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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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StarkSt Vík 13VIII (Gautr 21)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 21 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 13)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 266.

Starkaðr gamli StórvirkssonVíkarsbálkr

text and translation

Vart þú eigi         með Víkari
austr í Væni         árdag snemma,
þá er sóttu vér         Sísar á velli;
þat var þrekvirki         þokks megnara.

Þú vart eigi með Víkari austr í Væni árdag snemma, þá er vér sóttu Sísar á velli; þat var þokks megnara þrekvirki.
‘You were not with Víkarr east on Vänern early in the day, when we attacked Sísarr on the [battle-]field; that was a still more powerful feat of strength.

notes and context

After their victory over King Herþjófr, Víkarr and Starkaðr take over all the king’s ships and sail east along the coast of Norway to Agder, where many men join them. Víkarr becomes the ruler of all the districts that Herþjófr had controlled, and embarks on viking raids every summer. One such took him and his men to Lake Vänern in Sweden, where they fought a fierce battle with King Sísarr of Kiev (ON Kænugarðr). Starkaðr fought hand-to-hand with Sísarr, who gave him two serious head wounds, broke his collarbone, and wounded him on one side above the hip. Vík  13, 14 and 15 (Gautr 21, 22 and 23) give a verse account of these events, introduced by svá segir Starkaðr ‘so Starkaðr says’.

There is no obvious addressee (þú ‘you’ l. 1) for this stanza and the opening gambit ‘you were not there at a dangerous encounter’ where the speaker says he fought bravely is strongly reminiscent of the mannjafnaðr ‘comparison of men’ convention, such as we find it in Ǫrv 34-58. The implication is usually that the addressee is a coward. The stanza seems out of place in Vík, unless it and the following stanzas detailing Starkaðr’s wounds have been drawn into Vík from a separate source. Gautr 21 and 22 are only in 590b-cˣ, but Gautr 23 is also in 152.



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. 13. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Gautrekssaga II 13: AII, 326, BII, 346, Skald II, 186, NN §122; FSN 3, 23, Gautr 1900, 20, FSGJ 4, 20; Edd. Min. 40.


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