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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 12II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 12’ 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, pp. 124-5.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonSexstefja

Frôn hefr sveit við Sveini
sinni skipt, til minna,
dôð ok dróttni góðum;
drengspell es þat lengi.

Frôn sveit við Sveini hefr skipt dôð sinni ok góðum dróttni til minna; þat es drengspell lengi.

The splendid troop with Sveinn has exchanged its heroism and worthy lord for the lesser [choice]; that will be a blot on nobility for a long time.

Mss: FskAˣ(275), 301ˣ(101v) (Fsk); Mork(10r) (Mork, ll. 3-4); Flat(199ra) (Flat, ll. 3-4)

Readings: [1] við: ‘nað’ all others

Editions: Skj AI, 371, Skj BI, 341-2, Skald I, 172, NN §§857, 3084; Fsk 1902-3, 266 (ch. 47), ÍF 29, 264 (ch. 57); Mork 1928-32, 180, Andersson and Gade 2000, 211, 476-7 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 351 (MH).

Context: In Fsk, Mork, Flat, lendir menn (landed chieftains) disenchanted with Haraldr defect to King Sveinn in Denmark, who rewards them with status and honour. Following the st., Finnr Árnason is specifically named.

Notes: [All]: The helmingr is lacking from an otherwise complete text in FskBˣ. — [1] við Sveini ‘with Sveinn’: (a) Við in 301ˣ is an emendation made by Árni Magnússon, producing the sense that by being with Sveinn the troop have sold out their nobility. An alternative might be to take skipt við Sveini together as ‘exchanged for Sveinn’ (so Andersson and Gade). (b) All mss read náð, p. p. of ná(a) ‘reach, get, get hold of’ which, when accompanied by the dat. of an animate object, usually means ‘catch’. Some such sense as ‘go to join (Sveinn)’ is perhaps not unthinkable in the light of ná Vermundi in Þmáhl Máv 3/5, 8V, which seems to mean ‘get Vermundr’s help’ (so LP), and of the phrase ná e-s fundi ‘go to meet sby’. However, this would also entail assuming that hefr in l. 1 is completed by two past participles: náð and skipt ‘exchanged’, and although such a construction would be stylistically possible it seems unlikely here. — [2] til minna ‘for the lesser [choice]’: Minna here is taken as the irregular comp. grade of adj. lítill ‘small’, in the n. gen. sg. Finnur Jónsson takes it in Skj B as gen. sg. of the n. noun minni ‘memory’ and construes it with l. 4, hence ‘the disgraceful disloyalty will be remembered for a long time’, but skipt til minna ‘exchanged for the lesser choice’ is a natural construction (cf. líkamar órir skiptast til meiri dýrðar ‘our bodies are changed into greater worship/honour’ from Elucidarius, Fritzner: skipta 1). The fact that the Mork and Flat scribes knew only ll. 3-4, or took them as a quotable unit, is against Finnur’s interpretation, and Kock argues against it in NN §857 (refined in §3084).


  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. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  7. 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.
  8. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  9. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  10. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  12. Internal references
  13. Not published: do not cite (MHII)
  14. Not published: do not cite (Þmáhl Máv 3V (Eb 5))

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