Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Nesv 4I/5 — kosta ‘to strive for’

Vasa sigmána Sveini
sverða gnýs at frýja,
gjóðs né góðrar hríðar
gunnreifum Ôleifi,
þvít kvistingar kosta
— koma herr í stað verra —
ôttu sín, þars sóttusk
seggir, hvárirtveggja.

Vasa at frýja Sveini gnýs sverða né gunnreifum Ôleifi góðrar hríðar gjóðs sigmána, þvít hvárirtveggja ôttu kosta kvistingar sín, þars seggir sóttusk; herr koma í verra stað.

There was no cause [lit. it was not] to reproach Sveinn for the din of swords [BATTLE], nor the battle-glad Óláfr for the good storm of the osprey of the battle-moon [SHIELD > RAVEN/EAGLE > BATTLE], because both parties had to strive for the maiming of each other, where men attacked; the army never came into a worse place.


[5] kosta: kostu Holm2, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, 61, Bb, kossu R686ˣ, ‘kostri’ J1ˣ, kǫstu 73aˣ, 68


[5, 7] ôttu kosta kvistingar sín ‘had to strive for the maiming of each other’: The copyists appear to have been confused about the (admittedly complex) motifs and syntax. (a) In this edn kosta is preferred, as the reading of the main ms. and perhaps the lectio difficilior. The finite verb ôttu ‘had’ then governs inf. kosta ‘to strive, endeavour’, which in turn governs the gen. kvistingar ‘maiming’. The gen. pron. sín ‘of each other, of themselves’, referring to the two opposing forces, is then the object of kvistingar (cf. Hkr 1893-1901, IV). (b) The majority of mss have the noun kostu, acc. pl. from kostr ‘choice’. This is the reading preferred by Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B) and it may be correct, giving the sense ‘had the chance for their own maiming (to be maimed)’.



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