Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 39 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar 9)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 701.
Ok því settu mik svarðmerðlingar
suðr hjá salti, synir Loðbróku.
Þá var ek blótinn til bana mönnum
í Sámseyju sunnanverðri.
Ok því settu mik svarðmerðlingar, synir Loðbróku, suðr hjá salti. Þá var ek blótinn til bana mönnum í sunnanverðri Sámseyju.
And so head-dress wearers, sons of Loðbróka, set me up in the south by the sea. At that time I was worshipped to the death of men in the southern part of Samsø.
Mss: 1824b(76v) (Ragn)
Readings:  settu: ‘settv’ written in margin, corrected from ‘sęęttu’ deleted within the text 1824b; mik: om. 1824b  blótinn: blótin 1824b
Editions: Skj AII, 241, Skj BII, 261, Skald II, 136, NN §117; FSN 1, 299 (Ragn ch. 21), Ragn 1891, 223 (ch. 21), Ragn 1906-8, 174, 221 (ch. 20), Ragn 1944, 130, 132-3 (ch. 22), FSGJ 1, 285 (Ragn ch. 20), Ragn 1985, 153 (ch. 20), Ragn 2003, 68-9 (ch. 20), CPB II, 359; Edd. Min., lxxxii-iii, 94.
Context: The trémaðr continues his narrative with no intervening prose text.
Notes: [All]: Most commentators, e.g. Heusler and Ranisch (Edd. Min. lxxxii), Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 222) and de Vries (1928a, 297) (cf. McTurk 1991a, 18), regard this stanza as combining with Ragn 40 to form a self-contained unit, cf. Ragn 38, second Note to [All]. Storm (1878, 83), Koht (1921b, 243), and de Vries (1928a, 297) moreover regard both stanzas as relatively old, hence dating from before the names Ragnarr and Loðbrók were applied in combination to the same person, as they were apparently for the first time in Ari Þorgilsson’s Íslb, written between 1120-33 (ÍF 1, xvi-xviii, 4). Whatever the original context of Ragn 38 may be, Ragn 39 and 40, with their references, respectively, to ‘setting up’ (settu, Ragn 39/1) and to ‘cloth, clothing’ (klæði, Ragn 40/8), may lend themselves more readily than Ragn 38 to discussion in terms of what is known from other Old Norse sources about trémenn ‘wooden men’. In Hávm 49 (NK 24; cf. Evans 1986, 49) the speaker says that he gave his clothes (váðir) in an open field (velli at) to two trémenn, who considered themselves reccar ‘warriors, champions’, once they had clothing (rift), since neiss er nøcqviðr halr ‘a naked man is despised’, i. e. (perhaps) ‘clothes make the man.’ Evans (1986, 93-4) notes that in other instances in Old Norse literature, including the present one, the trémaðr ‘always appears to have a cultic or magical connection’, and this is consistent with the trémaðr in the present instance being blótinn (l. 5), i.e. ‘worshipped (with sacrifice)’. See further North (1997b, 90-7). —  ok því ‘and so’: These words might suggest that this stanza and the next originally formed part (perhaps the end) of a longer sequence; Heusler and Ranisch (Edd. Min. lxxxii) suggested that they represented a somewhat awkward attempt to link Ragn 39 and 40 to Ragn 38, with which, in their view, they did not originally belong. —  settu … mik ‘set … me up’: Mik is not present in the ms. The 3rd pers. pl. settu ‘(they) set, placed’, naturally requires an object, and it seems clear from the second half-stanza that the trémaðr is referring to himself here (svarðmerðlingar in l. 2, which is in all probability a pl. form, is probably best taken as the subject of settu, and synir Loðbróku as an appositive parallel to the subject, cf. McTurk 1990, 323). Heusler and Ranisch (Edd. Min. lxxxii), whose emendation to settumk is followed (in adapted form) here, suggest Ár mik settu ‘Long ago they placed me’ as the original wording of l. 1, pointing out that ár ‘long ago’ would fit well with the þá ‘at that time’ of l. 5. They also refer to the suggestion of Edzardi (1855-80, III, 342) that mik ‘me’ may have stood in place of ok ‘and’ in l. 1 in its original form. —  svarðmerðlingar ‘head-dress wearers’: Lit. ‘hair-trap wearers’. This cpd noun is a hap. leg. and a number of suggestions have been made about its meaning. (a) It is argued here that it is formed from svǫrðr m. ‘scalp (with the hair on)’, merð f. ‘trap (for catching fish in rivers or streams)’, and the suffix ‑lingr m. here meaning ‘bearing, wearing’. The noun svǫrðr occurs both in prose and in poetry in the meaning ‘skin’, especially of the head; it is listed in Skm along with other words, including hár ‘hair’, as the determinant in a kenning for ‘head’, with land ‘land’ as the base-word (SnE 1998, I, 108), and occurs