Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnH Lv 9II/1 — gerik ‘I make’

Þjón gerik þann at sveini;
Þjóðolf lætk mat sjóða.

Gerik þann þjón at sveini; lætk Þjóðolf sjóða mat.

I make that slave [my] boy; I let Þjóðólfr cook food.


[1] gerik þann þjón at sveini ‘I make that slave [my] boy’: The most common meaning of sveinn is ‘boy’ or ‘young male person’ (see Fritzner: sveinn 1-2), and þjónn and sveinn could mean both ‘slave’ and ‘servant’ (see Fritzner sveinn 4-5; þjónn). Skj B translates this sentence loosely as Ham gör jeg til tjæner ‘I make him a servant’, whereas Kock (NN §§2526, 3396R) suggests that sveinn here stands for matsveinn ‘cook’ (‘this servant I make a cook’). See also Gulaþingslǫg §300 (NGL I, 98) and NGL V: matgerðarmaðr; matsveinn; sveinn; þjónn. Neither interpretation captures the full derogatory force of Halli’s couplet.



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