Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Marteinn Helgi Sigurðsson

Tyrannicide in AM 291 4to

Jómsvíkinga saga (Uncensored) and Politics in Twelfth-Century Denmark

Þriðjudaginn 29. janúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Marteinn Helgi Sigurðsson

The lecture builds on research behind the new edition of Jómsvíkinga saga in Íslenzk fornrit, vol. 33, eds. Þorleifur Hauksson and Marteinn Helgi Sigurðsson (Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 2018). Jómsvíkinga saga is assumed to have been composed in Iceland c. 1200 and is best known for its entertaining account of how a Danish war-band known as the Jómsvíkingar invaded Norway in the depth of winter and were defeated there at the sea-battle of Hjörungavogur by Earl Hákon of Hlaðir (d. 995), the arch-enemy of Christianity in Norway. The semi-legendary Jómsvíkingar were based in the fortress of Jómsborg in Wendland on the southern coast of the Baltic (Wolin in present day Poland), a region conquered during the Wendish crusades two centuries later by the Danish king Valdimar the Great and Archbishop Absalon of Lund. According to other and more reliable sources, the founder of Jómsborg and the Jómsvíkingar was the Danish king Harald (Bluetooth) Gormsson (d. c. 987). Jómsvíkinga saga ascribes the foundation of the war-band and fortress instead to Pálna-Tóki, a legendary Danish chieftain who is also made the grandfather of Vagn Ákason, the main hero and survivor of the aforementioned sea-battle in Norway. Vagn Ákason was evidently held to have been the forefather of Absalon’s predecessor in Lund, the crusading Archbishop Eskil Kristiarnsen (1137-1178, d. 1181), and the lecture explores how and why the saga exalts Eskil’s tenth-century forefathers at the expense of Harald Bluetooth and his son Swein Forkbeard, the forefathers of Valdimar the Great. The saga’s account of Pálna-Tóki’s assassination of the tyrant-king Harald Bluetooth is central in this regard, and the earliest manuscript of Jómsvíkinga saga, AM 291 4to, contains a far more vivid depiction of Pálna-Tóki’s tyrannicide than other redactions of the saga. According to the saga, Pálna-Tóki killed King Harald in order to avenge the tyrant’s killing of Áki, the innocent brother of Pálna-Tóki’s father. The 291 version evidently links the king’s demeaning death also to his hostility and injustice towards Icelanders, whose communal cursing (níð) of the Danish King is only related in the 291 version. The lecture concludes with speculations about the authorship of the saga and its possible ties to the figure of Arnoldus Tylensis ‘Arnold the Icelander’, a poet, prophet and antiquarian in the service of Valdimar and Absalon who might have made a rather bold ‘cameo appearance’ at a crucial moment in Jómsvíkinga saga.

Marteinn Helgi Sigurðsson er doktor í norrænum fræðum frá Cambridge, Englandi, og M.Phil. í miðaldasögu frá St. Andrews á Skotlandi. Rannsóknarsvið hans eru m.a. nafnfræði, goðafræði, kirkjusaga og trúarlegar bókmenntir á miðöldum. Hann hefur kennt við Háskóla Íslands og Hafnarháskóla og vann með Þorleifi Haukssyni að nýlegri útgáfu Jómsvíkinga sögu í ritröðinni Íslenzk fornrit.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Seán Vrieland

Manuscript variation in a multilingual corpus

The case of Guta Saga

Fimmtudaginn 24. janúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Seán Vrieland

The criteria for selecting which textual variants in medieval texts preserved in manuscripts can be used for determining the relationships between these texts are rarely well defined and often more subjective than one might desire in a research context. Frequently the criteria for selecting (or deselecting) variants is language-specific; for example, the reversal of subject and verb in Old Icelandic (hann fór vs. fór hann) is considered minor variation and cannot be used as a main criterion for grouping manuscripts.

This matter becomes even more complicated when dealing with a text preserved in translation alongside the original language, for which the direct exemplar of the translated text is not always preserved.

