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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035
 

3.1. Sagas of the kings of Norway to c. 1035

 
1. Ágrip af Nóregs konunga sǫgum (Ágr) (DW)
2. Fagrskinna (Fsk) (DW)
3. Flateyjarbók (Flat) (DW)
4. The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT) (DW)
5. Hauksbók (Hb) (DW)
6. Heimskringla (Hkr) (DW)
7. Hulda and Hrokkinskinna (H-Hr) (DW)
8. Jómsvíkinga saga (Jvs)
9. The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr / Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg) (DW)
10. Morkinskinna (Mork) (KEG)
11. Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar by Oddr Snorrason (ÓTOdd) (DW)
12. The Oldest Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in elzta (ÓHÆ)
13. The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH) (DW)

(Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035 > 8. Volume Introduction > 3. Sources for skaldic poetry cited in the kings’ sagas: manuscripts, facsimiles and editions > 3.1. Sagas of the kings of Norway to c. 1035 > 8. Jómsvíkinga saga (Jvs))

8. Jómsvíkinga saga (Jvs)

Manuscripts: A group

291:     AM 291 4° (c. 1275-1300). The oldest ms. and considered the best.

Flat:      GKS 1005 fol (c. 1387-95). Abridged and interpolated version of Jvs within ÓT. See also separate entry for Flat.

7:         Holm perg 7 4° (c. 1300-25). Abridged and interpolated Jvs.

310:     AM 310 4° (c. 1250-75). Two sections of Jvs incorporated into ÓTOdd (1932, 47-53 and 109-12), with a text close to that of 291 but containing no poetry.

Manuscripts: B group

No mss survive, but a B-text is believed to be among the sources for Fsk, Hkr and the poem BjBp Jóms.

Manuscript: A and B versions combined

510:     AM 510 4° (c. 1550).

(Cf. also Arngrímur Jónsson’s Latin translation, 1592-3, in Jakob Benediktsson, ed., 1950-7, I, 87-140, IV, 117-40, 171-80.)

Editions: Fms 11, Jvs 1875 [ms. 7], Jvs 1879 [ms. 510], Jvs 1882 [ms. 291], Jvs 1962 [ms. 7], Jvs 1969 [ms. 291].

The saga, normally dated c. 1200, is an account of the Danish royal house, mainly in the tenth century. The second part foregrounds the Danes’ allies, the Jómsvíkingar, a warrior fraternity based at Jóm or Jómsborg on the Baltic island of Wolin. The climactic event is their fatal sea-battle c. 985 at Hjǫrungavágr (Liåvagen) against Hákon jarl Sigurðarson’s force (see Section 4.1 ‘Ruler biographies’ below). From the vows that instigate the action to the beheadings of the captured Jómsvíkingar, which they meet with unflinching defiance, the narrative is highly coloured and full of extravagant heroics. The turning-point of the battle is ascribed to Hákon jarl’s sacrifice of his son to the female deity Þorgerðr Hǫlgabrúðr, which is followed by a freak hailstorm, and the Jómsvíkingr Búi digri ‘the Stout’ is depicted leaping overboard and calling to his men to follow; he grasps a treasure-chest in his wrists, his hands having been hacked off. Some of these motifs enter into the historical poems ÞGísl Búdr and Bjbp Jóms, which may be contemporary with versions of the prose saga, and diverse accounts of the Jómsvíkingar are given in Fsk, Hkr, ÓTOdd, ÓT and Knýtlinga saga (Knýtl).

The genesis of the saga is elusive and the relationships between the five different redactions exceptionally complex (see Jakob Benediktsson 1962, 607-8; Ólafur Halldórsson, Jvs 1969, 7-12; Megaard 2000a). The scheme above represents a traditional consensus and is particularly indebted to Ólafur Halldórsson (1993, 343). Megaard (2000a) has proposed a more complex stemma with less clear differentiation between mss of the A and B groups.

Poetry

The redactions of the saga preserve very different complements of stanzas. Ms. 510 contains all eleven extant stanzas of Tindr Hákdr, together with ÞKolb Eirdr 2, 3, Eskál Lv 1a, 2a, 3, Þskúm Lv, Vígf Lv, Vagn Lv, Vígf Hák and Anon (Fsk). Ms. 7 contains only six of the lausavísur; 291 has seven, and alone preserves EValg Lv.

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