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skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Víkv 6I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Víkingarvísur 6’ 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. 541.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonVíkingarvísur
567

Rétts ‘It is correct’

3. réttr (adj.; °compar. -ari, superl. -astr): right, straight, direct

[1] Rétts (‘Rett er’): ‘Let(t er)’(?) 325VI, rétt varð 75c, 325V, Flat, Tóm, er corrected from varð 325VII, ‘Rett ier’ Bb

notes

[1] rétts, at in sétta sókn ‘it is correct that the sixth battle [took place]’: (a) The subject sókn ‘battle’ lacks a verb and a verb meaning ‘took place’ or ‘was’ appears to be implied; cf. Anon Ól 1/8 for a parallel. (b) Skj B supplies the verb vas ‘was’ by emendation. (c) Kock prefers the reading Rétt varð to the alternative of assuming an understood verb, and interprets rétt as p. p. of rétta ‘to stretch out, hand over, offer’, rather than an adj., hence ‘(battle) was offered’. However, this variant is found only in C-class mss of ÓH, added to which rétta in this meaning is not common in the skaldic corpus, and never occurs in collocation with a battle-word, despite the frequency with which skalds have need of an expression meaning ‘to give battle’.

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at ‘that’

4. at (conj.): that

[1] at: ‘[…]’ 325VI, om. 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm

notes

[1] rétts, at in sétta sókn ‘it is correct that the sixth battle [took place]’: (a) The subject sókn ‘battle’ lacks a verb and a verb meaning ‘took place’ or ‘was’ appears to be implied; cf. Anon Ól 1/8 for a parallel. (b) Skj B supplies the verb vas ‘was’ by emendation. (c) Kock prefers the reading Rétt varð to the alternative of assuming an understood verb, and interprets rétt as p. p. of rétta ‘to stretch out, hand over, offer’, rather than an adj., hence ‘(battle) was offered’. However, this variant is found only in C-class mss of ÓH, added to which rétta in this meaning is not common in the skaldic corpus, and never occurs in collocation with a battle-word, despite the frequency with which skalds have need of an expression meaning ‘to give battle’.

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sókn ‘battle’

sókn (noun f.; °-ar; -ir): attack, fight

notes

[1] rétts, at in sétta sókn ‘it is correct that the sixth battle [took place]’: (a) The subject sókn ‘battle’ lacks a verb and a verb meaning ‘took place’ or ‘was’ appears to be implied; cf. Anon Ól 1/8 for a parallel. (b) Skj B supplies the verb vas ‘was’ by emendation. (c) Kock prefers the reading Rétt varð to the alternative of assuming an understood verb, and interprets rétt as p. p. of rétta ‘to stretch out, hand over, offer’, rather than an adj., hence ‘(battle) was offered’. However, this variant is found only in C-class mss of ÓH, added to which rétta in this meaning is not common in the skaldic corpus, and never occurs in collocation with a battle-word, despite the frequency with which skalds have need of an expression meaning ‘to give battle’.

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in ‘the’

2. inn (art.): the

[1] in: inn 325VII, ina FskAˣ

notes

[1] rétts, at in sétta sókn ‘it is correct that the sixth battle [took place]’: (a) The subject sókn ‘battle’ lacks a verb and a verb meaning ‘took place’ or ‘was’ appears to be implied; cf. Anon Ól 1/8 for a parallel. (b) Skj B supplies the verb vas ‘was’ by emendation. (c) Kock prefers the reading Rétt varð to the alternative of assuming an understood verb, and interprets rétt as p. p. of rétta ‘to stretch out, hand over, offer’, rather than an adj., hence ‘(battle) was offered’. However, this variant is found only in C-class mss of ÓH, added to which rétta in this meaning is not common in the skaldic corpus, and never occurs in collocation with a battle-word, despite the frequency with which skalds have need of an expression meaning ‘to give battle’.

