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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Balti Sigdr 1II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Bǫðvarr balti, Sigurðardrápa 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 533-4.

Bǫðvarr baltiSigurðardrápa

Nú skal lýst, hvé, Lista
læskjarr konungr, — harra
gerðisk afreksorða
efnd — þíns fǫður hefndir.
Létuð — hjalms at holmi
hríð spurðisk sú víða —
— ofkúgi dó jǫfra —
allvaldr, Sigurð falla.

{Læskjarr konungr Lista}, nú skal lýst, hvé hefndir fǫður þíns; efnd afreksorða harra gerðisk. Allvaldr, létuð Sigurð falla; {sú hríð hjalms} at holmi spurðisk víða; {ofkúgi jǫfra} dó.

{Deceit-shy king of Lista} [NORWEGIAN KING = Sigurðr munnr Haraldsson], now it shall be described how you avenged your father; the fulfilment of the lord’s words of courage took place. Mighty ruler, you caused Sigurðr to fall; {that storm of the helmet} [BATTLE] near the island was heard of far and wide; {the oppressor of princes} [= Sigurðr slembidjákn] died.

Mss: Mork(35r) (Mork)

Editions: Skj AI, 504, Skj BI, 477, Skald I, 234, NN §971; Mork 1867, 222, Mork 1928-32, 438, Andersson and Gade 2000, 387-8, 494 (Sslemb).

Context: The first three sts describe the battle of Holmengrå in Hvaler, present-day Sweden (12 November 1139), when the army of the sons of Haraldr gilli(-kristr) ‘Servant (of Christ)’, Ingi and Sigurðr munnr, overcame and killed Sigurðr slembidjákn ‘Fortuitous-deacon’ (?) Magnússon and Magnús inn blindi ‘the Blind’ Sigurðarson.

Notes: [1, 4] hvé hefndir fǫður þíns ‘how you avenged your father’: Haraldr gilli, Sigurðr’s father, was murdered by Sigurðr slembidjákn and his men on 13 December 1136. — [3] afreksorða ‘words of courage’: Otherwise found only in ESk Geisl 8/1VII, from approximately the same time. — [5, 8] létuð Sigurð falla ‘you caused Sigurðr to fall’: This statement is not quite in keeping with the actual events that took place: Sigurðr slembidjákn was captured in the water, brought ashore, tortured and executed. Sigurðr munnr was only five years old at the time of this battle. See Note to Ív Sig 36/1, 3. — [5] at holmi ‘near the island’: Refers to Holmengrå (see Context above). This was a naval battle, hence the prep. at is taken in the meaning ‘near, by’ rather than ‘on’ (see Frtizner: at 10).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  5. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  6. Mork 1867 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1867. Morkinskinna: Pergamentsbog fra første halvdel af det trettende aarhundrede. Indeholdende en af de ældste optegnelser af norske kongesagaer. Oslo: Bentzen.
  7. Internal references
  8. Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 8’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 13-14.
  9. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Ívarr Ingimundarson, Sigurðarbálkr 36’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 522-3.

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