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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Magnús inn góði Óláfsson (Mgóð)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 2

Skj info: Magnús Óláfsson enn góði, Norsk konge 1035-47 (AI, 330, BI, 304).

Skj poems:

See ‘Royal Biographies’ in Introduction to this volume.

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 5. Biographies > 1. Royal Biographies > 1. Kings of Norway > l. Magnús I inn góði Óláfsson (Mgóð) (r. 1035-47)

Sagas: Mgóð, HSig, MH (Ágr, Flat, Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, Mork, Theodoricus).

Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’, the only son of Óláfr Haraldsson (S. Óláfr; see Genealogy II.1 in ÍF 28), was fostered in Russia at the court of Jaroslav (Jarizleifr) of Novgorod and his wife, Ingigerðr, the daughter of the Swedish king Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’. Five years after the death of his father at the battle of Stiklestad (29 July 1030), Magnús was summoned to Norway by Norwegian magnates and elected king. Upon the death of Hǫrðaknútr Knútsson (8 June 1042), Magnús laid claim to the throne of Denmark, and he ruled the two kingdoms until his death in Denmark (25 October 1047), despite the military opposition from Sveinn Úlfsson, later king of Denmark. When Magnús’s uncle, Haraldr harðráði, returned from his sojourn in Byzantium in 1046, he and Magnús ruled Norway jointly for one year (1046-7). See Anon Nkt 33-5, Theodoricus (MHN 44-6, 48-51, 54-5; McDougall and McDougall 1998, 33-5, 37-9, 43-4), Ágr (ÍF 29, 32-7; Ágr 1995, 46-55), Mork (Mork 1928-32, 1-56, 89-148; Andersson and Gade 2000, 89-129, 151-87), Fsk (ÍF 29, 207-26, 239-49; Finlay 2004, 167-81, 192-200), Hkr (ÍF 28, 3-67, 94-107; Hollander 1991, 538-76, 592-600), Flat (Flat 1860-8, III, 251-88, 306-32), H-Hr (Fms 6, 3-124, 176-237). See also ÓH (ÍF 27, 414-15; Hollander 1991, 536-7), Knýtl (ÍF 35, 128-33; Hermann Pálsson and Edwards 1986, 44-7), Orkn (ÍF 34, 54-6, 63-5, 70-1, 75-8; Hermann Pálsson and Edwards 1987, 57-8, 63-4, 68, 71-4). Two lausavísur are attributed to Magnús (Mgóð Lv 1-2).

Events documented in poetry: Magnús’s return from Russia to Norway via Sweden in 1035, the exile of the then regent, Sveinn Knútsson (Álfífuson), and Magnús’s election as king of Norway (Sigv Lv 29-30I; BjHall Kálffl 6I; ÞjóðA Magnfl 1-3; Arn Hryn 4-8; Arn Magndr 1-4); Magnús’s high-handed treatment of the Norwegian farmers and the ensuing exile of his counsellor, Kálfr Árnason (BjHall Kálffl 7I; Þflekk Lv; Sigv Berv; Kolgr Ól); his journey to Denmark in 1042 to claim the Danish throne (ÞjóðA Magnfl 4; Arn Hryn 9-10; Arn Magndr 5-7); Sveinn Úlfsson’s oath of allegience (ÞjóðA Magnfl 5); Magnús’s battles against the Wends in Wollin, Rügen and Lyrskovshede in 1043 (ÞjóðA Magnfl 6-7; Arn Hryn 11-13; Arn Magndr 8-11; Þfagr Sveinn 1); his campaigns against Sveinn Úlfsson in Denmark in 1043-4 (Okík Magn 1; ÞjóðA Magnfl 8-19; ÞjóðA Magn 1-14; Arn Hryn 14-15; Arn Magndr 12-18); his campaign against his uncle, Haraldr harðráði, in 1045 (ÞjóðA Frag 1); his reconciliation with Haraldr in 1046 (ÞjóðA Sex 10; Bǫlv Hardr 7); his dealings with Haraldr (Mgóð Lv 1; Hharð Lv 3) and his love for an unnamed woman (Mgóð Lv 2); his death in Denmark in 1047 and his funeral voyage and burial (Okík Magn 2-3; ÞjóðA Lv 1; Anon (MH)). See also ÞjóðA Run 4.

