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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 16II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 16’ 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, pp. 129-30.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonSexstefja
151617

vas ‘was’

2. vera (verb): be, is, was, were, are, am

[1] vas: varð FskAˣ, 301ˣ

notes

[1, 3] vas dauð ‘was dead’: The variant varð dauð lit. ‘became dead’ (so FskAˣ, 301ˣ) is also acceptable.

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hraustum ‘the bold’

hraustr (adj.; °compar. -ari, superl. -astr): strong, valiant

[1] sús hraustum (‘su er raustum’): ‘með .h.’ Mork

kennings

hraustum fœði døkks hrafns
‘the bold feeder of the dark raven ’
   = WARRIOR = Sveinn

the bold feeder of the dark raven → WARRIOR = Sveinn
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hrafns ‘raven’

hrafn (noun m.; °hrafns; dat. hrafni; hrafnar): raven

[2] hrafns (‘ramns’): ‘ramus’ 51ˣ

kennings

hraustum fœði døkks hrafns
‘the bold feeder of the dark raven ’
   = WARRIOR = Sveinn

the bold feeder of the dark raven → WARRIOR = Sveinn
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fœði ‘feeder’

fœðir (noun m.): feeder, nourisher

kennings

hraustum fœði døkks hrafns
‘the bold feeder of the dark raven ’
   = WARRIOR = Sveinn

the bold feeder of the dark raven → WARRIOR = Sveinn
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dauð ‘dead’

dauð (noun f.): [dead]

notes

[1, 3] vas dauð ‘was dead’: The variant varð dauð lit. ‘became dead’ (so FskAˣ, 301ˣ) is also acceptable.

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áðr ‘by the time’

áðr (adv.; °//): before

[3] áðr: so all others, áðr an FskBˣ

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næði ‘managed’

1. ná (verb): reach, get, manage

[3] næði: so FskAˣ, 301ˣ, náði FskBˣ, 51ˣ

notes

[3] næði (3rd pers. sg. pret. subj.) ‘managed to’: The variant indic. form náði (so FskBˣ, 51ˣ) is also possible, and would imply a merely temporal sense ‘before’ for áðr, whereas the subj. carries a sense of conditionality or causality.

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døkks ‘of the dark’

døkkr (adj.; °-van; compar. -vari/-ari/-ri, superl. -vastr/-astr): dark

[4] døkks: ‘dꝍghs’ FskAˣ, 301ˣ

kennings

hraustum fœði døkks hrafns
‘the bold feeder of the dark raven ’
   = WARRIOR = Sveinn

the bold feeder of the dark raven → WARRIOR = Sveinn
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Skóp ‘performed’

2. skapa (verb): form

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skerði ‘damager’

skerðir (noun m.): diminisher

kennings

snjǫllum skerði hrings
‘for the valiant damager of the ring ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

for the valiant damager of the ring → GENEROUS MAN
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ǫll ‘The whole’

allr (adj.): all

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snjǫllum ‘for the valiant’

snjallr (adj.): quick, resourceful, bold

kennings

snjǫllum skerði hrings
‘for the valiant damager of the ring ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

for the valiant damager of the ring → GENEROUS MAN
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hrings ‘of the ring’

1. hringr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -; -ar): ring; sword

kennings

snjǫllum skerði hrings
‘for the valiant damager of the ring ’
   = GENEROUS MAN

for the valiant damager of the ring → GENEROUS MAN
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genginn ‘marched off’

2. ganga (verb; geng, gekk, gengu, genginn): walk, go

[7] genginn: gengin 51ˣ

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hverr ‘every’

2. hverr (pron.): who, whom, each, every

[8] hverr: hvern FskBˣ, 51ˣ

notes

[8] hverr fótr ‘every foot’: Emendation of m. acc. sg. hvern to m. nom. sg. hverr seems unavoidable, since it must modify fótr, which is m. nom. sg. and is the best candidate as subject to vas ... genginn (cf. Note above). ‘Foot’ promotes a concrete image of troops marching to Hel, the realm of death and the female divinity presiding over it, simultaneously with the figurative sense in which fótr refers by pars pro toto to the warriors who die, since phrases referring to journeys or dispatch to Hel are stock idioms for death.