Such is the case of Guta Saga, the thirteenth-century pseudohistorical narrative from Gotland best known from the manuscript Stockholm, National Library, B 64, the only complete copy in the original Old Gutnish language. However, the text is also preserved in translation in four manuscripts: one in German, one in Swedish, and two in Danish. Despite representing different branches of the text than that found in B 64, these manuscripts are rarely included in editions or discussions of Guta Saga.

This paper discusses the variation found in Chapter 2 of Guta Saga (the only chapter present in every manuscript) as an example of how to determine what types of variants can be considered significant when working with a multilingual corpus. It will be shown that much variation can be considered language-specific, and therefore not significant when building a corpus. On the other hand, some forms of variation – especially lexical – can be used in determining whether a translation was made directly from the original language of the text (in this case, Old Gutnish) or via a third language.

Finally, it will be show that, in order to understand the life of a medieval text, one must also take translations into account.

Seán Vrieland is a post-doc at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen, where he received his PhD in 2018. His current project focuses on the language and paleography of Old Danish charters, while his broader research interests include linguistics and philology of the Nordic languages, especially Old East Norse.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Tim W. Machan

“Stories That Make Things Real”

Fimmtudaginn 10. janúar 2019 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Tim W. Machan

The impact of medieval Norse literature on later English literature and culture is a story well-told by McKinnell, McTurk, Wawn, Clunies Ross, Jón Helgason, and others. This talk seeks, then, not to rehearse, much less try to expand on, this well-established story. Instead, it positions literary activity and its representations in relation to the other ways by which an Anglo-Scandinavian memory was fashioned beginning in the early modern period and continuing into the nineteenth century. These include travelogues, ethnography, mythography, historiography, assessments of morality, and language studies. Since stories and fictional figures can be more easily epitomized and remembered than social or psychological abstractions, they can function more readily as decontextualized tropes — mnemonics that operate irrespectively of any historical specifics. Early English ethnographers’ cultivation of an Asiatic Óðinn did just this. What adds to the explanatory and emotive force of a myth like this one, or Snorri’s much re-used account of Þόrr spending a night in the giant Skrýmir’s mitten, is that it can take along with it less obvious memories of racial and ethnic identity. It is not coincidental, then, that the greatest impact of medieval Nordic literature on English literature, and so on discussions of the connections between them, should be post-medieval, when such broader cultural memories were themselves being actively constructed in the formation of the United Kingdom.

The talk will open with a discussion of competing Nordic and English uses of Scandinavian mythology — specifically of English appropriation of the Poetic Edda to help in the reconstruction of putatively lost Anglo-Saxon myths. It will then consider how the sagas provided nineteenth-century travelers with the inspiration to visit Iceland and to talk about the details of the lost medieval world that they could find there. In effect, the Edda, mapped by the sagas, inspired trips to the English past. The final portion of the lecture will turn to William Morris as an illustration of the ways in which literature could substantiate memories of an Anglo-Scandinavian past.

Tim W. Machan (PhD, Wisconsin, 1984) is Professor of English and a Fellow of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame. Focusing on Norse, Latin, and French as well as English, his research and teaching explore the interplay physical documents, multilingualism, and cultural memory.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu Háskóla Íslands

Beeke Stegmann

Malleable Manuscripts

Structural Alteration of Artefacts in the Arnamagnæan Collection

Fimmtudaginn 22. nóvember 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Beeke Stegmann

In this lecture, Beeke Stegmann discusses how Árni Magnússon (1663-1730), the famous founder of the Arnamagnæan Collection, not only assembled and stored Icelandic and Scandinavian manuscripts but also physically rearranged the artefacts. In order to facilitate his significant scholarly activities, Árni Magnússon systematically changed the structure of the manuscripts in his collection. First, larger codices were divided into smaller parts containing one to three texts each. Then he recombined the units to form new manuscripts of varying sizes.

The extent and significance of rearrangements in the Arnamagnæan Collection have long been underestimated. Upon closer investigation, however, many traces of Árni Magnússon’s structural alterations can be seen. The lecture describes the basic steps for identifying such changes in manuscripts with the help of examples from the collection.

