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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Pét 20VII

David McDougall (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Pétrsdrápa 20’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 812-13.

Anonymous PoemsPétrsdrápa

text and translation

Bera liet vitni várum
vald himneskra spjalda,
gróðri, sá fylkir, er fáði
fjöll, af heimum öllum:
rödd guðs þóknan þýddi
þrír postular skírir
Elíás af paradísu,
Ebrón Móisi þjónar.

Sá fylkir, er fáði fjöll gróðri, liet bera vitni af öllum heimum {várum vald himneskra spjalda}: rödd guðs þýddi þóknan, þrír postular skírir, Elíás af paradísu, Ebrón þjónar Móisi.
‘That king, who adorned the mountains with vegetation, let witness be borne from all worlds to our keeper of the heavenly tablets [= God (= Christ)]: the voice of God expressed satisfaction, three pure Apostles, Elijah from Paradise, Hebron serves Moses.

notes and context

Cf. Pétr 7/4-9: Þa birtiz postolum Cristz Moyses ok Helias talandi með Jesu af hans haleita dauða, þeim er hann þolði [var. mundi þola] i Jerusalem, þviat varr herra villdi vitni lata bera sinum guðdomi af ǫllum heimum: af himni með fagrligri raudd ...; or paradiso, þaðan kom Helias; af þessum heimi með sǫgn lærisveina hans; or helviti, þaðan kom Moyses. ‘Then Moses and Elijah appeared to Christ’s apostles, speaking with Jesus of his sublime death – that which he suffered [var. would suffer] in Jerusalem, because our Lord wished to let witness be borne to his divinity from all worlds: from heaven with a beautiful voice ...; from paradise, thence came Elijah; from this world with the report of his disciples; from hell, thence came Moses.’ — [3]: Ms. reads ‘grodr sa fylkir fadi’. Kock (NN §1721; Skald) emends the text to match Finnur Jónsson’s translation (Skj B). Kock’s text and Finnur’s translation are adopted here, even though the l. is of 8 syllables and unmetrical. — [5]: Cf. Matt. XVII.5; Mark IX.6; Luke IX.35; Pétr 7/20-4): at þeir hygði fǫðurliga rǫdd þaa, er ... sva mællti: Þessi en engi annarr er minn son ... i þeim þoknuðumz ek mer vel ‘that they might contemplate that paternal voice, which ... spoke thus: This and no other is my son ... in whom I have been well pleased’. — [5-8]: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends þýddi (l. 5) to þýddu and takes þrír postular skírir (l. 6) as the subject of the verb: tre herlige apostle fortolkede guds stemme som velbehag ‘three glorious Apostles interpreted God’s voice as satisfaction’. Kock (NN §1722) points out that this emendation is unnecessary, and instead emends sg. þjónar (l. 8) to þjóna (see Skald), and takes postular ... Elíás, Ebrón, and Móisi (ll. 6-8) as the cpd subject of that verb: ‘three Apostles, Elijah, Hebron, and Moses serve [sc. him]’. No mention is made of Ebrón in the parallel passage in Pétr quoted above (see Note [All]), but Móisi (dat. sg.) must be the object rather than the subject of the verb. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) translates: Ebron tjæner (står under) Moses (som gravens, underverdnens repræsentant) ‘Hebron serves (is subject to) Moses (as the representative of the grave/underworld)’. Neither Finnur nor Kock explain who or what they imagine this Hebron to be. Kahle (1898, 110) states that Hebron is the burial place of Moses. According to Deut. XXXIV.5-6, however, Moses was buried ‘in a valley in the land of Moab over against Beth-peor’ and the site of his tomb is unknown (cf. Marchand 1976b, 113; Cross and Hill 1982, 110-11). Hebron is usually named as the place where Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are buried (cf., e.g., Adomnán, De locis sanctis II.viii-x, in Bieler 1958), and perhaps the poet of Pét (or Kahle, at least) assumed that if Moses shared a place in the limbus patrum with the patriarchs of the Old Covenant who awaited Christ’s Harrowing of Hell, then he may well have shared their earthly resting-place as well. However, if this is what Hebron refers to here, then the sense of þjónar Móisi ‘serves Moses’ is obscure (perhaps ‘is of use to, serves Moses [as his burial place?]’; cf. Fritzner: þjóna 2) — [7]: Elijah did not suffer death, but was translated directly into heaven (2 Kgs. II.1, 11).



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 XIV], [B. 7]. En drape om apostlen Peder 20: AII, 503, BII, 549-50, Skald II, 301, NN §§1721, 1722; Kahle 1898, 82, 110.


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