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Old Norse Online

Lesson 5

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

Scandinavian Merchant Culture

Given the exciting narratives in which the tales of Vikings are told by the Scandinavians themselves, and given the overwhelming preoccupation of other parts of Europe with the marauding forces of the Vikings, it is easy to pass over the fact that much of Scandinavian culture relied on merchant trade as a powerful source of goods and wealth. The skin-trade was an important merchant mainstay in the far north, so much so that Harald Fairhair's tribute regulations were cause for dissention in the ranks of local rulers. It seems that furs were traded in England for agricultural commodoties such as honey, wheat, wine, and cloth.

Excavations at Kaupang, near the Oslo Fjord, show evidence of a trade-route market. The market is placed back from the shore of the bay, accessible only by narrow channels which would make ship-borne raids difficult. The back of the market butts up against high mountains, making land-raids also impractical. Between the two is an open plain, suitable for pitching tents for trade. Traders typically did not erect permanent structures at such sites, but rather mounded up turf walls which were covered by a tent when the merchant returned, but were otherwise left open to the elements when unoccupied. Items found in the area surrounding Kaupang include bits of Frankish glass, pottery from the Rhineland, and other objects from the British Isles. Such items might certainly have arrived as the result of raids, but other delicate objects of Celtic origin have been found in Norway in such immaculate condition that their interpretation as war booty is relatively unlikely. From markets such as Kaupang, merchants could also head to Continental Europe with their own goods: iron, feathers and down, and soapstone (used for spindle-whorls, cookery, and molds for casting metal).

Other markets seem to have had a more permanent population, such as at Hedeby, at the base of the Jutland peninsula. This was a town which by the tenth century had a walled rampart enclosing some 60 acres. Inside this were originally long timbered houses, but these gave way to smaller houses roughly 10 feet square, built along wooden roads, each with a fenced-in courtyard and a well. People lived there year-round, and not only Scandinavians, since Frisian and Saxon graves are found there as well. A rather large population of craftsmen allowed the town to be inhabited all year long, when seasonal crops or hunting were impracticable. Artefacts pertaining to the crafts of glass-making and metal-working outweigh those of agricultural pursuits, so that basic nutritional commodities appear to have been imported from elsewhere.

The Vikings, however, had their marauding reputation for a reason, and this infected their merchant activities in the form of a lively slave trade. There was a large demand for slaves in the Arab cultures populating the Mediterranean from Spain to the Holy Land, which Scandinavians happily supplied. The Christianizing of Central Europe made this more difficult as the church tried to prevent Christian slaves from being owned by Muslims. The Scandinavians were forced to look farther east to supply their market, and the heathen Slavs were a ready source which Christians would allow to pass through their territories uninterrupted. Some of the trade passed directly to the Black Sea through the rivers of the Russian territory, but some made its way west through Hedeby, down through France, and into Spain. The Danes and Norwegians, for their part, continued to cull slaves from the British Isles, but being Christian they were difficult to sell and usually the Danes and Norwegians themselves kept them as servants.

A 30 acre Swedish settlement at Birka along the Gulf of Finland is referenced as early as 870 as a hub for trade routes leading down the Dnieper and Volga rivers into Russian territory. These trade routes led to rich hunting grounds supplying the fur trade. Arab accounts refer to the Rus (who were thought by the Arabs to be Slavs, but by Franks to be Swedes) as traders dealing in the skins of beavers and foxes, and in swords. The primary towns which arose along the Dnieper were Smolensk, Chernigov, and Kyiv (Kiev). The rulers of these settlements were Scandinavian in origin, though it is not clear what the relative populations were between Scandinavian and Slav. These eastern trade routes were the arteries for a flow of silver coins back to Sweden, Arab coins found so far numbering in the tens of thousands, Byzantine coins in the hundreds. As the Middle Eastern silver mines were depleted, the Scandinavian silver trade shifted to Germany.

Introduction to the Reading

The author of Egils saga is not known for certain. Some have suspected Snorri Sturluson wrote the tale, arguing mainly on elements of compositional style, and noting that Snorri in fact lived for a brief time at Egil's old home in the western reaches of Iceland. The saga as we have it is preserved in several different documents, the most extensive being one copy in a collection of other Icelandic sagas dating to the fourteenth century, as well as two other defective manuscripts of roughly similar date. There is a paper fragment containing part of the story which dates to the middle of the thirteenth century.

The saga tells of Egil Skallagrmson, a historical figure with a knack for adventure and raucous behaviour. His drinking exploits led to a long-lasting blood-feud when a steward of Eirk Blx tried to poison Egil because he was drinking up the store of ale. Egil killed the steward, and on a later journey sued one of Eirk's friends. Egil was driven away by Eirk's men, and in retaliation Egil killed the man he sued, as well as one of Eirk's sons.

Lesson 5 Text

The following passage is an excerpt from Egil's travels to York. Egil does not initially know that Eirk has become king of the region. When Egil's boat is wrecked, he loses hope of escaping the region unnoticed, and instead decides to confront Eirk. Egil first approaches Arinbjrn, one of Eirk's retainers, and someone who is kindly disposed toward Egil. Arinbjrn acts as Egil's advocate, leading Egil into the king's presence and speaking on his behalf. Upon convincing the king to hold off till morning the decision of any action to be taken against Egil, Arinbjrn counsels Egil to compose a poem to please the king, in hopes that artistic savvy will ultimately win him good favor. That night, Egil goes off by himself to compose the poem, but when Arinbjrn later checks Egil's progress, Egil complains that he has accomplished nothing because a noisy bird perched on his window and broke his concentration. Arinbjrn thus sits the night through keeping watch on Egil's window, and Egil brings his finished result to Eirk's court the following morning. In court several of Eirk's retainers argue for killing Egil, and Eirk's queen Gunnhild argues against them in favor of Egil. The following passage picks up at the end of this discussion.

segir Arinbjrn, "Ef , konungr, ok it Gunnhildr hafi at einrit, at Egill skal hr enga stt f, er at drengskapr, at gefa honum frest ok fararleyfi um viku sakar, at hann fori sr, hefir hann at sjlfvilja snum farit hingat fund yvarn, ok vnti sr at v friar. Fara enn skipti yur, sem vera m aan fr."

