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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 28I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 28’ 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. 697.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonErfidrápa Óláfs helga

text and translation

Endr réð engla senda
Jórðánar gramr fjóra
— fors þó hans á hersi
heilagt skopt — ór lopti.

{Gramr Jórðánar} réð endr senda fjóra engla ór lopti; fors þó heilagt skopt á hersi hans.
‘The prince of the Jordan [CHRIST] once sent four angels from the sky; a waterfall washed the holy hair of his hersir.

notes and context

The stanza is cited as evidence for Jórðánar konungr ‘king of the Jordan’ as a kenning for Christ.

The text of the stanza in the LaufE ms. 2368ˣ is copied from W, and is used selectively in the Readings above to supplement W where it is damaged and illegible. — Interpretation of this helmingr is complicated by the incompleteness of the stanza and lack of a prose context (which also raise doubts about its inclusion in the poem; see Introduction). Fidjestøl’s suggestion (1982, 121) that it refers to the baptism of Christ seems to assume that the fors in l. 3 (perhaps ‘watercourse’, but most likely ‘waterfall’) is equivalent to the River Jordan, but there is no evidence for this, and Christ’s baptism in the Jordan is attended by the spirit of God descending like a dove, not by angels (e.g. Mark III.6). It seems more likely that ll. 3-4 refer to the baptism of King Óláfr. He is called dróttinn hersa ‘lord of hersar’ in st. 13/6, above, and could be seen to be in the same relationship to Christ as his hersar (district chieftains) are to him. Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 202) cites with approval the suggestion in SnE 1848-87, III, 345-6 that the stanza is from ‘an otherwise unknown religious poem about some saint’.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 28: AI, 265, BI, 245-6, Skald I, 127; SnE 1848-87, I, 450-1, II, 334, 445, SnE 1931, 159, SnE 1998, I, 77-8, 144, 202; LaufE (1979, 365); Jón Skaptason 1983, 182, 311.


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