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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigoa Lv 1VIII (Ragn 19)

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.

Sigurðr ormr í augaLausavísa1

(Þat) skal þriggja nátta
(ef þik tregar, móðir)
— leið eigu vér langa —
leiðangr búinn verða.
Skal Uppsölum eigi,
þó at ófafé bjóði,
ef oss duga eggjar,
Eysteinn konungr ráða.

Leiðangr skal verða búinn þriggja nátta, ef þat tregar þik, móðir; eigu vér langa leið. Eysteinn konungr skal eigi ráða Uppsölum, þó at bjóði ófafé, ef eggjar duga oss.

An expedition will be prepared within three nights, if that is what is causing you grief, mother; we have a long way to go. King Eysteinn will not rule Uppsala, though he may offer excessive payment, if sword-blades serve us well.

Mss: 1824b(65v), 147(104r) (Ragn); Hb(105v) (RagnSon)

Readings: [1] nátta: vikna 147, Hb    [3] leið eigu vér langa: so Hb, leið eigum vér langa 1824b, ‘(l)eid e(i)gu […]ga’(?) 147    [4] búinn: búin 147    [5] Skal Uppsölum eigi: so 147, Hb, skal eigi Uppsölum 1824b    [6] þó at ófabjóði: ‘þo at of fe bioðít’ 1824b, ‘þo[…]t ofur (fe) (biodi)’(?) 147, ‘þo at ofr fe bioði’ Hb    [7] ef oss duga eggjar: so Hb, ef svá duga dísir 1824b, ‘(ef […]ss du)ga eggiar’(?) 147    [8] Eysteinn konungr ráða: ‘eystein (beli) rada’(?) 147, Eysteinn beli ráða Hb

Editions: Skj AII, 236, Skj BII, 256, Skald II, 133, NN §§2369, 2514D, 2811; FSN 1, 267 (Ragn ch.9), Ragn 1891, 199-200 (ch. 9), Hb 1892-6, 461 (RagnSon ch. 2); Ragn 1906-8, 144, 183, 208-9 (ch. 10), Ragn 1944, 72-3, 75 (ch. 10), FSGJ 1, 254 (Ragn ch. 10), Ragn 1985, 128 (ch. 10), Ragn 2003, 39-40 (ch. 10), CPB II, 349.

Context: The three-year-old Sigurðr here seeks to console his mother by advocating a hostile expedition to Sweden and an end to Eysteinn’s rule in Uppsala, no matter how great a sum Eysteinn may offer in appeasement.