  • -- adverb; <> then -- then
  • segir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <segja (saga)> say, speak; tell, tell of; relate -- says
  • Arinbjrn -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Arinbjrn> Arinbjorn -- Arinbjorn
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • -- pronoun; nominative singular of <> thou, you -- you
  • konungr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <konungr> king -- king
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • it -- pronoun; nominative dual of <> thou, you -- you # This, being the dual 'you two', addresses both Eirik and Gunnhild; it is the following noun which places emphasis on Gunnhild in particular.
  • Gunnhildr -- proper noun, feminine; nominative singular of <Gunnhildr> Gunnhild -- Gunnhild
  • hafi -- verb; 2nd plural present of <hafa ()> have, keep; hold; accept -- have
  • at -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <s> that -- ...
  • einrit -- past participle; accusative singular neuter of <einrinn> resolved -- decided
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • Egill -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Egill> Egil -- Egil
  • skal -- verb; 3rd singular present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should
  • hr -- adverb; <hr> here -- here
  • enga -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <engi> no, none, no one -- no
  • stt -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <stt> reconciliation -- settlement
  • f -- verb; infinitive of <f> get, take; catch; have, make use of; put; give; receive; suffer; (with ppart.) be able to, get accomplished; (mid.) take place; struggle -- get
  • -- adverb; <> then -- then
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- demands
  • at -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <s> that -- ...
  • drengskapr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <drengskapr> nobility, courage -- nobility
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • gefa -- verb; infinitive of <gefa> give; give in marriage; (impers.) be obtainable -- giving
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • frest -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <frest> respite -- respite
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fararleyfi -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <fararleyfi> leave to depart -- leave to depart
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- for
  • viku -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <vika> week -- a week
  • sakar -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <sk> cause, reason; lawsuit, dispute; sake -- ...
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- so that
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • fori -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <fora (a)> save -- save
  • sr -- reflexive pronoun; dative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- himself
  • -- adverb; <> yet, and yet; however, nevertheless -- since
  • hefir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hafa ()> have, keep; hold; accept -- has
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- of
  • sjlfvilja -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <sjlfvili> free-will -- accord
  • snum -- possessive adjective; dative singular masculine of <snn> own, one's own -- his own
  • farit -- past participle; accusative singular neuter of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- travelled
  • hingat -- adverb; <hingat> hither -- here
  • -- preposition; <> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- to
  • fund -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <fundr> meeting; battle -- meet
  • yvarn -- possessive adjective; accusative singular masculine of <y(v)arr> your, of you (pl.) -- you
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • vnti -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <vnta (t)> expect -- should... expect
  • sr -- reflexive pronoun; dative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- toward himself
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- on
  • v -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <s> that -- this account
  • friar -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <frir> peace -- peaceful intentions
  • fara -- verb; 3rd plural present of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- go
  • -- adverb; <> then -- ...
  • enn -- adverb; <enn> still; also; yet; further; again; moreover; even -- the same way
  • skipti -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <skipti> (pl.) dealings -- dealings
  • yur -- possessive adjective; nominative plural neuter of <y(v)arr> your, of you (pl.) -- your
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- as
  • vera -- verb; infinitive of <vera> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- turn out
  • m -- verb; 3rd singular present of <mega> be able to, can; may -- might
  • aan -- adverb; <aan> thence -- later
  • fr -- preposition; <fr> from; concerning -- ...

Gunnhildr mlti: "Sj kann ek essu, Arinbjrn, at ert hollari Agli en Eirki konungi.

  • Gunnhildr -- proper noun, feminine; nominative singular of <Gunnhildr> Gunnhild -- Gunnhild
  • mlti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <mla (t)> speak -- said
  • sj -- verb; infinitive of <sj> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- see
  • kann -- verb; 1st singular present of <kunna> know, know how to; be able -- can
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • -- preposition; <> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- ...
  • essu -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <s> that -- this
  • Arinbjrn -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Arinbjrn> Arinbjorn -- Arinbjorn
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • -- pronoun; nominative singular of <> thou, you -- you
  • ert -- verb; 2nd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- are
  • hollari -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of comparative of <hollr> loyal -- more loyal
  • Agli -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Egill> Egil -- to Egil
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than
  • Eirki -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Eirkr> Eirik -- to... Eirik
  • konungi -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <konungr> king -- king

Ef Egill skal ra hean viku brott frii, mun hann kominn til Aalsteins konungs essi stundu.

  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • Egill -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Egill> Egil -- Egil
  • skal -- verb; 3rd singular present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should
  • ra -- verb; infinitive of <ra> ride; ride over -- ride
  • hean -- adverb; <hean> from here, hence -- from here
  • viku -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <vika> week -- for a week
  • -- preposition; <> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • brott -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <braut> road -- ...
  • -- preposition; <> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • frii -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <frir> peace -- peace
  • -- adverb; <> then -- then
  • mun -- verb; 3rd singular present of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- might
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • kominn -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- reach
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- ...
  • Aalsteins -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Aalsteinn> Athalstan, king of England -- Athalstan
  • konungs -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <konungr> king -- king
  • -- preposition; <> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- in
  • essi -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular feminine of <sj> this -- that
  • stundu -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <stund> period of time; hour; time -- time

En Eirkr konungr arf n ekki at dyljask v, at honum vera n allir konungar ofreflismenn, en fyrir skmmu mundi at ekki glkligt, at Eirkr konungr mundi eigi hafa til ess vilja ok atfer, at hefna harma sinna hverjum manni slkum sem Egill er."

