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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bersǫglisvísur — Sigv BervII

Sigvatr Þórðarson

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Bersǫglisvísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 11-30.

 

Sigvatr Þórðarson’s Bersǫglisvísur ‘Plain-speaking Vísur’ (Sigv Berv) is a unique political poem which Sigvatr, acting as the appointed spokesman for the Norw. farmers, recited before King Magnús Óláfsson of Norway around the year 1038 (see also Þflekk Lv, Kolgr Ól and BjHall Kálffl 7I; for Sigvatr’s biography, see SkP I). The poem was occasioned by Magnús’s heavy-handed treatment of the Norw. farmers who had participated in the overthrow of his father, Óláfr Haraldsson (S. Óláfr), in 1030. The poem got its name from the word bersǫgli ‘plain-speaking’ in st. 9. That name is transmitted as Bersǫglisvísur in Hkr (ÍF 28, 26), H-Hr (Fms 6, 38) and ÓH (ÓH 1941, I, 625) or as Bersǫglisflokkr (‘berfyglis flockur’) ‘Plain-speaking Flokkr’ in Flat (Flat 1860-8, III, 267).

The bulk of Berv is found in the redactions of Mgóð (H-Hr; Flat; Fsk; Hkr), ultimately derived from a no longer extant archetype (*Oldest Mork, ÆMork), and in the various redactions of the Separate Saga of S. Óláfr (ÓH). Mork has a lacuna at this point, and the text in Mork 1928-32 and in Andersson and Gade 200 has been supplied from Flat. Stanzas 1, 5-6, 9-14 are preserved in MgóðHkr (mss , 39, E, J2ˣ) and ÓH (mss Holm2, 972ˣ, 325VI, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, Holm4 (st. 1/1-3), 325VII, 325V, 61, Tóm, Bb), sts 2-14 in H-Hr, sts 2-17 in Flat and sts 7-17 also in AM 325 XI 3 4° (325XI 3), a sister ms. to Flat. Stanzas 9/5-8 and 10/1-4 are transmitted in FskBˣ and FskAˣ (Fsk), sts 11 and 13 in FskBˣ and st. 12 in FskAˣ. Stanza 12 is also recorded in Ágr (Ágr), and st. 12/1-4 in mss W and A of TGT. Stanza 15/7-8 is found in AM 310 4° (310) of ÓTOdd and st. 18 is preserved only in mss R, , A, B and C of SnE (Skm). Stanza 15 is also recorded in ms. F of MgóðHkr. The present numbering of the sts corresponds to that of Flat and H, Hr, with the following exceptions: st. 1 in Hkr (Skj st. 9) is given here as st. 1, and Skj st. 15, which is recorded in SnE only, is given as st. 18. The table below shows the order of sts in the various redactions of the kings’ sagas, the order of sts in Skj and Skald, and the sequence in which the sts are given in the present edn. The rationale for the order of sts in SkP II is explained in the Notes to the individual sts.

SkP Flat/
Mork
H-Hr Fsk Hkr/
ÓH
Skj/
Skald
1 Fregnk, at suðr með Sygnum - - - 1 9
2 Vask með gram, þeims gumnum 1 1 - - 1
3 Fylgðak þeim, es fylgju, 2 2 - - 2
4 Gekk við móð inn mikla, 3 3 - - 3
5 Hét, sás fell á Fitjum, 4 4 - 2 4
6 Rétt hykk kjósa knttu 5 5 - 3 5
7 Ungr, vask með þér, þengill, 6 6 - - 6
8 Fǫður Magnúss létk fregna 7 7 - - 7
9 Skulut ráðgjafar reiðask 8 8
1/5-8 4 8
10 Gjalt varhuga, veltir, 9 9 2/1-4 7 10
11 Hverr eggjar þik hǫggva, 10 10 3 6 11
12 Hætts, þats allir ætla, 11 11 5 8 12
13 Hverr eggjar þik, harri 12 12 4 5 10
14 Eitt es mál, þats mæla: 13 13 - 9 14
15 Syni láfs biðk snúðar 14 - - - 18
16 láfr lét mik jǫfra 15 - - - 16
17 Sighvats es hugr hizig 16 - - - 17
18 Lát auman nú njóta, - - - - 15

It is unclear whether all of the sts now included in Berv originally belonged to that poem (see Louis-Jensen 1977, 83-4; Andersson and Gade 2000, 28-30). In AM 761 b 4°ˣ (761bˣ), Árni Magnússon prefaces sts 15-17 as follows (326r): þetta fylgir Bersǫglis vísum í Flateyiarboc ‘this comes after Bersǫglisvísur in Flateyjarbók’, which shows that he may also have doubted that these sts were included in that poem. For the order of the sts in Berv, see also Vestlund 1929 and Jón Skaptason 1983.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Ágr = [Anonymous] Ágrip af Nóregs konunga sögum.
  5. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  6. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  8. Louis-Jensen, Jonna. 1977. Kongesagastudier: Kompilationen Hulda-Hrokkinskinna. BA 32. Copenhagen: Reitzel.
  9. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. Jón Skaptason. 1983. ‘Material for an Edition and Translation of the Poems of Sigvat Þórðarson, skáld’. Ph.D. thesis. State University of New York at Stony Brook. DAI 44: 3681A.
  12. Vestlund, Alfred. 1929. ‘Om strofernas ursprungliga ordning i Sigvat Tordarson “Bersöglisvísur”’. In Studier tillägnade A. Kock, 1928. ANF 46, 281-93.
  13. SkP = Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols.
  14. SkP I = Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Ed. Diana Whaley. 2012.
  15. SkP II = Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Ed. Kari Ellen Gade. 2009.
  16. Internal references
  17. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  18. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  19. Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘The Third Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  20. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ 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, pp. clxi-clxii.
  21. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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, pp. clxxvi-clxxix.
  22. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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, pp. clix-clxi.
  23. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar by Oddr Snorrason (ÓTOdd)’ 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, pp. clxxiv-clxxv.
  24. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Hulda and Hrokkinskinna (H-Hr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  25. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Morkinskinna (Mork)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  26. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)
  27. Judith Jesch 2017, ‘(Biography of) Sigvatr Þórðarson’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 347.
  28. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Kolgrímr litli, Poem about Óláfr helgi’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 8.
  29. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þorgeirr flekkr, Lausavísa’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 9-10.
  30. Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson, Kálfsflokkr 7’ 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. 887.
  31. Not published: do not cite ()
  32. Not published: do not cite ()
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