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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (FoGT) 17III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise 17’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 590.

Anonymous LausavísurStanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise

text and translation

Píndr er stuldr, þar er standa
stafnreiðar hímleiðir
víða, vingameiði,
viðir hjá torgi miðju.
Morð eru hjólum hörðum
hegnd, þau er illa gegndu,
þar er riett vísar ræsir
rómsæll skipun dóma.

Stuldr er píndr vingameiði, þar er {hímleiðir viðir {stafnreiðar}} standa víða hjá miðju torgi. Morð, þau er gegndu illa, eru hegnd hörðum hjólum, þar er rómsæll ræsir vísar riett skipun dóma.
‘Theft is punished by the windswept tree [gallows] where universally loathed trees of the prow-chariot [SHIP > SEAFARERS] stand in many places near the middle of the market-place. Murders, which were bad, are chastised by hard wheels, where the praised ruler carries out correctly the order of the courts.

notes and context

The prose introduction to this stanza defines emphasis thus: Emphasis setr vnderstaðligan lvt fyrer hræriligvm lvt, sem þa er ver merkivm nokkvt tilfelli mannzens fyrer sialfvm hanvm, sem at nefna glæpinn fyrer glæpa manninvm, eðr vizkvna fyrer vitringinvm, ok gengr þessi figvra vm alla þessa visvEmphasis uses a substantive entity instead of a moveable entity, as when we signify some accidental quality of a man instead of the man himself, such as mentioning the crime instead of the criminal, or wisdom instead of the wise man, and this figure permeates this stanza’. After the stanza, FoGT explains: Her er stvldrinn kallaðr pindr ok morðin hegnd, þar sem morðinginn er hegndr ok þiofrinn ‘Here the theft is said to be punished and the murders chastised, whereas the murderer is punished and the thief’.

Several emendations are required to make grammatical and syntactic sense of this stanza. The modes of punishment mentioned in this stanza seem to capture C14th penal codes very accurately. Theft was punished by hanging in a public place, here a market place, while murderers were punished by being broken on a wheel (Gade 1985a; Ström 1942, 214-24).



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], D. 3. Vers af den 4. grt. afhandling 11: AII, 216, BII, 233, Skald II, 121, NN §2355; SnE 1848-87, II, 212-13, III, 157, FoGT 1884, 131, 261̀-2, FoGT 2004, 40, 67, 110-12, FoGT 2014, 18-19, 84-6.


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