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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hundk Lv 7VIII (HjǪ 40)

Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 40 (Hundingi konungr, Lausavísur 7)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 531.

Hundingi konungrLausavísur

Æ ertu illr gestum,         opt hefir þú hölða,
þá er mik hafa heim sóttan,         til heljar færða.
Gakk á bekk annan,         garpr meinhugaðr,
hnyttr inn harðleiti;         harðr er á borð annat.

Ertu æ illr gestum, þú hefir opt færða hölða til heljar, þá er hafa sóttan mik heim. Gakk á annan bekk, meinhugaðr garpr, inn harðleiti hnyttr; harðr er á annat borð.

You are always ill-disposed to guests, you have often sent men to Hel, those who have visited me at home. Go to the other bench, malevolent fighter, hard-faced gnome; otherwise you will have a hard choice.

Mss: 109a IIIˣ(274r-v), papp6ˣ(54r), ÍBR5ˣ(96) (HjǪ)

Readings: [1] Æ: om. papp6ˣ    [2, 3] hölða þá: þá hölda ÍBR5ˣ    [3] er: sem crossed out papp6ˣ;    hafa: hafa crossed out papp6ˣ;    sóttan: sótta papp6ˣ    [4] færða: fært ÍBR5ˣ    [8] harðr er: harðr hraðr corrected from harðr er in another hand papp6ˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 340, Skj BII, 362, Skald II, 195, NN§1563; HjǪ 1720, 52, FSN 3, 496, FSGJ 4, 222, HjǪ 1970, 42, 97, 159.

Context: Hundingi, impatient with Hástigi’s reluctance to give up his place for the guests, scolds him and uses threats to gain his compliance.

Notes: [3] þá er hafa sóttan mik heim ‘those who have visited me at home’: Most eds, beginning with HjǪ 1720, have emended the mss’ heim sóttan to heimsóttu to produce the line þá er mik heimsóttu ‘those who visted me’. — [4] færða ... til heljar ‘sent ... to Hel’: That is, caused to be killed. The phrase was probably empty of mythological content by the time this stanza was composed, but the phrasing is still reminiscent of the Old Norse concept that the dead travelled the road to the underworld presided over by Loki’s daughter Hel; see Bjbp Jóms 34/4I helfarar ‘the way to hell’ and Note. — [5] gakk á annan bekk ‘go to the other bench’: That is, go to the bench opposite the one on which the king is sitting and to which he has invited his guests. — [7] hnyttr ‘gnome’: Not a common word in Old Norse (one citation in ONP: hnittr (?)), but it has cognates in Norw. nott, knott ‘short, thick person’ (LP, AEW: hnyttr). — [8] harðr er á annat borð ‘otherwise you will have a hard choice’: Lit. ‘it will be [a] hard [choice] at another table’. The idiom á annat borð means ‘otherwise, on the other hand’, and is frequently linked, implicitly or explicitly, with the phrase harðr kostr ‘hard choice’; for an example, see ONP: borð 1. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) translates ellers vil du blive hårdt medhandlet ‘otherwise you will be harshly treated’, but such a translation does not account for the adj. harðr ‘hard, harsh’ being m. nom. sg. rather than n. Cf. also Heiðr 1960, 32: Lítt mun ek til þess fær, enda mun harðr á annat borð þykkja ‘I have no great skill in that, but the other way seems hard’ (spoken by Gestumblindi when asked to propose a series of riddles).


  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. FSN = Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1829-30. Fornaldar sögur nordrlanda. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  7. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  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. Heiðr 1960 = Tolkien, Christopher, ed. and trans. 1960. Saga Heiðreks konungs ins vitra / The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise. Nelson Icelandic Texts. London etc.: Nelson.
  11. HjǪ 1720 = Peringskiöld, Johann, ed. 1720. Hialmters och Olvers saga, Handlande om trenne Konungar i Manahem eller Sverige, Inge, Hialmter, och Inge, samt Olver Jarl och om theras uthresor til Grekeland och Arabien. Stockholm: Horn.
  12. HjǪ 1970 = Harris, Richard L., ed. 1970. ‘Hjálmþérs saga: A Scientific Edition’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Iowa.
  13. Internal references
  14. Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 34’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 989.

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