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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (FoGT) 21III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise 21’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 597.

Anonymous LausavísurStanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise

text and translation

‘Þá, er eg leyfi, mey mjóva,
— mær er þín — fyr vild sína’:
Hörn mælti það horna
hjörþings við bör kringinn.

‘Þá mjóva mey, er eg leyfi fyr vild sína; mær er þín’: {Hörn horna} mælti það við {kringinn bör {hjörþings}}.
‘‘That slim girl whom I praise for her goodwill; the girl is yours’: the Hörn <= Freyja> of drinking horns [WOMAN] said that to the smart tree of the sword-assembly [BATTLE > WARRIOR].

notes and context

Stanzas 21-2 illustrate the rhetorical figure of antiptosis (antitosus in FoGT). The author writes that this figure is characterised by the deliberate alteration of number, case or tense, and cites st. 21 as illustrating the substitution of an accusative for a nominative case.

Björn Magnússon Ólsen (FoGT 1884, 271) is almost certainly correct when he argues that the grammatical and syntactical construction of ll. 1-2 imitates a Latin construction like urbem quam statuo, vestra est ‘the city which I found is yours’ (Virgil, Aeneid I, 573), adapted by medieval grammarians like Évrard of Béthune (Wrobel 1887, 5, l. 40), following Donatus, to exemplify antiptosis. The Icelandic example here places þá mjóva mey ‘that slim girl’ in the same position as Lat. urbem ‘city’ (acc.) and then in the main clause has the alternative form of the noun mey, viz. mær er þín ‘the girl is yours’ in parallel with the Lat. nom. vestra [urbs] est. Evidently neither Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) nor Kock (Skald) understood how closely the Icelandic imitates the Latin here, because both eds emended W’s ‘þá er’ in l. 1 to þá. This gives the sense in ll. 1-2: ‘I praise that slim girl for her goodwill; the girl is yours’. However, there is no way that this emended construction can exemplify a change from acc. to nom. case of the noun mey/mær.


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 15: AII, 217, BII, 234, Skald II, 121; SnE 1848-87, II, 218-19, III, 158, FoGT 1884, 135, 270-1, FoGT 2004, 44, 70, 124-5, FoGT 2014, 24-5, 104-5, FoGT 2014, 24-5, 104-5.


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