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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Útsteinn Útkv 3VIII (Hálf 43)

Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 43 (Útsteinn Gunnlaðarson, Útsteinskviða 3)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 338.

Útsteinn GunnlaðarsonÚtsteinskviða

Mundi ekki Steini         með Stara þykkja
ógn at etja         við Úlfs sonu,
þvíat ekki var         órum bróður
við dritmenni þitt         dramb at setja.

Steini með Stara mundi ekki þykkja ógn at etja við Úlfs sonu, þvíat ekki var órum bróður at setja dramb við dritmenni þitt.

It would not seem a menace to Steinn together with Stari to fight against Úlfr’s sons, for it was not characteristic of our [my] brother to subdue the arrogance of a shit like you.

Mss: 2845(37v) (Hálf)

Readings: [6] órum: várum 2845

Editions: Skj AII, 263, Skj BII, 284-5, Skald II, 149, NN §§2382, 3197G; Hálf 1864, 28, Hálf 1909, 116, FSGJ 2, 121, Hálf 1981, 128, 188; Edd. Min. 72.

Context: Although the usual introductory phrase is missing, it is clear from the context that this stanza as well as the following three (Hálf 44-46) are spoken by Útsteinn.

Notes: [1, 2] mundi ekki þykkja ‘it would not seem’: I.e. ‘if they were alive’. Both Innsteinn (the Steinn intended here) and Stari had died in the fight with Ásmundr and his men. — [2] með ‘together with’: Lit. ‘with’. Bugge (Hálf 1864), following a suggestion of Guðbrandur Vigfússon, proposed an emendation to ‘nor’ (as in l. 2 of the following stanza), and this emendation is adopted by Skj B and Skald. — [2] Stara ‘Stari’: Name of one of the Hálfsrekkar (see Hálf 1981, 177). It means ‘starling’ and is, like some of the other personal names of this warrior band (e.g. Haukr ‘Hawk’, Hrókr ‘Rook’), a bird name. — [5-6]: As they stand (with alliteration on v-), l. 5 is unmetrical. That can be remedied by using the older variant form órum for várum ‘our’ in l. 6 (as adopted in Edd. Min. and Skald; cf. ANG §467.2) which gives vowel alliteration and two metrical lines (Types C and A2). — [7-8]: There has been some discussion as to the exact meaning of the phrase at setja dramb við, here translated as ‘subdue the arrogance of’; see Hollander (1911, 59), and Kock (NN §§2382 and 3197G). — [7] dritmenni þitt ‘a shit like you’: The invective dritmenni is a hap. leg., as is ragmenni ‘cowardly wretches’ in l. 4 of the following stanza (Hálf 44). However, drit ‘shit, excrement’ is attested as a simplex (ONP: drit) and the cpd dritskegg ‘muck-beard’ expresses a similarly pejorative sense. The use of poss. þitt instead of the pers. pron. after a noun of abuse in direct address is idiomatic in Old Norse (cf. Fritzner: þinn; CVC: þinn, sense B). Þitt is extrametrical here, and is probably a later addition to the line.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  6. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  7. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  9. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  10. Edd. Min. = Heusler, Andreas and Wilhelm Ranisch, eds. 1903. Eddica Minora: Dichtungen eddischer Art aus den Fornaldarsögur und anderen Prosawerken. Dortmund: Ruhfus. Rpt. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
  11. Hálf 1981 = Seelow, Hubert, ed. 1981. Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka. RSÁM 20. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar.
  12. Hálf 1864 = Bugge, Sophus, ed. 1864. Saga af Hálfi ok Hálfsrekkum. Norrøne Skrifter af sagnhistorisk Indhold 1. Christiania (Oslo): Det Nordiske Oldskriftselskab.
  13. Hálf 1909 = Andrews, A. Le Roy, ed. 1909. Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka. ASB 14. Halle: Niemeyer.
  14. Hollander, Lee M. 1911. Review of A. Le Roy Andrews, ed. 1909. Halfs saga ok Hálfsrekka. ASB 14. Halle: Niemeyer. MLN 26, 58-60.
  15. Internal references
  16. Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 44 (Útsteinn Gunnlaðarson, Útsteinskviða 4)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 339.

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