Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Rloð Lv 10VIII (Ragn 27)

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 27 (Ragnarr loðbrók, Lausavísur 10)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 678.

Ragnarr loðbrókLausavísur

text and translation

Gnyðja mundu grísir,
ef galtar hag vissi,
— mér er gnótt at grandi —
grafa inn rönum sínum
ok harðliga hrína;
hafa mik sogit ormar;
nú man ek nár af bragði
ok nær dýrum deyja.

Grísir mundu gnyðja, ef vissi hag galtar, grafa inn rönum sínum ok hrína harðliga; mér er gnótt at grandi; ormar hafa sogit mik; nú man ek nár af bragði ok deyja nær dýrum.
‘The porkers would grunt if they knew the boar’s predicament, would dig in with their snouts and squeal mightily; for me there is harm in plenty; snakes have sucked me; I’ll soon be a corpse and die in the proximity of beasts.

notes and context

Ragnarr recites this stanza just before dying in the snake-pit. After his death King Ælle, suspecting and anxious to confirm that it is Ragnarr who has been his victim, sends messengers to Ragnarr’s sons with news of his death.

[1-2]: The first two lines of this stanza are listed as an example of a proverb by Finnur Jónsson (1914, 91), as well as by Bjarni Vilhjálmsson and Óskar Halldórsson (1982, 120). Finnur Jónsson (1920, 61) and Bjarni and Óskar (ibid.) also quote the Modern Icelandic proverb Grenja mundi grís ef gölturinn væri drepinn ‘the young pig would squeal if the boar were killed’, referring to Hallgrímur Scheving (1843-7) as their source for it, and Finnur equating it with these lines in Ragn. Sölvi Sveinsson (1995, 188) also quotes it, claiming that it has its origin in these lines. This is questionable, however. Hallgrímur Scheving (1843-7, 26) does indeed record the modern proverb, but also refers to Þórð (ÍF 14, 182), where a variant of it occurs apparently conveying the same idea, though with the roles of young pig and boar reversed: Rýta mun göltrinn, ef gríssinn er drepinn ‘The boar will squeal if the young pig is slaughtered’. This is uttered by Skeggi of Miðfjǫrðr as he reluctantly agrees to join his son in an unpromising fight, though its appropriateness in context is unclear. These lines in Ragn also have a close parallel in Saxo’s account (Saxo 2015, I, ix. 4. 38, pp. 660-3) of Regnerus Lothbrog’s dying words: ‘Si sucule uerris supplicium scissent, haud dubio irruptis haris afflictum absoluere properarent’ ‘If the young pigs had only known the distress of their boar, they’d certainly break into the sty and release him from his suffering without delay’. Although chronologically possible, the influence of Saxo (c.1200) on the earlier of the two redactions of Ragn in which this stanza is preserved (i.e. the X redaction, preserved in 147) is unlikely (Sigurður Nordal 1953b, 206; see now, however, Lassen 2012). While it is not impossible that the stanza was composed early enough to have influenced the statement in Saxo, there is no reason to assume its influence, or that of either Saxo or Ragn, on Þórð, which dates from the mid C14th (ÍF 14, lv). The evidence (and Whiting’s criteria (Whiting 1931, 50) for testing the genuineness of apparent proverbs) cumulatively suggest that a pre-existing proverb underlies Ragn 27/1-2. Beck (1965, 188-89) has discussed these lines in relation to the symbolic association of the boar with princely warriors in Germanic and specifically Scandinavian tradition; cf. also Edzardi (1855-80, III, 312 n.). — [4-5]: There is no syntactic break between ll. 4 and 5 in the present interpretation of this stanza (it is unusual, but not unknown, for the syntax of a skaldic stanza to run on from one half-stanza to the next; cf. Turville-Petre 1976, xx, lx, lxvi). Some eds (see below) have adopted various arguments or emendations in order to bring about a syntactic break at the end of l. 4, and construe ll. 4-5 to refer to the snakes (ormar) of l. 6, but none of these have been persuasive.



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. 2. Vers af Fornaldarsagaer: Af Ragnarssaga loðbrókar VII 2: AII, 238-9, BII, 258, Skald II, 134, NN §2338Fa; FSN 1, 282 (Ragn ch. 15), Ragn 1891, 211 (ch. 15), Ragn 1906-8, 159, 213 (ch. 15), Ragn 1944, 100-1 (ch. 16), FSGJ 1, 269 (Ragn ch. 15), Ragn 1985, 140 (ch. 15), Ragn 2003, 53 (ch. 15), CPB II, 350-1.


Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.