEROUS MEN

the lord of the cave → GIANT
the speech of the GIANT → GOLD
Eleven destroyers of the GOLD → GENEROUS MEN
Close

en ‘but’

2. en (conj.): but, and

notes

[7-8] en menn guldu gísla vísliga ‘but men wisely gave hostages’: The Context (above) mentions the taking of distinguished hostages, though it explains neither the circumstances of this nor the reasons for it. The circumstances may be those referred to in ÓHLeg (1982, 72), in which Óláfr captures eleven kings and gives them the option of living or dying. Some choose to submit to him, others are blinded and exiled, but there is no mention of hostages.

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guldu ‘gave’

1. gjalda (verb): pay, repay

notes

[7-8] en menn guldu gísla vísliga ‘but men wisely gave hostages’: The Context (above) mentions the taking of distinguished hostages, though it explains neither the circumstances of this nor the reasons for it. The circumstances may be those referred to in ÓHLeg (1982, 72), in which Óláfr captures eleven kings and gives them the option of living or dying. Some choose to submit to him, others are blinded and exiled, but there is no mention of hostages.

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menn ‘men’

maðr (noun m.): man, person

notes

[7-8] en menn guldu gísla vísliga ‘but men wisely gave hostages’: The Context (above) mentions the taking of distinguished hostages, though it explains neither the circumstances of this nor the reasons for it. The circumstances may be those referred to in ÓHLeg (1982, 72), in which Óláfr captures eleven kings and gives them the option of living or dying. Some choose to submit to him, others are blinded and exiled, but there is no mention of hostages.

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vísliga ‘wisely’

vísliga (adv.): [certainly, wisely]

notes

[7-8] en menn guldu gísla vísliga ‘but men wisely gave hostages’: The Context (above) mentions the taking of distinguished hostages, though it explains neither the circumstances of this nor the reasons for it. The circumstances may be those referred to in ÓHLeg (1982, 72), in which Óláfr captures eleven kings and gives them the option of living or dying. Some choose to submit to him, others are blinded and exiled, but there is no mention of hostages.

Close

gísla ‘hostages’

1. gísl (noun m.): hostage

notes

[7-8] en menn guldu gísla vísliga ‘but men wisely gave hostages’: The Context (above) mentions the taking of distinguished hostages, though it explains neither the circumstances of this nor the reasons for it. The circumstances may be those referred to in ÓHLeg (1982, 72), in which Óláfr captures eleven kings and gives them the option of living or dying. Some choose to submit to him, others are blinded and exiled, but there is no mention of hostages.

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

Styrmir (inn fróði ‘the Wise’ Kárason) is cited as having reckoned up, j sinne bok ‘in his book’, six kings who had ruled in Norway in addition to the five already mentioned (see Note to l. 6 below). The citation is followed by a statement that King Óláfr took hostages from the lendir menn ‘landed men, district chieftains’ and farmers.

[1-4]: The helmingr may be corrupt, being preserved in only two mss and containing several metrical irregularities. In l. 1 (Type A2l) the frumhending (first part of an internal rhyme) is in position 2 on a syllable with secondary stress (though the same feature occurs in st. 21/1, which curiously also seems to refer to Opplandene, by a pun); l. 2 has elision on ‑a ok in a Type D4 line; l. 3 has alliteration on the second element of the cpd kristnihald, and l. 4 violates Craigie’s Law (on which, see Gade 1995a, 29-30) by having a long nominal syllable (sverðs) in position 4. The interpretation of these lines is also uncertain. (a) This edn tentatively follows Kock (NN §657) in keeping the readings of Flat, though a word such as til still needs to be added in l. 1 (see also Note to l. 5, below). Kock’s interpretation involves reading ‘os næista’ (Flat), ‘os neista’ (761bˣ) as ôss gneista, lit. ‘god of the spark’ and assuming that gneisti is a heiti for ‘sword’ and that the whole makes a warrior-kenning. Kock adduces several parallels, including kennings with brands or elds as determinant, both of which can mean ‘sword’ as well as ‘fire’; cf. also Þul Sverða 8/1, 2, 7III and Note to 8/1III. The word ôss ‘god’ is both rare as a base-word (Meissner 264) and unexpected in Sigvatr’s poetry (by contrast with the avowedly pagan Edáð Banddr 8/7), though he does make use of individual gods’ names as base-words in kennings. It is conceivable that there is also a subtext here that Óláfr, the saint to be, is an ôss ‘god’ of the light of Christendom, with the word gneisti translated literally as ‘spark, fire’ (cf., e.g., the light imagery in ESk Geisl 1-3VII). Also problematic is veitir beita sverðs ‘benefactor of the swingers of the sword [WARRIORS]’ which Kock glosses as hövding eller bonde ‘chieftain or farmer’. This stretches the meaning of veitir somewhat, as it usually means ‘giver’ and in kennings is normally qualified by a word for treasure or weapons (Meissner 306). (b) Despite these difficulties, Finnur Jónsson’s alternative interpretation (Skj B; also Jón Skaptason 1983) is less convincing because it requires two further emendations (of hverr to hvers and beita to beitar in l. 4) and highly unnatural word order.

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