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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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FriðÞ Lv 14VIII (Frið 16)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Friðþjófs saga ins frœkna 16 (Friðþjófr Þorsteinsson, Lausavísur 14)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 213.

Friðþjófr ÞorsteinssonLausavísur

text and translation

Sé ek trollkonur         tvær á báru;
þær hefir Helgi         hingat sendar.
Þeim skal sníða         sundr í miðju
hrygg Elliði,         áðr af hafi skríði.

Ek sé tvær trollkonur á báru; Helgi hefir sendar þær hingat. Elliði skal sníða þeim hrygg sundr í miðju, áðr skríði af hafi.
‘I see two troll-women on the wave; Helgi has sent them hither. Elliði must slice their spines asunder in the middle, before he glides from the ocean.

notes and context

The ship does not founder, as Friðþjófr expected, but enters a murky stretch of ocean where it is impossible to see the way forward. Friðþjófr climbs the mast and spies a huge whale circling the ship, preventing it from making land; he interprets this phenomenon as a product of Helgi’s sorcery and says that he can also see two women riding on the whale’s back. He directs the ship to be steered towards them aggressively and recites Frið 16.

This fornyrðislag stanza is in both redactions, though 568ˣ contains several lacunae. The motif of hostile troll-women attacking the hero’s ship is paralleled in other fornaldarsögur, like Ket and GrL. See particularly GrL 1-5, a dialogue between Grímr loðinkinni ‘Hairy-cheek’ and the troll-women Feima and Kleima. In all these instances, the level of physical aggression expressed by the hero towards the troll-women is very high. In this stanza agonistic agency is, however, attributed to the ship Elliði, rather than the speaker of the stanza, Friðþjófr, and Frið 17, extant only in the B mss, elaborates this motif.



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. 7. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Friðþjófssaga ens frækna I 15: AII, 273, BII, 295, Skald II, 155; Falk 1890, 76, Frið 1893, 17, 47, 72-3, Frið 1901, 26, Frið 1914, 16; Edd. Min. 99.


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