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fótr ‘foot’

1. fótr (noun m.): foot, leg

notes

[8] hverr fótr ‘every foot’: Emendation of m. acc. sg. hvern to m. nom. sg. hverr seems unavoidable, since it must modify fótr, which is m. nom. sg. and is the best candidate as subject to vas ... genginn (cf. Note above). ‘Foot’ promotes a concrete image of troops marching to Hel, the realm of death and the female divinity presiding over it, simultaneously with the figurative sense in which fótr refers by pars pro toto to the warriors who die, since phrases referring to journeys or dispatch to Hel are stock idioms for death.

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konungs ‘of the king’

konungr (noun m.; °dat. -i, -s; -ar): king

[8] konungs: konungr FskBˣ, 51ˣ

kennings

konungs Jóta
‘of the king of the Jótar ’
   = DANISH KING = Sveinn

the king of the Jótar → DANISH KING = Sveinn
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Jóta ‘of the Jótar’

jóti (noun m.; °; -ar): one of the Jótar

kennings

konungs Jóta
‘of the king of the Jótar ’
   = DANISH KING = Sveinn

the king of the Jótar → DANISH KING = Sveinn
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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

Fsk: In the battle at the Nissan (Niz), the Norwegians board the Danes’ ships and clear Sveinn’s ship. The st. is followed by a comment that it tells how King Sveinn escaped ashore in a skiff (skúta) which had been floating by the raised after-deck (lypting). Mork and Flat have much the same surrounding prose, including the references to Þjóðólfr, although Mork only cites l. 1 and Flat nothing at all.

[5-8]: The second helmingr is textually difficult, and (or perhaps because) only preserved in copies of the lost vellum FskB. The ms. readings would yield konungr Jóta skóp snjǫllum skerði hrings furðu þá ‘the king of the Jótar performed for the valiant damager of the ring [GENEROUS MAN] a marvel then’, with skipun ǫll vas þá til heljar gengin ‘the whole company had then marched off to death’s realm’ as an intercalary, but this would leave hvern fótr ‘every foot’ unaccounted for, and the phrase is ungrammatical since hvern is acc. and fótr is nom. It may well be that skipun ǫll ‘the whole company’ has been taken as the subject of vas … gengin(n) ‘had marched, gone’ in error, with the consequence that an original hverr fótr ‘every foot’ has become corrupted and an original konungs in l. 4 taken as konungr in order to supply a subject to skóp ‘performed, furnished’ in l. 1. (a) If, then, it is assumed instead that hverr fótr vas genginn til heljar ‘every foot had marched off to death’s realm’ belong together, ǫll skipun and konungr Jóta remain to be assigned to clauses, and emending nom. sg. konungr to gen. sg. konungs is a paleographically minimal solution, especially if the word had been abbreviated in an exemplar. The helmingr then falls reasonably into place, as in the prose order and translation above, following Finnur Jónsson in Fsk 1902-3 and Skj B, and Bjarni Einarsson in ÍF 28. (b) Poole (1991, 63, 71) adopts a similar construal, but has skipun ǫll and hverr fótr in opposite positions, and hence f. nom. sg. gengin to agree with skipun. (c) One could assume that skipun ǫll and hverr fótr are in apposition to each other: ǫll skipun snjǫllum skerði hrings vas þá til heljar gengin, hverr fótr; konungr Jóta skóp þá furðu ‘the whole company of the valiant destroyer of the ring [GENEROUS MAN = Sveinn], every foot, had then marched to death’s realm; the king of the Jutes [= Sveinn] performed a wonder then’. This has the merit of avoiding emendation, and gives a slightly less disjointed arrangement of clauses in the metrical ll., but the assumption that the dat. snjǫllum skerði hrings has a more or less possessive sense is awkward, and the statement that Sveinn performed a wonder (skóp furðu) would be curious, whereas its application to his slain troops under interpretation (a) is cuttingly ironic: the marvel that Sveinn’s troops perform for him is getting killed. (d) Kock’s interpretation in Skald and NN §§860, 1853 combines aspects of these various solutions. He emends to konungs in l. 8, but takes this with hverr fótr, hence ‘every foot of the king of the Jutes’. He assumes that skipun ǫll and hverr fótr are in apposition and, uniquely, that skóp furðu in l. 5 is impersonal, hence ‘this marvel occurred’. As with interpretation (b), there is a difficulty with the dat. phrase snjǫllum skerði hrings, which he translates för den tappre fursten ‘for/before the valiant prince’.

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