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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Hfl 14I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 14’ 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. 759.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn

Valfasta, bjótt vestan,
veðrǫrr, tváa knǫrru;
hætt hafið ér í ótta
opt, skjǫldunga þopti.
Næði straumr, ef stœði,
strangr kaupskipum angra,
innanborðs, á unnum,
erringar lið verra.

{{Valfasta} veðr}ǫrr, bjótt tváa knǫrru vestan; {þopti skjǫldunga}, ér hafið opt hætt í ótta. Strangr straumr næði angra kaupskipum á unnum, ef verra lið erringar stœði innanborðs.

Brisk in {the weather {of the fire of the slain}} [(lit. ‘weather-brisk of the slain-fire’) SWORD > BATTLE], you prepared two cargo-ships from the west; {benchmate of kings} [RULER], you have often ventured into danger. The strong current would have been able to trouble the merchant-ships on the waves if a crew poorer in vigour had stood on board.

Mss: (233v-234r) (Hkr); Holm2(8v), J1ˣ(145r), J2ˣ(125v-126r), 73aˣ(24r), 78aˣ(24r), 68(7v), 61(81rb-va), 75c(5v), 325V(10va-b), Bb(130ra), Flat(81vb), Tóm(98r) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Val‑: ‘Yas‑’ 68, ‘Iall‑’ Tóm;    bjótt: bjó Flat, Tóm    [3] hætt: ‘het’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    hafið ér í: var ǫrt við 73aˣ, 78aˣ;    hafið: hafi Holm2, 75c, hafir 68, 61, ‘hafui’ Flat;    í ótta: sótta Flat    [4] þopti: þoptum 73aˣ, 78aˣ, þoptu 68, 61    [5] Næði: æði 78aˣ, náði 68, 61, 75c, 325V, Flat, Tóm;    stœði: stœðit 68    [6] kaup‑: her‑ 325V;    angra: engra 68, 61    [7] á: of Holm2, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 78aˣ;    unnum: unnir Holm2, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 78aˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 293-4, Skj BI, 270-1, Skald I, 139, NN §721A; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 36, IV, 116, ÍF 27, 35 (ÓHHkr ch. 29); ÓH 1941, I, 57 (ÓH ch. 29), Flat 1860-8, II, 31.

Context: Óláfr returns to Norway from England. His two ships survive a dangerous storm through the excellence of the men and the king’s luck.

Notes: [2] knǫrru ‘cargo-ships’: On the meaning of knǫrr see Jesch (2001a, 128-32). As Jesch notes, the tradition that Óláfr returned to Norway with two merchant ships is also found in most of the prose sources, Latin as well as vernacular (ibid., 130 n. 15; McDougall and McDougall 1998, 76 n. 122). — [4] þopti skjǫldunga ‘benchmate of kings [RULER]’: Skald and ÍF 27 divide the helmingr into couplets, as here. Skj B takes the ruler-kenning as an apostrophe belonging with bjótt ‘you prepared’ (l. 1), and thus regards the helmingr as consisting of a main clause in ll. 1-2 and part of l. 4, with an intercalary clause in between. — [7] á unnum ‘on the waves’: The mss show fluctuation between á unnum ‘on the waves’ and of unnir ‘over the waves’. Skj B prints of unnir, even though his base text, Kx, has á unnum.


  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. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  9. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. McDougall, David and Ian McDougall, trans. 1998. Theodoricus monachus. Historia de antiquitate regum norwagiensium: An Account of the Ancient History of the Norwegian Kings. Viking Society for Northern Research Text Series 11. University College, London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  11. Internal references
  12. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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, pp. clxxvi-clxxix.
  13. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)

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