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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Keth Lv 8VIII (Ket 13)

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 13 (Ketill hœngr, Lausavísur 8)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 563.

Ketill hœngrLausavísur
789

Ketill travels by ship with his son Grímr to Finnmark to visit Grímr’s mother Hrafnhildr and her father Brúni. One day when Grímr has been sent to fetch water he meets a troll by a river, who curses him and attempts to capture him. Ketill puts the troll to flight by speaking this stanza, which is in ljóðaháttr.

Hvat er þat býsna,         er ek á bjargi sé
        ok gapir eldi yfir?
Búsifjar okkrar         hygg ek batna munu;
        líttu á ljóðvega.

Hvat er þat býsna, er ek sé á bjargi ok gapir yfir eldi? Ek hygg búsifjar okkrar munu batna; líttu á ljóðvega.

What terrible thing is that which I see on the mountain and which gapes over the fire? I think that the neighbourly relationship between us will become better; move [off] on the thoroughfares.

Mss: 343a(56r), 471(53r) (Ket)

Readings: [2] er ek á bjargi sé: so 471, er við berg stendr 343a    [3] gapir: gnapir 471    [5] hygg: hykkat 471    [6] ljóð‑: loð‑ 471

Editions: Skj AII, 281, Skj BII, 303, Skald II, 160, NN §2391, FF §45; FSN 2, 125, FSGJ 2, 167, Anderson 1990, 51, 96, 437; Edd. Min. 95.

Context: The stanza is introduced by the words: Ketill fór þá til móts við tröllit ok kvað vísu ‘Then Ketill went to meet the troll and spoke a stanza’.

Notes: [All]: A stanza of this kind is often the beginning of a hostile verbal exchange, like that between Forað and Ketill (cf. Ket 16-27), but here no other stanzas from the encounter have been recorded. — [1-3]: The saga mentions that Ketill meets the troll near a river by a mountain, a typical environment for a troll or giant; cf. Hym 2, Grott 10 and Note to GrL 2/2, 4. The clause ‘and gapes over the fire’ may be an allusion to the sooty colour of the troll’s face (cf. the episode in StSt ch. 16, FSGJ 3, 136). In ch. 2 of the saga Ketill finds some giants sitting by a fire in a cave (FSGJ 2, 157). In GrL ch. 1 the hero, Ketill’s son Grímr, finds two giants tending a fire in a cave (FSGJ 2, 189; cf. GunnK ch. 6, ÍF 14, 360; further examples in Schulz 2004, 286-8). — [2] er ek sé á bjargi ‘which I see on the mountain’: The reading of 471 has been adopted here over that of 343a because the latter is hypometrical. — [4-6]: The logical connection between the sentence Ek hygg búsifjar okkrar munu batna ‘I think that the neighbourly relationship between us two will become better’ and the command líttu ‘move [off]’ (cf. Note to l. 6 below) is evidently the following: ‘I think that things will become better between us: disappear!’ or ‘things will be better between us if you disappear’. In 471 the enclitic negative particle ‑at is added to the verb (and enclitic pron. ek) in ll. 4-5: Búsifjar okkrar | hykkat batna munu ‘I don’t think that our neighbourly relationship will become better’, and this is the reading that previous eds have preferred. Other mss (1006ˣ, 342ˣ) express the same thought in a slightly different manner: okkr hugða ek | ei muni batna | víst vinatta ‘I certainly thought that our friendship will not improve’. — [4] búsifjar ‘neighbourly relationship’: This word literally means ‘(good) relationships (sifjar) within a household ()’ and is otherwise only attested in prose texts (ONP: búsif, pl. búsifjar). Its use here is presumably ironic. — [6] líttu á ljóðvega ‘move [off] on the thoroughfares’: The cpd ljóðvegr is regarded as an error by Finnur Jónsson (LP: ljósvegr) and in Edd. Min. 95 n. These eds emend ljóðvega to ljósvega ‘ways of light’, a kenning for the heavens, or suggest emendation to ljósfara ‘traveller of light’, a sun-kenning. The resulting command líttu á ljósvega/ljósfara ‘look at the heavens/the sun’ would be parallel to HHj 29-30 or Alv 35, where the rising sun turns the giantess Hrímgerðr to stone (HHj, perhaps also the dwarf Alvíss in Alv) or at least puts the dwarf Alvíss to flight. In Ket the implication would be that the troll must flee before the sun rises. Rafn interprets ljóðvega not as a cpd noun but rather as a way of writing ljóð vega ‘[my] magic songs take effect’ (lit. ‘hit home’). Kock (FF §45) correctly points out that emendation is unnecessary, since the cpd ljóðvegr, although only attested here, has a close parallel in the Old Norse cpd þjóðvegr ‘highway’. He and the other previous eds all interpret the form líttu as the imp. sg. of líta ‘look’ with enclitic pron. þú (-tu); Kock sees líttu á lióðvega ‘look to the highways’ as a way of saying ‘see to it that you move on’. But it is possible that líttu is in fact the imp. sg. of the verb líða ‘move’ with enclitic þú and assimilation of [ð] to [t] (cf. the form sentu = send þú in Guðr III 6) and that is the interpretation adopted here.

References

  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. 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. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  7. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  8. 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.
  9. Anderson, Sarah M. 1990. ‘The Textual Transmission of Two Fornaldarsögur: Ketils saga høings and Gríms saga loðinkinna’. Ph.D. thesis. Cornell University…
  10. Gunnk = Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls.
  11. Schulz, Katja. 2004. Riesen: Von Wissenshütern und Wildnisbewohnern in Edda und Saga. Skandinavistische Arbeiten 20. Heidelberg: Winter.
  12. FF = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1922. Fornjermansk forskning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 18:1. Lund: Gleerup.
  13. Internal references
  14. 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. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=71> (accessed 25 September 2021)
  15. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Gríms saga loðinkinna’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 288. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=76> (accessed 25 September 2021)
  16. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Sturlaugs saga starfsama’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 781. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=78> (accessed 25 September 2021)
  17. Not published: do not cite ()
  18. Not published: do not cite ()
  19. Not published: do not cite ()
  20. Not published: do not cite ()
  21. Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Gríms saga loðinkinna 2 (Feima Hrímnisdóttir, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 290.
  22. Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 16 (Ketill hœngr, Lausavísur 11)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 566.
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