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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Hfl 13I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 13’ 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. 757.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn
121314

ok ‘and’

3. ok (conj.): and, but; also

[1] ok: í Bb

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láð ‘Land’

2. láð (noun n.): earth, land < láðvǫrðr (noun m.)

[2] láð‑: land 78aˣ

kennings

Láðvǫrðr,
‘Land-guardian, ’
   = KING

Land-guardian, → KING
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vǫrðr ‘guardian’

vǫrðr (noun m.; °varðar, dat. verði/vǫrð; verðir, acc. vǫrðu): guardian, defender < láðvǫrðr (noun m.)

[2] ‑vǫrðr: ‑varðr 78aˣ, 68, 325VII, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, vǫrðs Bb, vǫrð 20dˣ

kennings

Láðvǫrðr,
‘Land-guardian, ’
   = KING

Land-guardian, → KING
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Aðal ‘Æthel’

aðal (noun n.): inherited land; Æthel- < Aðalráðr (noun m.): [Æthelred]

notes

[2] Aðalráði ‘Æthelred’: Skj B takes this dat. sg. noun as direct object of lendir ‘you gave [him] land’, whereas the present edn, following ÍF 27 (also ÍF 29 and ÍF 35), takes it as a dat. object of komt (in the usage koma e-m ‘to bring sby’), with an implicit hann ‘him’, understood from Aðalráði, as the object of lendir ‘gave land to’. The latter seems preferable, as lenda when transitive seems to take an acc. object (CVC: lenda III; Fritzner: lenda 1, though they only have a single citation between them).

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ráði ‘red’

-ráðr (adj.): -ful < Aðalráðr (noun m.): [Æthelred]

notes

[2] Aðalráði ‘Æthelred’: Skj B takes this dat. sg. noun as direct object of lendir ‘you gave [him] land’, whereas the present edn, following ÍF 27 (also ÍF 29 and ÍF 35), takes it as a dat. object of komt (in the usage koma e-m ‘to bring sby’), with an implicit hann ‘him’, understood from Aðalráði, as the object of lendir ‘gave land to’. The latter seems preferable, as lenda when transitive seems to take an acc. object (CVC: lenda III; Fritzner: lenda 1, though they only have a single citation between them).

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þín ‘you’

þinn (pron.; °f. þín, n. þitt): your

[3] þín: þíns 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, FskAˣ, því FskBˣ

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rekka ‘of warriors’

rekkr (noun m.; °; -ar): man, champion

kennings

rúni rekka
‘the counsellor of warriors ’
   = KING = Æthelred

the counsellor of warriors → KING = Æthelred
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rúni ‘the counsellor’

rúni (noun m.; °; -ar): confidant

[3] rúni: reyn 325VI, reynir 325VI, 78aˣ, 68, 61, reyni corrected from ‘ryne’ 325VII

kennings

rúni rekka
‘the counsellor of warriors ’
   = KING = Æthelred

the counsellor of warriors → KING = Æthelred
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ríki ‘kingdom’

ríki (noun n.; °-s; -): kingdom, power

[4] ríki: ríkis 325VI, 78aˣ, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, FskAˣ

notes

[4] efldr ríki ‘strengthened with a kingdom’: The phrase is taken here with rúni rekka ‘counsellor of warriors’ (l. 3) as referring to Æthelred. Skj B (followed by Skald) takes it as describing Óláfr, the addressee of komt ‘you brought’ (l. 1), and thus regards the main clause as extending across the entire helmingr, with rúni rekka naut þín at slíku ‘the counsellor of warriors had help from you in this’ as an intercalary clause. Ríki could here have either an abstract sense ‘power’ (so Skj B; ÍF 27 followed by ÍF 35) or a concrete one ‘kingdom’, and the latter is adopted here, as it emphasises Óttarr’s claim that Óláfr restored Æthelred to his land (l. 1). Fsk reads rather ríki framr ‘outstanding in power’.