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sétta ‘sixth’

sétti (num. ordinal): [sixth]

[1] sétta: séttu FskAˣ

notes

[1] rétts, at in sétta sókn ‘it is correct that the sixth battle [took place]’: (a) The subject sókn ‘battle’ lacks a verb and a verb meaning ‘took place’ or ‘was’ appears to be implied; cf. Anon Ól 1/8 for a parallel. (b) Skj B supplies the verb vas ‘was’ by emendation. (c) Kock prefers the reading Rétt varð to the alternative of assuming an understood verb, and interprets rétt as p. p. of rétta ‘to stretch out, hand over, offer’, rather than an adj., hence ‘(battle) was offered’. However, this variant is found only in C-class mss of ÓH, added to which rétta in this meaning is not common in the skaldic corpus, and never occurs in collocation with a battle-word, despite the frequency with which skalds have need of an expression meaning ‘to give battle’.

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snarr ‘the valiant’

snarr (adj.): gallant, bold

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þengill ‘prince’

þengill (noun m.): prince, ruler

[2] þengill: þengil 68

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Englum ‘the English’

Englar (noun m.): English people

[2] Englum: ‘(englom)’(?) 325VI

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at ‘the strife’

1. at (noun n.): [attack, strife]

[3] at: ‘att’ R686ˣ, 325VI, 78aˣ, 61, átt 73aˣ

kennings

at Yggs.
‘the strife of Yggr. ’
   = BATTLE

the strife of Yggr. → BATTLE
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þars ‘where’

þars (conj.): where

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Ôleifr ‘Óláfr’

Óláfr (noun m.): Óláfr

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sœtti ‘’

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sótti ‘attacked’

sœkja (verb): seek, attack

[3] sótti: sœtti DG8

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Yggs ‘of Yggr’

1. Yggr (noun m.): Yggr

[4] Yggs: uggs FskBˣ

kennings

at Yggs.
‘the strife of Yggr. ’
   = BATTLE

the strife of Yggr. → BATTLE
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Lundúna ‘of London’

Lundúnir (noun f.): [London]

[4] Lundúna: Lundúnar 61, 325V

notes

[4] bryggjur Lundúna ‘the wharves of London’: Or possibly ‘bridge’. The prose of Hkr clearly understands Lundúna bryggjur to be a bridge, while ÓHLeg seems to imagine them as jetties. The only other skaldic instance of bryggja (also in the pl.) is Ótt Hfl 8/2, referring to the same event and probably derivative of Sigvatr. The reference is usually assumed to be to London Bridge (e.g. Townend 1998, 73), and portrayal of an attack on the bridge would seem likely – both strategic and memorable. However, this sense is only possible with semantic influence from the OE cognate brycg ‘bridge’, since ON bryggja normally means ‘quay, landing-stage, wharf’ (ONP). Only one bridge in London is known from the period, and archaeological research shows that it was built between 990 and 1020 AD (Watson et al. 2001, 57, 73). Fell (1981b) explains the pl. form as ‘used for the singular’, citing Hofmann’s suggestion (1955, 82) that the pl. form is used to distinguish the ‘bridge’ meaning from the normal meaning. However, this explanation of the pl. is not wholly satisfactory and the normal meaning of ON bryggja ‘quay, wharf, jetty’ would be compatible with the extensive development of the Thames foreshore known to have taken place in the late C10th and C11th (Milne 1992, 7, 24-6, 37, 42, 46; Milne 2003, 43-7, 57-62); the structures found at New Fresh Wharf (Steedman et al. 1992, 99-103, also cover illustration) could appropriately be described as bryggjur.

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bryggjur ‘the wharves’

