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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 25I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 25’ 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. 695.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonErfidrápa Óláfs helga

Oss dugir Ôleifs messu
— jǫfur magnar goð — fagna
meinalaust í mínu
Magnúss fǫður húsi.
Skyldr emk skilfings halda
skolllaust, þess’s bjó golli,
helgi, handar tjǫlgur
harmdauða, mér rauðu.

Dugir oss fagna meinalaust messu Ôleifs, fǫður Magnúss, í húsi mínu; goð magnar jǫfur. Emk skyldr halda skolllaust helgi harmdauða skilfings, þess’s bjó mér tjǫlgur handar rauðu golli.

It is proper for us [me] to welcome, sinlessly, the feast day of Óláfr, the father of Magnús, in my house; God strengthens the ruler. I am required to keep, guilelessly, the holy day of the lamented death of the king, who fitted my branches of the arm with red gold.

Mss: (501r), 39(13vb), F(38rb), E(4v), J2ˣ(243r-v) (Hkr); Holm2(73r), 325VI(41rb), 321ˣ(278), 73aˣ(213v), Holm4(68vb), 61(129vb), 325V(88rb), 325VII(41r), Bb(205rb), Flat(127va), Tóm(160v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Ôleifs: ‘ol[…]s’ 325VI    [2] fagna: fagnar 61    [3] meinalaust: meinalaus Bb;    mínu: ‘m̄m’ 61, mínum Bb, Flat, Tóm    [4] Magnúss: ‘magus’ 73aˣ;    húsi: harmi 61, Flat, Tóm    [5] skilfings: siklings Bb, ‘skíflíngr’ Tóm;    halda: alda Holm2, aldar Holm4, 61    [6] skoll‑: skuld E, 325VI, 325VII, ‘skul‑’ J2ˣ, Holm2;    þess’s (‘þess er’): þar er 321ˣ;    bjó: so all others, hjó Kˣ    [7] handar: handa 39, E, J2ˣ, Holm2, 325VI, 321ˣ, Holm4, 325V, 325VII, Bb;    tjǫlgur: ‘tialgr’ 321ˣ, talga 61, ‘talgar’ Tóm    [8] ‑dauða: ‑dauði 73aˣ, 61, ‑dauðan 325VII;    rauðu: rauða 73aˣ, rauðan 61, rauðum Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 264, Skj BI, 245, Skald I, 127; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 23, IV, 187, ÍF 28, 21, Hkr 1991, II, 569 (MGóð ch. 10), F 1871, 175; ÓH 1941, I, 617 (ch. 253), Flat 1860-8, II, 379; Jón Skaptason 1983, 180, 309.

Context: ÓH-Hkr relate that Óláfr’s feast day is established in Norwegian law and is observed as one of the holiest days of the calendar.

Notes: [1] messu ‘the feast day’: Messa is an adoption from Lat. missa ‘mass, Eucharist’. As in ESk Geisl 35/3VII, this most likely refers to the requirements for lay observance of a saint’s feast day, rather than implying that mass was actually celebrated in Sigvatr’s house. The meaning ‘mass’ is attested in Christian poetry of the C12th, e.g., Anon Heil 12/2VII. — [6] bjó ‘fitted’: Hjó ‘cut, hacked’ is clearly an error in . This is confirmed by the fact that papp18ˣ, another transcript of K, has bjó. — [7] tjǫlgur handar ‘branches of the arm’: Hǫnd can mean ‘hand’ or ‘arm’ (LP, Fritzner: hǫnd). (a) As arm-rings were more common (and more valuable) as gifts than finger-rings, this is interpreted here as an explained metaphor meaning ‘arms’ (cf. LP: tjalga, as an alternative). Tjǫlgur ‘branches’ (in the form tjálgur) occurs in stanzas attributed to the legendary Starkaðr, apparently denoting his abnormally long arms (StarkSt Vík 5/2VIII (Gautr 13) and Note, StarkSt Vík 33/5VIII (Gautr 41)). (b) The phrase could alternatively be a kenning meaning ‘branches of the arm [FINGERS]’ (so Meissner 140), though the only other example of this kenning pattern, in Grett Lv 33/3V (Gr 65), is similarly ambiguous (cf. also Guðrún Nordal 2001, 305-6, 387).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Guðrún Nordal. 2001. Tools of Literacy: The Role of Skaldic Verse in Icelandic Textual Culture of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press.
  6. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  12. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  13. Jón Skaptason. 1983. ‘Material for an Edition and Translation of the Poems of Sigvat Þórðarson, skáld’. Ph.D. thesis. State University of New York at Stony Brook. DAI 44: 3681A.
  14. Internal references
  15. Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra manna drápa 12’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 881.
  16. Not published: do not cite (MGóðII)
  17. Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 35’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 35-6.
  18. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 13 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 5)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 259.
  19. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 41 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 33)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 286.
  20. Not published: do not cite (Grett Lv 33V (Gr 65))

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