Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla — Anon (ÓTHkr)I

Anonymous Lausavísur

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Lausavísa from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in Heimskringla’ 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. 1073.


This barbed and textually difficult stanza (Anon (ÓTHkr)) refers to the Danish king Haraldr Gormsson (d. c. 988) and his steward Birgir (see Context), and directs a typical níð accusation of homosexuality at its targets by portraying Birgir as the mare to Haraldr’s stallion in two pointedly matched phrases (í ham faxa ‘in the form of a stallion’, l. 4; í líki jǫldu ‘in the shape of a mare’, ll. 7, 8). It is cited in Hkr with the words, Þetta er í níðinu ‘This is part of the níð’, and the claim there that all Icelanders were required to contribute stanzas to a collective níð would make this the sole survivor of an implausibly large number of stanzas. Even if only chieftains were meant, as suggested by Almqvist (1965-74, I, 164-5, 232), it was an impressive collection, a poll-tax of invective. Two features of the stanza may be noted: l. 3 lacks hending unless the form var, current from the late twelfth-century onwards, is used, and the subordinate clause precedes the main clause in ll. 1-4 (abnormally: see Kuhn 1983, 190). These could throw doubt on the authenticity of the stanza, or else point to informal composition or imperfect preservation. The stanza is preserved in the Hkr version of ÓT ( as main ms., F, J1ˣ) and in ms. 291 of Jvs. The main readings in 761bˣ confirm those of , being taken from K, and its marginalia are from F; they are therefore not entered below. The stanza and the prose narrative surrounding it are fully discussed in Almqvist (1965-74, I, 119-85, 221-35).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1983. Das Dróttkvætt. Heidelberg: Winter.
  3. Almqvist, Bo. 1965-74. Norrön niddiktning: Traditionshistoriska studier i versmagi. I: Nid mot furstar. II: Nid mot missionärer: Senmedeltid nidtraditioner. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
  4. Internal references
  5. 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].
  6. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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. clxiii-clxvi.

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