1. bryggja (noun f.; °-u; -ur, gen. bryggna): landing, bridge, gangway, quay

[4] bryggjur: bryggju Bb, FskAˣ, bryggjum DG8

notes

[4] bryggjur Lundúna ‘the wharves of London’: Or possibly ‘bridge’. The prose of Hkr clearly understands Lundúna bryggjur to be a bridge, while ÓHLeg seems to imagine them as jetties. The only other skaldic instance of bryggja (also in the pl.) is Ótt Hfl 8/2, referring to the same event and probably derivative of Sigvatr. The reference is usually assumed to be to London Bridge (e.g. Townend 1998, 73), and portrayal of an attack on the bridge would seem likely – both strategic and memorable. However, this sense is only possible with semantic influence from the OE cognate brycg ‘bridge’, since ON bryggja normally means ‘quay, landing-stage, wharf’ (ONP). Only one bridge in London is known from the period, and archaeological research shows that it was built between 990 and 1020 AD (Watson et al. 2001, 57, 73). Fell (1981b) explains the pl. form as ‘used for the singular’, citing Hofmann’s suggestion (1955, 82) that the pl. form is used to distinguish the ‘bridge’ meaning from the normal meaning. However, this explanation of the pl. is not wholly satisfactory and the normal meaning of ON bryggja ‘quay, wharf, jetty’ would be compatible with the extensive development of the Thames foreshore known to have taken place in the late C10th and C11th (Milne 1992, 7, 24-6, 37, 42, 46; Milne 2003, 43-7, 57-62); the structures found at New Fresh Wharf (Steedman et al. 1992, 99-103, also cover illustration) could appropriately be described as bryggjur.

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Sverð ‘swords’

sverð (noun n.; °-s; -): sword

[5] Sverð bitu: ‘[…]’ 325VI

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bitu ‘bit’

bíta (verb; °bítr; beit, bitu; bitinn): bite

[5] Sverð bitu: ‘[…]’ 325VI

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vꜹls ‘’

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vausk ‘’

vaskr (adj.)

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volks ‘’

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vǫlsk ‘Frankish’

valskr (adj.): foreign, French

[5] vǫlsk: ‘vꜹls’ J2ˣ, ‘(vau)lsk’(?) 325VI, ‘vold’ 68, ‘uausk’ Tóm, ‘volks’ FskAˣ

notes

[5] vǫlsk ‘Frankish’: Also applied to swords in Arn Magndr 9/3II, Þham Magndr 4/4II. The exact geographical range of this adj. in skaldic poetry is not well defined; among the possibilities are ‘southern, foreign’ (Falk 1914b, 40) and ‘Norman’, applied to two earls in Gísl Magnkv 10/8II. Since Frankish swords were particularly prized in the Viking Age it is likely that that is what is meant here.

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vǫrðu ‘defended’

2. varða (verb): defend

[5] vǫrðu: varði 61

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víkingar ‘vikings’

víkingr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i; -ar): viking

[6] víkingar: víkingr R686ˣ, víkinga 61

notes

[6] víkingar ‘vikings’: See also st. 3/6 and Note, and st. 10/6. (a) Since the predicate of víkingar is vǫrðu þar díki ‘defended the ditch there’, the word appears to denote the inhabitants or defenders of London, the Englar ‘English’ of l. 2. This is consonant with the tendency in Víkv for the first helmingr to refer to Óláfr’s attack and the second to describe the defence (sts 2, 5, 7, 9, 10), and with the clear antithesis between sótti ‘attacked’ (l. 3) and vǫrðu ‘defended’ (l. 5). (b) On the other hand it is possible, with Hellberg (1980, 37), to understand víkingar to mean Scandinavians of some sort and to assume that the whole helmingr gives further information about Óláfr’s army, defending themselves in Southwark. For Scandinavian troops in London constructing earthworks in this era see Anon Liðs 7/4 and Note; cf. also Hkr (ÍF 27, 15).

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þar ‘there’

þar (adv.): there

[6] þar: lið 61, þá FskBˣ, FskAˣ

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þiki ‘’

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díki ‘the ditch’

díki (noun n.; °; -): ditch

[6] díki: ‘þiki’ R686ˣ

notes

[6] díki ‘the ditch’: There seems to have been a defensive ditch dated to the early C11th in Southwark, in which a few weapons of Scandinavian type have been found (Watson et al. 2001, 53-4).

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sunnz ‘’

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sumt ‘some’

2. sumr (pron.): some

[7] sumt: ‘sunnz’ 68, 325VII, Flat, Tóm

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Súð ‘South’

2. suðr (adv.): south, in the south < Súðvirki (noun n.)

