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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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StarkSt Vík 17VIII (Gautr 25)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Gautreks saga 25 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr 17)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 270.

Starkaðr gamli StórvirkssonVíkarsbálkr


With Vík 17 (Gautr 25) begins what Ranisch (Gautr 1900, xxxiii-xxxvi, lxxxv-lxxxviii; Edd. Min. xxx-xxxi) followed by Skj and Skald have considered an interpolation in Vík, consisting of Vík 17-24 (Gautr 25-32). All these stanzas are in 590b-cˣ alone. However, the surrounding prose text is also in 152 and papp11ˣ, and, in the latter, a few of the formulae introducing the stanzas as Starkaðr’s utterances can be found, showing that these stanzas were not peculiar to the tradition represented by 590b-cˣ. An alternative hypothesis to account for the absence of these stanzas in 152 and papp 11ˣ might then be that their scribes (or their scribes’ exemplars) chose to exclude a set of stanzas that were available to them as well as to the compiler of 590b-cˣ. For a discussion of the concept of interpolation in skaldic editing, see Introduction to SkP VIII, Section 5. The following principal reasons have been adduced for considering the stanzas as interpolations or at least as of differing origin from the rest of Vík (see further Section 6 of the Introduction). All but two (Vík 21/1-4 and 23, Gautr 29 and 31) are third-person narratives, whereas the majority of stanzas in Vík are in the first person, presented as Starkaðr’s direct speech. Gautr 25-32, including most of Gautr 31, are in kviðuháttr metre, whereas the dominant metrical form of Vík is fornyrðislag, sometimes interspersed with kviðuháttr lines. Both the prose text and Vík 19 (Gautr 27) introduce the figure of Jarl Neri and the theme of his extreme miserliness, thus establishing a connection with the Gjafa-Refs þáttr. Neri is presented as one of Víkarr’s two sons.

text and translation

Lét þreksamr         þriðja sinni
Hildar leik         háðan verða,
áðr Upplönd         unnin yrði
ok Geirþjófr         um gefinn helju.

Þreksamr lét {leik Hildar} verða háðan þriðja sinni, áðr Upplönd yrði unnin ok Geirþjófr um gefinn helju.
‘The powerful one had the play of Hildr <valkyrie> [BATTLE] held for a third time before Opplandene could be won and Geirþjófr given over to death.

notes and context

The prose saga turns to Geirþjófr, the brother of Víkarr’s adversary, King Herþjófr. Geirþjófr seeks revenge for Víkarr’s killing of Herþjófr and assembles a huge fighting force in Upplǫnd (Opplandene), while Víkarr travels there with a large army to oppose him. A seventeen-day battle ensues, which Víkarr wins, and Geirþjófr is killed. Víkarr now becomes king of Upplǫnd and Þelamǫrk (Telemark), taking over the latter while its king, Friðþjófr, another brother of Herþjófr, is away. The stanza is introduced with the words: Þess getr Starkaðr, at sú var hin þriðja orrosta Víkars konungs, er hann hafði unnit á Upplǫndum ‘Starkaðr reports that that was the third battle of King Víkarr, which he had fought in Opplandene’.

The stanza is in the metre kviðuháttr, a variant of fornyrðislag in which the odd lines consist of three, rather than four, metrical positions, and the even lines are regular fornyrðislag. For a discussion of the metre and its uses, see General Introduction in SkP I, Section 4.3.


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 α 1: AII, 328-9, BII, 349, Skald II, 188; FSN 3, 25, Gautr 1900, 22, FSGJ 4, 22; Edd. Min. 41.


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