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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Erl 1I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Poem about Erlingr Skjálgsson 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. 628.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonPoem about Erlingr Skjálgsson1

text and translation

Einn vissak þér annan
Jalks bríktǫpuð glíkan;
vítt réð gumna gætir
— Guðbrandr hét sá — lǫndum.
Ykkr kveðk jafna þykkja,
ormláðs hati, báða;
lýgr hinn at sér lægir
linnsetrs, es telsk betri.

Vissak {einn annan {Jalks brík}tǫpuð} glíkan þér; sá hét Guðbrandr; {gætir gumna} réð vítt lǫndum. Kveðk ykkr báða þykkja jafna, {hati {ormláðs}}; {hinn lægir {linnsetrs}}, es telsk betri, lýgr at sér.
‘I knew of [only] one other destroyer of the plank of Jálkr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘plank-destroyer of Jálkr’) SHIELD > WARRIOR] like you; he was called Guðbrandr; the protector of men [RULER = Guðbrandr] ruled lands widely. I declare you are both thought equal, hater of the snake-land [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Erlingr]; the diminisher of the serpent-abode [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] who considers himself better is lying to himself.

notes and context

In ÓH-Hkr, Dala-Guðbrandr ‘Guðbrandr of the Dales’ is introduced and Sigvatr is cited as an authority for the fact that he was comparable with Erlingr Skjálgsson in terms of power and land. In ÓHLeg, the stanza is cited in the context of Erlingr’s final battle (see Introduction, above).

The DG8 (ÓHLeg) text of this stanza is damaged, so the text printed in ÓHLeg 1922 has been used to supplement the ms. in the Readings above. For interpretation of the ÓHLeg text, particularly its kennings, see ÓHLeg 1982. — [7-8]: These lines seem to refer, in the light of jafna ‘equal’ in l. 5, to whichever of the two chieftains might claim to be superior to the other, but they could also be construed as referring to a hypothetical third chieftain who might claim that he is better than either of them. Lægir linnsetrs ‘diminisher of the serpent-abode [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’ could also be construed as an apostrophe to Erlingr, parallel to the kenning for ‘generous man’ in l. 6 (so Hkr 1893-1901, IV and Skj B). Jón Skaptason (1983, 256) suggests the kenning refers to Guðbrandr.



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, 6. Et kvad om Erlingr Skjalgsson: AI, 243, BI, 228, Skald I, 118, NN §1861Hkr 1893-1901, II, 227, IV, 139, ÍF 27, 183-4, Hkr 1991, I, 381-2 (ÓHHkr ch. 112); ÓH 1941, I, 271 (ch. 99), Flat 1860-8, II, 188; ÓHLeg 1922, 65, ÓHLeg 1982, 154-6; Jón Skaptason 1983, 112, 255-6.


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