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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anonymous Lausavísur (Anon)

I. 8. Lausavísur from Vǫlsa þáttr (Vǫlsa) - 14

not in Skj

2.2: Lausavísur from Vǫlsa þáttr — Anon (Vǫlsa)I

Wilhelm Heizmann 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Lausavísur from Vǫlsa þáttr’ 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. 1089.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13 

for reference only:  14 

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: D. 4. Vers af Vǫlsaþáttr (AII, 219-21, BII, 237-9)

SkP info: I, 1095

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Anon (Vǫlsa) 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Wilhelm Heizmann (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Vǫlsa þáttr 4’ 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. 1095.

Aukinn ertu, Vǫlsi,         ok upp um tekinn
líni gæddr         en laukum studdr.
Þiggi Maurnir         þetta blæti!
En þú, bóndi sjálfr,         ber þú at þér Vǫlsa!

Aukinn ertu, Vǫlsi, ok upp um tekinn, gæddr líni en studdr laukum. Þiggi Maurnir þetta blæti! En þú, bóndi sjálfr, ber þú at þér Vǫlsa!

You are enlarged, Vǫlsi, and lifted up, provided with linen and supported by leeks. May Maurnir receive this offering! But you, the farmer himself, you take Vǫlsi to yourself!

Mss: Flat(122ra) (Flat); 292ˣ(55r) (Vǫlsa)

Readings: [5] Maurnir: ‘Mo᷎rner’ 292ˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], D. 4. Vers af Vǫlsaþáttr 4: AII, 219, BII, 237, Skald II, 123Flat 1860-8, II, 333 (Vǫlsa); Guðbrandur Vigfússon 1860, 135-6, CPB II, 382, Edd. Min. 124, Schröder 1933, 81.

Context: A meal is served, then the housewife enters the room without greeting the guests and carries Vǫlsi to the farmer’s high-seat. She takes the linen cloth off Vǫlsi, puts it on the farmer’s knee, and recites the first stanza of the main sequence.

