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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Víkv 14I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Víkingarvísur 14’ 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. 553.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonVíkingarvísur

Malms vann Mœra hilmir
munnrjóðr, es kom sunnan,
gang, þars gamlir sprungu
geirar, upp at Leiru.
Varð fyr víga Njǫrðum
Varrandi sjá fjarri
brenndr á byggðu landi
— bœr heitir svá — Peitu.

{{Malms munn}rjóðr}, {hilmir Mœra}, vann, es kom sunnan, gang upp at Leiru, þars gamlir geirar sprungu. Varrandi, fjarri sjá á byggðu landi Peitu, varð brenndr fyr {Njǫrðum víga}; bœr heitir svá.

{The reddener {of the mouth of the sword}} [(lit. ‘mouth-reddener of the sword’) SWORD BLADE > WARRIOR], {the ruler of the Mœrir} [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr], when he came from the south, fought his way up to the Loire, where old spears shattered. Varrandi, far from the sea in the settlements of Poitou, was burned for {the Nirðir <gods> of battles} [WARRIORS]; the town is so named.

Mss: (229r-v) (Hkr); Holm2(7v), R686ˣ(13v), J2ˣ(124r), 73aˣ(22r), 78aˣ(21v), 68(6v), 61(80vb), 75c(4r), 325V(9va), 325VII(2v), Bb(127va), Flat(81rb), Tóm(97r) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Malms: so Holm2, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, ‘Mals’ Kˣ, malms with malmr written above R686ˣ, malm 78aˣ, 61;    vann Mœra hilmir: om. 78aˣ;    vann: rauð 61, fann 325V;    Mœra: meira Bb    [2] es kom sunnan: hugins kunnan 73aˣ, 78aˣ;    es (‘er’): om. 68;    kom: komt R686ˣ, 61, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm    [3] gang: so R686ˣ, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61, Bb, gangr Kˣ, gagn Holm2, J2ˣ, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm;    gamlir: ‘gamlr’ R686ˣ;    sprungu: sungu 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm    [4] geirar: ‘geirer’ R686ˣ;    upp: út 68, 61;    at: á J2ˣ, Flat, Tóm;    Leiru: ‘leitu’ Tóm    [5] Varð fyr: ‘warrðuð’ 73aˣ;    Njǫrðum: morði 61, meiðum 325V    [6] Varrandi: Varranda 73aˣ, 78aˣ;    sjá: sá 325VII, Bb;    fjarri: ‘fí[...]a’ Tóm    [7] brenndr: brennd R686ˣ, 68    [8] Peitu: ‘(f)etto’(?) R686ˣ, Peita Tóm

Editions: Skj AI, 227, Skj BI, 216, Skald I, 112-13, NN §§616, 1855, 2470; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 26, IV, 114, ÍF 27, 26, Hkr 1991, I, 267 (ÓHHkr ch. 19); ÓH 1941, I, 50 (ch. 25), Flat 1860-8, II, 28; Fell 1981b, 121-2, Jón Skaptason 1983, 66, 226.

Context: Following a dream summoning him to kingship in Norway, Óláfr abandons his plan to visit the Holy Land and raids Peituland (Poitou), sacking a market town called Varrandi. The stanza follows immediately on from Ótt Hfl 12.

Notes: [1, 2] malms munnrjóðr ‘the reddener of the mouth of the sword [(lit. ‘mouth-reddener of the sword’) SWORD BLADE > WARRIOR]’: Meissner would count this and similar expressions for sword blades as free combinations (freie Verbindungen, Meissner 163) rather than kennings as such. — [1] hilmir Mœra ‘the ruler of the Mœrir [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr]’: See the Note to st. 13/2-3. The kenning is taken here (as in Skald and ÍF 27) in apposition to the warrior-kenning in ll. 1-2. In Skj B it is taken as the subject to the intercalary es kom sunnan ‘when he came from the south’. — [4, 6, 8] Leiru; Varrandi; Peitu ‘the Loire; Varrandi; Poitou’: Leira is the Loire, and there is indeed a Guerrande (now mostly spelt Guérande) at the mouth of this river, a name which accords well with Varrandi. However, it is in southern Brittany, not in Poitou, nor is it ‘far from the sea’ (l. 6). Sigvatr is either mildly confused in his geography here, or has conflated two or more separate incidents. Ótt Hfl 12/1-2 states that Óláfr ‘laid waste to Poitou’ and fought in Touraine (the area around Tours, also on the Loire). Óttarr’s stanza may indeed record raids in these areas that were not mentioned by Sigvatr, or that have not survived in Víkv (note that the numbering of battles has ceased by this point: see Introduction above). For Continental records of Óláfr’s stay in France, see Note to Ótt Hfl 12 [All]. — [5] fyr Njǫrðum víga ‘for the Nirðir <gods> of battles [WARRIORS]’: The prep. fyr could mean either ‘before’, hence ‘(burned) by’, with the kenning referring to the attacking Scandinavian warriors (so Kock, NN §2470; Fell 1981b), or ‘for, to the disadvantage of’ (cf. Note to Hfr ErfÓl 24/8), referring to the inhabitants of the town (so ÍF 27). The translation here assumes the latter, since otherwise this would be the only full stanza without any mention of Óláfr’s opponents.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. 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.
  6. Fell, Christine E. 1981b. ‘Víkingarvísur’. In Dronke et al. 1981, 106-22.
  7. 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.
  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. 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.
  13. Internal references
  14. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  15. Judith Jesch 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Víkingarvísur’ 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. 532.
  16. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 24’ 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. 434.
  17. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 12’ 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. 756.

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