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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ǪrvOdd Ævdr 1VIII (Ǫrv 71)

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 71 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 888.

Ǫrvar-OddrÆvidrápa
12

Ǫrvar-Oddr’s so-called Ævidrápa ‘Life-drápa’ (ǪrvOdd Ævdr) or poetic autobiography is extant as a continuous poem of seventy-one stanzas, called here the continuous Ævdr, only in the younger mss 343a, 471 and 173ˣ. However, all mss, including 7, 344a and 567IV, preserve some stanzas or parts of stanzas, that are also present in the continuous Ævdr, as part of the saga narrative, in connection with several of the main episodes in Oddr’s life. Ms. 7 has considerably more (11) of these stanzas than 344a (4) and the fragmentary 567IV (2) and concludes with the second helmingr of Ǫrv 140 followed by Ǫrv 141, the conclusion of the continuous Ævdr. The younger mss contain two versions of the four stanzas (Ǫrv 91, 92, 108 and 111) that are present in all non-fragmentary mss: the first comes at the point in the narrative where the stanza forms part of the saga prosimetrum, and the second within the continuous Ævdr. The presence of stanzas in 7, 344a and 567IV that also appear in the Ævdr in the younger mss strongly suggests that the Ævdr is an extensive amplification of a poetic kernel that was already present in the general ms. tradition.

Table 3 shows the distribution of stanzas conventionally attributed to the Ævdr across the ms. witnesses. A double tick indicates that the stanza in question appears twice in a particular ms. The numbering and order of stanzas in the Table is the order in which they appear in the continuous Ævdr, though this is of course not the order in which stanzas, present in 7, 344a and 576IV and also found in the continuous Ævdr, appear in those mss. For details of ms. location of individual stanzas, see the Mss line for each stanza.

TABLE 3
Manuscript Witnesses to ǪrvOdd Ævdr

Stanza nos.                              
7
    



 





344a

    

567IV   
343a
    




471

   





173ˣ
    





comment
Ævdr 1-20 (Ǫrv 71-90)   





































Ævdr 21-2 (Ǫrv 91-2)


















✓✓
✓✓






✓✓
✓✓








✓✓
✓✓








Ævdr 23-37 (Ǫrv 93-107)




































Ævdr 38 (Ǫrv 108)














✓✓





✓✓







✓✓



















































Ævdr 39-40 (Ǫrv 109-10)




































Ævdr 41 (Ǫrv 111)














✓✓





✓✓







✓✓



















































Ævdr 42-51 (Ǫrv 112-21)




































Ævdr 52 (Ǫrv 122)



































In 7 order of Ævdr 52 and 53 reversed
Ævdr 53 (Ǫrv 123)
















































































Ævdr 54-63 (Ǫrv 124-33)




































Ævdr 64 (Ǫrv 134)
















































































Ævdr 65-7 (Ǫrv 135-7)




































Ævdr 68 (Ǫrv 138)



































In 7 Ævdr 69 comes before 68












































Ævdr 69 (Ǫrv 139)



































7 has ll. 1-4 and some other non-metrical material
Ævdr 70 (Ǫrv 140)



































7 has ll. 5-8 and runs them together with Ævdr 71
Ævdr 71 (Ǫrv 141)





































The lengthy Ævdr of the younger mss reveals a similar penchant for first-person poetic autobiography to what we find in other poetry attached to fornaldarsögur (and to Ǫrv itself in the case of Hjálmarr’s death-song, Ǫrv 13-29), such as the stanzas ascribed to Hildibrandr and Ásmundr in Ásm, Anon Krm (Ragn) and StarkSt Vík (Gautr). In all these cases, the hero-poet, speaking in the first person, recounts the high points of his life in a recollective frame of mind, in many cases just before the moment of death. The ævidrápa/kviða genre is discussed in greater detail in the Introduction to Volume VIII, where there is also a discussion of the probably parallel development of the long autobiographical poem in Saxo’s Gesta Danorum.

