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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mey 52VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa 52’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 923-4.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra meyja drápa
515253

Barbara gat frá blótum horfið
blíðufyld og skrýddiz fríðum;
hennar faðir liet sælan svanna
syrgiliga í húsi byrgja.
Kvíðufullu kvalara þjóðir
knífum skáru brjóst af vífi;
Ságu gulls með sverði vágu;
seldiz hun enn í drottins veldi.

Barbara, blíðufyld, gat horfið frá blótum og skrýddiz fríðum; hennar faðir liet sælan svanna syrgiliga byrgja í húsi. Þjóðir kvalara skáru knífum brjóst af kvíðufullu vífi; með sverði vágu {Ságu gulls}; hun seldiz enn í veldi drottins.

Barbara, full of grace, turned away from sacrifices and adorned herself with virtues; her father had the blessed woman sadly locked in a house. Bands of tormentors cut with knives the breast off the fearful woman; with a sword [they] struck {the Sága <goddess> of gold} [WOMAN]; she still gave herself into the power of the Lord.

Mss: 721(9v), 713(27)

Readings: [2] skrýddiz fríðum: skríðiz síðan 713    [5] ‑fullu: fullir 721, fullar 713    [7] vágu: so 713, hjuggu 721

Editions: Skj AII, 537, Skj BII, 595, Skald II, 329, NN §§91, 2970B.

Notes: [All]: Like Christina, S. Barbara was a beautiful maiden whose father, Dioscurus, shut her up in a tower to keep her away from her numerous suitors. Dioscurus found out that Barbara had become a Christian, so he attempted to kill her, but she was miraculously removed from his reach. He then denounced her to the prefect of the province, who tortured her (including cutting off a breast; for this motif, see Wolf 1997) to make her renounce her faith. She refused to do so, whereupon her father was ordered to kill her, which he did, and was immediately struck by lightning. There are two C15th mss of a saga of S. Barbara, both independently derived from the same exemplar (Unger 1877, I, 153-7; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 301; Wolf 2000 and 2003, 142-7 and 176-7). For evidence of her cult in Iceland, see Cormack 1994, 2, 16, 19 n. 26, 29, 37, 83-4 and Wolf 2000, 68-72. — [2] skrýddiz fríðum ‘adorned herself with virtues’: The translation of fríðum is uncertain; here it is translated ‘virtues’ and understood as a substantival use of the adj. friðr ‘beautiful, fine’. LP: 1. fríðr adj. suggests that the noun kostum ‘good qualities, virtues’ may be understood. — [7] vágu ‘they struck’: 713’s reading (from vega ‘to strike, slay’) is preferred over 721’s hjuggu, with similar sense, to give aðalhending (ságu:vágu), though skothending would be expected in an odd l.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Unger, C. R., ed. 1877. Heilagra manna søgur. Fortællinger og legender om hellige mænd og kvinder. 2 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Bentzen.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Cormack, Margaret. 1994. The Saints in Iceland: Their Veneration from the Conversion to 1400. Studia Hagiographica 78. Brussels: Société des Bollandistes.
  7. Wolf, Kirsten. 1997. ‘The Severed Breast: A Topos in the Legends of Female Virgin Martyr Saints’. ANF 112, 97-112.
  8. Wolf, Kirsten, ed. 2000. The Old Norse-Icelandic legend of Saint Barbara. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies: Studies and Texts 134. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.
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