Notes: [1] þriggja nátta ‘within three nights’: Gen. of time (cf. NS §140). If the speaker’s aim in this stanza is to reassure Áslaug that a revenge mission to Sweden is imminent, this, the reading of 1824b, adopted in all the eds used here apart from Hb 1892-6, is obviously more to the purpose than the vikna ‘weeks’ of 147 and Hb. — [1, 2, 4] leiðangr skal verða búinn …, ef þat tregar þik ‘an expedition will be prepared …, if that is what is causing you grief’: The present reading ef þat tregar þik follows Hb 1892-6, Skj B, and Ragn 1906-8, 208 (cf. also Ragn 1944 and 2003), as far as assumed prose order and essential meaning are concerned. Kock (NN §§2369, 2811) objects to this reading on the twofold grounds that it is unacceptable for a subordinate clause to enclose a main clause, and for the conj. introducing the subordinate clause (here ef) to follow the main clause. He emends þat to þá, taking þá ‘then’ as introducing the main clause correlatively with ef (‘if you are worried, then an expedition … will be prepared’). Neither of his objections applies fully in the present case, however, since the main clause continues and concludes in l. 4, and is neither enclosed by the subordinate clause nor followed by the conj. ef introducing it. In dispensing by emendation with þat, which he takes as the nom. subject of tregar in Finnur Jónsson’s reading (in Skj B; it is also how Olsen reads it, Ragn 1906-08, 208, cf. 203, here following Finnur Jónsson in Hb 1892-6), Kock sees trega here as a subjectless, impersonal verb, and allies it with Nygaard’s list of such verbs (NS §88 Anm. 4). Þat, which is formally the same in the nom. and the acc., may indeed be the nom. subject of tregar, as Finnur and Olsen seem to assume; on the other hand, the verb tregar may equally well be impersonal, as Kock suggests, though with þat as well as þik in the acc. case, and þik functioning as ‘logical subject’ (cf. Stefán Einarsson 1945, 169-70). — [5]: The word order of 147 and Hb, adopted by all eds apart from Rafn (FSN) and Valdimar Ásmundarson (Ragn 1891), is preferred here to that of 1824b as being metrically superior in allowing the vowel alliteration to fall on a fully stressed penultimate syllable in the line. — [6] þó at bjóði ófa ‘though he may offer excessive payment’: The reading here follows that of all previous eds (who variously have þó at and þótt) apart from Rafn (FSN) and Valdimar Ásmundarson (Ragn 1891), who have respectively þóat of fé bjóðið and þó at ofa fé bjóðið, of which the first at least is questionable metrically and which both mean, presumably, ‘though you (pl.) may offer excessive payment’, which hardly makes sense in the context. — [7] ef eggjar duga oss ‘if sword-blades serve us well’: The reading of Hb and 147, which is to be preferred over that of 1824b, ef svá duga dísir ‘if the dísir will lend support thus’, because it provides vocalic alliteration with the first syllable of Eysteinn, the head-stave in l. 8. There is no alliteration linking ll. 7-8 of 1824b. Most other eds adopt the Hb reading, with the exception of FSN, CPB (both with 1824b’s text), Ragn 1891 and Ragn 1985, the last two of whom read ef svá duga eggjar ‘if sword-blades avail’. — [8] Eysteinn konungr ‘King Eysteinn’: In RagnSon and the X version of Ragn, preserved in Hb and 147 respectively, Eysteinn is given the byname beli, which appears in the 147 and Hb readings of this line. (The byname does not appear in the Y version of Ragn, preserved in 1824b, however.) Its origin and meaning are uncertain. It may be related to the giant name Beli which is in turn related to the verb belja ‘bellow’, or possibly to the noun belgr, meaning ‘animal-skin’ or ‘skin bag’ (Lidén 1928, 361-4; McTurk 1991a, 114-17). All previous eds apart from those of CPB (who have Eysteinn Beli) and Finnur Jónsson in Hb 1892-6 (as opposed to Skj B) adopt the 1824b reading here. Eysteinn beli is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87 III, 251-2, 259-60, 270-1), along with Ragnarr loðbrók and Bjǫrn at Haugi, as a patron of the C9th poet Bragi Boddason, to whom the poem Ragnarsdrápa (Bragi RdrIII) is attributed. Given Snorri Sturluson’s association of this poem with Ragnarr loðbrók (SnE 1998 I, 72-3), and Bragi’s sobriquet inn gamli ‘the Old’, applied to him by Snorri and in Skáldatal (see McTurk 2003, 112-13), and indicating that in C13th Iceland Bragi was regarded as a figure of the distant past, it is of some interest to find the nickname beli applied to Eysteinn in Hb (early C14th) and in 147 (c. 1450) in connection with Ragnarr loðbrók, raising the question of whether this Eysteinn’s connection with Bragi as well as with Ragnarr was common knowledge in late medieval Iceland.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. 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.
  8. NS = Nygaard, Marius. 1906. Norrøn syntax. Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug. Rpt. 1966.
  9. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  10. FSGJ = Guðni Jónsson, ed. 1954. Fornaldar sögur norðurlanda. 4 vols. [Reykjavík]: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
  11. Hb 1892-6 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1892-6. Hauksbók udgiven efter de Arnamagnæanske håndskrifter no. 371, 544 og 675, 4° samt forskellige papirshåndskrifter. Copenhagen: Det kongelige nordiske oldskrift-selskab.
  12. Lidén, Evald. 1928. ‘Gullvarta. – Síbilia’. In Brøndum-Nielsen et al. 1928, 358-64.
  13. McTurk, Rory. 1991a. Studies in Ragnars saga loðbrókar and Its Major Scandinavian Analogues. Medium Ævum Monographs new ser. 15. Oxford: Society for the Study of Mediæval Languages and Literature.
  14. Ragn 1906-8 = Olsen 1906-8, 111-222.
  15. 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].
  16. McTurk, Rory. 2003. ‘Ragnarsdrápa’. In RGA, 24, 112-17.
  17. Stefán Einarsson. 1945. Icelandic: Grammar, Texts, Glossary. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.
  18. Ragn 1985 = Örnólfur Thorsson 1985, 101-53.
  19. Ragn 1891 = 2nd edn (pp. 175-224) of Ragn as ed. in Valdimar Ásmundarson 1885-9, I.
  20. Ragn 2003 = Ebel, Uwe, ed. 2003. Ragnars saga loðbrókar. Texte des skandinavischen Mittelalters 4. Vol. II of Ebel 1997-2003.
  21. Internal references
  22. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Ragnars saga loðbrókar’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 616. <> (accessed 28 September 2021)
  23. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Ragnars sona þáttr’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 777. <> (accessed 28 September 2021)
  24. Not published: do not cite (RloðVIII)
  25. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘ Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Ragnarsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 27. <> (accessed 28 September 2021)
  26. 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.
  27. Not published: do not cite ()

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