[8] Súð‑: suðr Tóm, FskBˣ, FskAˣ

notes

[8] Súðvirki ‘Southwark’: The bridgehead on the south bank of the Thames. The form of the name is uncertain. A long vowel is indicated by the rhyme on búð-. ON suðr ‘south’ normally has a short vowel, while OE sūð, with the same meaning, had a long vowel. Townend proposes either that ‘Sigvatr is prepared to alter the expected form of a place-name for a purely metrical reason’ (1998, 74) or that ‘the English first element appears to have been reproduced rather than the Norse cognate substituted’ (1998, 97). As Townend notes, most of the mss also lack the expected -r, except for the Fsk group, which have reinterpreted the name correctly but at the expense of the rhyme. A further possibility is that Sigvatr may have misinterpreted the first element as equivalent to ON súð ‘planking’ and the p. n. therefore as meaning something like ‘wooden, planked fortification’ (Jesch 2001a, 73). Finally, it is possible that the rhyme is inexact in terms of vowel length, as, e.g., in Sigv Austv 18/6 jafnvíst : Lista, also involving a p. n.

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virki ‘wark’

virki (noun n.; °-s; -): stronghold < Súðvirki (noun n.)

notes

[8] Súðvirki ‘Southwark’: The bridgehead on the south bank of the Thames. The form of the name is uncertain. A long vowel is indicated by the rhyme on búð-. ON suðr ‘south’ normally has a short vowel, while OE sūð, with the same meaning, had a long vowel. Townend proposes either that ‘Sigvatr is prepared to alter the expected form of a place-name for a purely metrical reason’ (1998, 74) or that ‘the English first element appears to have been reproduced rather than the Norse cognate substituted’ (1998, 97). As Townend notes, most of the mss also lack the expected -r, except for the Fsk group, which have reinterpreted the name correctly but at the expense of the rhyme. A further possibility is that Sigvatr may have misinterpreted the first element as equivalent to ON súð ‘planking’ and the p. n. therefore as meaning something like ‘wooden, planked fortification’ (Jesch 2001a, 73). Finally, it is possible that the rhyme is inexact in terms of vowel length, as, e.g., in Sigv Austv 18/6 jafnvíst : Lista, also involving a p. n.

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lið ‘of the troop’

lið (noun n.; °-s; -): retinue, troop

[8] lið: þar 325V

notes

[8] lið ‘the troop’: Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 27) takes this to be the defenders, the víkingar ‘vikings’ who vǫrðu þar díki ‘defended the ditch there’, while Fell (1981b) seems to suggest that they are the attackers. In favour of the latter is the fact that búðir ‘huts’ are temporary structures which could well have been occupied by transient warriors, i.e. Óláfr’s attacking troop.

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

ÓH-Hkr and ÓHLeg have a long description of Óláfr’s battle in London before citing the stanza. According to ÓHLeg he was supporting Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great), while according to ÓH-Hkr it was Aðalráðr (the English King Æthelred). In Fsk, it is cited after a very brief introduction of Óláfr Haraldsson and an enumeration of his first five battles. He is then said to have gone west to England where he fought at Lundúnabryggjur (on which, see Note to l. 4, below) against Danes who were launching viking raids.

For the events of Víkv 6-8, see also Ótt Hfl 8-10 and Note to Hfl 8 [All]; the battle at Lundúnabryggjur is commemorated in Hfl 8. Although Óláfr appears to have fought for the English King Aðalráðr (Æthelred) after the death of Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ in 1014, Snorri’s claim that Óláfr’s earlier battles were fought in support of him (see Contexts to sts 6, 7) is probably erroneous: see Note to Ótt Hfl 13 [All]. His earlier English campaigns seem rather to have been fought alongside Þorkell inn hávi and the Danes (see Note to Ótt Hfl 8 [All]), and it appears that Óláfr ‘like his friend Þorkell, changed sides and became a supporter of Æthelred’ (A. Campbell 1971, 12). The skaldic stanzas do not in themselves clarify who Óláfr’s allies and opponents were, nor exactly where and when he fought; even when they are considered in conjunction with the English and Norse prose sources much remains uncertain (see A. Campbell 1971, 4, 8-12; Campbell 1998, 73-82). — [5-8]: It is tentatively assumed here that Óláfr and Þorkell’s forces wield Frankish swords and have temporary huts in Southwark, while the English defend the ditch. However, the identifications are far from certain: see Notes to [All] and to ll. 6 and 7 below.

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