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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gyðja Lv 4VIII (Ǫrv 64)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 64 (Gyðja, Lausavísur 4)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 879.


Auð þættumk ek         eiga nógan,
ef ek inn ágæta         Álf um fyndak.
Blót gaf ek honum         ok bú fjogur;
hann mun yðr alla         í eld draga.

Ek þættumk eiga nógan auð, ef ek um fyndak inn ágæta Álf. Ek gaf honum blót ok fjogur bú; hann mun draga yðr alla í eld.

I would consider myself to have wealth enough, if I could recover the excellent Álfr. I gave sacrifices for him and four farms; he will fling you all into the fire.

Mss: 344a(23v), 343a(78v-79r), 471(91v), 173ˣ(57r) (Ǫrv)

Readings: [3] ágæta: ítra 343a, 471, 173ˣ    [4] um: so 343a, of 344a, vin 173ˣ;    fyndak: fyndek 471    [5] gaf: gef 343a, 471, 173ˣ    [7] yðr: om. all others    [8] eld: elli 343a

Editions: Skj AII, 304, Skj BII, 323, Skald II, 172; Ǫrv 1888, 182, FSGJ 2, 329-30; Edd. Min. 76.

Context: Gyðja continues her speech, and the stanza is introduced with þá kvað hon ‘then she said’.

Notes: [All]: There is an inconsistency between this stanza and the following one, both of which assume that Álfr bjálki is already dead, and the prose texts, which tell that, after Oddr has killed Gyðja, he finds Álfr still alive and finishes him off with his club (cf. Ǫrv 1888, 184-5). In the present stanza Gyðja, evidently assuming her husband is dead, indicates that she has conducted sacrifices and given four farms to the gods in order to try to bring Álfr back to life. Belief in reincarnation is one of the ideas ascribed to Nordic pagans by medieval Christian writers (cf. the prose comment at the end of HHund II (NK 161) that Þat var trúa í fornescio, at menn væri endrbornir ‘it was a belief in olden times that people were reborn’). Gyðja’s final claim that Álfr will fling their enemies into the fire may suggest that she imagines him as a revenant, capable of doing harm to the living. — [5] ek gaf ‘I gave’: Ms. 344a’s ek gaf ‘I gave’ reflects its version of the following stanza, whereas the other mss’ use of the pres. tense ek gef ‘I [will] give’ is consistent with their version of Ǫrv 65.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  4. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  5. 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.
  6. Ǫrv 1888 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1888. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Leiden: Brill.
  7. Internal references
  8. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 65 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Lausavísur 29)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 880.

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