Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 12VII/8 — orða ‘words’

Svá er líðandi maðr af móður-
moldu — þó er með skæru holdi —
Ádám nefndur, er alls í heimi
átti ráð með frelsi og náðum.
Höfginn rann svá hægr á þenna
heims stýranda; fekk hann skýra
andagift, og síðan sýndi,
svá vorðinna spádómsorða.

Svá er maðr líðandi af móður-moldu, nefndur Ádám — þó er með skæru holdi —, er átti ráð alls í heimi með frelsi og náðum. Svá rann höfginn hægr á þenna stýranda heims; fekk hann skýra andagift, og sýndi síðan, spádómsorða svá vorðinna.

Thus a man proceeds from mother-earth, named Adam, though he is with unsullied flesh, who had power over everything in the world, with freedom and peace. Then a light slumber came upon that ruler of the world [= Adam]: he received a clear spiritual gift — and later demonstrated [it] — of prophetic words which came to fulfilment.


[8] spádómsorða ‘words of prophecy’: According to tradition, while Adam was asleep during the creation of Eve, he had a dream vision showing him the glory of his descendants. Cf. the ON Eluc: Discipulus: Hui licr vas suefn sia. Magister: Goþs ande nam hann up í himnesca paradisum. oc sa hann þa þat at christus oc sancta cristne mønde berasc ór hans cyne. þvi spaþe hann of þau þegar es han vagnaþe ‘Disciple: How was Adam’s sleep? Master: The spirit of God took man into heavenly paradise and man realized then that Christ and holy Christianity would be born out of his kin. Therefore man foretold this when he woke up’ (Eluc 1992, 18-19). Stjórn also tells the story (Unger 1862, 33): Þaa let gud þilikt sem suefn ok enn Helldr nockurs konar umegin falla aa Adam. ok i þessu sama umegni truiz. at hann hafi andliga leiddr uerit ok uppnuminn til himinrikiss hirðar. þiat siðan er hann uaknaði. uar hann fullkominn ok sua framr spaamaðr. at hann spaadi fyrir samband Jesu Kristi ok heilagrar kirkiu. ok þat hit mikla floð er uarð aa do᷎gum Noe. ok þar meðr eigi sidr hinn efzta dom. er fyrir elldinn skal uerða. ok sagði alla þessa luti sinum sunum ‘Then God caused something like sleep and a kind of powerlessness to come upon Adam, and in this powerlessness he thought that he had been led in spirit and taken up to the hosts of the kingdom of heaven, so that when he awoke, he was so perfect and proficient a prophet that he prophesied about the union of Jesus Christ and the holy church, and that great flood which would come in the days of Noah and likewise even the Last Judgement, which will precede the fire. And he told all these things to his sons’. Some mss of the Lat. Eluc add: D. Qualis erat ille somnus? M. Extasis. Spiritus namque in caelestem paradisum eum rapuit, ubi Christum et Ecclesiam de se nascituros vidit; unde evigilans mox de illis prophetavit ‘Disciple. What was that sleep like? Master. Ecstasy. For the Spirit took him up into the heavenly paradise, where he saw that Christ and the Church would be born from him; and he prophesied about these things as soon as he awoke’ (LeFꜵvre 1954, 374). The source of this motif is probably Tertullian’s De anima: Si enim Adam de Christo figuram dabat, somnus Adae mors erat Christi dormituri in mortem, ut de inuria perinde lateris eius uera mater uiuentium figuraretur ecclesia ‘For if Adam is a type of Christ, the sleep of Adam is the death of Christ, who would sleep in death, so that the wound in his side could prefigure the mother of the living: the Church’ (Waszink 1954, 847 [43.62]). The Canticum Ade pro se et generacione sva in the Meditaciones Vite Christi of Iohannis de Caulibus (Stallings-Taney 1997, 316-7; Taney et al. 2000, 297) and the Icel. Adams óður (Guðbrandur Þorláksson 1612, 193-6), which purport to be Adam’s joyous response to the Harrowing of Hell, look back to this prophecy.



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