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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Hfl 11I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 11’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 755.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn

Máttit enskrar ættar
ǫld, þars tókt við gjǫldum,
vísi, vægðarlausum,
víðfrægr, við þér bægja.
Guldut gumnar sjaldan
goll dǫglingi hollum;
stundum frák til strandar
stór þing ofan fóru.

Víðfrægr vísi, ǫld enskrar ættar máttit bægja við þér vægðarlausum, þars tókt við gjǫldum. Gumnar guldut sjaldan hollum dǫglingi goll; frák stundum stór þing fóru ofan til strandar.

Widely-famous ruler, the people of English race could not stand against you, merciless, when you received tribute. Men not seldom paid gold to the gracious king; I heard that at times great goods went down to the shore.

Mss: (227v) (Hkr); Holm2(7r), J1ˣ(141v), J2ˣ(123r), 325VI(6va-b), 73aˣ(21r), 78aˣ(20r-v), 68(6r-v), 61(80rb), 75c(3v), 325V(9ra), 325VII(2r), Bb(127ra), Flat(80va), Tóm(96v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Máttit: môttut 73aˣ, 61, Bb, ‘mattie’ Tóm;    enskrar: ‘enskar’ 61, 325V, Bb;    ættar: ættir 61, Bb    [2] þars (‘þar er’): þá er 68;    tókt: tók J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 68    [4] víð‑: vand‑ 68, víg‑ Bb;    ‑frægr: ‑fræg Holm2, ‑frægu 73aˣ;    við þér: viðir J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    við: om. 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ;    þér: þik Bb, Flat, Tóm;    bægja: bægjask 68, 61, 325V, Flat, Tóm    [5] gumnar: gunnr J1ˣ, gunnar 61, 325VII, ‘gummar’ Bb, gunnari Tóm;    sjaldan: so all others, ‘sialdar’ Kˣ    [6] goll: gǫll J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    dǫglingi: dǫglingum 325VI, 78aˣ, Tóm;    hollum: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, hollust Kˣ, hollast Holm2, 75c, Bb, þollar 68, 61, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm    [7] stundum: stǫndum J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    frák (‘fra ec’): frá 68    [8] ofan: ‘viti’ 325VI, 78aˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 293, Skj BI, 270, Skald I, 138; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 22, IV, 112, ÍF 27, 22 (ÓHHkr ch. 15); ÓH 1941, I, 47 (ch. 24), Flat 1860-8, II, 21.

Context: Óláfr travels widely throughout England, taking tribute from the people or raiding as an alternative.

Notes: [All]: The ASC (s. a. 1012) records the payment of tribute to Þorkell’s army at Canterbury. Snorri Sturluson places this stanza after Sigv Víkv 9 (which records a battle at a place called Nýjamóða), and assumes it refers to a series of payments in unrecorded places, but this is probably a mistake, and it is more likely that Hfl 11 refers, with st. 10, to the attack on Canterbury (and note repetition of tókt and aldar/ǫld in the two stanzas). — [6] hollum ‘to the gracious’: The mss show a variety of forms. The two leading mss ( and Holm2) read hollust/hollast, which would make little sense in context, unless hollast is an adverbial usage, ‘most graciously’, perhaps ironic. It therefore seems best to adopt (with ÍF 27) the positive form hollum, found in some A-class mss. Skj B adopts þollar from certain B- and C-class mss and gunnar from 61, 325VII in l. 5 to create a warrior-kenning þollar gunnar ‘fir-trees of battle [WARRIORS]’, replacing gumnar as the subject of the sentence. Skald follows Skj, but prefers þollar Gunnar ‘fir-trees of Gunnr <valkyrie> [WARRIORS]’.


  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. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  5. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  6. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  7. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. ASC [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle] = Plummer, Charles and John Earle, eds. 1892-9. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1952.
  9. Internal references
  10. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  11. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Víkingarvísur 9’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 547.

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