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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sturl Hákkv 24II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hákonarkviða 24’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 717.

Sturla ÞórðarsonHákonarkviða

Ok þar gekk
á Gjallarbrú
ræsis mágr
fyr riðusóttum
bauga bliks,
er boðar fellu
elda vers
of afarmenni.

Ok þar gekk mágr ræsis á Gjallarbrú fyr riðusóttum {bliks bauga}, er {boðar {elda vers}} fellu of afarmenni.

And there the in-law of the ruler stepped on Gjallarbrú because of the fevers {of the gleam of shield-bosses} [SWORD] when {the offerers {of the fires of the ocean}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MEN] fell around the proud man.

Mss: E(179v), F(112va), 81a(111va), 8(59r), Flat(179va) (Hák)

Readings: [2] á: í 81a;    ‑brú: om. 8    [5] bliks: ‘bligs’ 81a

Editions: Skj AII, 115, Skj BII, 123, Skald II, 66, NN §§2288, 3397B; E 1916, 612, F 1871, 523, Hák 1910-86, 579, Hák 1977-82, 135, Flat 1860-8, III, 161.

Context: As st. 23 above.

Notes: [2] á Gjallarbrú ‘on Gjallarbrú’: Bridge across Gjǫll, the river separating the world of the living from the world of the dead. See Note to st. 21/3 above and SnE 2005, 47. This reference to the pagan realm of Hel is rather curious here, especially since the poem must have been recited before Skúli’s grandson, Magnús Hákonarson. The st. does not seem to imply that Skúli was going to rest peacefully in heaven after his death since he was imagined to be on his way across Gjallarbrú. — [3] mágr ræsis ‘the in-law of the ruler’: Skúli Bárðarson. Hákon was married to Skúli’s daughter, Margrét. — [4-5] fyr riðusóttum bliks bauga ‘because of the fevers of the gleam of shield-bosses [SWORD]’: Refers to Skúli’s death by the sword. Riðusótt lit. ‘quivering illness’ denotes attacks of fever, shivering, malaria, and it is not a base-word proper in a kenning; rather, Skúli died from ‘an illness of the sword’. — [7] elda vers ‘of the fires of the ocean [GOLD]’: As Kock (NN §2288) points out, this might be construed as vers elda ‘of the verse of swords’ i.e. ‘of battle’, although that interpretion (favoured by Kock) is somewhat strained. Eldr ‘fire’ usually occurs as a base-word in kennings for ‘sword’ rather than as a heiti for ‘sword’ (see LP: eldr and eldr 7).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. 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.
  6. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  8. Hák 1977-82 = Mundt, Marina, ed. 1977. Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar etter Sth. 8 fol., AM 325VIII, 4° og AM 304, 4°. Oslo: Forlagsentralen. Suppl. by James E. Knirk, Rettelser til Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar etter Sth. 8 fol., AM 325VIII, 4° og AM 304, 4°. Norrøne tekster 2. Oslo: Norsk historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt, 1982.
  9. Hák 1910-86 = Kjær, Albert and Ludvig Holm-Olsen, eds. 1910-86. Det Arnamagnæanske haandskrift 81a fol. (Skálholtsbók yngsta) indeholdende Sverris saga, Bǫglungasǫgur, Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar. Oslo: Den norske historiske kildeskriftkommission and Kjeldeskriftfondet.
  10. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.

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