Lausavísur — Mgóð LvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Magnús inn góði Óláfsson, Lausavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 5-7.

 1   2 

Skj: Magnús Óláfsson enn góði: Lausavísur (AI, 330, BI, 304)

SkP info: II, 5-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Mgóð Lv 1II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Magnús inn góði Óláfsson, Lausavísur 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 5-6.

Enn, þótt héti        Hvinngestr faðir minn,
gerði eigi sá        garð of hestreðr,
sem Sigurðr sýr;        sá vas þinn faðir!

Enn, þótt faðir minn héti Hvinngestr, gerði sá eigi garð of hestreðr sem Sigurðr sýr; sá vas þinn faðir!

Yet, even though my father was called Hvinngestr (‘Thief-guest’), he never put a fence around horse-phalli like Sigurðr sýr (‘Sow’); he was your father!

Mss: H(32v), Hr(23vb) (H-Hr); Mork(5r) (Mork, ll. 3-6); Flat(195va) (Flat, ll. 3-6)

Readings: [3] gerði eigi sá: so Mork, Flat, þá gerði hann aldri H, þá gerði hann þó aldri Hr    [5] sýr: so Mork, Flat, sýrr H, Hr

Editions: Skj: Magnús Óláfsson enn góði, Lausavísur 1: AI, 330, BI, 304, Skald I, 154; Fms 6, 194 (HSig ch. 23); Mork 1867, 28, Mork 1928-32, 110, Andersson and Gade 2000, 162, 474 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 318 (MH).

Context: The st. was composed by Magnús and recited by his half-brother, Þórir, in response to a taunting lv. by Haraldr harðráði (Hharð Lv 3).

Notes: [2] Hvinngestr ‘(“Thief-guest”)’: The identity of Þórir’s father is not known, but the nickname had derogatory connotations. Hvinn was a person guilty of petty theft (NGL I, 253), which was considered a shameful crime. The unsubstantiated allegation of petty theft carried the penalty of outlawry (NGL I, 273, 311, 331) or fines (NGL II, 70, V: hvinn). — [3]: The H, Hr variants are hypermetrical. Skj B and Skald emend to gerði hann aldri lit. ‘did he never’. — [4] hestreðr ‘horse-phalli’: This n. noun could be either acc. pl. or sg. — [4] garð of hestreðr ‘a fence around horse-phalli’: According to LP: garðr 6, this apparently meant ‘wrap the phallus of a horse so that it could not mate’. A more practical explanation is that it refers to the custom of separating the stallions from the mares by putting them in a separate, fenced-off pasture. Erik Noreen’s attempt to connect the phrase with a pagan phallus cult is not persuasive (Noreen 1922, 51). The l. may allude to Sigurðr sýr’s fondness for farm activities (see Flat 1860-8, II, 12; ÍF 27, 41), but the veiled insult is clearly of a sexual nature (making a fence, a ‘ring’ around horse-phalli), implying that Sigurðr sýr, in keeping with his feminised nickname, had been the passive partner in sexual intercourse with stallions (see SnH Lv 11; see also Hjǫrtr Lv 1-3). For legal punishments incurred by poetic insults, see Andersson and Gade 2000, 474. — [5] sem Sigurðr sýr ‘like Sigurðr sýr (“Sow”)’: The l. is unmetrical, and Magnús may have used the older form of the name Sigurðr (Sigvǫrðr), which would give a regular fornyrðislag l. — [5] sýr (f. nom. sg.) ‘(‘‘Sow’’)’: The noun is f., but when used as a male nickname it could occur as a m. (cf. sýrr m. nom. sg.; so H, Hr) (see LP: sýrr).

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