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efldr ‘strengthened’

efla (verb; °-fld-/-að-(RómvUpph¹ 382²⁴)): strengthen

[4] efldr: ‘elfdr’ J1ˣ, Bb, mest 325VI, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, framr FskBˣ, FskAˣ

notes

[4] efldr ríki ‘strengthened with a kingdom’: The phrase is taken here with rúni rekka ‘counsellor of warriors’ (l. 3) as referring to Æthelred. Skj B (followed by Skald) takes it as describing Óláfr, the addressee of komt ‘you brought’ (l. 1), and thus regards the main clause as extending across the entire helmingr, with rúni rekka naut þín at slíku ‘the counsellor of warriors had help from you in this’ as an intercalary clause. Ríki could here have either an abstract sense ‘power’ (so Skj B; ÍF 27 followed by ÍF 35) or a concrete one ‘kingdom’, and the latter is adopted here, as it emphasises Óttarr’s claim that Óláfr restored Æthelred to his land (l. 1). Fsk reads rather ríki framr ‘outstanding in power’.

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slíku ‘in this’

2. slíkr (adj.): such

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vas ‘was’

2. vera (verb): be, is, was, were, are, am

[5] vas fundr sás (‘var fundr sa er’): ‘[…]’ 325VI;    vas (‘var’): varð 325V, Bb, Tóm, FskBˣ

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fundr ‘The fighting’

fundr (noun m.): discovery, meeting

[5] vas fundr sás (‘var fundr sa er’): ‘[…]’ 325VI

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sás ‘by which you’

sás (conj.): the one who

[5] vas fundr sás (‘var fundr sa er’): ‘[…]’ 325VI;    sás (‘sa er’): þá er Flat, Tóm, þar er FskAˣ

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fœrðuð ‘brought’

2. fœra (verb): bring

[5] fœrðuð: fœrðusk 78aˣ, fóruð 325V, ‘værðið’ FskBˣ

notes

[5] fœrðuð ‘you brought’: Kock is unhappy with this form, as he claims á vit ‘into’ can only follow an intransitive verb, and here niðja Játmundar ‘the kinsman of Eadmund [= Æthelred]’ is the direct object of fœrðuð; but his solutions (NN §172, superseded by NN §2486 and Skald) depend on minority readings and have not been followed by subsequent eds.

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frið ‘of peace’

friðr (noun m.): peace < friðland (noun n.): [secured land]

notes

[6] friðlands ‘a land of peace’: There is clearly some paradoxical play at work in ll. 5-6: how can entry into a friðland involve fundr ‘fighting’ that is harðr ‘hard’? ÍF 27 attempts to reconcile the paradox by translating friðland as ‘a pacified land’ (followed by ÍF 29 and ÍF 35), while Poole translates as ‘the country friendly to him [i.e. Æthelred]’ (1980, 274). Poole’s interpretation seems more apposite. As the ASC makes clear, following Sveinn’s death Æthelred com … ham to his agenre þeode, 7 he glædlice fram him eallum onfange<n> wæs ‘came home to his own people and was gladly received by them all’ (Cubbin 1996, 59). On the term friðland see further Fell (1982-3, 95-7), who argues it has a positive legal sense based on interpersonal or diplomatic relations rather than simply the absence of warfare.

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lands ‘a land’

land (noun n.; °-s; *-): land < friðland (noun n.): [secured land]

[6] ‑lands: land Holm2, 325VII, landi J1ˣ, J2ˣ, lǫnd 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, land or lǫnd 68, 61, 75c, Flat, Tóm

notes

[6] friðlands ‘a land of peace’: There is clearly some paradoxical play at work in ll. 5-6: how can entry into a friðland involve fundr ‘fighting’ that is harðr ‘hard’? ÍF 27 attempts to reconcile the paradox by translating friðland as ‘a pacified land’ (followed by ÍF 29 and ÍF 35), while Poole translates as ‘the country friendly to him [i.e. Æthelred]’ (1980, 274). Poole’s interpretation seems more apposite. As the ASC makes clear, following Sveinn’s death Æthelred com … ham to his agenre þeode, 7 he glædlice fram him eallum onfange<n> wæs ‘came home to his own people and was gladly received by them all’ (Cubbin 1996, 59). On the term friðland see further Fell (1982-3, 95-7), who argues it has a positive legal sense based on interpersonal or diplomatic relations rather than simply the absence of warfare.

