Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)
11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;
1. Víkingarvísur (Víkv) - 15
2. Nesjavísur (Nesv) - 15
3. Austrfararvísur (Austv) - 21
4. Óláfsdrápa (Óldr) - 1
5. Vestrfararvísur (Vestv) - 8
6. Poem about Erlingr Skjálgsson (Erl) - 1
7. Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson (Erlfl) - 10
8. Tryggvaflokkr (Tryggfl) - 1
9. Poem about Queen Ástríðr (Ást) - 3
10. Knútsdrápa (Knútdr) - 11
11. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga (ErfÓl) - 28
12. Lausavísur (Lv) - 30
II. Bersǫglisvísur (Berv) - 18
III. Fragments (Frag) - 2
Skj info: Sigvatr Þórðarson, Islandsk skjald, o. 995-o. 1045 (AI, 223-75, BI, 213-54).
4. En drape om kong Olaf
6. Et kvad om Erlingr Skjalgsson
7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson
9. Et digt om dronning Astrid
12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga
14. Et par halvvers af ubestemmelige digte
Sigvatr or Sighvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) is said (ÍF 27, 54) to have been the son of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, an Icelander who served, in succession, Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, who campaigned in England, and Óláfr Haraldsson, later king of Norway (r. c. 1015-30) and saint. Þórðr is listed as one of Sigvaldi’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 259, 268), but none of his poetry survives. The family tradition of poetry can also be traced in Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’, said to have been Sigvatr’s sister’s son (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203). Sigvatr was brought up by a certain Þorkell, at Apavatn in south-west Iceland. When nearly fully grown he sailed to what is now Trondheim, where he met up with his father and joined King Óláfr’s retinue. According to Snorri (ÍF 27, 54-6; ÓH 1941, I, 81-3), Sigvatr recited Lv 2-3 at this time, and he interceded with the king on behalf of Icelandic merchants forced to pay a heavy tax in Norway (cf. Sigv Lv 4). It is also likely that this is when Þórðr provided Sigvatr with the material for Víkv (see Introduction to Sigv Víkv), which may be the poem referred to in the prose introduction to Sigv Lv 2 (Fidjestøl 1982, 118). There is no evidence that Sigvatr ever returned to Iceland, and according to the anecdote in which Sigv Lv 11 is preserved, he died on the island of Selja in north-western Norway and was buried at Kristskirkja (Kristkirken) in Trondheim. His poetry records his various journeys to Sweden, England and the Continent, as well as incidents in Norway. We know nothing of Sigvatr’s private life, except that he had a daughter called Tófa, who had King Óláfr himself as her godfather (Sigv Lv 19).
Sigvatr’s surviving poetic oeuvre is both large and remarkably diverse, encompassing different kinds of encomia not only on King Óláfr (Sigv Víkv, Sigv Nesv, Sigv Óldr, Sigv ErfÓl), but also on King Knútr of Denmark (Sigv Knútdr) and the Norwegian nobleman Erlingr Skjálgsson (Sigv Erl, Sigv Erlfl). Sigvatr was godfather to King Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and composed some avuncular words of advice to the boy-king (Sigv BervII). All of these patrons are recognised in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252-4, 258, 260-2, 269), where Sigvatr is also credited with having composed for the Swedish king Ǫnundr Óláfsson (although no such poetry survives, cf. Sigv Knútdr 4/6) and the Norwegian chieftain Ívarr inn hvíti ‘the White’ (cf. Context to Sigv Lv 8). Sigvatr also composed a poem on the Norwegian pretender Tryggvi Óláfsson (Sigv Tryggfl) and is unique in having composed in dróttkvætt in praise of a woman, Óláfr Haraldsson’s widow Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir (Sigv Ást). Several of Sigvatr’s poems are more or less loosely connected sequences of stanzas rather than more formal compositions, and encompass both travelogue (Sigv Austv) and political commentary (Sigv Vestv, Sigv BervII). The latter genre is also well represented in his lausavísur, which also include some remarkably personal stanzas expressing his grief at the death of King Óláfr (Sigv Lv 22-4). Sigvatr’s status as a hǫfuðskáld ‘chief skald’ was recognised in the twelfth century (cf. Esk Geisl 12/8VII). His versatility as a poet has clearly inspired a number of anecdotes focusing on the composition of poetry, mostly of doubtful authenticity (cf. Contexts to Sigv Lv 1, 8, 11, 27; also Introduction to Ótt Hfl). Apart from two fragments preserved in SnE (Sigv Frag 1-2III), Sigvatr’s poetry is transmitted in a wide range of texts within the tradition of the kings’ sagas and is therefore edited in this volume or (in the case of the late Sigv Berv) in SkP II. For general studies of Sigvatr’s life and works, see Paasche (1917), Hollander (1940) and Petersen (1946).
