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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Hfl 17I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 17’ 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. 762.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn

Lýtandi, hefr ljótu
lands rôðǫndum, branda,
umbstillingar allar,
ifla folds, of goldit.
Hafa lézt heiðska jǫfra,
herskorðandi, forðum,
mundangs laun, þás meinum,
mætr gramr, við þik sættu.

{Lýtandi {branda {folds ifla}}}, hefr of goldit ljótu rôðǫndum lands allar umbstillingar. {Herskorðandi}, mætr gramr, lézt heiðska jǫfra, þás forðum sættu meinum við þik, hafa laun mundangs.

{Harmer {of the flames {of the land of the hawk}}} [HAND > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Óláfr], you have paid with ill the rulers of the land for all their plottings. {Army-supporter} [RULER], excellent ruler, you let the Hedmark princes who previously planned injuries against you receive an appropriate payment.

Mss: (281v), Bb(146rb) (Hkr); Holm2(20r), 325V(26ra), J2ˣ(149v), 75a(12va), 68(19r), 61(90rb), Holm4(11va), 325VII(9r), Flat(86vb), Tóm(108r) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Lýtandi: lútandi 325V;    ljótu: ljótum 61, ljótan Holm4, Flat, Tóm, ‘[...]tan’ 325VII    [2] lands: land J2ˣ, 61, Flat, Tóm;    rôðǫndum: ráðandi J2ˣ, ‘ræðendvm’ 75a    [4] folds: flóðs Bb, fold 325VII, Flat, Tóm    [5] heiðska: so Holm2, J2ˣ, 75a, heimska Kˣ, 325V, 68, Flat, Tóm, ‘hoska’ Bb, heiðskra 61, heinska Holm4, 325VII    [7] laun: lǫng Flat;    meinum: meiðum 325V    [8] sættu: sættusk 325V, sæta J2ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 294-5, Skj BI, 271, Skald I, 139, NN §§721A, 730, 2780 anm.; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 130, IV, 128-9, ÍF 27, 106 (ÓHHkr ch. 75); ÓH 1941, I, 154 (ch. 58), Flat 1860-8, II, 67.

Context: Five kings of Upplǫnd (Opplandene) plot to rise up against Óláfr, but their plan is uncovered and they and their followers are banished or mutilated, though peace is made with some. Stanzas 17-19 are cited in a block without prose interruption.

Notes: [All]: The Bb text for sts 17-20 belongs to the Hkr redaction, being copied from a ms. akin to K (ÓH 1941, II, 1116), while the greater part of Bb belongs to the ÓH redaction. — [All]: According to Hkr and ÓH, a great deal occurred between the events of st. 16 and those of st. 17: Óláfr was acknowledged as king of Norway, and defeated Sveinn jarl Hákonarson at the battle of Nesjar, fought on Palm Sunday 1016. There is no evidence that Óttarr’s poem ever treated of these subjects; rather, its narrative now moves forward to Óláfr’s defeat of five kings of Uppland, perhaps in c. 1018. On sts 17-19, see Introduction. — [1] ljótu (n. dat. sg.) ‘with ill’: The strong adj. ljótr ‘ugly, bad’, used substantivally. — [3] umbstillingar ‘plottings’: All mss read um-, but this is a younger form, and all eds print older umb- (see CVC: um; Finnur Jónsson 1901, 122). — [4] ifla ‘of the hawk’: This could either be gen. sg. of ifli m. or gen. pl. of ifill m., both meaning ‘hawk’. The former is preferred here, as kennings of this type more frequently have a sg. determinant than a pl. — [4] folds ‘of the land’: A problematic reading, though most mss (including the best ones) have it, since fold ‘land’ is f., with foldar as its usual gen. sg. (a) ÍF 27 suggests simply that folds is an irregular gen. sg. for foldar, of a type paralleled by some other f. nouns, though normally in compounds (e.g. hjálpsmaðr for usual hjálparmaðr ‘helper’: see CVC: hjálps-maðr); this solution is followed here since it respects the dominant ms. form. (b) Kock (NN §730; Skald) emends to foldar, even though this requires the deletion of the expletive particle of, in order to retain the requisite six syllables in the line. (c) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B adopts the reading fold, found in the relatively unauthoritative mss 325VII, Flat, and Tóm, and suggests that it combines with branda to form a cpd fold-branda ‘land-flames (of the hawk) [ARM > GOLD]’ whose elements are separated by a kind of reverse tmesis. However, as Kock notes, Finnur in LP is inconsistent, suggesting ifla fold-branda under lýta, but brandr ifla foldar under 1. brandr . — [5] heiðska ‘Hedmark’: An adj. referring to the people of Hedmark (ON Heiðmǫrk) and recorded only here. A form deriving from heiðskr or heizkr (cf. the first element of Heiðmǫrk) is indicated by the readings of Holm2 (‘heizca’), J2x (‘hæiðzka’), 61 (‘heiðskra’) and 75a (‘hæizka’), and this is retained here. The meaning ‘from Hedmark’ is elsewhere expressed by the adjectives heinverskr (CVC: Heinverskr; LP: heinverskr) and heiðneskr (CVC, also with the sense ‘heathen’). — [6] forðum ‘previously’: Skj B (followed here) takes this adv. to qualify sættu ‘planned’ (inf. sæta), whereas Kock (NN §2780 anm., followed by ÍF 27) suggests it modifies lézt (hafa) ‘you let (receive)’. Forðum also occurs in st. 19/3, where it clearly applies to the period before Óláfr conquered the five princes. — [7] mundangs laun ‘an appropriate payment’: Lit. ‘a payment of appropriateness’. Mundang n. is ‘the tongue of the balance, balance, moderation, the mean’, hence ‘what is appropriate’.


  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. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  7. Finnur Jónsson. 1901. Det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog omtr. 800-1300. SUGNL 28. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  12. Internal references
  13. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  14. 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.
  15. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)

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