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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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KrákÁsl Lv 5VIII (Ragn 15)

Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 15 (Kráka/Áslaug Sigurðardóttir, Lausavísur 5)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 655.

Kráka/Áslaug SigurðardóttirLausavísur
456

The following eight stanzas, spoken by Kráka-Áslaug (Ragn 15, 17-18), a messenger (Ragn 16), and Áslaug’s sons Sigurðr (Ragn 19), Bjǫrn (Ragn 20), Hvítserkr (Ragn 21) and Ívarr (Ragn 22), are presented in Skj and Skald as forming, together with Ragn 11-14, a twelve-stanza unit, but are treated here as having a unity of their own and forming a sequence which might be entitled ‘Vengeance for Eiríkr and Agnarr’. The sequence begins with Áslaug asking the messenger for news (Ragn 15), which he provides, reporting the deaths of her stepsons (Ragn 16). Then, after receiving the news of Rǫgnvaldr’s death (cf. Ragn 7, above), she recites two stanzas, one praising the heroism of Rǫgnvaldr, her son (Ragn 17), and the other that of Eiríkr and Agnarr, her stepsons (Ragn 18). Her words have the effect of stimulating in her youngest son, Sigurðr, a resolve to take revenge, which he expresses in Ragn 19, thus inspiring his elder brothers to do the same, one after the other, in Ragn 20-22. All eight stanzas are preserved in both 1824b and 147, albeit very fragmentarily in the latter ms., and five of them, Ragn 18-22, are also preserved in Hb.

Hvat segið ér ór yðru,
— eru Svíar í landi
eða elligar úti? —
allnýtr konungs spjalli?
Fregit hefi ek hitt, at fóru,
— en fremr vitum eigi —
ok hildingar höfðu
hlunnroð, Danir sunnan.

Hvat segið ér ór yðru, allnýtr spjalli konungs? Eru Svíar í landi eða elligar úti? Ek hefi fregit hitt, at Danir fóru sunnan, ok hildingar höfðu hlunnroð; en fremr vitum eigi.

What have you to relate for your part, most worthy friend of the king? Are Swedes in the land, or, on the other hand, abroad? What I have heard is that the Danes travelled from the south and the warriors experienced a roller-reddening; but we know no more.

Mss: 1824b(64v), 147(107v) (Ragn)

Readings: [1] segið ér (‘sege þer’): ‘se(git) v(i)er’(?) 147;    ór yðru: ‘ú(r ydru)’(?) 147    [2] eru Svíar í landi: ‘eru (suiar i) […]’(?) 147    [3] eða elligar úti: ‘(eda elligar vt) […]’(?) 147    [4] allnýtr: ‘all ny’ 1824b, ‘[…]’ 147;    konungs spjalli: ‘[…]’ 147    [5] Fregit hefi ek hitt at fóru: ‘[…] (hef eg hitt) […]’(?) 147    [6] en fremr vitum eigi: ‘(frem) […]’(?) 147    [7] ok hildingar höfðu: ‘[…] (hillding) […] höfðu’(?) 147    [8] hlunnroð Danir sunnan: ‘(hlunro)d danir sunna(n)’(?) 147

Editions: Skj AII, 235, Skj BII, 255, Skald II, 132, NN §1457; FSN 1, 264 (Ragn ch. 9), Ragn 1891, 197 (ch. 9), Ragn 1906-8, 141, 182, 206 (ch. 10), Ragn 1944, 66-7, 69 (ch. 10), FSGJ 1, 251 (Ragn ch. 10), Ragn 1985, 125 (ch. 10), Ragn 2003, 36-7 (ch. 10), CPB II, 348-9.

Context: In the absence of her husband and her sons, apart from Sigurðr, Áslaug questions the spokesman of Eiríkr’s messengers, claiming to know no more about her stepsons’ Swedish expedition than that, when they set off (as recorded in the prose), the launching roller of Agnarr’s ship was reddened with blood when the ship slid from it, killing a man standing in front of it.

