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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (FoGT) 28III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise 28’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 604.

Anonymous LausavísurStanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise

text and translation

Þier giet eg, kall, ef kærir,
kraunk orð búin, — forðum
fat eg várkunnar vinnur —
— verðu kyrr og sit! — fyrri.
Sakir átt á mier miklar;
munu nær vera hæri
þær, sem þína aura
— það er hættiligt! — fætta.

Kall, ef kærir fyrri, giet eg búin þier kraunk orð; eg fat forðum vinnur várkunnar; verðu kyrr og sit! Átt miklar sakir á mier; þær, sem fætta aura þína, munu vera nær hæri; það er hættiligt!
‘Fellow, if you bring a charge first, I think hurtful words will be ready for you; formerly I followed the practices of compassion; be quiet and stay sitting! You have great offences to charge me with; those, which will diminish your fortune, will become still greater; that’s risky!

notes and context

This stanza is presented as the sole example of a rhetorical figure called in FoGT antiposora (Lat. antipophora, from a Greek word meaning ‘reply to a supposed objection’). It is defined in FoGT as ef maðr svarar þeim lvtvm, sem maðr byzt at kiæra á hann ꜳ þingi ok stendr vpp bvinn at segia framm sǫkina, enn seger æigi ‘if a man responds to those things that [another] man prepares himself to charge him with at the assembly, and stands up ready to declare the case, but does not speak’.

Stanza 28, in dróttkvætt metre, illustrates FoGT’s definition of antipophora to the extent that both prose explanation and stanza represent men engaged in legal disputes at an assembly. In the first helmingr, the speaker seems to be warning another man against bringing a charge against him, on the ground that he has changed from being compassionate to, presumably, taking a hard line in response. In the second helmingr he issues a barely veiled threat that if the other man proceeds to lay charges against him, that man will face financial ruin. This is not very close to the prose explanation of the figure (but see FoGT 2004, 205), and far from the basic sense of the Latin figure, which involves making an anticipated response to a tacit objection (cf. Reichling 1893, 176, ll. 2607-9; Wrobel 1887, 7, l. 79).


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 22: AII, 218, BII, 236, Skald II, 122, NN §3174; SnE 1848-87, II, 226-7, III, 160, FoGT 1884, 139, 278-9, FoGT 2004, 48, 73, 136-7, FoGT 2014, 30-1, 115.


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