  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- ...
  • Eirkr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Eirkr> Eirik -- Eirik
  • konungr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <konungr> king -- king
  • arf -- verb; 3rd singular present of <urfa (arf, urfta)> need; (impers.) be necessary -- need
  • n -- adverb; <n> now -- ...
  • ekki -- adverb; <ekki> not, by no means -- not
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • dyljask -- verb; infinitive middle of <dylja (duli)> keep on in ignorance of; (mid.) deceive oneself -- deceive himself
  • -- preposition; <> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • v -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <s> that -- this
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- than him
  • vera -- verb; 3rd plural present of <vera> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- have become
  • n -- adverb; <n> now -- now
  • allir -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all the
  • konungar -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <konungr> king -- kings
  • ofreflismenn -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <ofreflismar> one's superior power -- more powerful
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- yet
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- ...
  • skmmu -- adjective used as substantive; dative singular neuter of <skammr> short -- a short time ago
  • mundi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- would... have been
  • at -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <s> that -- that
  • ekki -- adverb; <ekki> not, by no means -- not
  • glkligt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <glkligr> likely -- likely
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • Eirkr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Eirkr> Eirik -- Eirik
  • konungr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <konungr> king -- king
  • mundi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- should
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- not
  • hafa -- verb; infinitive of <hafa ()> have, keep; hold; accept -- have
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- for
  • ess -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular neuter of <s> that -- this
  • vilja -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <vili> will, desire, disposition -- the desire
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- or
  • atfer -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <atfer> behavior; energy -- the energy
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • hefna -- verb; infinitive of <hefna (d)> avenge -- avenge
  • harma -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <harmr> sorrow, grief -- grievances
  • sinna -- possessive adjective; genitive plural masculine of <snn> own, one's own -- his
  • -- preposition; <> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- on
  • hverjum -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- each
  • manni -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <mar> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • slkum -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <slkr> such -- such
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- as
  • Egill -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Egill> Egil -- Egil
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is

Arinbjrn segir, "Engi mar mun Eirk kalla at meira mann, at hann drepi einn bndason tlendan, ann er gengit hefir vald hans.

  • Arinbjrn -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Arinbjrn> Arinbjorn -- Arinbjorn
  • segir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <segja (saga)> say, speak; tell, tell of; relate -- says
  • engi -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <engi> no, none, no one -- no
  • mar -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <mar> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • mun -- verb; 3rd singular present of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- would
  • Eirk -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Eirkr> Eirik -- Eirik
  • kalla -- verb; infinitive of <kalla> call, cry out; name; say, declare -- call
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • meira -- comparative adjective; accusative singular neuter of <meiri> more, bigger -- greater
  • mann -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mar> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • -- adverb; <> yet, and yet; however, nevertheless -- if
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- ...
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • drepi -- verb; 3rd singular subjunctive of <drepa> smite, strike; knock; kill, slay -- should kill
  • einn -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <einn> one; a certain, particular -- a
  • bndason -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <bndason> son of a farmer, son of a yeoman -- farmer's son
  • tlendan -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <tlendr> foreign -- foreign
  • ann -- demonstrative used as adjective; accusative singular masculine of <s> that -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • gengit -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- come
  • hefir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hafa ()> have, keep; hold; accept -- has
  • -- preposition; <> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- under
  • vald -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <vald> power, control -- control
  • hans -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his

En ef hann vill miklask at essu, skal ek at veita honum, at essi tindi skulu heldr ykkja frsagnarver, v at vit Egill munum n veitask at, sv at jafnsnimma skal okkr mta bum.

  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • vill -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vilja> will, wish, be willing; intend -- wants
  • miklask -- verb; infinitive middle of <mikla (a)> make great, 'embiggen'; (mid.) acquire fame -- to acquire fame
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- from
  • essu -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sj> this -- that
  • -- adverb; <> then -- then
  • skal -- verb; 1st singular present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • at -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <s> that -- this
  • veita -- verb; infinitive of <veita (tt)> grant, give; help; pay, yield; (recip.) back one another -- assist... in
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- so that
  • essi -- demonstrative used as adjective; nominative plural neuter of <sj> this -- these
  • tindi -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <tendi> (pl.) events; tidings, news -- events
  • skulu -- verb; 3rd plural present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- will
  • heldr -- adverb; <heldr> rather, any the more -- more
  • ykkja -- verb; infinitive of <ykkja (tti)> seem, be thought -- seem
  • frsagnarver -- adjective; nominative plural neuter of <frsagnarverr> worth relating -- worth telling
  • v -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <s> that -- by the (fact)
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • vit -- pronoun; nominative dual of <ek> I -- and I # Literally, vit is 'we two', and the following noun specifies 'Egil included'.
  • Egill -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Egill> Egil -- Egil
  • munum -- verb; 1st plural present of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- will
  • n -- adverb; <n> now -- now
  • veitask -- verb; infinitive of <veita (tt)> grant, give; help; pay, yield; (recip.) back one another -- help each other
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • sv -- adverb; <sv> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • jafnsnimma -- adverb; <jafnsnimma> at the same time -- equally
  • skal -- verb; 3rd singular present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- he shall
  • okkr -- pronoun; dative dual of <ek> I -- us
  • mta -- verb; infinitive of <mta (tt)> meet; deal with; (mid.) join, meet -- deal with
  • bum -- adjective; dative plural masculine of <bir> both -- both

Muntu, konungr, drt kaupa lf Egils, um at er vr erum allir at velli lagir, ek ok sveitungar mnir; mundi mik annars vara at yr, en mundir mik vilja leggja heldr at jru en lta mik iggja lf eins manns er ek bi."

  • muntu -- verb; 2nd singular present of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- you might # muntu = munt +
  • konungr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <konungr> king -- king
  • -- adverb; <> then -- ...
  • drt -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <drr> dear, expensive; precious -- dearly
  • kaupa -- verb; infinitive of <kaupa> buy; make a bargain -- pay... for
  • lf -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lf> life -- life
  • Egils -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Egill> Egil -- Egil's
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • at -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <s> that -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • vr -- pronoun; nominative plural of <ek> I -- we
  • erum -- verb; 1st plural present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- are
  • allir -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • velli -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <vllr> level ground, ground; plain; field -- low
  • lagir -- past participle; nominative plural masculine of <leggja> lay, place, put; put down, lay down; move, bring; thrust, throw; make; give -- laid
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • sveitungar -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <sveitungr> follower, retainer -- followers
  • mnir -- possessive adjective; nominative plural masculine of <minn> my, mine, of me -- my
  • mundi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- would have
  • mik -- pronoun; accusative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • annars -- adjective; genitive singular neuter of <annarr> other, another; second, next; one (of two) -- different
  • vara -- verb; infinitive of <vara ()> (impers.) expect -- expected # usage: mik vari 'I expected', with genitive
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- from
  • yr -- pronoun; dative plural of <> thou, you -- you
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than that
  • -- pronoun; nominative singular of <> thou, you -- you
  • mundir -- verb; 2nd singular past of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- would
  • mik -- pronoun; accusative singular of <ek> I -- me
  • vilja -- verb; infinitive of <vilja> will, wish, be willing; intend -- be... willing
  • leggja -- verb; infinitive of <leggja> lay, place, put; put down, lay down; move, bring; thrust, throw; make; give -- to lay
  • heldr -- adverb; <heldr> rather, any the more -- more
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- on
  • jru -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <jr> earth, world; ground, soil -- the ground
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than
  • lta -- verb; infinitive of <lta> put, place; let, allow; concede, yield; leave, leave off; lose; cause to be done, command; behave (as if); declare; sound -- let
  • mik -- pronoun; accusative singular of <ek> I -- me
  • iggja -- verb; infinitive of <iggja> accept, receive -- receive
  • lf -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lf> life -- the life
  • eins -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <einn> one; a certain, particular -- of one
  • manns -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <mar> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • bi -- verb; 1st singular present of <bija> ask; beg; pray; bid -- request

