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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Yt 5I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 5’ 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. 16.

Þjóðólfr ór HviniYnglingatal

text and translation

Hitt vas fyrr,
at fold ruðu
sínum dróttni.
Ok landherr
af lífsvǫnum
dreyrug vôpn
Dómalda bar,
þás árgjǫrn
Jóta dolgi
Svía kind
of sóa skyldi.

Hitt vas fyrr, at {sverðberendr} ruðu fold dróttni sínum. Ok landherr bar dreyrug vôpn af lífsvǫnum Dómalda, þás árgjǫrn kind Svía skyldi of sóa {dolgi Jóta}.
‘It happened earlier that the sword-bearers [WARRIORS] reddened the ground with [the blood of] their leader. And the army of the land bore bloody weapons away from the lifeless Dómaldi when the race of the Swedes, eager for good harvests, had to sacrifice the enemy of the Jótar [= Dómaldi].

notes and context

King Dómaldi succeeds his father Vísburr. The Swedes, plagued by famine, stage a sacrificial ceremony in Uppsala three years in a row. The first year they sacrifice bulls and the second year humans. When the famine continues, they finally sacrifice their king Dómaldi himself.

According to HN (2003, 74), Dómaldi was sacrificed to the goddess Ceres, possibly meaning Freyja: Cuius filium Domald Sweones suspendentes pro fertilitate frugum Cereri hostiam obtulerunt ‘In hanging his [Vísbúrr’s] son Dómaldr, the Swedes made an offering to Ceres for the fruitfulness of the harvest’. The supposition in ÍF 26 (and similarly Hkr 1991), that Dómaldi was first hanged and then marked by a spear in sacrifice to Óðinn, is improbable, since an offering to Óðinn is unlikely to belong within the context of fertility rites. On the contrary, this stanza of Yt clearly connects the sacrifice to a desire for good harvests. The sacrificial killing of Dómaldi has been the subject of much debate, involving contradictory conceptions of sacral kingship, royal sacrifice etc., cf. Baetke (1964, 51-68), Turville-Petre (1964, 191), and overview in Sundqvist (2002, 241-53).



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: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski, 1. Ynglingatal 5: AI, 8, BI, 8, Skald I, 5; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 31, IV, 7-8, ÍF 26, 32, Hkr 1991, I, 18 (Yng ch. 15), F 1871, 11; Yng 1912, 22, 58-9, Yng 2000, 20; Yt 1914, 3, Yt 1925, 198, 219‑20.


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