skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Ótt Lv 1I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Lausavísur 1’ 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. 784.

Óttarr svartiLausavísur
12

This complaint about demeaning treatment from King Óláfr (Ótt Lv 1) is the only anecdotal lausavísa unequivocally attributed to Óttarr svarti, Lv 2 being more formal and Lv 3 of disputed authorship. Lv 1 is preserved in ÓHÆ (ms. NRA52), ÓHLeg (DG8) and the additions to ÓH. In Flat the stanza and the anecdote to which it is attached form one of the excerpts (articuli) preserved from Styrmir Kárason’s Lífssaga of Óláfr helgi (S. Óláfr), and there are parallel texts in 73aˣ (chosen as main ms. below), 71ˣ, 76aˣ and Tóm. In all sources Lv 1 is preceded by Sigv Lv 10, with which it forms a pair: see further Context below.

Hnøtr sendi mér handan
hrǫnduðr alinbranda
— ár vas, þats mank meiri
mín þing — konungr hingat.
Mær es markar stjóri;
meir sék þar til fleira;
niðrat oss í ǫðru,
íslands mikils vísi.

Konungr, {hrǫnduðr {alinbranda}}, sendi mér handan hnøtr hingat; ár vas, þats mank þing mín meiri. {Stjóri markar} es mær; meir sék þar til fleira; niðrat oss í ǫðru, {vísi {mikils íslands}}.

The king, {the distributor {of arm-flames}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Óláfr], sent some nuts across to me here; it was long ago, when I remember my position [to have been] greater. {The ruler of the forest} [TREE] is slender; later I will look for more there; do not humiliate us again, {sovereign {of the great ice-land}} [SEA > RULER].

Mss: 73aˣ(95v), 71ˣ(78r), 76aˣ(101r), Flat(187rb), Tóm(122v) (ÓH); NRA52(1r) (ll. 1-2, 4-5, 7-8) (ÓHÆ); DG8(91v) (ÓHLeg)

Readings: [1] Hnøtr sendi mér handan: ‘[…]dan’ NRA52    [2] hrǫnduðr (‘hrandꜳdr’): so Flat, NRA52, DG8, hrandað 73aˣ, ‘hrandat’ 71ˣ, 76aˣ, handleggjar Tóm;    alin‑: arin‑ 73aˣ, 76aˣ, Flat, NRA52, arm‑ 71ˣ, Týr Tóm, ‘alun’ DG8;    ‑branda: ‘bran[…]’ NRA52    [3] ár: so Flat, Tóm, om. 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ, áðr DG8;    vas þats mank (‘var þat er ek man’): var þá er ek man 76aˣ, var þá ek man Flat, væntisk mér DG8    [4] mín þing konungr: ‘[…]’ NRA52;    konungr: jǫfurr Tóm    [5] Mær (‘mior’): ‘mer’ 76aˣ;    markar stjóri: ‘marka[…]’ NRA52    [6] sék (‘séé ek’): ‘saam’ Flat, er DG8;    þar: so Flat, Tóm, DG8, þat 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ    [7] niðrat oss: ‘[…]s’ NRA52;    niðrat (‘niðrattu’): niðr áttu 76aˣ, viðrattu Tóm, niðrattu or ‘viðrattu’ DG8    [8] vísi: so Flat, DG8, vísir 73aˣ, 71ˣ, 76aˣ, Tóm, ‘[…]’ NRA52

Editions: Skj AI, 299, Skj BI, 275, Skald I, 141, NN §§2010, 3052B; ÓH 1941, II, 689, 703, 705, Flat 1860-8, III, 243; ÓHÆ 1893, 2; ÓHLeg 1922, 58, ÓHLeg 1982, 138-9.

Context: The story tells that, on one occasion when Óttarr and Sigvatr did not stand as highly with Óláfr Haraldsson as they had previously, the king sent them some nuts from his table, and told them to share them out as if they were their patrimony. The two skalds each composed a stanza in reply: Sigv Lv 10 and this stanza. The king, we are told in most sources, brosti at vísunum ‘smiled at the verses’.