segir konungr, "Allmikit kapp leggr etta, Arinbjrn, at veita Agli li.

  • -- adverb; <> then -- then
  • segir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <segja (saga)> say, speak; tell, tell of; relate -- says
  • konungr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <konungr> king -- the king
  • allmikit -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <allmikill> very great -- great
  • kapp -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <kapp> contest, competition; spirit, ardour, courage -- pains
  • leggr -- verb; 2nd singular present of <leggja> lay, place, put; put down, lay down; move, bring; thrust, throw; make; give -- take
  • -- pronoun; nominative singular of <> thou, you -- you
  • -- preposition; <> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- in
  • etta -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sj> this -- this
  • Arinbjrn -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Arinbjrn> Arinbjorn -- Arinbjorn
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • veita -- verb; infinitive of <veita (tt)> grant, give; help; pay, yield; (recip.) back one another -- give
  • Agli -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Egill> Egil -- Egil
  • li -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <li> people; band, host; troops; herd; help, aid -- assistance

Traur mun ek til vera, at gra r skaa, ef v er at skipta, ef vill heldr leggja fram lf itt en hann s drepinn.

  • traur -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <traur> unwilling, reluctant -- reluctant
  • mun -- verb; 1st singular present of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- might
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- ...
  • vera -- verb; infinitive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- be
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • gra -- verb; infinitive of <gra> make, build; write, compose -- do
  • r -- pronoun; nominative plural of <> thou, you -- you
  • skaa -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <skai> damage, loss -- harm
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • v -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <s> that -- to that
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • skipta -- verb; infinitive of <skipta (t)> divide, share; exchange; decide -- comes
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • -- pronoun; nominative singular of <> thou, you -- you
  • vill -- verb; 2nd singular present of <vilja> will, wish, be willing; intend -- would
  • heldr -- adverb; <heldr> rather, any the more -- rather
  • leggja -- verb; infinitive of <leggja> lay, place, put; put down, lay down; move, bring; thrust, throw; make; give -- set
  • fram -- adverb; <fram> forward, on; away; out -- aside
  • lf -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lf> life -- life
  • itt -- possessive adjective; accusative singular neuter of <inn> thy, thine, of you -- your
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than that
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • s -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- be
  • drepinn -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <drepa> smite, strike; knock; kill, slay -- killed

En rnar eru sakar til vi Egil, hvat sem ek lt gra vi hann."

  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • rnar -- adjective; nominative plural feminine of <rinn> sufficient, enough -- sufficient
  • eru -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- there are
  • sakar -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <sk> cause, reason; lawsuit, dispute; sake -- causes
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- ...
  • vi -- preposition; <vi> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- against
  • Egil -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Egill> Egil -- Egil
  • hvat -- pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- what
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- ever
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • lt -- verb; 1st singular present of <lta> put, place; let, allow; concede, yield; leave, leave off; lose; cause to be done, command; behave (as if); declare; sound -- order
  • gra -- verb; infinitive of <gra> make, build; write, compose -- to be done
  • vi -- preposition; <vi> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- with
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him

Ok er konungr hafi etta mlt, gekk Egill fyrir hann ok hf upp kvit ok kva htt ok fekk egar hlj:

  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- as
  • konungr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <konungr> king -- the king
  • hafi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <hafa ()> have, keep; hold; accept -- had
  • etta -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sj> this -- that
  • mlt -- past participle; accusative singular neuter of <mla (t)> speak -- said
  • -- adverb; <> then -- ...
  • gekk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- went
  • Egill -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Egill> Egil -- Egil
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- before
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • hf -- verb; 3rd singular past of <hefja> lift, raise -- took
  • upp -- adverb; <upp> up -- up
  • kvit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <kvi> poem + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- his poem
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • kva -- verb; 3rd singular past of <kvea> say, declare; utter, say in verse; recite; utter a cry -- spoke
  • htt -- adjective used as substantive; accusative singular neuter of <hr> tall, high; loud -- loud
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fekk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <f> get, take; catch; have, make use of; put; give; receive; suffer; (with ppart.) be able to, get accomplished; (mid.) take place; struggle -- commanded
  • egar -- adverb; <egar> at once -- ...
  • hlj -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <hlj> silence, hearing -- silence

Vestr frk of ver, en ek Viris ber
        munstrandar mar, svs mitt of far;
        drk eik flot vi sabrot,
        hlk mrar hlut munknarrar skut.

  • vestr -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <vestr> the west -- westward
  • frk -- verb; 1st singular past of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel + pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I rode
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- over
  • ver -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <ver> sea -- the sea
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • Viris -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Virir> Odin -- Odin's
  • ber -- verb; 1st singular present of <bera> bear, bring, carry; wear; give birth to; overcome; endure; bear (witness) -- bear
  • munstrandar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <munstrnd> shore of the mind, breast, heart -- of... breast
  • mar -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <marr> sea -- the sea
  • svs -- adverb; <sv> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if + verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- as was # es is the older form of er
  • mitt -- possessive adjective; genitive singular masculine of <minn> my, mine, of me -- my
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ... # often used adverbially in poetry for emphasis
  • far -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <far> track, subject; conduct, deeds; condition -- condition
  • drk -- verb; 1st singular past of <draga> draw, haul + pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I dragged
  • eik -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <eik> oak; tree; ship -- the oak
  • flot -- adverb; < flot> afloat -- afloat
  • vi -- preposition; <vi> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- during
  • sabrot -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sabrot> the breaking of the ice -- the ice-breaking
  • hlk -- verb; 1st singular past of <hlaa> load; pile + pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I loaded
  • mrar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <mr> praise; encomium -- of praise
  • hlut -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <hlutr> part, piece, thing -- (with) a cargo
  • munknarrar -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <munknrr> ship of the mind, mind -- (my) mind's
  • skut -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <skutr> back cabin -- hold

Buumk hilmi l k hrrs of kv,
        berk ins mj Engla bj.
        Lofat vsa vann, vst mrik ann,
        hljs bijum hann, vt hrr of fann.

