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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

3.3. Other sources

1. Snorra Edda (SnE)
2. Laufás-Edda (LaufE)
3. The First, Third and Fourth Grammatical Treatises (FGT, TGT, FoGT)
4. Árni Magnússon’s anthology, AM 761 a-b 4°ˣ
5. Other sagas and þættir

(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 > 3.3. Other sources > 4. Árni Magnússon’s anthology, AM 761 a-b 4°ˣ)

4. Árni Magnússon’s anthology, AM 761 a-b 4°ˣ


761aˣ, 761bˣ:      AM 761 a-b 4°ˣ (c. 1687-89, mostly by Árni Magnússon).

Despite its less than complete preservation, this is a very large anthology of skaldic poetry, totalling 662 leaves transcribed mainly by Árni Magnússon c. 1687-89, with parts also by Ásgeir Jónsson and another unidentified scribe.

The greatest number of stanzas is from the texts of ÓT and ÓH in 61 and from the kings’ sagas covering the period 1035-1177 in ms. H of H-Hr, but also used are Flat, FskAˣ, Mork, , and more occasionally F and Tóm, as well as a codex known as Membrana regia deperdita (Loth 1960a), mss of sagas of Icelanders and Orkn; there is also material from SnE and the Grammatical Treatises. Árni Magnússon does not indicate his sources, but these are provisionally listed by Kjartan G. Ottósson (2006, 751-5), though he emphasises that they are based on a comparison with the variants in Skj A, which does not necessarily cover all the potential sources; that some exemplars are now lost; and that Árni may have used multiple exemplars (as Ásgeir is known to have done; Loth 1960a, xv) or have improved texts, for instance for metrical reasons (Kjartan G. Ottósson 2006, 755). Similar cautions apply to the marginal variants given alongside many of the verse texts. For editing purposes, therefore, the chief value of the anthology is more as a very early edition of skaldic poetry than as a ms. witness, but it is occasionally useful where its main text or marginal variants are drawn from mss that are no longer extant, or are extant but damaged or difficult to read.

In addition, 761aˣ contains one of the two extant texts of Skáldatal, copied by Árni Magnússon from Kringla. The U ms. of SnE has the other one; they are printed in SnE 1848-87, III, 205-286 (introduction, 761aˣ text, U text, and combined text); see also LH 1894-1901, II, 789; Guðrún Nordal (1997, 205-12).


The anthology contains a large number of stanzas and poems covering the years to 1035 and edited in this volume. Although, as noted above, few of these have independent value, being copied from extant mss, there are cases of textually valuable copies, such as that of Þjóð Yt from the lost K (Jørgensen 2000, 232). On the use of 761bˣ in SkP II, see SkP II, lxxix.

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