Close

á ‘ into’

3. á (prep.): on, at

[6] á: í Holm2, om. J1ˣ, J2ˣ

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vit ‘’

1. vit (noun n.; °-s; -): wisdom, wit; visit

[6] vit: við J1ˣ, J2ˣ

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niðja ‘the kinsman’

1. niðr (noun m.; °-s; niðjar/niðir, acc. niði): son, kinsman, relative

[6] niðja: niðjar 325V, miðja Bb, niðra FskBˣ, 20dˣ

kennings

niðja Játmundar
‘the kinsman of Eadmund ’
   = Æthelred

the kinsman of Eadmund → Æthelred

notes

[6] niðja ‘the kinsman’: Either acc. sg., from a variant form niði, or acc. pl., with pl. possibly standing for sg. (CVC: niðr; Finnur Jónsson 1901, 31-2). — [6, 8] niðja Játmundar ‘the kinsman of Eadmund’: The Eadmund referred to here could be one of three: Æthelred’s son Eadmund Ironside (king of Wessex 1016), Æthelred’s grandfather Eadmund (king of England 939-46), or Eadmund, king of East Anglia (martyred by vikings in 869). Óttarr uses a similar phrase, ættniðr Játmundar ‘descendant of Eadmund’, in Knútdr 7/5-6, where the person so designated is Eadmund Ironside, so the Eadmund who is the determinant of the kenning there must be one of the other, older Eadmunds. In the present case, ÍF 27 assumes that the Eadmund referred to must be Eadmund Ironside, and points out that niðr does not always mean ‘descendant’ and can simply mean ‘relative’. But it is at least as likely that it is Æthelred’s grandfather who is invoked here.

Close

niðja ‘the kinsman’

1. niðr (noun m.; °-s; niðjar/niðir, acc. niði): son, kinsman, relative

[6] niðja: niðjar 325V, miðja Bb, niðra FskBˣ, 20dˣ

kennings

niðja Játmundar
‘the kinsman of Eadmund ’
   = Æthelred

the kinsman of Eadmund → Æthelred

notes

[6] niðja ‘the kinsman’: Either acc. sg., from a variant form niði, or acc. pl., with pl. possibly standing for sg. (CVC: niðr; Finnur Jónsson 1901, 31-2). — [6, 8] niðja Játmundar ‘the kinsman of Eadmund’: The Eadmund referred to here could be one of three: Æthelred’s son Eadmund Ironside (king of Wessex 1016), Æthelred’s grandfather Eadmund (king of England 939-46), or Eadmund, king of East Anglia (martyred by vikings in 869). Óttarr uses a similar phrase, ættniðr Játmundar ‘descendant of Eadmund’, in Knútdr 7/5-6, where the person so designated is Eadmund Ironside, so the Eadmund who is the determinant of the kenning there must be one of the other, older Eadmunds. In the present case, ÍF 27 assumes that the Eadmund referred to must be Eadmund Ironside, and points out that niðr does not always mean ‘descendant’ and can simply mean ‘relative’. But it is at least as likely that it is Æthelred’s grandfather who is invoked here.

Close

átt ‘the’

2. átt (noun f.; °; -ir (acc. sg. attvnna AnnaReyk 410⁹)): lineage < áttstuðill (noun m.): lineage-pillar

[7] átt‑: ætt‑ Holm2, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, 68, 61, 325V, 325VII, FskAˣ, JÓ, 873ˣ, ‘a‑’ Bb, Tóm, ‘eð‑’ 20dˣ

notes

[7] áttstuðill ‘the prop of the family’: Referring to the central member of a family. The first element is not uncommon in skaldic verse, and, as is seen in the Readings, exists in two forms, ôtt (later and compounding form átt) and ætt (see LP: ôtt, átt).

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stuðill ‘prop of the family’

stuðill (noun m.; °; stuðlar): pillar, prop < áttstuðill (noun m.): lineage-pillar

notes

[7] áttstuðill ‘the prop of the family’: Referring to the central member of a family. The first element is not uncommon in skaldic verse, and, as is seen in the Readings, exists in two forms, ôtt (later and compounding form átt) and ætt (see LP: ôtt, átt).

