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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigurðr Lv 2VIII (Ǫrv 39)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 39 (Sigurðr, Lausavísur 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 852.


Oddr, vartu eigi         út með Girkjum,
þá er á Serkjum         sverð vár ruðum.
Gerðum harðan         hljóm ísarna;
fellu fyrðar         í fólkroði.

Oddr, vartu eigi út með Girkjum, þá er ruðum sverð vár á Serkjum. Gerðum {harðan hljóm ísarna}; fyrðar fellu í {fólkroði}.

Oddr, you were not abroad among the Greeks, when we reddened our swords on the Saracens. We made {the harsh music of iron weapons} [BATTLE]; men fell in {the army-reddening} [BATTLE].

Mss: 7(54v), 344a(21v), 343a(77r), 471(88v) (Ǫrv)

Readings: [1] vartu: vart 343a    [2] Girkjum: Grikkjum 343a, 471    [4] vár: vér 471;    ruðum: rauðum 344a    [5] harðan: ‘hafan’ 344a, 343a, 471    [6] ísarna: af sverðum 344a, stál járna 343a

Editions: Skj AII, 298, Skj BII, 318, Skald II, 169, NN §2406; Ǫrv 1888, 160, Ǫrv 1892, 79, FSGJ 2, 313; Edd. Min. 66.  

Context: Sigurðr brings Oddr another horn and speaks this stanza.

Notes: [All]: This stanza follows a common pattern of the mannjafnaðr, repeated in Ǫrv 42-8 and 51, in which the challenger mentions a fight or adventure in which he took part, but in which his opponent was notably absent, and implies that this was because of the opponent’s cowardice. Boer (1892b, 131) argued that this stanza’s reference to the Greeks and the Saracens indicates that it could not have been composed before the crusades of the C12th. However, the Serkir and Serkland are mentioned in several skaldic poems of the C11th (LP: Serkir and Serkland) as well as on several Swedish rune stones (see Note to l. 3 below).  — [2] með Girkjum ‘among the Greeks’: The forms Girkjar and Grikkjar are common variants in skaldic verse (cf. indices of ethnic names in SkP II and VII). — [3] á Serkjum ‘on the Saracens’: The ethnic name Serkir and the region of Serkland ‘land of the Saracens’ are often vaguely defined in Old Norse literature, but generally refer to the eastern Mediterranean, including parts of North Africa, the Levant and the region south of the Caspian Sea; see Jesch (2001a, 104-7); Shepard (1982-5). — [8] í fólkroði ‘in the army-reddening [BATTLE]’: Understood here as a kenning for battle; cf. Ǫrv 35/2 at eggroði ‘at the blade-reddening’, a similar battle-kenning (cf. Meissner 201 for other examples). LP: folkroð, however, considers the form to stand for folkhroð ‘battle-destruction’, in which the second element derives from hrjóða ‘unload, strip, clear (a ship)’ and the first element, folk, is used both in the sense of ‘people, army’ and ‘battle’. See further NN §2406.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  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. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  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. SkP II = Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Ed. Kari Ellen Gade. 2009.
  10. Ǫrv 1888 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1888. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Leiden: Brill.
  11. Shepard, Jonathan. 1982-5. ‘Yngvarr’s Expedition to the East and a Russian Inscribed Stone Cross’. SBVS 21, 222-92.
  12. Ǫrv 1892 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1892a. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Altnordische Saga-Bibliothek 2. Halle: Niemayer.
  13. Boer, R. C. 1892b. ‘Über die Ǫrvar-Odds saga’. ANF 8, 97-139.
  14. Internal references
  15. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 35 (Sigurðr, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 849.
  16. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 42 (Sjólfr, Lausavísur 3)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 855.

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