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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mey 22VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa 22’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 905-6.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra meyja drápa
212223

text and translation

Mestar liet á mönnum Kristi
Maxencíus píslir vaxa;
eina liet hann jungfrú væna
óteljandi meinum kvelja.
Kátrína vann sigr hin sæta
sæt og fögr á spekinga þrætu;
barg hun þeim og brögnum mörgum;
brúður kóngs á guðs son trúði.

Maxencíus liet mestar píslir vaxa á mönnum Kristi; hann liet kvelja eina væna jungfrú óteljandi meinum. Hin sæta Kátrína, sæt og fögr, vann sigr á þrætu spekinga; hun barg þeim og mörgum brögnum; brúður kóngs trúði á guðs son.
 
‘Maxentius had the greatest tortures fall to Christ’s men’s share; he had one beautiful maiden tortured with innumerable torments. The sweet Catherine, sweet and handsome, won the victory in the dispute with wise men; she saved them and many men; the wife of the king believed in the son of God.

notes and context

Stanzas 22-4 praise the virgin martyr S. Catherine of Alexandria, also the subject of Kálf Kátr (q.v.) and a C14th saga (Unger 1877, I, 400-21; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 304-5; Wolf 2003, 123-41, 174-6). Her cult in Iceland, though popular, appears not to have taken hold until C13th (Cormack 1994, 86-8). According to legend, Catherine of Alexandria was a high-born, learned and beautiful virgin who denounced the worship of pagan idols to the emperor Maxentius and successfully debated this issue with fifty philosophers, who then converted to Christianity. She refused to deny her Christian faith and marry the emperor, for which she was beaten and then imprisoned. Later she was tortured on a spiked wheel, but it fell to pieces, leaving her unhurt. Finally, Catherine was beheaded, and milk, not blood, flowed from her severed veins. Angels carried her body to Mount Sinai.

readings

sources

Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV], [B. 12]. Af heilogum meyjum 22: AII, 531, BII, 587-8, Skald II, 324-5, NN §3391B.

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