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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Berv 14II/8 — greifum ‘counts’

Eitt es mál, þats mæla:
‘minn dróttinn leggr sína
eign á óðǫl þegna’;
ǫfgask búendr gǫfgir.
Rán mun seggr, hinns sína
selr út, í því telja,
flaums at fellidómi
fǫðurleifð konungs greifum.

Eitt es mál, þats mæla: ‘dróttinn minn leggr eign sína á óðǫl þegna’; gǫfgir búendr ǫfgask. Seggr, hinns selr út fǫðurleifð sína greifum konungs at fellidómi flaums, mun telja rán í því.

They all say the same thing: ‘my lord appropriates his subjects’ ancestral properties’; proud farmers revolt. That man, who parcels out his patrimony to the king’s counts according to precipitate rulings, will call that robbery.


[8] greifum: ‘greiopum’ 321ˣ, ‘g[...]v[...]’ 325VII, reiði H, Hr


[8] greifum (m. dat. pl.) ‘counts’: The earliest attested occurrence of this honorific in ON (see LP: greifi; Fritzner: greifi). According to Snorri (SnE 1998, I, 80), greifar (either from OE gerēfa ‘reeve’ or from MLG grāve ‘count’; AEW: greifi) were the Saxon equivalents of Engl. barons and Norw. hersar and district chieftains (lendir menn). Such men were appointed by the king to be in charge of the legal and defensive administration of the districts. Sigvatr’s knowledge of the foreign term must stem from his extensive travels on the Continent and in England. His fondness for loanwords is also reflected in st. 18/4 below.



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