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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. Anonymous Lausavísur, 6. Lausavísur from Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa, 1attributed to a monster [Vol. 1, 1076]

[5-8]: This is a problematic helmingr, which Fms 12 declines to interpret, and the sole text in Flat appears to be corrupt. Ms. ‘ho᷎rdr’ in l. 7 presents particular difficulties. It would appear to be the m. pers. n. Hǫrðr (derived from Hǫrðar, people from Hordaland, ANG §159), but this cannot be construed. (a) Skj B emends to the god-name Hǫðr and proposes an elaborate syntax whereby an intercalary clause is split up into no fewer than four parts, spread across all four lines of the helmingr: Óðinn vill kjósa val vægi ‘Óðinn wishes to choose the slain with a sword’. The resultant main clause is also far from self-evident: Eiguð Hǫðr víga sem allir óljósan fǫður Baldrs illan ‘Hǫðr <god> of battles [WARRIOR], like everyone you make the dark father of Baldr [= Óðinn] angry’ (lit. ‘you have Óðinn bad/hostile’), though the thought may be that Óðinn is ill-willed towards warriors who fall in battle (cf. Eyv Hák 15/4 illúðigr mjǫk ‘very hostile’). Moreover, none of the other stanzas in Styrb shows anything like such elaborate syntax. (b) Kock (NN §529; Skald) also emends ‘ho᷎rdr’ to Hǫðr, but offers a much simpler reading. His proposal for l. 5 is tentatively adopted here; it involves assuming a verb *víga ‘to fight’ alongside the normal vega, on the basis of Gmc parallels. For ll. 6-8 he suggests Faðir Baldrs, Óðinn, Hǫðr sem allir, vill kjósa illan, óljósan val ‘The father of Baldr, Óðinn, Hǫðr and everyone, wish(es) to choose the wretched, foul slain’. The basic structure of Kock’s interpretation is tentatively adopted here (including his emendation of fǫður to faðir); but it is hard to understand how Hǫðr, let alone allir ‘all, everyone’, is involved in the choosing of the slain. Accordingly, emendation is here proposed to the adj. harðr ‘hard’, describing Óðinn; see LP: harðr 2 for the adj. applied to human subjects.


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