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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Lil 6VII/4 — stiettar ‘orders’

Herra guð sá er hverjum dýrri,
himin og jörð í fyrstu gjörði;
prýddi hann með þrysvar þrennum
— það er riett trúa mín — eingla stiettar.
Áðr, var hann þó jafn og síðan
ærinn sier, en skepnan væri;
gjörði hann heim og teygði tíma
tvá jafnaldra í sínu valdi.

Herra guð, sá er dýrri hverjum, gjörði í fyrstu himin og jörð; hann prýddi með þrysvar þrennum stiettar eingla; það er riett trúa mín. Áðr en skepnan væri, og síðan, var hann þó jafn ærinn sier; gjörði hann heim og teygði tíma, tvá jafnaldra í valdi sínu.

The Lord God, who is more precious than everyone, made in the begining heaven and earth; he adorned them with three times three orders of angels; that is truly my belief. Before creation existed, and afterwards, he was nevertheless the same, sufficient in himself; he made the world and stretched out time, two [entities] of the same age in his power.


[4] stiettar: stiettum 99a, 622, 713, Vb, 41 8°ˣ, 705ˣ, 4892, stietta 720b


[3, 4] þrysvar þrennum … stiettar eingla ‘three times three orders of angels’: Medieval theologians reckoned nine orders of angels, a number they derived from nine names for angels mentioned in the Bible. Cf. the homily for All Saints in HomÍsl: þeir eſ gréinaſc inio svéiter. þat ero ę́rer. oc hofoþ ę́rer. craftar. veldes englar oc hofoþenglar. drótnar oc ſtólar cherubím þat es fylling speke. oc ſeraphím þat ero breɴeɴdr eþa logeɴdr ‘they are divided into nine choirs: angels and archangels, principalities, powers and virtues, dominations and thrones, cherubim (the fulfilment of wisdom) and seraphim, who are burning or flaming’ (HomÍsl 1993, 18v; cf. HómNo, 137 and Þorvaldur Bjarnarson 1878, 64-5). A popular tradition associated with Dionysius the Areopagite divided the orders or choirs into three groups of three, cf. the Lat. Eluc: M. – Propter Trinitatem: in novenario enim numero ternarius tertio fit repetitus ‘Master: On account of the Trinity: because in the nonary number the ternary is repeated three times’ (Le Fꜵvre 1954, 366). See also Note to 1/1, stietta.



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