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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Lv 2I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 786.

Óttarr svartiLausavísur
123

The likely date of Óttarr svarti’s Knútsdrápa (Ótt Knútdr) is c. 1027, and the date of this lausavísa (Ótt Lv 2) is likely to be the same (see Introduction to Knútdr, and Townend 2001, 157-61). Fidjestøl (1982, 84-5) explored the possibility that (semi-) independent verses sometimes introduced formal drápur and it is conceivable that this stanza (in irregular fornyrðislag) formed a kind of prologue to Óttarr’s Knútdr proper (in dróttkvætt), though its different preservation, only in ÓHLeg (ms. DG8), might suggest that saga compilers were not aware of this. In terms of its date and political rhetoric, Lv 2 closely resembles Knútr’s 1027 Letter to his subjects (see Note to ll. 2-4 below).

Svá skal kveðja         konung Dana,
Íra ok Engla         ok Eybúa,
at hans fari         með himinkrǫptum
lǫndum ǫllum         lof víðara.

Skal svá kveðja {konung Dana, Íra ok Engla ok Eybúa}, at lof hans fari með himinkrǫptum víðara ǫllum lǫndum.

[I] shall so greet {the king of the Danes, of the Irish and of the English and of the Island-dwellers} [= Knútr], that his praise may travel with heavenly support more widely through all the lands.

Mss: DG8(90v) (ÓHLeg)

Readings: [6] með: ‘me’ DG8    [8] víðara: víðari DG8

Editions: Skj AI, 299, Skj BI, 275, Skald I, 141, NN §3073; ÓHLeg 1922, 56, ÓHLeg 1982, 130-1.

Context: ÓHLeg tells of how Óttarr entered into Knútr’s service. He comes into the king’s hall and speaks the stanza, which serves as a promise of a fuller kvæði ‘poem’ which Óttarr subsequently recites (and which is not quoted; see Introduction).

Notes: [1] skal ‘[I] shall’: The verb could either be 1st pers. with unexpressed subject (‘I shall so greet’) or 3rd pers. with an impersonal usage (‘one shall so greet’ or ‘the king shall so be greeted’). — [2-4]: The best parallel for this ostentatious roll-call of subjects is Knútr’s 1027 Letter, which proclaims him as (in William of Malmesbury’s version) rex totius Angliae et Danemarkiae et Norregiae et partis Swauorum ‘king of all England, Denmark, and Norway, and of part of the Swedes’ (Mynors, Thomson and Winterbottom 1998-9, I, 324, cf. Darlington and McGurk 1995-, II, 512). The rhetoric of imperial over-kingship is similar, though Óttarr’s list in ll. 3-4 seems to focus deliberately on the British Isles (on Knútr’s empire see Bolton 2009). — [3] Íra ‘of the Irish’: On Knútr’s relations with the Irish see Hudson (1994). — [4] Eybúa ‘of the Island-dwellers’: In skaldic poetry Eyjar ‘(the) Isles’ is normally used as a term to refer to Orkney, though in Old Norse prose Eyjar covers both the Northern and Western Isles (Shetland and the Hebrides, as well as Orkney); hence the Eybúar, a term occurring only here, are presumably the Orcadians. See further Jesch (1993b, 229-35 and 236 n. 14). — [6] með himinkrǫptum ‘with heavenly support’: Skj B emends to himinskautum ‘(under) the regions of heaven’, i.e. the whole earth, by analogy with occurrences elsewhere in eddic and skaldic verse (LP: himinskaut). However, the proposed parallels all postdate Óttarr’s work by at least a century and a half, and the reading of DG8 gives perfectly good sense. The second element could be either kraptr ‘power, might’ (compare cognate OE cræft) or krapti ‘timber, pillar’. Kock (NN §3073) argues for the element to be kraptr, with the resultant meaning ‘with heavenly powers’ or ‘with heavenly support’, as here, following ÓHLeg 1982, 131 (mit himmlischen Beistand). Óttarr’s stanza thus makes a bold claim of divine sanction for both the king’s fame and the poet’s praise, a claim in keeping with both the language of the 1027 Letter (which stresses divine omnipotence) and other poems for Knútr (such as the ‘cosmic’ refrains of Sigv Knútdr 3/1 and 7/1, Þloft Hfl, Þloft Tøgdr 1/1, and Hallv Knútdr 8/8: see Note to Þloft Hfl [All]).  — [8] lof ‘praise’: A double meaning may be intended here, as the word can mean ‘poem’ as well as ‘praise’. — [8] víðara ‘more widely’: A minor emendation is needed to produce this comp. adv., an alternative form to víðar (see ANG §442, Anm. 3). 

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. 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.
  6. Fidjestøl, Bjarne. 1982. Det norrøne fyrstediktet. Universitet i Bergen Nordisk institutts skriftserie 11. Øvre Ervik: Alvheim & Eide.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Bolton, Timothy. 2009. The Empire of Cnut the Great: Conquest and the Consolidation of Power in Northern Europe in the Early Eleventh Century. The Northern World 40. Leiden: Brill.
  11. Darlington, R. R. and P. McGurk, eds. 1995-. The Chronicle of John of Worcester. 3 vols. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon.
  12. Jesch, Judith. 1993b. ‘England and Orkneyinga saga’. In Batey et al. 1993, 222-39.
  13. Mynors, R. A. B., R. M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom, eds and trans. 1998-9. William of Malmesbury: Gesta Regum Anglorum. 2 vols. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon.
  14. Townend, Matthew. 2001. ‘Contextualising the Knútsdrápur: Skaldic Praise-Poetry at the Court of Cnut’. ASE 30, 145-79.
  15. Hudson, Benjamin. 1994. ‘Knútr and Viking Dublin’. SS 66, 319-35.
  16. Internal references
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Matthew Townend 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa’ 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. 767.
  20. Matthew Townend 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þórarinn loftunga, Hǫfuðlausn’ 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. 849.
  21. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 239.
  22. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 786.
  23. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Knútsdrápa 3’ 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. 653.
  24. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórarinn loftunga, Tøgdrápa 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. 852.
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