  • buumk -- verb; 1st singular past middle of <bja> offer, provide; command, summon -- I offered myself
  • hilmi -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <hilmir> chief, king -- to the king
  • l -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <l> invitation; hospitality -- with hospitality
  • k -- verb; 1st singular present of <eiga> own, have, possess; have in marriage; have the power to; have claim to; have duty to + pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I have
  • hrrs -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <hrr (rs)> praise; encomium -- of praise
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ...
  • kv -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <kv> duty -- the duty
  • berk -- verb; 1st singular present of <bera> bear, bring, carry; wear; give birth to; overcome; endure; bear (witness) + pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I bear
  • ins -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <inn> Othin, Odin -- Odin's
  • mj -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mjr> mead -- mead # 'Odin's mead' = 'poetry'
  • -- preposition; <> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- to
  • Engla -- proper noun, masculine plural; genitive of <Englar> Angles, the English -- of the Angles
  • bj -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <bj> land(s), (pl.) fields -- the lands
  • lofat -- past participle; accusative singular neuter of <lofa (a)> praise; allow, permit -- the... praise
  • vsa -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <vsi> leader -- prince's
  • vann -- verb; 1st singular past of <vinna> work, perform, do (with ppart.) -- I have accomplished
  • vst -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <vss> certain, wise -- certainly
  • mrik -- verb; 1st singular present subjunctive of <mra ()> praise + pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I should praise
  • ann -- demonstrative used as adjective; accusative singular masculine of <s> that -- him
  • hljs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <hlj> silence, hearing -- for audience
  • bijum -- verb; 1st plural present of <bija> ask; beg; pray; bid -- I ask
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • vt -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <s> that + conjunction; <at> that -- since
  • hrr -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <hrr (rs)> praise; encomium -- (his) praise
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ...
  • fann -- verb; 1st singular past of <finna> find, meet; discover; notice; invent -- I have composed

Hygg vsi at, vel smir at,
        hv ylja fet, ef gn of get.
        Flestr mar of fr hvat fylkir v,
        en Virir s hvar valr of l.

  • hygg -- verb; 2nd singular imperative of <hyggja (hugi, hugar)> think, believe -- consider
  • vsi -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <vsi> leader -- king
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- this
  • vel -- adverb; <vel> well, readily, easily -- well
  • smir -- verb; 2nd singular present subjunctive of <sma (d)> beseem, become -- would you do
  • at -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <s> that -- ...
  • hv -- interrogative adverb; <hv> how -- how
  • ylja -- verb; infinitive of <ylja (uldi)> recite -- to recite
  • fet -- verb; 1st singular present of <feta> step; proceed in, begin to -- I start
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • gn -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <gn> silence -- silence
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ...
  • get -- verb; 1st singular present of <geta> get, obtain; engender; (with ppart.) be able to, get done; (with infin.) happen to (do); be obtainable; guess, suppose; relate, tell of -- I obtain
  • flestr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <flestr> most -- many a
  • mar -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <mar> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ...
  • fr -- verb; 3rd singular past of <fregna> learn, hear of; ask -- has heard # cf. Old Eng. fregn; not to be confused with the preposition fr
  • hvat -- pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- what (fights)
  • fylkir -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <fylkir> king -- the king
  • v -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vega> lift; smite, fight; kill, slay -- has fought
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • Virir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Virir> Odin -- Odin
  • s -- verb; 3rd singular past of <sj> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- saw
  • hvar -- adverb; <hvar> where; everywhere -- where
  • valr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <valr> the slain -- the slain
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ...
  • l -- verb; 3rd singular past of <liggja> be situated; lie (down); be slain -- lay

x hjrva hlm vi hlfar rm,
        gur x of gram, gramr stti fram:
        ar heyrisk , aut mkis ,
        malmhrar sp, ss mest of l.

  • x -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vaxa> wax, grow, increase -- grew
  • hjrva -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <hjrr> sword -- of swords
  • hlm -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <hlm> crashing sound -- the din
  • vi -- preposition; <vi> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- against
  • hlfar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <hlf> cover, shelter; shield -- the shield's
  • rm -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <rmr> edge, rim (of a shield) -- rim
  • gur -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <gur> battle -- the battle
  • x -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vaxa> wax, grow, increase -- waxed
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- round
  • gram -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <gramr> king -- the king
  • gramr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <gramr> king -- the king
  • stti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <skja> seek, go to fetch; visit; proceed -- pressed
  • fram -- adverb; <fram> forward, on; away; out -- onward
  • ar -- adverb; <ar> there, in that place -- there
  • heyrisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <heyra ()> hear, hear of -- was heard
  • -- adverb; <> then -- ...
  • aut -- verb; 3rd singular past of <jta> resound; rush, flow -- flowed
  • mkis -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <mkir> sword -- sword's
  • -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <> river -- the... stream
  • malmhrar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <malmhr> storm of metal, battle -- of the metal-storm
  • sp -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <sp> prophecy, song of fate -- the prophecy
  • ss -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <s> that + relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- where
  • mest -- superlative adjective; accusative singular neuter of <mestr> most, greatest -- strongest
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ...
  • l -- verb; 3rd singular past of <liggja> be situated; lie (down); be slain -- lay

Lesson Text

segir Arinbjrn, "Ef , konungr, ok it Gunnhildr hafi at einrit, at Egill skal hr enga stt f, er at drengskapr, at gefa honum frest ok fararleyfi um viku sakar, at hann fori sr, hefir hann at sjlfvilja snum farit hingat fund yvarn, ok vnti sr at v friar. Fara enn skipti yur, sem vera m aan fr."