R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 698.
Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 13. Lausavísur (AI, 265-75, BI, 246-54); stanzas (if different): 5 |
SkP info: I, 714
12 — Sigv Lv 12I
Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 12’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 714.
|Hafa allframir jǫfrar
út sín hǫfuð Knúti
fœrð ór Fífi norðan
— friðkaup vas þat — miðju.
|Seldi Ôleifr aldri |
(opt vá sigr) inn digri
haus í heimi (þvísa
hann) engum svá manni.
Allframir jǫfrar hafa fœrð Knúti hǫfuð sín út norðan ór miðju Fífi; þat vas friðkaup. Ôleifr inn digri seldi aldri haus svá engum manni í heimi; hann vá opt sigr þvísa.
The most outstanding lords have presented their heads to Knútr from the north out of mid Fife; it was the price of peace. Óláfr the Stout never surrendered his skull thus to anyone in the world; he has often won victory for that reason.
Mss: Holm2(41v), 325V(44va), 972ˣ(297va), J2ˣ(183r), 325VI(30ra), 75a(31ra), 73aˣ(134v-135r), 68(40r), 61(104vb-105ra), Holm4(34vb), 325VII(23v), Bb(171va), Flat(111vb), Tóm(129v), 325XI 2 g(2vb) (ÓH); Kˣ(370r) (Hkr)
Readings:  ‑framir: framar 73aˣ, ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 g; jǫfrar: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 g  út: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 g; sín: sinn Flat, ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 g; hǫfuð: hǫfðuð Bb; Knúti: ‘hnuti’ Tóm  fœrð: so 325V, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 68, 61, Holm4, Bb, Flat, Tóm, 325XI 2 g, ferð Holm2, 68, 61, ‘førð’ 325VII, forð Kˣ; Fífi: finni Tóm, ‘f[…]i’ 325XI 2 g  ‑kaup: so all others, kapp corrected from kaup Holm2; vas (‘var’): er 75a, Bb; miðju: miðja 325VI, miðjum 325VII, Bb, Flat  Seldi: felldi 75a, selds 68, seldir 61  vá: vann 325V; digri: ‘di[…]ri’ 325XI 2 g  haus í: hausi 73aˣ, 61, hans í Bb, Flat, haus ór Tóm; heimi: hilmir 61  hann: ‘hán’ 325V; svá: om. Tóm
Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 13. Lausavísur 15: AI, 269-70, BI, 249-50, Skald I, 129, NN §1874; Fms 4, 293, Fms 12, 88, ÓH 1853, 132, 280, ÓH 1941, I, 343 (ch. 120), Flat 1860-8, II, 254; Hkr 1777-1826, II, 215, VI, 91, Hkr 1868, 378 (ÓHHkr ch. 140), Hkr 1893-1901, II, 287, IV, 140, ÍF 27, 225, Hkr 1991, I, 413 (ÓHHkr ch. 131); Konráð Gíslason 1892, 38, 180, Jón Skaptason 1983, 197, 321-2.
Context: Ambassadors from Denmark
convey the message that King Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great) demands King Óláfr’s
submission and control of all of Norway, and Óláfr refuses, pledging to resist
to the last. Sigvatr asks the departing ambassadors the outcome of their
audience, and they say that Óláfr has foolishly rejected Knútr’s demand. It
would be wise for Óláfr to submit, because Knútr is gracious and forgiving, and
he will accept the fealty of those who have resisted him, as he did recently
when he agreed to let two kings from Fife in Scotland hold their land in fief.
Sigvatr responds with this stanza.
Notes:  Fífi ‘Fife’: ON Fíf also occurs as a heiti for ‘land’: see Þul Jarðar 1/5III and Note. —  þvísa ‘for that reason’: (a) Neuter dat. sg. of the demonstrative pron. þessi ‘this’, here taken adverbially in the intercalary clause. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) would place the word in the principal clause, where, if it is not meaningless, it would oddly imply that Óláfr has surrendered his head for another reason. Jón Skaptason (1983, 197) chooses the same arrangement, translating ‘so’. (c) Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 68-9, followed by Gering 1912, 146, Kock, NN §1874, ÍF 27, and Hkr 1991) proposes that it functions adjectivally, modifying heimi ‘world’ in l. 7. The problem is that heimi is m., while þvísa is n., and so he argues that there was in early times a n. form that survives only in gen. compounds like heimisgarðr ‘homestead’. But heimis- is not attested in the sense ‘world’s’ (as observed by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, ÍF 27), and so it seems safer to align þvísa with the intercalary clause than to assume an otherwise unattested form.