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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Brúni Lv 1VIII (Ket 1)

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 1 (Brúni, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 551.


Ketill, son of Hallbjǫrn hálftroll ‘Half-troll’, son of Úlfr inn óargi ‘the Uncowardly’, from Hrafnista (Ramsta), an island off the coast of the Namdalen district (ON Naumudalr) in Norway, has travelled by boat north towards Finnmark (ON Finnmǫrk), a district of North Norway inhabited by the Saami people, in search of fish. This stanza and the following one contain the initial exchange between Brúni, brother of Gusi(r), king of the Saami (Finnar), and Ketill in ch. 3 of the saga. During his stay with Brúni Ketill amuses himself with Brúni’s giantess-like daughter Hrafnhildr, who becomes the mother of Ketill’s son Grímr loðinkinni but is later rejected as a potential daughter-in-law by Ketill’s father Hallbjǫrn on account of her ‘troll’ origin (Ket chs 3-4, FSGJ 2, 158-68). She returns to her father’s home but leaves Grímr with Ketill.

Heill kom þú, Hængr;         hér skaltu þiggja
í allan vetr         með oss vera.
Þér mun ek fastna,         nema þú fyrir látir,
dóttur mína,         áðr dagr komi.

Heill kom þú, Hængr: skaltu þiggja vera hér með oss í allan vetr. Mun ek fastna þér dóttur mína, áðr dagr komi, nema þú látir fyrir.

Welcome, Hœngr (‘Salmon’); you must accept [the invitation] to be here with us for the whole winter. I will engage my daughter to you before day comes, unless you reject [her].

Mss: 343a(55v), 471(51v) (Ket)

Readings: [3] í: ok í 471

Editions: Skj AII, 279, Skj BII, 300, Skald II, 159; FSN 2, 117, FSGJ 2, 158-9, Anderson 1990, 47, 89, 432; Edd. Min. 77.

Context: The stanza is introduced by the words: Sá tók honum vel ok kvað vísu ‘That man [Brúni] received him [Ketill] well and spoke a stanza’.

Notes: [All]: The metre of this stanza and the next is fornyrðislag. — [1] Hængr ‘Hœngr (“Salmon”)’: This cognomen means ‘male salmon’. Ketill acquires it when he kills a dragon by cutting it in two with his axe (Ket ch. 1, FSGJ 2, 153-5). Upon his return home he tells his father Hallbjǫrn that he cannot say where he found schools of fish but that he did hew asunder a male salmon (hœngr, hængr after c. 1250). Hallbjǫrn thinks so little of this report that he gives his son the cognomen hœngr ‘male salmon’. He indicates that Ketill is unable to judge the import of his discovery, since he regards salmon (dragons?) as ‘small fry’ (smáfiskar). Later, while on a fishing expedition with his father, Ketill kills an outlaw named Hœngr who has demanded that Ketill relinquish his large catch of fish to him. When Ketill returns to his father with the catch and relates the incident, Hallbjǫrn says that the name hœngr is well-chosen, since his son is obviously a keen hunter of ‘big fish’ (stórfiskar).


  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. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  5. 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.
  6. Anderson, Sarah M. 1990. ‘The Textual Transmission of Two Fornaldarsögur: Ketils saga høings and Gríms saga loðinkinna’. Ph.D. thesis. Cornell University…
  7. Internal references
  8. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Ketils saga hœngs’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 548. <> (accessed 16 September 2021)
  9. Not published: do not cite (GrímlVIII)

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