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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Alpost 4VII

Ian McDougall (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Allra postula minnisvísur 4’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 857-8.

Anonymous PoemsAllra postula minnisvísur
345

Jón fekk ást af hreinum
óþrotnanda drottni;
lærði hann lögmál dýrðar,
ljóst yfir Jésú brjósti.
Hann stóð Krist undir krossi
kæstr Máríe næstri;
hann drakk eitr hjá ýtum
einfaldr með trú hreina.
Gleði Jésús hier inni
Jóns postula minni.

Jón fekk ást af hreinum óþrotnanda drottni; yfir Jésú brjósti lærði hann ljóst lögmál dýrðar. Hann stóð undir krossi Krist, kæstr Máríe næstri; einfaldr drakk hann eitr hjá ýtum með hreina trú. Jésús gleði hier inni minni Jóns postula.

John received love from the pure unfailing Lord; on Jesus’s breast he learned the clear law of glory. He stood under the Cross of Christ, dearest to Mary [who was] closest by; straightforward, he drank poison among men, with pure faith. May Jesus make joyful herein a memorial toast for John the Apostle.

Mss: 721(15r)

Editions: Skj AII, 510, Skj BII, 560, Skald II, 306-7.

Notes: [1, 2] Jón fekk ást ... af drottni ‘John received love ... from the Lord’: Cf. John XIII.23, XXI.7, 20. The traditional identification of John as ‘the beloved disciple’ (cf. Brev. 3: Iohannes ... apostolus ... dilectus Domini ‘John ... the Apostle ... beloved of the Lord; IO 71,1: Iohannes ... uirgo electus a Domino atque inter ceteros magis dilectus ‘John ... chosen a virgin by the Lord and among the others more esteemed’) finds its way into prayers to John the Apostle, cf. Gjerløw 1980, I, 180 [Mortemer]: Sancte iohannes apostole et euangelista domini. quem dominus tanto amore dilexit ‘S. John the Apostle and evangelist of the Lord, whom the Lord loved with such great love’. On the tradition, see Cross 1979, 171. — [1] Jón: ‘John’: On S. John the Apostle and Evangelist, see Cross and Livingstone 1983, 742; Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 58, 60, 64; Lange 1962, 588-9; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 316-17; Foote 1976, 160-1; Cormack 1994, 112-15, 242. — [2] af drottni ‘from the Lord’: See Note to st. 8/8. — [2] óþrotnanda: Sic ms., retained by Kock (Skald); m. dat. sg., modifying drottni. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends to f. acc. sg. óþrotnandi, modifying ást, and interprets the passage: ‘John received the unfailing love of the pure God’. In referring to God as óþrotnandi ‘unfailing, unending, everlasting’, the author may have had in mind Isa. XL.28 Deus sempiternus Dominus ‘the Lord is the everlasting God’, or simply the conventional prayer formula: Omnipotens sempiterne Deus ... ‘O almighty, everlasting God ...’ (see Gjerløw 1980, I, 12, 50, 144, 152, 154, 158; cf. references in Ordo Nidr. 505-6). On similar epithets for God (rex aeternus, perpetuus ‘eternal, everlasting king’) in liturgical formulas see Manz 1941, 424, no. 853. — [3] yfir Jésú brjósti ‘on Jesus’s breast’: An echo of John XIII.25 cum recubuisset ille supra pectus Iesu ‘when he leaned upon the breast of Jesus’; cf. John XXI.20 qui et recubuit in cena super pectus eius ‘who also leaned on his breast at supper’. The latter verse is part of the gospel readings for the feast of John the Apostle (27 Dec.); cf. Ordo Nidr. 159: Dixit ihesus petro ‘Jesus said to Peter’ (John XXI.19-24; cf. Ordo Nidr. 490). The poet doubtless recalls the gospel passage directly, although the same detail is incorporated in brief accounts such as IO 71, 1; cf. Jón1x 413. It is also repeated in prayers to John, see Gjerløw 1980, I, 180 [Mortemer]. — [5] stóð undir krossi Krist: Cf. John XIX.25-6 Stabant autem iuxta crucem Iesu mater eius et soror matris eius ... cum vidisset ergo Iesus matrem et discipulum stantem quem diligebat ‘Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister ... when Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved’; cf. Jón1x 414. — [6] kæstr Máríe næstri ‘dearest to Mary [who was] closest by’: Ms. ‘kærstr’; aðalhending with næstri indicates that assimilation has taken place, cf. ANG §272.3; so Skj B, but Skald retains the ms. reading. Finnur Jónsson translates næstri as if modifying hann, but without proposing emendation to næstr, as if ‘He stood by Christ’s Cross, dearest to him, nearest to Mary’. Such an emendation would produce a hypometrical l. in any case, unless næstr were desyllabified to næst-ur. The passage as it stands may be intended to recall that while on the Cross, Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to John (cf. John XIX.26-7), and it may be with this in mind that the poet describes John as ‘dearest to Mary’. This detail is included in brief martyrological accounts, such as IO 71, 1; cf. Jón1x 414. It is not unlikely, however, that the author was influenced here by iconography, for in Crucifixion scenes John the Apostle is widely represented at the foot of the Cross, supporting a half-fainting Virgin Mary (see Kilström 1956, 174-5; Moltke 1962, 591). — [7] hann drakk eitr hjá ýtum ‘he drank poison among men’: The poet alludes to the tradition that John was challenged by Aristodemus, priest of Diana, to drink a cup of poison. After making the sign of the cross on the cup, Satan flew from the poison chalice in the shape of a dragon, after which John drank without ill effect. The story is recalled in one of the traditional symbols of John the Apostle, a chalice with a winged serpent emerging from it (see Braun 1943, 374-6; Kilström 1956, 174-5; Roeder 1956, 20), the same emblem for S. John which appears on fol. 12r of the Icel. Teiknibók (c. 1420-40; Björn Th. Björnsson 1954, 92). The story circulated widely, in brief accounts such as IO 71, 1, and in more detailed treatments such as Pseudo-Mellitus, Passio Iohannis (Mombr. II, 59; incorporated into Ælfric of Eynsham’s homily on the Assumption of S. John, see Clemoes 1997, 213-14); cf. Jón1x 431; JJ SÁM 1 657-9; Jón3 463. The same legend is commemorated in the tradition of ‘drinking to the love of S. John’ (bibere amorem S. Johannis) at Johannes Minne, the German celebration of the Feast Day of John the Apostle (27 Dec., see Meissner 1930, 239-40; Grimm 1854-1954: Minne f. 5, Johannes, Johannessegen; Benecke, Müller and Zarncke 1854-66: Minne stf. [strong f.] 1a).

