Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Líkn 42VII

George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 42’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 278.

Anonymous PoemsLíknarbraut

Sett hefr sína dróttar
sigrstoð konungr roðna
blikmeiðundum blóði
bauga láðs fyr augu.
Sjá má hverr í heimi
hnossa brjótr, á krossi
dyggr hvé sinn faðm seggjum
sólstéttar gramr réttir.

{Konungr dróttar} hefr sett {sína sigrstoð} roðna blóði fyr augu {{{láðs bauga} blik} meiðundum}. {Hverr brjótr hnossa} í heimi má sjá, hvé {dyggr gramr {sólstéttar}} á krossi réttir seggjum faðm sinn.

{The king of the host} [RULER = Christ] has set {his victory-post} [CROSS], reddened with blood, before the eyes {of harmers {of the radiance {of the land of rings}}} [(lit. ‘radiance-harmers of the land of rings’) ARM > GOLD > GENEROUS MEN]. {Each breaker of treasures} [GENEROUS MAN] in the world may see how {the faithful king {of the sun’s path}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)] on the Cross extends his embrace to men.

Mss: B(12r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [5] Sjá: ‘[...]’ B, ‘[...]a’ 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 158, Skj BII, 171, Skald II, 90, NN §1399; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 48, Rydberg 1907, 18, 52, Tate 1974, 87.

Notes: [2] sigrstoð ‘victory-post [CROSS]’: Cf. -stólpi ‘pillar’ 41/3. The kenning (cited by Meissner, 432) may well be a translation of Lat. trop(h)aeum ‘victory memorial’ (originally a tree trunk bedecked with captured arms), a common appellative of the Cross. (Cf. the Gk cognate σταυρου̂ τρόπαιον ‘trophy of the Cross’ in Eusebius’ account of Constantine’s dream, by which sign the emperor was instructed to conquer [De vita Constantini I, 28 in Winkelmann 1991, 30]. See, e.g., Fortunatus’ Pange lingua, st. 2: et super crucis trophaeo dic triumphum nobilem ‘and over the trophy of the Cross, sound the noble triumph’ (Bulst 1956, 128), in which trophaeo alliterates (with triumphum) just as does sigrstoð (with sétt and sína). (In his Genesis commentary, Alcuin also refers to crucis trophaeum. Alcuinus, Epistolae XCVII, col. 307.) On the early history of the Cross as trophaeum, see Reijners 1965, 192-3. — [5] sjá má hverr í heimi: The restoration of sjá, proposed marginally by Jón Sigurðsson in 399a-bˣ and adopted by all eds, is supported by an accent indicating possible <í> followed by trace of possible <a>. Skothending is achieved by eliding the <á> of sjá and the <m> of to rhyme with heimi. — [7] faðm ‘embrace’: Cf. faðm miskunnar ‘embrace of mercy’ 45/5-8. — [8] gramr sólstéttar ‘king of the sun’s path’ [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)]’: ‘Sun’s path’ in a kenning for Christ on the Cross may evoke the patristic idea that his proffered embrace was cosmic in scope, encompassing the whole world (see Rahner 1963, 51; Reijners 1965, 195-6). Moving from active (placing the victory-pillar) to passive (stretched upon on the Cross), the st. thus juxtaposes Christ’s justice and mercy.


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  5. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  6. Bulst, Walther, ed. 1956. Hymni latini antiquissimi LXXV, Psalmi III. Heidelberg: Kerle.
  7. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Tate, George S. 1974. ‘Líknarbraut: A Skaldic Drápa on the Cross’. Ph.D. thesis. Cornell University. DAI 35:6112A.
  9. Winkelmann, Friedhelm, ed. 1991. Über das Leben des Kaisers Konstantin. Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte, Eusebius Werke I, 1. 2nd, rev. edn. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
  10. Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1844. Fjøgur gømul kvæði. Boðsrit til að hlusta á þá opinberu yfirheyrslu í Bessastaða Skóla þann 22-29 mai 1844. Viðeyar Klaustri: prentuð af Helga Helgasyni, á kostnað Bessastaða Skóla. Bessastaðir: Helgi Helgason.
  11. Internal references
  12. Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 37’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 37-8.

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