Notes: [1]: The alliteration in this line becomes apparent if the initial þ of þér in the 1824b reading segi þér is apprehended as merging in sound with the terminal ð of segið, and the two words are read as segið ér; cf. ANG §465 Anm. 5. — [1] ór yðru ‘for your part’: Neuter sg. of pl. poss. adj. (v)arr. Those eds who have translated this phrase, Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 206), Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), Eskeland (Ragn 1944) and Örnólfur Thorsson (Ragn 1985) take it as meaning ‘from your land’ (i.e. ‘What news from/of your land?’). So also Schlauch’s (1930, 220) translation. This might imply that the messengers and their spokesman, who is here addressed (see Ragn 1906-8, 141), were Swedish, whereas the saga prose seems to indicate that they were followers of Eiríkr and Agnarr (Ragn 1906-08, 139-40) and hence presumably Danish. The phrase is probably to be understood as meaning ‘for your part, from your perspective’. — [3] úti ‘abroad’: It is possible, in view of the contrast here between úti and í landi ‘in the land’ (l. 2), that úti here means ‘at sea’ (cf. LP: úti 2) rather than, more generally, ‘abroad’. — [4] allnýtr spjalli konungs ‘most worthy friend of the king’: The present edn follows Kock in adopting the emended form allnýtr ‘most worthy, capable’, and understanding it as used attributively with spjalli, thus avoiding the syntactic leap from l. 1 to l. 4 that all other editorial readings make necessary. For ‘all ný’ of 1824b, Rafn (FSN), and Valdimar Ásmundarson (Ragn 1891) read allný, making one word of the 1824b reading and following it with a comma, thus presumably taking it as n. acc. pl. of allnýr ‘very new’ and as substantival and the object of segið þér in l. 1, with the sense: ‘what very new items (of news) have you to relate?’ This is how Örnólfur Thorsson (Ragn 1985) understands the word and its place in the sentence, taking it however as n. acc. sg. and accordingly emending to allnýtt ‘what very new item (of news) …’. CPB also has allnýtt, though without clarifying its place in the sentence. All other eds (with the exception of Kock) emend to n. gen. sg. allnýs, taking it as a partitive gen. (or gen. of respect) and linking it to Hvat ‘What’ in l. 1, in the sense ‘What (in the way) of news …’. The phrase spjalli konungs ‘friend of the king’ is to be taken as a courteous greeting, and the king in question as the one whose (Danish) court the messengers are entering, i.e. the currently absent Ragnarr, as opposed to King Eysteinn of Sweden. There is no need to follow Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 206), Eskeland (Ragn 1944), and Ebel (Ragn 2003) in emending spjalli to the nom. pl. form spjallar; the 2nd pers. pl. form segið ér in l. 1 may be taken as honorific, and addressed to a single person. — [8] hlunnroð ‘a roller-reddening’: This translation reflects the explanation of the term given under LP: hlunnroð, i.e. the reddening with blood of a launching roller that could occur when someone was killed by accident as a result of happening to be in front of a ship when it was pushed on rollers out to sea. Blood is not actually mentioned in the prose passage to which this stanza ostensibly refers (or indeed in the LP entry), though the spilling of blood seems to be implied. The passage in question, occurring near the beginning of ch. 10 of Ragn, in which Ragn 11-22 are quoted, offers an explanation of the word hlunnroð, indicating that it was a term with which the saga writer did not expect his audience to be familiar. The passage is (Ragn 1906-8, 137): Nu verdr þat, at skip Agnars skauzt af lunne, ok vard þar madr fyrir, ok fęʀ sa bana, ok kaulludu þeir þat hlunrod ‘What now occurred was that Agnarr’s ship started from its launching-roller, and a man happened to be in the way, and he met his death; and they called that a roller-reddening’. Vigfusson and Powell, who translate ‘sacrificial-launch’ here (CPB II, 349), see this kind of killing (in CPB I, 410) as part of a blood-sprinkling consecration ritual carried out at the launching of a new ship or when the ship was setting out on an important voyage. Falk (1912, 28-9), on the other hand, relates the ‑roð element in hlunnroð not to ON rjóða ‘redden’, but rather to a Norwegian dialect word rod, meaning ‘slippage’, and to the ‑roð element in ON flóttaroð ‘scattering of troops in flight’, seeing hlunnroð as referring to the accidental slipping away of one or more rollers under a ship, which might well have fatal results. Dillmann (2009) has since called into question both Falk’s view and the idea that hlunnroð in this instance has to do with sacrifice. 

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. FSN = Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1829-30. Fornaldar sögur nordrlanda. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. 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.
  7. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  8. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  9. Falk, Hjalmar. 1912. Altnordisches Seewesen. Wörter und Sachen 4. Heidelberg: Winter.
  10. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  11. Ragn 1906-8 = Olsen 1906-8, 111-222.
  12. Ragn 1944 = Eskeland, Severin, ed. and trans. 1944. Soga om Ragnar Lodbrok med Kråka-kvædet. Norrøne bokverk 16. 2nd ed. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget. [1st ed. 1914].
  13. Ragn 1985 = Örnólfur Thorsson 1985, 101-53.
  14. Ragn 1891 = 2nd edn (pp. 175-224) of Ragn as ed. in Valdimar Ásmundarson 1885-9, I.
  15. Dillmann, François-Xavier. 2009. ‘Des sacrifices humains lors du lancement des navires dans la Scandinavie ancienne? Remarques sur le composé norrois hlunnroð’. In Heizmann et al. 2009, 367-91.
  16. Ragn 2003 = Ebel, Uwe, ed. 2003. Ragnars saga loðbrókar. Texte des skandinavischen Mittelalters 4. Vol. II of Ebel 1997-2003.
  17. Internal references
  18. 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.
  19. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 11 (Eiríkr Ragnarsson, Lausavísur 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 648.
  20. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 15 (Kráka/Áslaug Sigurðardóttir, Lausavísur 5)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 655.
  21. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 16 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 657.
  22. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 17 (Kráka/Áslaug Sigurðardóttir, Lausavísur 6)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 660.
  23. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 18 (Kráka/Áslaug Sigurðardóttir, Lausavísur 7)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 661.
  24. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 19 (Sigurðr ormr í auga, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 663.
  25. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 20 (Bjǫrn Ragnarsson, Lausavísur 2)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 665.
  26. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 21 (Hvítserkr Ragnarsson, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 666.
  27. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 22 (Ívarr Ragnarsson, Lausavísa 1)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 668.
  28. Rory McTurk (ed.) 2017, ‘Ragnars saga loðbrókar 37 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar 7)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 697.
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