References

  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. 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.
  5. Björn Th. Björnsson. 1954. Íslenzka teiknibókin í Árnasafni. Þriðji bókaflokkur Máls og menningar 7-8. Reykjavík: Heimskringla Prentsmiðjan Hólar H-F.
  6. Braun, Joseph. 1943. Tracht und Attribute der Heiligen in der deutschen Kunst. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung.
  7. Brev. = [Anonymous] ‘Incipit breviarium Apostolorum ex nomine vel locis ubi praedicaverunt, orti vel obiti sunt’. In Acta Sanctorum Novembris collecta digesta illustrata II.2, 3-4.
  8. Clemoes, Peter, ed. 1997. Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies. The First Series. Text. Early English Text Society, Supplementary Ser. 17. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  9. Cormack, Margaret. 1994. The Saints in Iceland: Their Veneration from the Conversion to 1400. Studia Hagiographica 78. Brussels: Société des Bollandistes.
  10. Cross, F. L. and E. A. Livingstone. 1983. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 2nd edn. 4th impression. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 3rd rev. edn 2005 by E. A. Livingstone. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  11. Cross, James E. 1979. ‘Cynewulf’s traditions about the apostles in Fates of the Apostles’. ASE 8, 163-75.
  12. Gjerløw, Lilli. 1980. Liturgica Islandica. 2 vols. BA 35-6. Copenhagen: Reitzel.
  13. Grimm, Jakob [Jacob] and Wilhelm Grimm. 1854-1954. Deutsches Wörterbuch. 32 vols. Leipzig: Hirzel. Rpt. 1984. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag.
  14. Ordo Nidr = Gjerløw, Lilli, ed. 1968. Ordo Nidrosiensis Ecclesiae (Orðubók). Norsk historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt. Den rettshistoriske kommisjon. Libri liturgici provinciae Nidrosiensis medii aevi II. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
  15. IO = Gómez, César C., ed. 1985. [Isidore of Seville] De ortu et obitu patrum. Auteurs Latins du Moyen Age. Paris: Société d’Editions ‘Les Belles Lettres’.
  16. JJ SÁM 1 = Tveggja postula saga Jóns ok Jakobs (hins eldra). In Unger 1874, 536-63914, 64311-711.
  17. Jón Þorkelsson [J. Thorkelsson]. 1888. Om digtningen på Island i det 15. og 16. århundrede. Copenhagen: Høst & søns forlag.
  18. Kilström, B. I. 1956. ‘Apostelframställningar’. KLNM 1, 173-6.
  19. Lange, Bernt C. 1962. ‘Johannes, apostel’. KLNM 7, 588-9.
  20. Manz, Georg. 1941. Ausdrucksformen der lateinischen Liturgiesprache bis ins elfte Jahrhundert. Texte und Arbeiten herausgegeben durch die Erzabtei Beuron. Abteilung I, Beiheft I. Beiträge zur Ergründung des älteren lateinischen christlichen Schrifttums und Gottesdienstes 1. Beuron in Hohenzollern: Beuroner Kunstverlag.
  21. Meissner, Rudolf. 1930. ‘Minnetrinken in Island und in der Auvergne’. In Vogt et al. 1930, .
  22. Moltke, Erik. 1962. Johannes, apostel. Danmark.
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