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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Busla Busl 9VIII (Bós 9)

Wilhelm Heizmann (ed.) 2017, ‘Bósa saga 9 (Busla, Buslubæn 9)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 36.


text and translation

Komi hér seggir sex;         seg þú mér nöfn þeirra
öll óbundin;         ek mun þér sýna.
Getr þú ei ráðit,         svá at mér rétt þikki,
þá skulu þik hundar         í hel gnaga,
en sál þín         sökkvi í víti.

Sex seggir komi hér; seg þú mér nöfn þeirra öll óbundin; ek mun sýna þér. Getr þú ei ráðit, svá at mér þikki rétt, þá skulu hundar gnaga þik í hel, en sál þín sökkvi í víti.
‘Let six warriors come here; tell me all their names without concealment; I will show [them] to you. If you cannot guess, so that it seems correct to me, then let dogs gnaw you to death and your soul sink to punishment.

notes and context

The king partially gives in by agreeing to grant Herrauðr his life, but insists on maintaining his hostility to Bósi. This is not enough for Busla, and thus there now follows the crucial and decisive final third section, the ‘Syrpa-vísa’ (for this name, cf. Introduction).

Here the king is confronted with a riddle before which he must ultimately capitulate. It involves guessing the names of six warriors, apparently by decoding the six runes r. o. þ. k. m. u. which appear immediately after Busl 9 in all the older mss, followed by the runic letters i, s, t, i and l, each written six times over. The six warriors are to be understood as the six runes above, whose meaning the king is supposed to unlock. The six times repeated runes are a variant of the so-called þistill-mistill-kistill formula, which is frequently attested from various runic objects (cf. Heizmann 1998, 519-20), the oldest example of which is located on the Danish runestone from Gørlev c. 800 (DRI 239). It is likely that the formula was originally a curse associated with burial rituals, whose purpose was to banish the dead into the grave (NIyR 4, 177-8).



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: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], E. 14. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Bósasaga 9: AII, 332, BII, 352-3, Skald II, 190; Bós 1666, 21, FSN 3, 206, Bós 1893, 19, FSGJ 3, 295, Bós 1996, 15; Edd. Min. 125.


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