In the younger mss ǪrvOdd Ævdr is found almost at the end of the saga prose and the stanzas are written continuously without prose intervention. For this reason, no Context section is given in this edition of the Ævdr, though Notes to individual stanzas comment on the relationship between the stanzas and the prose text to which they appear to relate.

According to all versions of the saga, Oddr and his companions have at last returned to his childhood home at Berurjóðr and the vǫlva’s prophecy is about to be fulfilled: Oddr finds the skull of the horse Faxi half buried in the ground. When he prods it with the shaft of his spear, a snake wriggles out and bites Oddr on one leg above the ankle. The poison from the bite affects him almost instantly; realising that he is dying, Oddr asks his men to divide into two groups, the one to build him a stone coffin and collect firewood for a funeral pyre, the other to stay beside him as he composes a poem about his life. The various mss differ slightly in their wording, but all indicate that those who stayed by Oddr to hear the Ævdr were expected to memorise it, ms. 7 indicating that they were to rísta eptir kvæði því er ek vil yrkja um athafnir mínar ok ævi ‘carve [in runes] in accordance with the poem that I intend to compose about my actions and [my] life’ (Ǫrv 1888, 195). In all mss the poem is called a kvæði (kvæði um ævi mína ‘poem about my life’ in 344a, Ǫrv 1888, 194), but the conventional modern term for the poem, ævidrápa is not used, and is in fact misleading. Although the poem is long, it is not a drápa, as it does not have one or more refrains (stef).

Previous editors have handled the Ævdr and the stanzas that also appear in the saga prosimetrum rather differently and somewhat confusingly. In Ǫrv 1888 Boer prints the stanzas occurring in the prose saga at points where they occur in 7, and again separately in an Appendix (Anhang, pp. 198-208) as a continuous poem, there basing himself on 343a’s version of the Ævdr text. He follows a more complex reconstructive principle in Ǫrv 1892, 97-100 (Anhang I), where he rearranges the stanzas, inserting hypothetical lacunae, as he thought the poem would have been in the original Ævdr. He also prints the stanzas that occur in the prosimetrum, following 7’s text, in the body of the prose saga. Edd. Min. prints what it calls Ǫrvar-Odds Sterbelied ‘The Death-song of Ǫrvar-Oddr’, including in this reconstructed poem those stanzas of the Ævdr that occur in 7 plus a few others that are found elsewhere in the saga, arranging them according to the sequence in which they appear in that ms., though in the actual ms. they are of course separated by varying quantities of prose. Skj and Skald print the Ævdr stanzas according to the sequence in which they occur as a continuous poem at the end of the younger mss, 343a and 471 (Skj does not use 173ˣ). Skj A and B use the version of 343a in the continuous Ævdr as their base ms., but in Skj A variant readings are given in the notes from 7, 344a and 471. Neither Skj nor Skald include versions of the stanzas within the prosimetrum in their sequences of stanzas from Ǫrv; these latter are only accessible to the reader in their entirety from the variant readings recorded in the notes to Skj A. In the present edition, 7 is used as main ms. for those stanzas of the Ævdr that also occur in it, 343a for those stanzas that are only in the continuous Ævdr. In a few cases, where the texts diverge greatly, versions from 7 and 343a are given.

Hlýði seggir,         en ek segja mun
vígs völdundum         frá vinum mínum.
Seint er at dylja;         sé ek eigi mátti
skógs skæstafr         við sköpum gera.

Hlýði seggir, en ek mun segja {völdundum vígs} frá vinum mínum. Seint er at dylja; ek sé {skæstafr skógs} mátti eigi gera við sköpum.

Listen men, and I will tell {causers of slaughter} [WARRIORS] about my friends. It is [too] late to deny; I see {the advancing stave of the bow} [WARRIOR = I] could not prevent fate.