Heretofore, Árni Magnússon’s rearrangements of paper manuscripts from the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries have received the most attention, as the traces of alteration are fairly obvious. New research indicates that Árni treated parchment manuscripts in a similar way, despite the fact that he had a special appreciation for artefacts made of that material. The trademark traces of his alterations are equally present in some parchment manuscripts, meaning that his preference for older artefacts did not prevent Árni Magnússon from structurally altering them.

Beeke Stegmann is a post-doc at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen, where she received her PhD in 2017. She studies the origin and provenance of Scandinavian manuscripts and charters, but also has an interest in digital editions.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Natalie Van Deusen

„Í dyggðum skær“

St. Agnes of Rome in Post-Reformation Iceland

Fimmtudaginn 15. nóvember 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Natalie Van Deusen

The legend of St. Agnes, the thirteen-year-old Christian virgin who was martyred in Rome in 304 CE, survives in three Old Norse prose redactions, all of which are translations of the Pseudo-Ambrosian Passio Agnetis. Agnes was the co-patron of two churches in medieval Iceland, and hers was a Holy Day of Obligation during the country’s Catholic period; her prose legend, like those of the other virgin martyrs, seems to have been especially popular among women in religious orders, for whom the legends of virgins probably had their largest audience. There are also several poetic renderings of the legend of St. Agnes in Iceland, both from the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The earliest of these, „Agnesardiktur“ (ca. 1300-1550), is extant in thirteen manuscripts dating from the beginning of the eighteenth century. Next is a rímnaflokkur, „Agnesarrímur,“ composed in the seventeenth century by Rev. Eiríkur Hallson í Höfða (1614-1698) for his friend’s young daughter, Hólmfríður Benediksdóttir; the rímur in four fits are extant in only one manuscript. „Agnesarkvæði,“ allegedly composed ca. 1725 by Þorvaldur Magnússon, seems to have enjoyed widespread popularity, and is found in over one hundred manuscripts and audio recordings in Iceland and Canada. One of the manuscripts preserving „Agnesarkvæði,“ Lbs 2286 4to (1892-93), also preserves a fourth and (to this point) unknown poem by an anonymous author, „Agnesarvísa,“ a single stanza recorded from the memory of the same woman on whom the manuscript’s compiler, Sighvatur Grímsson Borgfirðingur (1840-1930) relied on for his transcription of „Agnesarkvæði.“ This talk discusses the three post medieval Agnes poems, including the hitherto undiscussed one-stanza „Agnesarvísa.“ It focuses on the way in which the three poems treat the legend, and examines their sources, interrelationship, transmission, and dissemination.

Natalie Van Deusen is Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, where she teaches Scandinavian language, literature, and culture. Her research interests include Old Norse paleography and philology, manuscript culture, hagiography and religious literature, and gender studies.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Haki Antonsson

Damnation and Salvation in Old Norse Literature

Fimmtudaginn 8. nóvember 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Haki Antonsson

The lecture will introduce the author’s recently published monograph Damnation and Salvation in Old Norse Literature. Studies in Old Norse Literature (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2018). The hope of salvation and the fear of damnation were fundamental features of medieval life. Surprisingly therefore this topic has received relatively limited attention in Old Norse study. Damnation and Salvation in Old Norse Literature addresses this gap in the scholarship by adopting two main principal investigative approaches. One involves examining how the twin theme interacts with more familiar strands such as disputes and outlawry. The second explores how the theme shapes texts at the level of individual scenes and whole works. The study is less occupied with whether the twin theme holds the ‘key’ to unlock the meaning of certain texts and more with how it combines with other themes to reveal structural features and narrative patterns. It is argued that similar patterns and features reoccur throughout the corpus, albeit in a variety of ways reflecting the historical and literary contexts of a given text. The examined corpus includes Njáls saga, Laxdæla saga, Gísla saga Súrssonar, Grettis saga Ásmundarsonar, Sturlunga saga, the texts on King Óláfr Tryggvason, as well as the poems Sólarljóð and Harmsól.

Haki Antonsson is Associate Professor in Medieval Scandinavian Studies at University College London. His research focuses on the history and literature of Scandinavia in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Previous publications include St Magnús of Orkney: A Scandinavian Martyr-Cult in Context (Leiden: Brill 2007) and (with Ildar Garipzanov) Saints on the Periphery: Veneration of Saints in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe (c. 1000-1200) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010).

