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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ásmk Lv 1VIII (Ásm 7)

Peter Jorgensen (ed.) 2017, ‘Ásmundar saga kappabana 7 (Ásmundr kappabana, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 21.

Ásmundr kappabanaLausavísur

In Ásm several lines of prose text follow Hildbrandr’s lausavísur, and describe his death and Ásmundr’s journey to ask for the hand of Æsa in fagra ‘the Fair’. The two groups of stanzas are separated by only slightly more text in Saxo. The stanzas are again in fornyrðislag.

Lítt varði mik         laga þeira,
at †mik manns einskis         ofyr kvæði†,
þá er mik til kappa         kuru Húnmegir
átta sinnum         fyr jöfurs ríki.

Lítt varði mik laga þeira, at †mik manns einskis ofyr kvæði†, þá er Húnmegir kuru mik átta sinnum til kappa fyr ríki jöfurs.

I little expected of their laws that …, when the Huns chose me for contests eight times before the king’s realm.

Mss: 7(43r) (Ásm)

Editions: Skj AII, 321, Skj BII, 341, Skald II, 183; Peringskiöld 1722, 22-3 (ch. 10), FSN 2, 486 (ch. 10), Detter, 1891, 99, FSGJ 1, 407 (ch. 10) (Ásm); CPB I, 191Halvorsen 1951, 18; Edd. Min. 87.

Context: Entering the hall where Æsa is, Ásmundr utters this and the following three stanzas, which retrospectively celebrate his own prowess in a series of single combats with multiple opponents and, in the last of these, his encounter with Hildibrandr.

Notes: [All]: In both the saga prose (ch. 8) and Saxo it is stated that Ásmundr (called Haldanus by Saxo) takes on an ever-increasing number of Hildibrandr’s men in a series of single combats (from one to eleven men at a time) over a period of eight days. It is this act of prowess that persuades Hildibrandr to fight Ásmundr himself, even though he knows the latter is his half-brother. This incident is also the subject of the following three stanzas. — [All]: Aside from issues of sense (see Note to ll. 3-4 below), ll. 2-4 of this stanza present a number of metrical irregularities, which suggest textual corruption; l. 2 is hypometrical, or has suspended resolution in metrical positions 1-2; l. 3 is hypermetrical and alliteration falls in metrical position 3 (if the line is construed as Type C), which is not possible, and l. 4 is hypometrical. — [3-4]: Almost as many emendations have been proposed for these lines as there have been eds, though none have been convincing. The ms.’s ‘ofyr’ is not an Old Norse word. Skj B’s proposed emendation of ll. 3-4 to at mik engum | øfra kvæði, translated as at man vilde sige, at jeg ingen kunde overgå ‘that one would say that I could not outmatch anyone’ is the most plausible of these, although it does not fit well with the sense of ll. 1-2. For further suggestions, see Edd. Min. 87 n. — [5] til kappa ‘for contests’: Gen. pl. of kapp ‘contest’, not gen. sg. of kappi ‘champion’.


  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. FSN = Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1829-30. Fornaldar sögur nordrlanda. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  6. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  7. Edd. Min. = Heusler, Andreas and Wilhelm Ranisch, eds. 1903. Eddica Minora: Dichtungen eddischer Art aus den Fornaldarsögur und anderen Prosawerken. Dortmund: Ruhfus. Rpt. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
  8. Halvorsen, Eyvind Fjeld. 1951. ‘On the Sources of the Ásmundarsaga kappabana’. Studia Norvegica 2, 1-57.
  9. Peringskiöld, Johann, ed. 1722. Saugu Asmundar, er kallaður er Kappabani. Stockholm: Horrn.
  10. Internal references
  11. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Ásmundar saga kappabana’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 15.

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