Gunnhildr mlti: "Sj kann ek essu, Arinbjrn, at ert hollari Agli en Eirki konungi. Ef Egill skal ra hean viku brott frii, mun hann kominn til Aalsteins konungs essi stundu. En Eirkr konungr arf n ekki at dyljask v, at honum vera n allir konungar ofreflismenn, en fyrir skmmu mundi at ekki glkligt, at Eirkr konungr mundi eigi hafa til ess vilja ok atfer, at hefna harma sinna hverjum manni slkum sem Egill er."

Arinbjrn segir, "Engi mar mun Eirk kalla at meira mann, at hann drepi einn bndason tlendan, ann er gengit hefir vald hans. En ef hann vill miklask at essu, skal ek at veita honum, at essi tindi skulu heldr ykkja frsagnarver, v at vit Egill munum n veitask at, sv at jafnsnimma skal okkr mta bum. Muntu, konungr, drt kaupa lf Egils, um at er vr erum allir at velli lagir, ek ok sveitungar mnir; mundi mik annars vara at yr, en mundir mik vilja leggja heldr at jru en lta mik iggja lf eins manns er ek bi."

segir konungr, "Allmikit kapp leggr etta, Arinbjrn, at veita Agli li. Traur mun ek til vera, at gra r skaa, ef v er at skipta, ef vill heldr leggja fram lf itt en hann s drepinn. En rnar eru sakar til vi Egil, hvat sem ek lt gra vi hann."

Ok er konungr hafi etta mlt, gekk Egill fyrir hann ok hf upp kvit ok kva htt ok fekk egar hlj:

Vestr frk of ver, en ek Viris ber
        munstrandar mar, svs mitt of far;
        drk eik flot vi sabrot,
        hlk mrar hlut munknarrar skut.

Buumk hilmi l k hrrs of kv,
        berk ins mj Engla bj.
        Lofat vsa vann, vst mrik ann,
        hljs bijum hann, vt hrr of fann.

Hygg vsi at, vel smir at,
        hv ylja fet, ef gn of get.
        Flestr mar of fr hvat fylkir v,
        en Virir s hvar valr of l.

x hjrva hlm vi hlfar rm,
        gur x of gram, gramr stti fram:
        ar heyrisk , aut mkis ,
        malmhrar sp, ss mest of l.

Translation

Then Arinbjorn says, 'If you, king, and you Gunnhild have decided that Egil should get no settlement here, then nobility demands giving him respite and leave to depart for a week, so that he save himself, since he has travelled here of his own accord to meet you, and should on this account expect peaceful intentions toward himself. Your dealings go the same way as it might turn out later.
Gunnhild said, 'I can see this, Arinbjorn, that you are more loyal to Egil than to King Eirik. If Egil should ride from here for a week in peace, then he might reach King Athalstan in that time. King Eirik need not deceive himself in this, that now all the kings have become more powerful than him; yet a short time ago that would not have been likely, that King Eirik should not have the desire or energy for this, to avenge his grievances on each man such as Egil is.'
Arinbjorn said, 'No man would call Eirik a greater man if he should kill a foreign farmer's son, who has come under his control. But if he wants to acquire fame from this, then I should assist him in this, so that these events will seem more worth telling, by the fact that Egil and I will now help each other, so that he shall deal equally with us both. You might, king, pay dearly for Egil's life, when we are all laid low, I and my followers; I would have expected different from you, than that you would be more willing to lay me on the ground than let me receive the life of one man which I request.'
Then the king says, 'You take great pains in this, Arinbjorn, to give Egil assistance. Reluctant might I be to do you harm, if it comes to that, if you would rather set aside your life than that he be killed. But there are sufficient causes against Egil, whatever I order to be done with him.'
And as the king had said that, Egil went before him and took up his poem and spoke loud and commanded silence:
Westward I rode out over the sea, and I bear the sea
of Odin's breast, as was my condition;
I dragged the oak afloat during the ice-breaking,
I loaded my mind's hold with a cargo of praise.
I offered myself to the king with hospitality, I have the duty of praise,
I bear Odin's mead to the lands of the Angles.
I have accomplished the prince's praise, certainly I should praise him,
I ask him for audience, since I have composed his praise.
Consider this, king, well would you do,
how I start to recite, if I obtain silence.
Many a man has heard what fights the king has fought,
and Odin saw where the slain lay.
The din grew of swords against the shield's rim,
the battle waxed round the king, the king pressed onward:
there was heard the prophecy of the metal-storm,
the sword's stream flowed, where it lay strongest.
[N.B. . In the end, Egil's poem wins him his life.]

Grammar

21. Distributive and Negative Pronouns and Adjectives
21.1. Distributives

As already mentioned, the pronoun hverj- in the sense 'which (of many)' is distinct from hvr- 'which of two'. hverj- declines as in Section 18.2, while hvr- follows the normal declension of regular strong adjectives, e.g. masc. N sg. hvrr, pl. hvrir; fem. N sg. hvr, pl. hvrar; neut. N sg. hvrt, pl. hvr.

hvr(r)tveggja 'each of two' is clearly a collocation involving hvr- mentioned above and tveggja, G pl. of tveir 'two'. As such, the first element is always declined like hvrr. The second element is usually left unchanged, but sometimes takes the endings of the feminine weak adjective.

hverj- 'each, every' is declined like a regular strong adjective, except for the contracted masc. A sg. hvern. Thus masc. N sg. hverr, pl. hverir; fem. N sg. hver, pl. hverjar; neut. N sg. hvert, pl. hver.

b- 'both' occurs only in the plural. Note the peculiar neuter forms, and the G pl. form, in the following paradigm.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Pl.   bir   bar   bi
A   ba   bar   bi
G   beggja   beggja   beggja
D   bum   bum   bum
             
21.2. Negatives

Old Norse has a number of negative pronouns and adjectives, many of which are compounds of an indefinite pronoun or adjective with some particle or word conveying negative force. Only two are particularly common, nein- and engi-, and of these engi- is by far the most prevalent.

nein- 'none, not any' is declined like ein-, so that all of its forms follow the regular strong adjective declension, except the neut. N and A sg. forms neitt (instead of *neint). It also has plural forms which follow regular strong adjective declension.

engi- 'no, none' is a combination of ein 'one' and the particle gi. The coalescence of the two leads to several irregular forms.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   engi   engi   ekki
A   engan, engi   enga   ekki
G   einskis, engis   engrar   einskis, engis
D   engum   engri   engu
             
N Pl.   engir   engar   engi
A   enga   engar   engi
G   engra   engra   engra
D   engum   engum   engum
             

Other less common forms have the stem eing- or ng-. Sometimes -v- is present before endings beginning with an a, e.g. fem. N / A pl. ngvar, engvar; and before the masc. N pl. ending -ir, e.g. ngvir, engvir.