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

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Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Silvia Hufnagel

Title Pages in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Icelandic Manuscripts

Fimmtudaginn 25. október 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Silvia Hufnagel

The new medium of print came around 1530 to Iceland but it was mostly religious and liturgical works that were printed due to the ecclesiastical ownership of the island’s sole printing press. This situation led to a certain dichotomy between the choices of medium in relationship to content.

Even though this division of media according to text type existed in Iceland, the two media influenced each other. The earliest printed books were strongly influenced by handwritten manuscripts, but as time went on, books developed their own design and layout and in turn influenced manuscripts. In post-medieval Icelandic manuscripts we thus find features of printed books, for example title pages, which were a novelty of print.

In this presentation, Silvia Hufnagel will present some of the results from her Marie Skłodowska Curie Project on title pages in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Icelandic manuscripts, conducted from 2015 to 2017 at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. She will focus on, first, the distribution of title pages over time, in different textual genres and within the book block of manuscripts, second, on the earliest title pages in the sixteenth century and, third, on title pages in both hymn manuscripts and saga manuscripts.

Most title pages, and all of the earliest title pages, are found in non-fictional genres, particularly computistic, religious-edifying and scientific texts and are a testament to the close connections between print and manuscript. The innovation of the title page came furthermore “top down”, as the scribes of the earliest title pages belonged to or were affiliated with the highest echelons of society. A surprisingly large number of title pages is found in the middle or towards the end of the book block, dividing either different parts of a compilation or text from register.

Hymn manuscripts often contain title pages. They hardly ever refer to the printed medium, though, even if they were copied from books, but rather mention the medium of reception. Although the – much rarer – title pages of saga manuscripts often mention the entertainment value of the sagas, they often invoke the glorious past that is depicted in the texts. They contain many rhetorical elements, such as accumulatio. As such, they are proof of the scribes’ and patrons’ learned environment, an environment that most certainly included printed works, even though the saga title pages do not mention them directly.

Silvia Hufnagel conducts research in the sociology of literature, manuscript studies and paper history. After her Marie Skłodowska Curie scholarship in Austria, she is now part of the project “Paper Trails: A Material History of 16th and 17th Century Icelandic Books from Paper Production to Library Collection” at the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Sabine Heidi Walther

Romancing Troy in Iceland?

On the Ormsbók Version of Trójumanna saga

Þriðjudaginn 23. október 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Sabine Heidi Walther

Translated texts play an important role at the beginning of literacy in the vernaculars in the European Middle Ages. The process towards literacy is initiated by the arrival and then propagation of Christianity. Translation, however, did not only serve as a means to promote the new religion, it kept being an important tool for the import of cultural goods. In my talk, I will present some of the results of my Marie Skłodowska-Curie project that was hosted by the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen (2015-2017). The project focuses on the Old Norse Trójumanna saga, a historiographical text on the fall of Troy translated from Latin into Old Norse.

While it seems plausible to assume that translations might have had a function as literary models, one might also ask about the socio-cultural motivations and functions: Were the Icelanders only interested in importing the common matters which were in fashion everywhere in Europe? Or did they also import new concepts that came with the texts? And if so, how were they translated and transformed for the audience? Is it possible that some people even used certain texts to promote their political agenda? Who were those people? Where and who were their contacts?

The Ormsbók version of Trójumanna saga will serve as an example in my talk. This version can be considered the ‘romance version’ of the saga. How was this chivalric text achieved? Are secondary French sources responsible for it? Is it possible to place this text in Iceland? Who would be interested in it? Whose political agenda would it serve?

Sabine Heidi Walther is teaching and researching as “wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin” at the University of Bonn. She earned an MA in Medieval Latin and Classics from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Bonn. She recently finished a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen. She is interested in the cultural and literary transfer to Scandinavia, in historiography and mythology, in cultural memory and narratology.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Viðar Pálsson

Der König ist tot, es lebe der König!

