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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Pét 22VII

David McDougall (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Pétrsdrápa 22’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 814-15.

Anonymous PoemsPétrsdrápa

Postula sveitir sátu
sínum herra nærri,
spurði og spejar, með gerðum,
spennir harma tvennra:
‘Hvern segi þier mig’, hlýrna
heilagr, ‘vera?’ kvað deilir;
eingi að giefa til yngva
orð nema Pétur þorði.

Sveitir postula sátu nærri sínum herra með gerðum; spennir tvennra harma spurði og spejar: ‘Hvern segi þier mig vera?’ kvað {heilagr deilir hlýrna}; eingi þorði að giefa orð til yngva nema Pétur.

The bands of Apostles sat near their Lord with their gear; the clasper of two sorrows asked and inquires: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ said {the holy ruler of heavenly bodies} [= God (= Christ)]; no one dared to give a response to the Lord except Peter.

Mss: 621(58v)

Editions: Skj AII, 503-4, Skj BII, 550, Skald II, 301, NN §§1712B, 1723; Kahle 1898, 83, 110.

Notes: [All]: Cf. Matt. XVI.13-16; Mark VIII.27-9; Pétr 5/24-33. — [2] herra nærri ‘Lord ... near’: Finnur (Skj B) has unattested nerri for nærri to create aðalhending with herra, but Kock (Skald) restores ms. nærri. According to Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, xvii-xviii, [e:] very often rhymed with [æ]. Cf. ANG §§127.6, 442.2. — [3] með gerðum ‘with their gear’: See NN §§1723, 878; Fritzner: gerð 9. — [4] spennir tvennra harma ‘the clasper of two sorrows’: Both Kahle (1898, 110) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) take the phrase as a kenning for Christ, but are at a loss to explain to what it refers. Kock (NN §1723) tentatively observes that the scriptural episode in question is preceded by a complaint concerning the iniquity of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. XVI.6-12) and is followed by Christ’s prediction of his Passion and death (Matt. XVI.21), but admits that apart from this, the l. is ‘somewhat obscure’. One might perhaps seek to see in the phrase a veiled allusion to the two scriptural references to Christ weeping (at Luke XIX.41 and John XI.35), or a variation on the epithet vir dolorum ‘man of sorrows’ (Isa. LIII.3-4; cf., e.g., OED: sorrow sb. 2b the Man of Sorrows). The kenning-like phrase may, however, merely fit the immediate context, and perhaps plays on the etymological sense of dubitas ‘doubt’: Christ is called a ‘bearer of two worries’ here because he is in two minds / has his doubts about the beliefs of some of his followers. (Cf., perhaps, Fritzner: tvídrœgr, tvískiptr ‘uncertain’.) — [6, 5] deilir hlýrna ‘ruler of heavenly bodies’: Cf. Meissner, 381. — [7-8]: Cf. Pétr 5/33: sæll Petrus svaraði einn fyrir alla ‘blessed Peter answered alone for all’. — [8] Pétur ‘Peter’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) prints desyllabified -ur to gain an extra syllable (see Note to st. 4/2). Kock (NN §1712B; Skald) instead emends ms. ‘petr’ to Pétrus. Lat. forms of the name are frequently used in the ms. (‘petrus’ 26/3, 27/1, 53/8, and especially for oblique cases: ‘petri’ 4/8, 8/4; ‘petro’ 12/4, 54/7; ‘petrum’ 51/2). But the vernacular form of the name is also regularly found for nom. acc. sg. (cf. ‘petr’ 16/3, 19/3 [acc. sg.], 25/1; ‘petr’ 34/6). At st. 37/3 where, as here, the ms. has ‘petr’ when a bisyllabic form is required, Finnur again prints Pétur, while Kock substitutes Pétrus (see Note ad loc.).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  6. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  7. Björn K. Þórólfsson. 1925. Um íslenskar orðmyndir á 14. og 15. öld og breytingar þeirra úr fornmálinu. Reykjavík: Fjelagsprentsmiðjan. Rpt. 1987. Rit um íslenska málfræði 2. Reykjavík: Málvísindastofnun Háskóla Íslands.
  8. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  9. OED = Murray, J. A. H. et al., eds. 1884-1928. The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon. 2nd edn 1989. Simpson, J. A. and E. S. C. Weiner, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  10. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.

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