Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Vestv 7I/3 — hringa ‘with rings’

Knútr spurði mik mæta
mildr, ef hônum vildak
hendilangr sem hringa
hugreifum Ôleifi.
Einn kvaðk senn, en sǫnnu
svara þóttumk ek, dróttinn
— gefin eru gumna hverjum
góð dœmi — mér sœma.

Knútr, mildr mæta, spurði mik, ef vildak hendilangr hônum sem Ôleifi, hugreifum hringa. Kvaðk einn dróttinn senn sœma mér, en þóttumk ek svara sǫnnu; góð dœmi eru gefin hverjum gumna.

Knútr, generous with treasures, asked me if I wanted [to be] of service to him as to Óláfr, bountiful with rings. I declared that one lord at a time was fitting for me, and I thought I answered truthfully; good examples are given to every man.


[1-4]: The two main possible analyses of the helmingr are problematic, though its overall sense is clear. (a) The analysis above follows Kock (NN §635) in adopting the reading mæta (n. gen. pl.) ‘of/with treasures’. Although this occurs in only one medieval ms., 61, the majority reading mætra could represent an attempt to produce a more exact hending with Knútr. Kock suggests a parallelism between mildr mæta ‘generous with treasures’ and hugreifr hringa ‘bountiful with rings’, lit. ‘mind-glad with (in giving away) rings’. The phrase hugreifr hringa is unparalleled, but not impossible, since reifa can mean ‘to bestow’, reifr can mean ‘cheerfully hospitable’, and reifir can mean ‘presenter’ as in Edáð Banddr 2/3, 4 handa logreifis ‘presenter of the flame of hands [(lit. ‘flame-presenter of hands) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’. (b) The reading mætra (gen. pl.) ‘excellent’ in l. 1 could be retained if construed with hringa ‘of rings’ in l. 3 (so Skj B). However, this entails that hringa separates the conj. sem ‘as’ from the phrase it introduces, and produces a caesura in an exceptional position (cf. Gade 1995a, 212).



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