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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ǪrvOdd Ævdr 56VIII (Ǫrv 126)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 126 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 56)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 933.


text and translation

Réð ek skunda         frá skatna liði,
unz hittak breiða         borg Jórsala,
Þar réð ek allr         í á fara,
ok kunna ek þá         Kristi at þjóna.

Ek réð skunda frá liði skatna, unz hittak breiða Jórsalaborg. Þar réð ek allr fara í á, ok ek kunna þá at þjóna Kristi.
‘I hurried away from the band of men until I reached wide Jerusalem. There I immersed myself completely in the river, and I was then able to serve Christ.

notes and context

The prose texts comparable with this stanza vary significantly in both the sequence of events that takes place after Oddr has told his companions he wants to get away and in the degree of explicitness of their treatment of Oddr’s involvement with the Christian faith. Ms. 344a and the younger mss 343a and 471 tell that, following their adventures in Aquitaine, where they accept Christianity, though Oddr does so only half-heartedly, Oddr is obliged to escape from his companions by night, because they are keeping a watchful eye on him and do not want him to leave them (Ǫrv 1888, 118). He travels from land to land until he comes to the River Jordan and there he takes off all his clothes and bathes in the river. No mention is made of his visiting Jerusalem or of serving Christ. He then wanders through many wild regions until he meets the old man Jólfr. In ms. 7, after he has visited the Greek islands and then Aquitaine, and the ms. quotes Ævdr 53 (Ǫrv 124) in support of this, the prose text has him visit Sicily, where he is baptised by an abbot named Hugi. He then sails off for Palestine (Jórsalaland), and encounters a fierce storm, in which his ship is broken up and all his men lost. Oddr recites Ævdr 52 (Ǫrv 122) in support of this adventure. It turns out that he has arrived in Jórsalaland and he makes for the River Jordan (Ǫrv 1888, 118-19), where he takes off all his clothes, including his magic shirt, which keeps its magic properties even after he has bathed in the river. After this, he travels to Syrland (Syria) and embarks on a period of wandering. — [7-8]: These lines are much more overtly Christian than any of the prose texts, which represent Oddr as, on the whole, ambivalent towards the Christian faith.



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. 10. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ǫrvar-Oddssaga IX 56: AII, 316, BII, 335, Skald II, 180; Ǫrv 1888, 206, FSGJ 2, 357.


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