in this combination in Ht (SnE 2007, 25; SnSt Ht 57/6III) as land svarðar ‘land of the scalp [HEAD]’. As for merð ‘fish-trap’, this word, listed as Fritzner: merð, mærð (both f.) and Fritzner IV: merð, merðr and mærðr (the last two m.), is explained by Þórhallur Vilmundarson (1998, 7-8) as referring to a ‘wickerwork fish-trap, usually with a funnel-shaped opening’ that was used in Norway and very possibly in Iceland too, to judge from p. n. evidence, for catching trout in particular. The word does not appear to have been used in poetry. Kock provides adequate support for the sense ‘wearing’ (or ‘bearing’) for the suffix ‑lingr with his reference (NN §117) to the analogous OHG sarling ‘bearer of saro (armour)’, i.e. ‘warrior’; cf. also Meissner 350. Since svarðmerðlingar lit. ‘hair-trap wearers’ seems to refer proleptically to the synir Loðbróku ‘sons of Loðbróka’ of l. 4 (see Note there), the term is probably to be explained by reference to the wearing of some kind of head-dress (McTurk 1991a, 26-7). There is evidence from Saami tradition for the ritual wearing of female costumes by male celebrants of pagan deities (Olrik 1905, 53-5), perhaps suggesting that svarðmerðlingar ‘hair-trap wearers’ here refers to wearers of female head-dresses in a context of pagan cult, see the Notes to l. 4 below. Possibly relevant here too are the brothers referred to as ‘the two Haddingjar’ in Hyndl 23 (NK 292), by Saxo (Saxo 2015, I, v. 13. 4, pp. 344-5), in Heiðr (Heiðr 1960, 3), and in Ǫrv 5/6 (cf. Ǫrv 1888, 97). Their name is apparently related to haddr m. ‘a woman’s (head of) hair’ (AEW: haddr), and because they appear consistently as a duo, they have been linked by modern scholars (Turville-Petre 1964, 213-20; Dumézil 1973, 106-25; Kroesen 1987) to the deities that Tacitus (Germania 1967, 473; cf. 479-82) equates with the Dioscuri twins Castor and Pollux, and says were ritually celebrated by a priest dressed or adorned like a woman. (b) An alternative explanation, proposed by Stefán Karlsson (though not published; see McTurk 1991b, 358-9) involves taking svǫrðr m. to mean ‘grass’ (cf. ModEngl. ‘sward’) (rather than ‘scalp (with hair)’), merðlingr m. as a diminutive of mǫrðr m. ‘(pine) marten’, and the word as a whole to mean ‘small animals of the grass’, i.e., ‘snakes’. Relevant here is the fact that two of Ragnarr’s sons, Ívarr and Sigurðr, have respectively the nicknames beinlauss ‘Boneless’ (or ‘Legless’) and ormr-í-auga ‘Snake-in-eye’, which both conjure up in different ways the idea of a snake (see McTurk 1991a, 41; and cf. the Notes to Ragn 6/7-8 and st. 8, above). Stefán’s view thus implies that svarðmerðlingar refers to two, at least, of Ragnarr’s sons. (c) Somewhat more far-fetched is the view of Olsen (1912, 29-30), that the first element in svarðmerðlingar derives from svǫrðr m. ‘skin with the hair on, (bacon)-rind’, and the second element from mǫrðr m. ‘marten’; and that the third, ‑lingr, is a diminutive suffix. The first two elements of the name, svarðmǫrðr ‘rind-marten’, would thus mean ‘boar’ and the svarðmerðlingar ‘piglets’ would be the boar’s sons, cf. Ragnarr’s reference to himself and his sons as a boar and porkers respectively in Ragn 27/1-5. (d) Other previous explanations of svarðmerðlingar all involve emendation: Finnur Jónsson in Skj B reads it as sverðmerðlingar ‘sword-trap bearers’, i.e. ‘shield-bearers, warriors’ (cf. also CPB; FSN I 299 n. 4; and Meissner 350); and Kock in Skald (cf. NN §117) gives the reading sverðmorðlingar ‘sword-murderers, warriors’; while Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 221) attributes to Sophus Bugge the reading sverðmiðlungar m. pl., ‘sword-dealers’ by analogy with the vígmiðlungr ‘battle-dealer’ of Þjóð Yt 26/11I (cf. LP: vígmiðlungr); and Finnur Jónsson in LP: sverðmerðlingr tentatively relates the second and third elements in the word to the verb merla ‘illuminate’ (leaving ‑ingr rather than ‑lingr as the suffix), suggesting the sense ‘those who keep their swords shining’, i.e. ‘(active) warriors’. —  synir Loðbróku ‘sons of Loðbróka’: Or ‘sons of [Ragnarr] loðbrók’ (see below). According to this stanza, these men set up the trémaðr, perhaps as part of a religious ritual. If Loðbróka is a goddess-name (see the next Note), it may refer here to the goddess herself, in which case her sons are to be understood not as sons in a literal sense, but rather as devotees of her cult (Wickham 1993, 516). It is more likely, however, and is assumed here, that it refers to