22. Numerals
22.1. Cardinals and Ordinals

Below is a list of the cardinal and ordinal numerals in Old Norse.

Number   Cardinal   Ordinal
         
1   einn   fyrstr
2   tveir   annarr
3   rr   rii
4   fjrir   fjri
5   fimm   fimmti
6   sex   stti
7   sjau   sjaundi
8   tta   tti, ttandi
9   nu   nundi
10   tu   tundi
11   ellifu   ellifti
12   tlf   tlfti
13   rettn   rettndi
14   fjrtn   fjrtndi
15   fimmtn   fimmtndi
16   sextn   sextndi
17   sjautn   sjautndi
18   tjn   tjndi
19   ntjn   ntjndi
20   tuttugu   tuttugandi
21   tuttugu ok einn   tuttugandi ok fyrstr
    einn ok tuttugu   fyrstr ok tuttugandi
22   tuttugu ok tveir   tuttugandi ok annarr
30   rr tigir   rtugandi
31   rr tigir ok einn   rtugandi ok fyrstr
40   fjrir tigir   fertugandi
50   fimm tigir   fimmtugandi
60   sex tigir   sextugandi
70   sjau tigir   sjautugandi
80   tta tigir   ttatugandi
90   nu tigir   ntugandi
100   tu tigir   (ttugandi)
110   ellifu tigir   (ellifutugandi)
120   hundra   (hundraasti)
200   hundra ok tta tigir   (hundraasti ok ttatugandi)
240   tvau hundra    
960   tta hundra    
1200   sund   (sandasti)

The ordinals in parentheses are not recorded in ON texts. The forms given are supplied from Modern Icelandic. The ending -andi is often written -undi in ON texts.

Although the above list shows the most common usage, hundra and sund are occasionally used as in Modern English, i.e. hundra = 100 and sand = 1000. One must determine from context which meaning is intended. Often the exact numerical value of such large numbers was rather unimportant to the writer or speaker.

The form tigir which appears in the cardinal decades is the nominative plural of the masculine noun tigr 'group of ten, decade' (also written tegr, tugr, tgr, stem tig-u-). hundra is a neuter noun, sund feminine.

22.2. Numeral Declension

The cardinal numbers one through four are declined as adjectives, agreeing with the modified noun in gender, number, and case. ein- occurs in the singular and plural. In the plural the meaning is akin to 'only, alone'. The cardinals 2, 3, 4 occur only in the plural. The declensions are given below.

ein- 'one'   Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   einn   ein   eitt
A   einn   eina   eitt
G   eins   einnar   eins
D   einum   einni   einu
             
N Pl.   einir   einar   ein
A   eina   einar   ein
G   einna   einna   einna
D   einum   einum   einum
             
tveir 'two'   Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Pl.   tveir   tvr   tvau
A   tv   tvr   tvau
G   tveggja   tveggja   tveggja
D   tveim(r)   tveim(r)   tveim(r)
             
r- 'three'   Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Pl.   rr   rjr   rj
A   rj   rjr   rj
G   riggja   riggja   riggja
D   rim(r)   rim(r)   rim(r)
             
fjr- 'four'   Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Pl.   fjrir   fjrar   fjgur
A   fjra   fjrar   fjgur
G   fjgurra   fjgurra   fjgurra
D   fjrum   fjrum   fjrum
             

The cardinal numbers 5 through 20 are uninflected. As mentioned in the preceding section, tigr is declined as a strong masculine noun, hundra as a strong neuter, and sund as a strong feminine.

The ordinal numbers one through four are also declined as adjectives. fyrst- 'first' declines as both strong and weak adjective, all genders, singular and plural. For example, masc. N sg. fyrsti (weak), fyrstr (strong); masc. N pl. fyrstu (weak), fyrstir (strong). The cardinal annar- 'second' is declined exactly as the pronoun 'other'. rij- 'third' is only declined as a weak adjective. For example, N sg. masc. rii, fem./neut. rija; N pl. all genders riju. fjr- 'fourth' is also declined only as a weak adjective: N sg. masc. fjri, fem./neut. fjra; N pl. all genders fjru.

The remaining ordinals, such as fimmti, stti, ..., tuttugandi, ..., all declined as weak adjectives, matching the referent in gender, case, and number.

23. The First Strong Conjugation

Each strong verb conjugation in ON is characterized by a specific ablaut pattern, which is the remnant of historical sound changes that affected a group of verbs in a similar fashion. The first strong conjugation is characterized by the following pattern:

    -- ei -- i,e from Proto-Germanic -- ai -- i.

The first vowel is characteristic of present forms, the second of past singular forms, the third of past plural forms. These vowels are subject to further change depending on the environment in which they occur within the verbal paradigm (see Lesson 1 for a more detailed discussion of ablaut and the principal parts of strong verbs).

Verbs of Class I whose stem ends with g sometimes show variant forms for the 1st and 3rd person singular of the past tense. The g often drops and the vowel changes, e.g. stga 'step' gives steig or st, hnga 'fall' gives either hneig or hn. The verb ba 'abide' has past participle beinn instead of the expected biinn.

The verb bta 'bite', with prinicpal parts bta -- btr -- beit -- bitu -- biti -- bitinn, serves to illustrate the forms of the first conjugation. The active forms are as follows.

Class I   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   bt   bta    
2   btr   btir   bt
3   btr   bti    
             
1 Pl.   btum   btim   btum
2   bti   bti   bti
3   bta   bti    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   beit   bita    
2   beitt   bitir    
3   beit   biti    
             
1 Pl.   bitum   bitim    
2   bitu   biti    
3   bitu   biti    
             
Infinitive   bta        
             
Pres. Ptc.   btandi        
             
Past Ptc.   bitinn        

The middle forms are listed below.

