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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Keth Lv 9VIII (Ket 14)

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 14 (Ketill hœngr, Lausavísur 9)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 564.

Ketill hœngrLausavísur


Ketill has taken an oath that he will not marry off Hrafnhildr, his daughter by the wife his father chooses for him (Ket ch. 4), against her will (FSGJ 2, 165-8). Áli, champion of the Uppdalir (Uppdalakappi), challenges Ketill to single combat after Hrafnhildr has rejected him as a suitor. Ketill’s followers, the vikings Hjálmr and Stafnglámr, offer to fight Áli in Ketill’s stead, but he asks them to assist him by protecting him with a shield. This they fail to do, with the result that Áli wounds Ketill in the face. Ketill addresses the two vikings in Ket 14 and alludes to the circumstances and course of the battle in Ket 15 before proceeding to kill Áli. The episode has a longer parallel at the end of the saga (Ket ch. 5; see the Introduction to sts 28-33).

text and translation

Hjálmr ok Stafnglámr,         hlífið ykkr báðir;
gefið rúm gömlum         at ganga framar hóti.

Hjálmr ok Stafnglámr, hlífið báðir ykkr; gefið gömlum rúm at ganga hóti framar.
‘Hjálmr and Stafnglámr, both of you protect yourselves; give the old one room to go forward a bit.

notes and context

This stanza is introduced with the words: Þá kvað Ketill vísu ‘then Ketill spoke a stanza’. The following stanza runs on from this one without a break and with no prose introduction.

It is possible to consider this stanza and the following one as parts of the same poetic utterance. Anderson (1990, 437-8) treats them as one stanza, but other eds separate the first two long-lines from the others. Both stanzas are composed in a mixture of fornyrðislag and málaháttr.


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], E. 8. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ketill hœngs saga IV 1: AII, 282, BII, 303, Skald II, 160; FSN 2, 126, FSGJ 2, 168, Anderson 1990, 52, 97, 437; Edd. Min. 95.


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