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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sturl Hrafn 15II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál 15’ 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, p. 740.

Sturla ÞórðarsonHrafnsmál

Mætti margfréttinn
miklum framstiklir
auðar óþjóða
inga gjörningum.
Leysti lábrostinn
lögr in skautfögru
flaust ór frónlæstum
festum bauglestis.

{Margfréttinn framstiklir auðar} mætti miklum gjörningum inga óþjóða. Lábrostinn lögr leysti in skautfögru flaust {bauglestis} ór frónlæstum festum.

{The very inquisitive dispenser of wealth} [GENEROUS MAN] encountered the mighty sorceries of the king of evildoers [Alexander]. The wave-bursting sea loosened the sail-fair ships {of the ring-wounder} [GENEROUS MAN] from the land-secured moorings.

Mss: F(123ra), 304ˣ(363v), 325X(12rb), Flat(185vb) (Hák)

Readings: [2] ‑stiklir: stikla Flat    [3] auðar (‘ovdar’): so 325X, óðrar F, óðar 304ˣ, æði Flat    [6] ‑fögru: fögrum Flat    [7] ór: af Flat;    frónlæstum: ‘from Læstumm’ 304ˣ, farnestum Flat    [8] festum: so 304ˣ, 325X, flestum F, Flat;    ‑lestis: so all others, ‑estis F

Editions: Skj AII, 123, Skj BII, 130, Skald II, 70; F 1871, 576Hák 1977-82, 202, Flat 1860-8, III, 225.

Context: On 1 October, a strong storm with rain and hail hit the Norw. main fleet which was anchored near the Cumbraes in the Firth of Clyde. The royal ship drifted into the sound along with other vessels, and the crew had to use all eight anchors to secure it. Some believed that the storm had been caused by sorcery.

Notes: [All]: The violent storm is also mentioned in insular sources, where it is attributed to divine intervention (see Anderson 1922, II, 607). — [1] margfréttinn ‘very inquisitive’: Hap. leg. — [2, 3-4] miklum gjörningum inga óþjóða ‘the mighty sorceries of the king of evildoers [= Alexander]’: This can hardly be construed differently. Skj B has megen trolddom fra røverfolkets fyrste ‘much sorcery from the prince of robbers’. Most likely Sturla is making an allusion to the famous battle of Hjǫrungavágr between the Norw. Hákon jarl and the Dan. Jómsvíkingar. During that battle, Hákon sacrificed to pagan deities who caused a terrible hailstorm that brought Hákon victory (see ÓT 1958-2000, I, 190-3; Bjbp Jóms 30, 32I). Ingi is a pers. n. but it can also be used as a heiti for ‘king’ (see LP: ingi). See also Anon (HSig) 3/6. — [2] framstiklir ‘dispenser’: Lit. ‘forwards-thrower’. Hap. leg. — [5] lábrostinn ‘wave-bursting’: Hap. leg. — [6] in skautfögru ‘the sail-fair’: Hap. leg. See also st. 3/5 above. — [7-8] ór frónlæstum festum ‘from the land-secured moorings’: Must refer to the anchors which had secured the ships to the bottom of the sea. According to the prose, the anchors became loose and Hákon’s ship was adrift until they finally caught hold. Frónlæstum ‘land-secured’ (l. 7) is a hap. leg.


  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. 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.
  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. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. Anderson, Alan Orr. 1922. Early Sources of Scottish History A.D. 500 to 1286. 2 vols. Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd.
  8. Hák 1977-82 = Mundt, Marina, ed. 1977. Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar etter Sth. 8 fol., AM 325VIII, 4° og AM 304, 4°. Oslo: Forlagsentralen. Suppl. by James E. Knirk, Rettelser til Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar etter Sth. 8 fol., AM 325VIII, 4° og AM 304, 4°. Norrøne tekster 2. Oslo: Norsk historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt, 1982.
  9. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  10. Internal references
  11. Kari Ellen Gade and Diana Whaley (eds) 2009, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Haralds saga Sigurðarsonar 3’ 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, p. 817.
  12. Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 30’ 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. 985.

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