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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Tóki Lv 1VIII (HjǪ 1)

Richard L. Harris (ed.) 2017, ‘Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis 1 (Tóki víkingr, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 493.

Tóki víkingrLausavísa1

In these two stanzas, Tóki the viking and Hjálmþér exchange formulaic insulting greetings before fighting one another. Tóki issues the challenge to fight when he discovers Hjálmþér has killed his brother Kollr.

Hverir eru skálkar,         er skipum ráða,
heldr harðsnúnir,         happalausir?
Vér skulum lýði         lífi ræna
ok með oss öllum         auði skipta.

Hverir eru skálkar, er ráða skipum, heldr harðsnúnir, happalausir? Vér skulum ræna lýði lífi ok skipta öllum auði með oss.

Who are the rogues who command the ships, rather stubborn [and] luckless? We will rob the men of life and divide all the wealth among us.

Mss: 109a IIIˣ(262v), papp6ˣ(44r), ÍBR5ˣ(82) (HjǪ)

Readings: [2] skipum ráða: so papp6ˣ, ÍBR5ˣ, ‘s[…]ip[…]’ 109a IIIˣ    [5] skulum lýði: so papp6ˣ, ÍBR5ˣ, ‘sk[…]’ 109a IIIˣ    [7] öllum: so papp6ˣ, ÍBR5ˣ, vel 109a IIIˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 333, Skj BII, 353-4, Skald II, 191; HjǪ 1720, 12, FSN 3, 461, FSGJ 4, 187, HjǪ 1970, 11, 72, 124.

Context: The stanza is spoken by Tóki, described as large and of evil appearance, when he catches sight of Hjálmþér’s ships and men.

Notes: [All]: The insulting terms of the challenge are intentionally significant. Skálkr in the sense ‘rogue’ (l. 1) appears in Old Norse texts from c. 1320, possibly influenced by Middle Low German (AEW, ONP, Fritzner: skalkr); its earlier and more common meaning is ‘slave, servant’. Lýðr ‘the men’ (l. 5) is often used of ‘common folk’. — [All]: Gould (1909, 214-15), cites the rhetorical parallels in the exchange between adversaries here and those in an episode of ÞorstVík among a number of similarities between the two texts, the latter of which in his view served as a source for this confrontational episode in HjǪ.  — [4] happalausir ‘luckless’: Both the compounds happalauss and happlauss have been recorded (LP has an entry under both heads) but the trisyllabic form is presumably used here for metrical regularity. The adj. happlauss occurs in another taunting context, when Egill Skallagrímsson challenges Ljótr inn bleiki ‘the Pale’, calling him ironically happlauss kappi ‘the hapless champion’ (Egill Lv 33/4V (Eg 62)).


  1. Bibliography
  2. FSN = Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1829-30. Fornaldar sögur nordrlanda. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  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. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  7. HjǪ 1720 = Peringskiöld, Johann, ed. 1720. Hialmters och Olvers saga, Handlande om trenne Konungar i Manahem eller Sverige, Inge, Hialmter, och Inge, samt Olver Jarl och om theras uthresor til Grekeland och Arabien. Stockholm: Horn.
  8. HjǪ 1970 = Harris, Richard L., ed. 1970. ‘Hjálmþérs saga: A Scientific Edition’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Iowa.
  9. Gould, Chester N. 1909. ‘The Source of an Interpolation in the Hjalmtérs saga ok Olvis’. MP 7, 207-16.
  10. Internal references
  11. Not published: do not cite (EgillV)
  12. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Hjálmþés saga ok Ǫlvis’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 488. <> (accessed 24 September 2021)
  13. Not published: do not cite (Egill Lv 33V (Eg 62))

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