Close

áðan ‘previously’

áðan (adv.): before

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Ját ‘of’

(unknown) < Játmundr (noun m.): Edmund, Eadmund

kennings

niðja Játmundar
‘the kinsman of Eadmund ’
   = Æthelred

the kinsman of Eadmund → Æthelred

notes

[6, 8] niðja Játmundar ‘the kinsman of Eadmund’: The Eadmund referred to here could be one of three: Æthelred’s son Eadmund Ironside (king of Wessex 1016), Æthelred’s grandfather Eadmund (king of England 939-46), or Eadmund, king of East Anglia (martyred by vikings in 869). Óttarr uses a similar phrase, ættniðr Játmundar ‘descendant of Eadmund’, in Knútdr 7/5-6, where the person so designated is Eadmund Ironside, so the Eadmund who is the determinant of the kenning there must be one of the other, older Eadmunds. In the present case, ÍF 27 assumes that the Eadmund referred to must be Eadmund Ironside, and points out that niðr does not always mean ‘descendant’ and can simply mean ‘relative’. But it is at least as likely that it is Æthelred’s grandfather who is invoked here.

Close

mundar ‘Eadmund’

1. mund (noun f.): hand < Játmundr (noun m.): Edmund, Eadmund

[8] ‑mundar: ‑mundr FskAˣ

kennings

niðja Játmundar
‘the kinsman of Eadmund ’
   = Æthelred

the kinsman of Eadmund → Æthelred

notes

[6, 8] niðja Játmundar ‘the kinsman of Eadmund’: The Eadmund referred to here could be one of three: Æthelred’s son Eadmund Ironside (king of Wessex 1016), Æthelred’s grandfather Eadmund (king of England 939-46), or Eadmund, king of East Anglia (martyred by vikings in 869). Óttarr uses a similar phrase, ættniðr Játmundar ‘descendant of Eadmund’, in Knútdr 7/5-6, where the person so designated is Eadmund Ironside, so the Eadmund who is the determinant of the kenning there must be one of the other, older Eadmunds. In the present case, ÍF 27 assumes that the Eadmund referred to must be Eadmund Ironside, and points out that niðr does not always mean ‘descendant’ and can simply mean ‘relative’. But it is at least as likely that it is Æthelred’s grandfather who is invoked here.

Close

þar ‘there’

þar (adv.): there

[8] þar: þá Flat, Tóm, FskBˣ, FskAˣ

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

In Hkr and ÓH, the stanza immediately follows st. 8 within an account of fighting in London, and Fsk assumes the same context (see Notes below). In Knýtl, the stanza is the first to be quoted in the saga, and it is placed in a different, and more historically correct, context, of King Aðalráðr (Æthelred) returning home and recovering his kingdom with Óláfr’s support.

As is known from the ASC and other sources, King Æthelred II went into exile in Normandy in 1013, and the English throne was assumed by the Danish conqueror Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ Haraldsson. However, following Sveinn’s death in early 1014, Æthelred was invited back and he himself resumed the throne (not his sons, as Snorri and Fsk claim, in the mistaken belief that Æthelred was already dead). The current stanza, then, concerns Óláfr’s role in Æthelred’s return to England in spring 1014. Relative ignorance of the details of this phase of Anglo-Saxon history led Snorri in ÓH and Hkr and the author of Fsk to place this stanza out of position, with those detailing Óláfr’s earlier English adventures, rather than with his role in the re-establishment of the English dynasty; the placing in Skj follows this tradition. The author of Knýtl, however, who quotes no other verses from Óttarr’s Hfl (but many from his Knútdr), correctly places the stanza at the time of Æthelred’s return to England after Sveinn’s death. Similarly, it is clear that the author of ÓHLeg knew this stanza and interpreted it correctly, even though he does not quote it (see ÓHLeg 1982, 44). For further discussion see A. Campbell (1971, 11-12); Campbell (1998, 77-82) and Poole (1980, 273-5).

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