Konungur í tvennum líkama og á faraldsfæti

Fimmtudaginn 18. október 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Viðar Pálsson

Á hámiðöldum klæddist konungur tvennum líkama og tóku fjárreiður hans mið af því. Í fyrirlestrinum verður fjallað um fjárhagsgrundvöll konungs, hvernig hann gerðist stórjarðeigandi sem þó réði næsta minnstu um meðferð jarðeigna sinna, og hvernig hann át upp skatta sína á ferð um konungdæmið ásamt hirð sinni. Hinn tvöfaldi líkami konungs kom reyndar fram í nánu samhengi við vöxt og viðgang ríkisvalds og varð snar þáttur í þróun sem leiddi til þess að konungur tók að ferðast minna um konungdæmi sitt en áður og innheimta skatta með öðrum hætti. Áberandi þættir þessarar þróunar verða ræddir í fyrirlestrinum, t.d. eignarréttur á há- og síðmiðöldum, upphaf krúnugóss konunga, sem svo var kallað, og hlutverk formlegra valdasambanda sem birtust í merkingarbærum athöfnum, ritúölum, í vitna viðurvist.

Noregskonungar eru í brennidepli en einnig Frankakonungar og Þýskalandskeisari. Reifaðar verða rannsóknir á evrópsku konungsvaldi sem gagnast við lestur á konungasögum og túlkun konungsvalds í Noregi á miðöldum.

Viðar Pálsson er dósent í sagnfræði við Háskóla Íslands. Rannsóknarsvið hans er evrópsk og norræn miðaldasaga, einkum há- og síðmiðalda. Hann er höfundur bókarinnar Language of Power: Feasting and Gift-Giving in Medieval Iceland and Its Sagas (2016), þar sem meðal annars er fjallað um konungsvald.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.

Fyrirlestrar Miðaldastofu

Sverrir Tómasson

Ormsbók og riddaramennt Skarðverja

Fimmtudaginn 4. október 2018 kl. 16.30
Lögbergi 101

Sverrir Tómasson

Orðið riddaramennt er haft um margvíslega menntun riddara hér á landi undir lok 14. aldar og á 15. öld. Menntin snýst ekki aðeins um burtreiðar, turniment, heldur líka um klæðaburð, borðsiði, siðfágun, mataræði og ástir. Samkvæmt elstu norrænu riddarabókmentunum skyldi riddarinn, sem yfirleitt var karlmaður, hafa til að bera ákveðnar dygðir sem oftast má rekja til siðfræði Cicerós. Þetta eru þó mjög kristilegar dygðir, riddarinn skyldi elska föður sinn og móður, sýna staðfestu og hóf og gera það eitt sem gott þykir. Riddarinn skyldi vera fagur álitum, ríkur, áburðarmaður og metnaðargjarn. Guðs riddari var sá sem gerði það eitt sem guði var þóknanlegt; hann var hluti af himneskri hirðsveit. Riddari gat sá einn orðið sem var aðalsmaður af ætt og sökum sinnislags var líka aðalsmaður. Um hann gilti að fagur riddari var bonus corporis og sýndi líka bona fortuna, en í öllu atferli sínu birtist stöðugt togstreita milli ástar og hugrekkis eða drengskapar. Skarðverjar voru allflestir riddarar, sumir svo gamlir í þeim búningi, að þeir höfðu verið dubbaðir upp í þá tign á dögum Hákonar háleggs á öndverðri 14. öld. En hvaða skyldur gengu þeir undir þegar þeir gerðust hirðmenn Noregskonungs — með öðrum orðum hvernig var riddaramennt þeirra háttað?

Sverrir Tómasson er prófessor emeritus við Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum. Eftir hann liggja fjölmörg fræðirit og útgáfur, þ. á m. doktorsritgerðin, Formálar íslenskra sagnaritara á miðöldum (1988), Nikulás sögur erkibyskups, Helgastaðabók 1982 og Pipraðir páfuglar 2017. Sverrir hefur gefið út Íslendinga sögur I-III 1987, Sturlunga sögu I-III 1988, Bósa sögu og Herrauðs 1996 og Heilagra karla sögur 2007. Hann vinnur nú að riti um íslenskar rómönsur og útgáfu á öllum gerðum af Nikulás sögu erkibyskups.

Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á íslensku og er öllum opinn.