Notes: [1] aukinn ‘enlarged’: It is not obvious from the stanza what causes the enlargement. Probably it is in connection with the leeks to which magical powers are attributed (for the use of auka in context involving magic, cf. Guðr II 21/5, Hyndl 38/1, as well as 35/3 and 43/3, NK 227, 294-5). According to the prose text the strong swelling of the phallus is brought about by the power of the Devil (Flat 1860-8, II, 332; 292ˣ(54v)). — [2] upp um tekinn ‘lifted up’: If this half-line is considered only by itself, it is not clear where or what Vǫlsi is taken out of. However, nothing speaks against the assumption that it refers to the chest or box (kista) that is mentioned in the prose following st. 2. — [3] gæddr líni ‘provided with linen’: Gæddr has been interpreted as parallel with the following studdr ‘supported’ in the sense that the phallus acquires a certain strength also through the linen, especially by being wrapped in it (Eitrem 1924, 85; Lehmann 1955, 166; Düwel 1971, 151; cf. F. Ström 1954, 23; F. Ström 1967, 88; Näsström 2002, 148). However, this does not agree with the prose text, which says that Vǫlsi is uncovered by the housewife. It is also clear from st. 11 that Vǫlsi is to be imagined as an aroused naked penis with the foreskin pulled back. Therefore the expression is to be understood rather in the sense of ‘provided, adorned with linen’, where the lín in the stanza corresponds to líndúkr ‘linen cloth’ in the prose text (cf. Heusler 1903, 25; Olsen and Schetelig 1909, 21; Skj B; Olsen 1917, IIb, 653; Johansson 1917, 120; Genzmer 2006, 218; Schröder 1924, 40, n. 1; Olrik and Ellekilde 1926-51, I, 167; Å. Ström and Biezias 1975, 146; Steinsland and Vogt 1981, 94). As for the role of linen in cults, cf. Heizmann (1992, 386-7). — [4] studdr laukum ‘supported by leeks’: Real physical support cannot be meant here, since all species of allium are in themselves subject to decomposition (though see below on the preservative effects of leeks). Rather it seems more probable that leeks had been ascribed a supporting effect. This could be understood in two ways that do not necessarily exclude one another. Since Vǫlsi is a horse penis brought to erection, it might refer to the often attested use of different species of allium as aphrodisiacs (cf. Olsen 1917, IIb, 660-3; Heizmann 1992, 375, 384-5). On the other hand, according to the prose text, the severed horse penis is prepared with leeks and other herbs so that it would not decompose (suo at þar firir mætti hann æigi rottna, Flat 1860-8, II, 332), which procedure is described several times in Old Norse literature (cf. Heizmann 1992, 381-2). The assumption that the reference is to the leek’s property of hindering decomposition (ibid., 380-1) would also be favoured by ms. 292ˣ, where it says so ad þar firir matti ei remma. If we take ei for æ in the sense of ‘ever’ (‘so that he/it could thus always be strengthened’, with remma ‘to make fast, strengthen’), this offers a statement about the purpose of leeks which is consonant with the stanza. — [5] þiggi Maurnir ‘may Maurnir receive’: The reading of Flat is ‘maurnir’ here and in st. 5/3, then the word is abbreviated in sts 6-12; in 292ˣ it is ‘Mo᷎rnir’ here and in st. 5/3 but otherwise always ‘Maurnir’. It is usually normalised as mǫrnir or mørnir; however, in Vǫlsa in Flat <au> always stands for the diphthong normalised as <au>, while <ǫ> is written as <o> or <o᷎>. The meaning is disputed. There are two views represented among scholars (cf. Heusler 1903, 35-7): (a) The pl. of mǫrn f. ‘ogress, giantess’. In this context Mǫrnir are understood either as female deities (Skaði or Freyja with her followers, dísir, norns, mahrengleiche Wesen ‘mare-like beings’, i.e. evil female spirits, cf. ‘nightmare’; Unwerth 1910, 176-82; Olrik and Ellekilde 1926-51, I, 167-8; Grönbech 2002, II, 330; F. Ström 1954, 23-31) or else as giantesses (LP (1860): mörn; LP: 2. mǫrn; Steinsland and Vogt 1981, 94-9; Steinsland 1997, 89) with whom a phallic fertility god unites in a sacred marriage (hieros gamos; F. Ström 1954, 28; Steinsland and Vogt 1981, 99-100; Steinsland 1997, 89). (b) Mǫrnir (mss ‘maurnir’, ‘mavrnir’) m. sg. ‘sword’, used here in the sense of ‘phallus’ (for the semantic change from ‘sword’ to ‘phallus’, cf. Grett Lv 32, 33V (Gr 64, 65); SnE 1848-87, I, 543 n. 21; Almqvist 1965-74, I, 167-8), or simply ‘phallus’, which has been interpreted mostly as a reference to the god Freyr, depicted, according to Adam of Bremen, with a colossal reproductive organ (Johansson 1917, 120-1; Olsen 1917, IIb, 655-9; Turville-Petre 1964, 257-8; Almqvist 1965-74, I, 175; Å. Ström and Biezais 1975, 147; Davidson 1993, 105; Näsström 2002, 153; cf. following Note). The verb þiggi ‘may ... receive’ does not help arbitrate between (a) and (b) because it could be either sg. or pl. As for the relationship between the two phallic deities of Vǫlsa, Völsi and Maurnir, it is mostly their dissimilarity, rarely also their identity, that has been subject to scholarly consideration (Johansson 1917, 121 n. 1; Turville-Petre 1964, 258; Almqvist 1965-74, I, 176; F. Ström 1967, 89; Å. Ström and Biezais 1975, 147; Näsström 2002, 153). — [6] blæti ‘offering’: Related to blót n. ‘worship, sacrifice’, which suggests a sacrificial offering. Three textual instances in sts 5/3, 13/4 and 13/8 provide unambiguous evidence that this word refers to Vǫlsi. It is presented as a ‘sacrificial offering’ to female deities or giantesses or to a male deity. According to the prose text, it is Vǫlsi itself that is venerated and considered a deity. The idea that the god Vǫlsi is offered to a god called Maurnir was inconceivable for Heusler (1903, 31-2), and therefore he saw it as an argument for separating þiggi Maurnir þetta blæti ‘may Maurnir receive this offering’ from the rest of the text as an ancient heathen ritual formula. While for Heusler (1903, 35) Vǫlsi was originally not the object but rather the means of veneration, others have presupposed the identity of Vǫlsi and Maurnir (see above) and referred to a sjálfr sjálfum ‘self to oneself’ sacrifice in this context (cf. Óðinn’s sacrifice in Hávm 138/6). Occasionally blæti has been interpreted as ‘worship’ (Düwel 1971, 196-7). However, this conflicts with sts 5/3-4 and 13/3-4, 7-8.

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