a female devotee and namesake of the goddess (cf. Turville-Petre 1964, 219), and that the sons in question are her physical sons, participating with her in the cult. They may be identifiable with those C9th vikings whom C11th sources consider to have been sons of one Loðbrók, a figure possibly referred to as female in one of the Maeshowe runic inscriptions of the mid-C12th (see McTurk 1991b, 343 and the contrary views of Lukman 1976, 13, and Rowe 2012, 155-7; for the inscription, see Barnes 1994, 185-6). Among them were Ívarr and Sigurðr, both remembered as sons of Ragnarr in Ragn. Contemporary annalistic evidence shows that these two were kings, in Ireland and Denmark respectively, in the second half of the C9th (McTurk 1991a, 39-49). The evidence for Ragnarr as their father’s name is less well established than the name Loðbrók(a), considered here as their mother’s, but it is possible that their father was Reginheri, a high-ranking member of the court of the Danish king Horicus I, and the leader of a viking attack on Paris in 845; see Introduction above. —  Loðbróku ‘of Loðbróka’: The identification and form of the pers. n. here depends on whether the final letter of the word is understood as an abbreviation for ‑ar in the form of a superscript <r> or as a superscript <v>. The present ed.’s reading (cf. McTurk 1991a, 22-5) differs from that of all previous eds, who without exception have understood the superscript symbol as an abbreviation for ‑ar, and expanded the ms. form to loðbrókar, taking it as the gen. sg. of the strong f. common noun loðbrók ‘hairy breeches’, and as referring to Ragnarr, to whom loðbrók is applied elsewhere as a nickname. (The earliest known reference to a person whose name can be equated with ON loðbrók occurs in the Gesta Normannorurn ducum (c. 1070) of William of Jumièges, where the name is plainly that of a king: Lotroci Regis ‘of King Lothrocus’, see st. 37, Note to [All], above and the Note to Krm 1/8. Cf. also McTurk 2011b, 8; 1991, 39-50; van Houts 1992-5, I, xxxvii.) According to McTurk’s reading, on the other hand, the superscript symbol in question represents <v>. The use of superscript <v> for <u> (in ‘nockvt’ = nokkut) elsewhere in 1824b (at 57v, l. 2, cf. Olsen, Ragn 1906-08, ci and 124, l. 28) supports the reading given here; see further McTurk (2007a, 57-9)). The word loðbróku may then be understood as the gen. sg. of a weak f. noun loðbróka, not otherwise attested in Old Norse. (Although the Maeshowe inscription mentioned in the previous Note uses the f. pron. hennar ‘her’ to refer, apparently, to the sons’ parent, the pers. n. to which it refers is loðbrók, not loðbróka). Bróka is listed in Þul Kvenna II 2/6III as a poetic term for ‘woman’, and this may support the notion that loðbróka may be the pers. n., Loðbróka. McTurk has argued further (1991a, 16-30; 1991b, 343-52, 356-9; 2007a, 57-9; 2011b, 9-14) that this may be a variant of the goddess-name *Loþkona (‘woman with luxuriant hair’?), which Sahlgren (1918, 28-40) showed to be deducible from the Swedish p. n. Locknevi (<Loðkonuvé) and to refer in all likelihood, with its implications of luxuriant growth (its first element means ‘hairy’, ‘woolly’, or ‘grassy’), to a fertility goddess. It is then proposed that it was as part of this goddess’s cult that the trémaðr is here claiming to have been set up. — [5-6] þá var ek blótinn til bana mönnum ‘at that time I was worshipped to the death of men’: The verb blóta often implies the process of worship involving sacrifice (cf. ONP: 1blóta and 2blóta). It is not clear whether the death or killing (bani) of men was part of the worshipping process or the result of it. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) seems to assume the latter, translating da blev eg blotet for at slå folk ihjel ‘then I was worshipped for the purpose of killing people’; cf. Schlauch (1930, 256). —  blótinn ‘worshipped’: The f. form blótin has here been emended to blótinn m., since it is the trémaðr, presumably a male figure, who is speaking. —  í Sámseyju ‘in … Samsø’: This is the Danish island of Samsø, lying north of Fyn (Funen) and between Jylland (Jutland) and Sjælland (Zealand). The prose passage introducing these stanzas states that Ǫgmundr anchored in Munarvágr, lit. ‘Bay of Desire’ before his followers went ashore and found the trémaðr; this unidentified bay, again on Samsø, is also mentioned in Heiðr 18a/2, 27/8 and Ǫrv 7/2; see Notes there.
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