Mss: 343a(80r-v), 471(94r), 173ˣ(60va) (Ǫrv)

Readings: [3] völdundum: so 471, ‘valldindvm’ 343a, ‘vigsvolluðum’ 173ˣ    [5] Seint: so 471, 173ˣ, ‘seimt’ 343a;    er at: man ek 173ˣ    [6] mátti: má 173ˣ    [7] skæstafr: so 471, 173ˣ, ‘bæstafr’ 343a    [8] við: í 173ˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 306, Skj BII, 324, Skald II, 173, NN §121; Ǫrv 1888, 198, FSGJ 2, 340.

Notes: [All]: The beginning of the Ævdr is marked by a large red-coloured initial H in 471. — [1-2]: The introductory formula of these lines is comparable to Vsp 1/1-4 and Þhorn Harkv 1/1-2I. It is also reminiscent of the introductory appeal to a listening audience in some late medieval romances; cf. the Middle English Octavian 1-3 (Mills 1973, 75): Lytyll and mykyll, olde and yonge, | Lystenyth now to my talkynge, | Of whome Y wyll yow [k]ythe; ‘Small and great, old and young, listen now to what I say, [and] about whom I will make known to you’. — [7] skæstafr skógs ‘the advancing stave of the bow [WARRIOR = I]’: The word skæstafr ‘the advancing stave’, the reading of both 471 and 173ˣ, is a hap. leg. of uncertain meaning, while 343a’s reading ‘bæstafr’ is not an Old Norse word. Skógr is used here in the uncommon sense ‘bow’ (cf. LP: 2. skógr) rather than ‘wood, forest’, its common meaning. The kenning stafr skógs ‘stave of the bow’ would make an acceptable warrior-kenning on its own, but the first element of the cpd, skæ- is difficult to assign a meaning (cf. LP: skæstafr). The horse-heiti skær ‘sprinter’ (Þul Hesta 1/8III) is not appropriate here, while there is a difficulty with the only other possible connection, with the cognate verb skæva ‘advance, rush [forward]’ (cf. LP, LT: skæva), in that the <v> of the stem skæv- is not present in the cpd under discussion. However, ‘advancing, rushing stave’ seems the most likely meaning for skæstafr, although Kock (NN §121) argues for a derivation from skæra, to which he attributes the same sense as skæva.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  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. LT = La Farge, Beatrice and John Tucker. 1992. Glossary to the Poetic Edda, based on Hans Kuhn’s Kurzes Wörterbuch. Skandinavistische Arbeiten 15. Heidelberg: Winter.
  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. Ǫrv 1888 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1888. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Leiden: Brill.
  10. Mills, Maldwyn, ed. 1973. Six Middle English Romances. London and Totowa, N.J.: Dent and Rowman and Littlefield.
  11. Ǫrv 1892 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1892a. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Altnordische Saga-Bibliothek 2. Halle: Niemayer.
  12. Internal references
  13. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Gautreks saga’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 241.
  14. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Ǫrvar-Odds saga’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 804.
  15. 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.
  16. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Ragnars saga loðbrókar’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 616.
  17. Rory McTurk 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Krákumál’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 706.
  18. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Hesta heiti 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 935.
  19. Not published: do not cite ()
  20. Not published: do not cite (ǪrvOdd ÆvdrVIII (Ǫrv))
  21. Not published: do not cite (StarkSt VíkVIII (Gautr))
  22. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 94.
  23. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 108 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 38)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 917.
  24. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 109 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 39)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 918.
  25. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 111 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 41)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 919.
  26. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 112 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 42)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 920.
  27. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 122 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 52)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 928.
  28. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 123 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 53)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 930.
  29. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 124 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 54)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 931.
  30. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 13 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Lausavísur 5)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 826.
  31. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 134 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 64)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 940.
  32. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 135 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 65)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 942.
  33. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 138 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 68)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 944.
  34. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 139 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 69)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 945.
  35. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 140 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 70)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 946.
  36. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 141 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 71)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 947.
  37. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 71 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 888.
  38. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 91 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 21)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 903.
  39. Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Ǫrvar-Odds saga 93 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa 23)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 906.
  40. Not published: do not cite ()
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