Class I   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   btumk   btumk    
2   bzk   btisk   bzk
3   bzk   btisk    
             
1 Pl.   btumsk   btimsk   btumsk
2   btizk   btizk   btizk
3   btask   btisk    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   bitumk   bitumk    
2   beizk   bitisk    
3   beizk   bitisk    
             
1 Pl.   bitumsk   bitimsk    
2   bituzk   bitizk    
3   bitusk   bitisk    
             
Infinitive   btask        
             
Pres. Ptc.   btandisk        
             
Past Ptc.   bitizk        
24. The Second Strong Conjugation

The second strong conjugation comprises verbs whose present system often shows the diphthong j. The ablaut series is as follows.

    j, j -- au -- u, o; from Proto-Germanic eu -- au -- u, .

When the consonant following the root vowel is a dental (, d, s, t), j is realized as j. For example, brjta 'break', ljsta 'smite', skjta 'shoot', bja 'offer', rjta 'come to an end', kjsa 'choose'. As with all strong verbs, the root vowel is fronted in the present tense singular; for Class II verbs in particular, this means j, j becomes .

As in Class I, stem-final g may be dropped in verbs of Class II. For example, fljga 'fly', with stem fljg- has alternate stems fl- and flaug- in the past tense singular. Similarly, smjg- 'creep' has sm- and smaug-. Thus ek fl or ek flaug, fltt or flaugt. The alternation apparently arises from stem variation at an earlier period, in which the final consonant was h in past singular. A similar alternation between the phonemes /s/ and /z/ led to variant forms in verbs ending in sibilants. For example frjsa 'freeze', with stem frjs-, has the variant stem frr- in the past singular; similarly kjsa 'choose' (stem kjs-) has variant kr-.

Three verbs of Class II -- lka 'finish', spa 'sip', lta 'bow' -- show no j in the present system.

The verb skjta 'shoot', with principal parts skjta -- sktr -- skaut -- skutu -- skyti -- skotinn, illustrates the conjugation. The active forms are as follows.

Class II   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   skt   skjta    
2   sktr   skjtir   skjt
3   sktr   skjti    
             
1 Pl.   skjtum   skjtim   skjtum
2   skjti   skjti   skjti
3   skjta   skjti    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   skaut   skyta    
2   skautt   skytir    
3   skaut   skyti    
             
1 Pl.   skutum   skytim    
2   skutu   skyti    
3   skutu   skyti    
             
Infinitive   skjta        
             
Pres. Ptc.   skjtandi        
             
Past Ptc.   skotinn        

The middle forms are listed below.

Class II   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   sktumk   skjtumk    
2   skzk   skjtisk   skjzk
3   skzk   skjtisk    
             
1 Pl.   skjtumsk   skjtimsk   skjtumsk
2   skjtizk   skjtizk   skjtizk
3   skjtask   skjtisk    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   skutumk   skytumk    
2   skauzk   skytisk    
3   skauzk   skytisk    
             
1 Pl.   skutumsk   skytimsk    
2   skutuzk   skytizk    
3   skutusk   skytisk    
             
Infinitive   skjtask        
             
Pres. Ptc.   skjtandisk        
             
Past Ptc.   skotizk        
25. Adverbs
25.1. General

Old Norse employs a few different mechanisms for deriving adverbs. The most common are listed below.

Neuter accusative singular. The neuter accusative singular of adjectives is used in an adverbial role. For example, mikit 'much, greatly'; lgt 'low, softly'; srt 'sorely'; allt 'all the way'; htt 'loudly, out loud'.

Suffix -a. The suffix -a is used to form adverbs from adjectives, e.g. illa 'badly'. This is commonly used with adjectives derived by means of the suffix -lig-, e.g. ferliga 'hideously', harliga 'fiercely', varliga 'scarcely'. Such forms are often shortened, e.g. harla, varla.

Other cases. Other cases of nouns and adjectives are occasionally used in an adverbial sense.

  • Accusative: megin 'side(s)' < vegr 'way';
  • Genitive: alls 'of all, at all'; stundar 'very, quite';
  • Dative: miklu 'much, by far'; strum 'hugely'; nstum 'the last time'; stundum 'sometimes'.
25.2. Negation and Affirmation

Adverbs corresponding to Modern English yes and no are ON j and nei. The intensive particle -gi often forms a negative, e.g. eigi 'not'; engi 'no, not any'; hvergi 'nowhere, not at all'; aldri 'never' < aldregi. eigi and ekki correspond to Modern English 'not' used with verbs. Poetry frequently employs -a, -at, and -gi as enclitic negative suffixes, e.g. vas-k-a = var ek -a 'I was not'. n is occasionally used in conjunction with these enclitics: sofa n m-k-at 'I cannot sleep'.

25.3. Local

A few suffixes are used to denote specific types or directions of motion. These are listed below.

Suffix -i. Used to denote stationary location. Thus inn 'into' vs. inni 'inside, within'.

Suffix -an. Used to denote motion from a place. Thus innan 'from within'.

Suffix -gat. Used to denote motion toward a place, e.g. hingat 'to here' < hinn veg at, angat 'to there'.

Suffix -nig. Used to denote motion toward a place, e.g. hinnig 'to here'.

The adverb fyrir 'before, in front' is commonly used in the following type of construction:

    fyrir + (adv.)-an + acc. 'off, along, near', e.g. fyrir austan land 'along the east coast'.

Adverbs such as austan are often used with the genitive to denote 'east of', and the like.

25.4. Comparison

Comparative and superlative adverbs are often formed in a regular way from the corresponding adjectives. The neuter accusative may be used, so that optar and optast are comparative and superlative of opt 'often'. The suffix -a is also common, so that hvassara and hvassast are comparative and superlative of hvast 'keenly'. The procedure also applies to adjectives employing the comparative suffix -r and superlative -st, with fronting of the root vowel: langt/lengi 'long', comp. lengr(a), sup. lengst. As with adjectives, some adverbs have a suppletive system of comparison. The most common forms are listed below.

Positive   Comparative   Superlative
         
ltt 'little'   minnr, mir   minst
mjk 'much'   meir(r)   mest
vel 'well'   betr   bezt
illa 'badly'   verr   verst
gjarna 'willingly'   heldr   helzt