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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Hfl 18I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 18’ 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. 763.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn

Braut hafið, bǫðvar þreytir,
branda rjóðr, ór landi
— meir fannsk þinn an þeira
þrekr — dǫglinga rekna.
Stǫkk, sem þjóð of þekkir,
þér hverr konungr ferri;
heptuð ér en eptir
orðreyr, þess’s sat norðast.

{Þreytir bǫðvar}, {rjóðr branda}, hafið rekna dǫglinga braut ór landi; þrekr þinn fannsk meir an þeira. Hverr konungr stǫkk ferri þér, sem þjóð of þekkir; en eptir heptuð ér {orðreyr}, þess’s sat norðast.

{Wager of battle} [WARRIOR], {reddener of swords} [WARRIOR], you have driven the rulers away from the land; your courage was more in evidence than theirs. Each king fled far from you, as the people know; afterwards you restrained {the word-reed} [TONGUE] of the one who dwelt furthest north.

Mss: (281v), Bb(146rb-va), J(2ra) (l. 8), J2ˣ(149v) (Hkr); Holm2(20r), 325V(26ra), 75a(12va), 73aˣ(52r), 68(19r), 61(90rb), Holm4(11va), 325VII(9r), Flat(86vb), Tóm(108r) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] hafið: hefir Holm4, 325VII, Flat, Tóm;    bǫðvar: bǫðva 75a;    þreytir: ‘þręter’ Bb, þrautir 68, ‘þreytenn’ Holm4    [2] branda: ‘bran’ 75a;    rjóðr ór landi: om. 75a;    ór: af 73aˣ, 325VII    [3] meir: om. 75a;    þinn: þeim Holm4    [4] þrekr: þrek Flat    [5] Stǫkk: stóð 68, ‘stæykk’ 325VII;    þjóð: om. Bb;    þekkir: þekkti 61    [6] þér: þér er J2ˣ, Holm2, 325V, 75a, 73aˣ;    konungr: gramr 325VII;    ferri: verri 75a, 73aˣ, fyrri 325VII, firra Tóm    [7] heptuð: heptu J2ˣ, 75a, 325VII, hǫfðut 68;    en: þess 73aˣ    [8] orðreyr: orðsreyr Bb, om. J, orðreyrs 75a;    þess: om. 73aˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 295, Skj BI, 271-2, Skald I, 139, NN §§620, 731, 732, 1417D, 1853A; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 130-1, IV, 129, ÍF 27, 106 (ÓHHkr ch. 75); ÓH 1941, I, 155 (ch. 58), Flat 1860-8, II, 67.

Context: See Context to st. 17 above.

Notes: [2] branda ‘of swords’: Brandr means ‘sword’ here but ‘flame’ in st. 17/2. — [2] rjóðr branda ‘reddener of swords [WARRIOR]’: This and þreytir bǫðvar ‘wager of battle’ or ‘contender in battle’ are taken here as parallel apostrophes within the main clause, as also by Kock (NN §§731, 1417D, 1853A; Skald) and ÍF 27. Skj B takes rjóðr branda as part of the intercalary clause. — [3] meir ‘more’: This appears to be the comp. of adv. mjǫk ‘much, greatly’, qualifying fannsk ‘was in evidence’, rather than of adj. mikill ‘large, great’ qualifying þrekr þinn ‘your courage’, since the adj. would be in the weak form meiri ‘greater’. — [5, 6] stǫkk ferri þér ‘fled far from you’: The sense of this helmingr is not wholly clear. If each king fled, does this mean that Óláfr subsequently captured the northernmost king and cut out his tongue (ll. 7-8)? In Snorri’s prose, the kings are surrounded and cannot flee; one is subsequently blinded, one has his tongue cut out, and three are sent into exile. Ferri, a variant on fjarri, is indicated here by the aðalhending with hverr. — [7] en eptir ‘afterwards’: Skj B takes en as the conj. ‘but, and’, and eptir as the adv. ‘after(wards)’ qualifying sat ‘dwelt’, but this entails the difficulty that the finite verb heptuð ‘you restrain’ precedes the conj. The interpretation here therefore follows Kock (NN §620) in taking eptir as modifying heptuð ‘restrained’ rather than sat, and in taking en(n) eptir as an adverbial phrase ‘still later, afterwards’ (NN §732; Skald). Kock emends en to the adv. enn ‘still, yet’, but en can equally be taken as an unstressed variant of enn (so ÍF 27 and this edn).  — [8] þess’s sat norðast ‘of the one who dwelt furthest north’: Snorri (ÍF 27, 105) records that Óláfr cut out the tongue of Guðrøðr, king of Guðbrandsdalar (Gudbrandsdalen, Oppland).


  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. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  8. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. Internal references
  10. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)

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