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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon (FoGT) 7III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 579.

Anonymous LausavísurStanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise

text and translation

Hákon rieð fyr hauðri
handsterkr, þar er guð merkti
refsiþátt hinn rietta
rangri þjóð að angri.
Laust með elding æstri
alvirkr höfuðkirkju
himnagarðs hjörðum
hirðir glæpsku firðum.

Handsterkr Hákon rieð fyr hauðri, þar er guð merkti hinn rietta refsiþátt að angri rangri þjóð. {Hirðir {himnagarðs}}, alvirkr hjörðum firðum glæpsku, laust höfuðkirkju með æstri elding.
‘Strong-handed Hákon ruled over the land where God showed the just law of punishment to the distress of the sinful people. The shepherd of the heavens’ stronghold [SKY/HEAVEN > = God], most careful for the flocks freed from sin, struck the cathedral with raging lightning.

notes and context

This stanza is the second example given by the author of FoGT to illustrate the figure of chronographia. It is introduced with the following explanation: Sva er ok hin sama figvra, þo at skaalldit segi, hvat samtiða er, ęðr hverer hofðingiar londvm styra, sem her ‘It is also the same figure when the poet tells what is contemporaneous or which chieftains rule lands, as here’.

The syntax of this stanza is difficult if W’s af (l. 4) and ok (l. 7) are retained, and they have been emended to in both instances, following suggestions by Sveinbjörn Egilsson in the first instance and Jón Þorkelsson in FoGT 1884, 246 n. 6 in the second. If ok in l. 7 remains, it is necessary to construe og hjörðum glæpsku firðum ‘and for the flocks freed from sin’ (ll. 7, 8) as an extension of að angri rangri þjóð ‘to the distress of the sinful people’ (l. 4), and this seems an impossibly strained word order (see FoGT 1884, 246 n. 6) across two helmingar. — Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SnE 1848-87, II, 190 n. 1) first suggested that the main event mentioned in this stanza might be a reference to the burning of the cathedral at Skálholt by a lightning strike in 1309, mentioned in many of the Icelandic annals. Cf. Lárentíus saga biskups (ÍF 17, 304), Skálholts-Annaler (Storm 1888, 202). This took place in the reign of King Hákon háleggr ‘Long-leg’ Magnússon of Norway (r. 1299-1319). As the stanza represents this event as having taken place in the past, it has been presumed to date from after Hákon’s death in 1319, thus providing a terminus post quem for the stanza and possibly the treatise as a whole (cf. FoGT 1884, xliii). The stanza presents the cathedral fire as God’s punishment on the sinful Icelanders. It is an open question as to whether the author of FoGT considered this stanza an example of contemporaneous events or of a named ruler of the land, or both. See further Anon (FoGT) 11 and Notes. — [1]: This line is very similar to SnSt Ht 14/1 Hákun ræðr með heiðan, and the grammarian may well have had it in mind, as Snorri’s stanza appears later in FoGT as st. 35. 



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 4: AII, 215, BII, 232, Skald II, 120; SnE 1848-87, II, 196-7, III, 155, FoGT 1884, 123, 246-7, FoGT 2004, 33, 61, 93-5, FoGT 2014, 6-7, 61.


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