Notes: [All]: The impromptu, occasional nature of the stanza is underlined by the prose introductions, which use either the verb mæla ‘speak’ or kveða ‘speak in verse’. — [2] hrǫnduðr alinbranda ‘distributor of arm-flames [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’: This phrase could be an apostrophe (so Skj B), and the Context provides an interlocutor in Sigvatr. However, it seems preferable to take it as a subject in apposition with konungr ‘king’ (cf. NN §2010F; ÓHLeg 1982), especially since sendi is 3rd pers. sg. The base-word hrǫnduðr appears to be an agent noun from hrinda ‘to throw, cast’, though formally derivation from a *hranda would have been expected (Meissner 319; LP: hrǫnduðr (hrandaðr)). The form hrandaðr is suggested by the mss, but normalisation to hrǫnduðr is required since the ‑aðr variants in this class of noun are late analogical forms (ANG §137 Anm. 3, §397), and cf. hrǫnduðr in Anon Þul Sverða 3/1III. The first element of the determinant is problematic, and no ms. has the exact reading alin- adopted here. Mss 73ax, NRA52 and Flat all suggest arin- from arinn m. ‘hearth’, and arinbrandr ‘hearth-flame’ is an intelligible cpd, but hrǫnduðr arinbranda makes little sense as a kenning. (a) Kock emends to alinbranda ‘arm-flames’ (NN §3052B), which gives good sense, and this is adopted here. (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B prefers DG8’s reading ǫlun (ms. ‘alun’), which he suggests is a variant form of ǫln ‘(lower) arm’ (LP: ǫlunbrandr), often used in kennings for ‘gold’. This too results in a gold-kenning and thus ‘generous man’. (c) The first element in DG8 is taken in ÓHLeg 1982, 138 as ǫlunn ‘fish, mackerel’, giving ‘fish-flame [GOLD]’. However, this cannot be paralleled, as the usual patterns for gold-kennings are ‘fire of the water’ or ‘land of the serpent’, not ‘fire of the fish’. (d) Of the other ms. readings, 71x’s armbranda gives excellent sense, but leaves the line with only five syllables, not the required six, and Tóm refashions the line to Týr branda handleggjar ‘Týr of the flames of the hand-limb [ARM > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’. Both look like scribal attempts to make sense of a garbled text. — [3] ár ‘long ago’: This adv. (omitted in the main ms.) is required to supply skothending for the line, as well as for sense. — [3] meiri ‘[to have been] greater’: Comp. adj. from mikill ‘great’, qualifying mín þing (n. acc. pl.) ‘my position’. — [5-8]: The helmingr is lively but problematic, and both of the main solutions involve assuming unusual turns of expression. (a) The interpretation adopted here is essentially that of Kock (NN §2010). The final word is taken as vísi ‘sovereign’ (and this form is preferred to the later vísir; cf. ANG §401). (b) Skj B construes the clause structure of these lines very differently, reading mær es mikils vísir, with vísir not ‘ruler, sovereign’ but rather ‘bud’, and with a proposed proverbial sense, ‘small is the bud of something great’ (see also CVC: vísir). This leaves stjóri markar íslands ‘ruler of the forest of the ice-land’ as a kenning for Óláfr as Norwegian king; but it is difficult to explain why mǫrk íslands ‘forest (?) of the ice-land’ (or ísland markar ‘ice-land (?) of the forest’) should mean ‘Norway’ (see LP: ísland; also Meissner 88, 353; on ísland (l. 8), see Note below). — [5] mær ‘slender’: All mss read (normalised) mjór, a later, analogical form (ANG §106). — [5] stjóri markar ‘the ruler of the forest [TREE]’: The thought seems to be that great trees grow out of small seeds or nuts (cf. the English proverb ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow’), suggesting that greater favour from the king might grow out of this meagre gift (with possible awareness of Óláfr as a literal rather than metaphorical stjóri). The kenning stjóri markar is, however, unparalleled, and indeed tree-kennings in general are extremely rare; perhaps the present example should be viewed as a witty one-off suitable for a lausavísa. — [6] meir ‘later’: Comp. of the adv. mjǫk ‘much’, here with the temporal sense ‘later, still’ (LP: mjǫk 4). — [6] fleira ‘more’: Comp. of the adj. margr, cf. Notes to meiri l. 3 and meir l. 6. The stanza makes play with comp. forms, in keeping with its theme of the potential for subsequent increase. — [7] niðrat ‘do not humiliate’: Imp. of niðra ‘to lower, humiliate’, with negative suffix. Kock (NN §2010G; Skald) prefers the reading viðrat, found in Tóm and DG8, taking this to be from vinna in the sense ‘to serve, attend to’. Óttarr would thus be asking that the king should not have food sent to him again, since all he gives is nuts. Certainly this gives a more subtle reading than the rather stark niðrat. — [7] í ǫðru ‘again’: Lit. ‘in another [matter]’. — [8] íslands ‘of the ice-land [SEA]’: The kenning is paralleled by ísheimr ‘ice-world [SEA]’ in Gamlkan Has 32/2VII, but there may also be word-play here on Ísland ‘Iceland’. Vísi íslands in the sense ‘ruler of the sea’ assumed here would be an unusual ruler-kenning, but one which can accommodate the qualifying adj. mikils. Vísi Íslands would be a more familiar type of ruler-kenning (cf. Meissner 353), but the grounds on which Óláfr might claim to be ruler of Iceland are unclear (see EValg Lv and Eþver Lv 1 for his territorial ambitions in that direction). Conceivably, Íslands could qualify oss ‘us’ (i.e. Óttarr and Sigvatr), giving the sense ‘sovereign, do not humiliate those of us from mighty Iceland’.

References

  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  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. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  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. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  11. ÓHLeg 1982 = Heinrichs, Anne et al., eds and trans. 1982. Olafs saga hins helga: Die ‘Legendarische Saga’ über Olaf den Heiligen (Hs. Delagard. saml. nr. 8II). Heidelberg: Winter.
  12. ÓHLeg 1922 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert, ed. 1922. Olafs saga hins helga efter pergamenthåndskrift i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Delagardieske samling nr. 8II. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 47. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  13. ÓHÆ 1893 = Storm, Gustav, ed. 1893. Otte brudstykker af den ældste saga om Olav den Hellige. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfonds skrifter 25. Christiana (Oslo): Grøndahl.
  14. Internal references
  15. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr / Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg)’ 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. clxxiii.
  16. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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. clxxvi-clxxix.
  17. Matthew Townend 2017, ‘(Biography of) Óttarr svarti’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 335.
  18. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyjólfr Valgerðarson, Lausavísa’ 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. 276.
  19. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Sverða heiti 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 794.
  20. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr þveræingr Eyjólfsson, Lausavísa 1’ 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. 804.
  21. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 32’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 100-1.
  22. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Lausavísur 1’ 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. 784.
  23. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 10’ 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. 712.
  24. Not published: do not cite ()
Close

Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.

Close

Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.