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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnSt Ht 16III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 16’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1120.

Snorri SturlusonHáttatal

Setr of vísa vitran
vígdrótt, en þar hníga,
— ýr dregsk — við skotskúrum
skjaldborg, í gras aldir.
Vápnrjóðr stikar víða
(vellbrjótr á lǫg) spjótum
(þryngr at sverða sǫngvi
sóknharðr) þrǫmu jarðar.

Vígdrótt setr skjaldborg of vitran vísa við skotskúrum; ýr dregsk, en þar hníga aldir í gras. {Vápnrjóðr} stikar víða þrǫmu jarðar spjótum; {sóknharðr vellbrjótr} þryngr á lǫg at {sǫngvi sverða}.

The battle-retinue sets up a shield-wall around the wise leader against the showers of shots; the yew-bow is pulled, and there people sink down in the grass. {The weapon-reddener} [WARRIOR = Hákon] encloses the wide edges of the earth with spears; {the battle-strong gold-breaker} [GENEROUS MAN] advances on the ocean towards {the song of swords} [BATTLE].

Mss: R(46v), Tˣ(49r), W(141), U(47r) (l. 1), U(50v) (SnE); W(106), A(6r) (TGT, l. 1)

Readings: [1] of: ‘[…]f’ W(141);    vísa: vísi U(47r)    [3] ýr: ‘vr’ U;    ‑skúrum: ‘scuro’ Tˣ    [4] aldir: so all others, aldri R    [6] ‑brjótr: brjót W    [7] þryngr: so Tˣ, W, þungr R, ‘þravngr’ U;    sverða: ‘[…]ða’ W    [8] ‑harðr: ‘h[…]ðr’ U;    þrǫmu: þrumu W(141), þrimu U

Editions: Skj AII, 56, Skj BII, 65, Skald II, 37; SnE 1848-87, I, 620-3, II, 370, 380-1, III, 114-15, SnE 1879-81, I, 3, 76, II, 9, SnE 1931, 222, SnE 2007, 11; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 11; SnE 1848-87, II, 146-7, 418, TGT 1884, 24, 94, 206-7, TGT 1927, 68, 102-3.

Context: The stanza illustrates the syntactic variation drǫgur ‘drawings’, in which the first word (setr ‘sets’) echoes the last word in the preceding stanza (setri ‘seat’; st. 15/8 above). In TGT, l. 1 is used to exemplify anadiplosis, which is the same figure (see st. 15 above).

Notes: [All]: The heading is drǫgur (U(47r) and added in R (R*)). This device is also known from Old French, Middle English, and Old Irish poetry, but it is very rare in Old Norse poetry (see Hl 1941, 129, SnE 2007, 53 and the literature cited there). — [1] setr ‘sets up’: According to the prose commentaries of Snorri and Óláfr, this word ought to be the same as the last word in st. 15, but, as Finnur Jónsson points out (TGT 1927, 103), that is technically incorrect because setri ‘seat’ (st. 15/8) is a n. dat. sg. noun and setr is 3rd pers. sg. pres. indic. of the weak verb setja. — [3] ýr ‘the yew-bow’: See Note to st. 11/1 above. — [4] skjaldborg ‘a shield-wall’: Lit. ‘shield-fortification’. For the practice of protecting a king or war-leader in battle by surrounding him with a wall of shields, see Falk (1914b, 151). — [4] aldir ‘people’: So all other mss. Aldri ‘never’ (R) makes no sense in the context and has been altered to aldir (R*). — [5] víða ‘wide’: Taken as an adj. (m. acc. pl.) here, but it could also be the adv. víða ‘far and wide’. — [7] þryngr ‘advances’: So , W. Þungr ‘heavy’ has been altered in R to þryngr (R*). — [8] sóknharðr ‘battle-strong’: This adj. could also qualify vápnrjóðr ‘weapon-reddener’ (l. 5; so Skj B, Skald and SnE 2007).


  1. Bibliography
  2. TGT 1884 = Björn Magnússon Ólsen, ed. 1884. Den tredje og fjærde grammatiske afhandling i Snorres Edda tilligemed de grammatiske afhandlingers prolog og to andre tillæg. SUGNL 12. Copenhagen: Knudtzon.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. Falk, Hjalmar. 1914b. Altnordische Waffenkunde. Videnskapsselskapets skrifter, II. Hist.-filos. kl. 1914, 6. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  7. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  8. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  9. TGT 1927 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1927b. Óláfr Þórðarson: Málhljóða- og málskrúðsrit. Grammatisk-retorisk afhandling. Det kgl. Danske Videnskabernes Selskab. Historisk-filologiske meddelelser 13, 2. Copenhagen: Høst.
  10. Hl 1941 = Jón Helgason and Anne Holtsmark, eds. 1941. Háttalykill enn forni. BA 1. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  11. SnE 2007 = Snorri Sturluson. 2007. Edda: Háttatal. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  12. SnE 1879-81 = Möbius, Theodor, ed. 1879-81. Hattatal Snorra Sturlusonar. 2 vols. Halle an de Saale: Verlag der Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses.
  13. Internal references
  14. Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘The Third Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].

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