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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 30II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 30’ 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. 145-6.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonSexstefja

Geirs oddum lætr greddir
grunn hvert stika sunnar
hirð, þats hann skal varða,
hrægamms ara sævar.

{Greddir {hrægamms {sævar ara}}} lætr hirð stika sunnar oddum geirs hvert grunn, þats hann skal varða.

{The feeder {of the corpse-vulture {of the sea of the eagle}}} [BLOOD > RAVEN > WARRIOR] has his retinue barricade with spear points, further south, every shallow [lit. ‘each shallow’] that he has to defend.

Mss: R(37v), Tˣ(39v), U(40r), A(14r), B(6v), 744ˣ(44r), C(7r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Geirs: ‘[…]irs’ B, ‘Geírs’ 744ˣ;    greddir: so Tˣ, C, græddir R, græðir U, ‘gr[…]’ B, ‘gre.dir’ 744ˣ    [2] grunn hvert stika sunnar: abbrev. as ‘g. h. st’.’ U;    sunnar: ‘[…]ar’ B    [3] hirð þats hann skal varða: abbrev. as ‘h’. þ. h’. s. v̄.’ U;    þats (‘þat er’): þá er Tˣ, A, 744ˣ, ‘[…]’ B, þar C;    hann: ‘h̄’ C;    varða: verða B, C    [4] hræ‑: ‘hre‑’ U;    ‑gamms ara sævar: ‘[…]ar’ B, ‘….s ara se᷎far’ 744ˣ;    sævar: ‘.s.’ U

Editions: Skj AI, 376, Skj BI, 346, Skald I, 174, NN §864; SnE 1848-87, I, 488-9, II, 353, 456, 543, 596, SnE 1931, 172, SnE 1998, I, 90-1.

Context: See Context to st. 29. 

Notes: [All]: The placing of these ll. in Sex is extremely uncertain: see Context to st. 29 and Introduction to Sex. — [1, 2] stika sunnar oddum geirs hvert grunn ‘barricade with spear points, further south, every shallow [lit. ‘each shallow’]’: This seems to be a reference to the staking of shallows as a coastal defence; cf. Steinn Óldr 8/4 stika dǫrrum ‘barricade with spears’. — [4] hrægamms sævar ara ‘of the corpse-vulture of the sea of the eagle [BLOOD > RAVEN]’: The base-word greddir ‘feeder’ (see LP and references there) evidently forms a warrior-kenning, with a term for a beast of the battlefield in the gen. as determinant. (a) The construction assumed here is overloaded (so also Finnur Jónsson in Skj B, marking hrægamms ara as unexplained): -gamms sævar ara ‘of the vulture of the sea of the eagle [BLOOD > RAVEN]’ is an adequate determinant, leaving hræ- ‘corpse, carrion’ as unnecessary (cf. val- ‘slaughter-’ in st. 28/4). (b) Rather more tortuously, in terms of w. o., the determinant referring to a bird of the battlefield could be formed from hræ- and sævar ‘corpse-sea [BLOOD]’ plus either gamms ‘vulture’ or ara ‘eagle’, but the one not deployed in the kenning would be redundant. (c) Kock interprets the gen. sg. ara sævar ‘of eagle’s sea [BLOOD]’ as adjectival, ‘bloody’, hence ara sævar hrægamms greddir ‘the one who feeds the birds which feed on bloody corpses’ (NN §864). (d) To take sævar with stika grunn hvert, hence ‘stake every shallow of the sea’ does not help, since ara (or gamms) is still redundant.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  8. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  9. Internal references
  10. Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja’ 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. 108-47.
  11. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Steinn Herdísarson, Óláfsdrápa 8’ 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. 374-5.

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