Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Lv 6II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Lausavísur 6’ 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. 171-2.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonLausavísur

Sigurðr eggjaði sleggju
snák váligrar brákar,
en skafdreki skinna
skreið of leista heiði.
Menn sôusk orm, áðr ynni,
ilvegs búinn kilju,
nautaleðrs á naðri
neflangr konungr tangar.

{Sigurðr sleggju} eggjaði {snák váligrar brákar}, en {skafdreki skinna} skreið of {heiði leista}. Menn sôusk orm búinn {kilju {ilvegs}}, áðr {neflangr konungr tangar} ynni á {naðri nautaleðrs}.

{The Sigurðr of the sledge-hammer} [SMITH] incited {the snake of the dangerous tanning tool} [TANNER], and {the scraping-dragon of skins} [TANNER] slithered across {the heath of feet} [FLOOR]. People were afraid of the reptile clad {in the covering {of the sole-path}} [FOOT > SHOE], before {the long-nosed king of tongs} [SMITH] overcame {the serpent of ox-leather} [TANNER].

Mss: Mork(15v) (Mork); H(65r), Hr(47vb) (H-Hr); Flat(207ra) (Flat); 593b(29r-v)

Readings: [2] brákar: ‘drakar’ 593b    [3] skaf‑: so H, Hr, skaf‑ or skap‑ Mork, skap‑ Flat, 593b;    skinna: om. Hr    [4] of: so H, af or of Mork, af Hr, Flat, 593b;    leista: gnípa 593b    [5] Menn sôusk orm: mann sásk orm Mork, menn sásk orm H, mǫnnum leizk ormr Hr, Flat, ‘monnum […] (ormr)’(?) 593b;    ynni: ynnisk Hr    [6] búinn: bana 593b    [7] ‑leðrs: ‘le(d)us’(?) Hr

Editions: Skj AI, 380-1, Skj BI, 350, Skald I, 176, NN §2989C; ÍF 9, 267-8 (Snegl ch. 3), Mork 1928-32, 236, Andersson and Gade 2000, 244-5, 479 (MH); Fms 6, 362 (HSig ch. 101), Fms 12, 160; Flat 1860-8, III, 417 (MH).

Context: In all the sources the st. is cited within the same anecdote as Lv 5 (see Context). This time Þjóðólfr must represent the contending artisans as the hero Sigurðr and his adversary the dragon Fáfnir. After the st., the king calls Þjóðólfr a good skald and there is a general discussion of poetry. In Flat and 593b, the sts and the instructions preceding them are in the reverse order.

Notes: [All]: The legendary story on which Þjóðólfr plays is told in Fáfn and in SnE (1998, I, 46). The smith is presented as Sigurðr, appropriately since Sigurðr stayed with the smith Reginn and shattered his anvil (prose preceding Reg 15, NK 176-7), and the tanner as the dragon. Still more clearly than in Lv 5, the kennings produce a double narrative: of the human fracas in Norway through the complete kennings and of the Sigurðr legend through their base-words. — [2] váligrar ‘dangerous’: Finnur Jónsson emended to váligran so that it qualified snák ‘snake’ rather than brák ‘tanning tool’ (Skj B and LP: váligr). — [2] brákar ‘of the tanning tool’: Gen. sg. of brk f., referring to a tool, probably of horn, used for preparing skins (LP). — [4] of ‘across’: The variant af ‘from’ also has strong support and as the less obvious prep. before an expression meaning ‘ground’ might have some claim to priority as the lectio difficilior. — [4] leista ‘of feet’: Leistr came to mean ‘sock’ but had the older meaning ‘foot’. — [5] menn sôusk ‘people were afraid’: The H variant menn is required here, and a minor emendation (or arguably normalisation) of sásk. The variant mǫnnum leizk ormr ‘the reptile seemed to people’ (so Hr, Flat) is also possible, but would be incomplete without a predicate. — [5, 6] orm búinn kilju ilvegs ‘the reptile clad in the covering of the sole-path [FOOT > SHOE]’: This refers to ‘man, tanner’. The overall phrase is kenning-like (and contains a tvíkennt kenning for ‘shoe’), but since búinn ilvegs kilju is a p. p. and dat. rather than a gen. or part of a cpd it is structurally different from a kenning. Kilju ‘covering’ (gen. sg.) is a rare noun, not to be found in Fritzner, and LP offers only this instance under 2. kilja f. meaning ‘cap, covering’; see also Falk 1919, 192. AEW gives three distinct f. nouns, of which the first and third are marked as poetic: 1. ‘protective covering’ (Schulterbedeckung), 2. ‘conflict’ (Zank, Streit) (cf. the verb kilja ‘dispute’), and 3. ‘nourishment’ (Nahrung). Kock in NN §871 favoured kapputrustad ‘wearing a hood’ for búinn kilju, but in Kock and Meissner 1931, II, 96 (: kilja) and NN §2989C suggests ‘ready for strife’ (stridslystne).


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  11. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  12. Kock, Ernst Albin and Rudolf Meissner, eds. 1931. Skaldisches Lesebuch. 2 vols. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 17-18. Halle: Niemeyer.
  13. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  14. Falk, Hjalmar. 1919. Altwestnordische Kleiderkunde, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Terminologie. Videnskapsselskapets Skrifter, II. Hist.-filos. kl. 1918, 3. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  15. ÍF 9 = Eyfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Jónas Kristjánsson. 1956.
  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. 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.
  19. Not published: do not cite (SneglII)
  20. Not published: do not cite (HSigII)
  21. Not published: do not cite (MHII)
  22. Not published: do not cite ()
  23. Not published: do not cite ()

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