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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Lv 13I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 13’ 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. 715.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonLausavísur

text and translation

Fjandr ganga þar þengils
(þjóð býðr opt) með sjóða
(hǫfgan malm fyr hilmis
haus ófalan) lausa.
Sitt veit hverr, ef harra
hollan selr við golli,
— vert es slíks — í svǫrtu,
sinn, helvíti innan.

Fjandr þengils ganga þar með lausa sjóða; þjóð býðr opt hǫfgan malm fyr ófalan haus hilmis. Hverr veit sitt innan í svǫrtu helvíti, ef selr hollan harra sinn við golli; vert es slíks.
‘Enemies of the prince go there with open purses; people are repeatedly offering solid metal for the not-for-sale skull of the ruler [Óláfr]. Everyone knows his lot will be within black Hell if he sells his gracious lord for gold; that is deserving of such.

notes and context

King Knútr sends his emissaries throughout Norway to distribute money to those who will support him and resist King Óláfr. Some who accept the money do so openly, but most keep it a secret. King Óláfr hears all about this, and Sigvatr composes this stanza and the next.

For Lv 13-15, the text in J2ˣ belongs to the Hkr redaction; see Introduction. — [5-8]: (a) The overall analysis of clauses shown above is also that of most previous eds, including Skj B. However, it assumes a convoluted word order, and there is disagreement as to the status of sitt in l. 5 and sinn in l. 8. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 27; so also Hkr 1991) takes sinn to be a n. noun meaning ‘company, fellowship’, a usage that is unattested but supported by the sense of the closely related sinni. He would have this qualified by sitt, enabling him to interpret the first clause to mean ‘Everyone knows his company to be (i.e. has an assigned place) in Hell’. Jón Skaptason (1983, 198) approves this interpretation, but he suggests the meaning ‘lot’ for sitt, taking sinn with harra, as also in the present edn. Kock (NN §1119) earlier gave a similar interpretation, but he took sinn to mean ‘journey’ (with the same etymological problem), rendering the sense ‘Everyone knows that his wandering will be in (i.e. that he will go to) Hell’. (b) A further possibility is to read Hverr innan í svǫrtu helvíti veit sitt, ef selr hollan harra sinn við golli; vert es slíks ‘Everyone within black Hell understands his own circumstances, if he sells his gracious lord for gold; that is deserving of such’. The general sense is then ‘Everyone in Hell knows why he is there, i.e. what his sins have been’. Then vert in l. 7 agrees with sitt, giving the intercalary clause the sense ‘His circumstances/sins are worthy of such punishment’.



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, 13. Lausavísur 16: AI, 270, BI, 250, Skald I, 129, NN §1119; Fms 4, 376-7, Fms 12, 91, ÓH 1853, 172, ÓH 1853, 172, ÓH 1941, I, 457 (ch. 153), Flat 1860-8, II, 291; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 285, VI, 97-8, Hkr 1868, 431 (ÓHHkr ch. 171), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 382, IV, 148-9, ÍF 27, 294-5, Hkr 1991, II, 467 (ÓHHkr ch. 161); Konráð Gíslason 1892, 38, 180, Jón Skaptason 1983, 198, 322.


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