Codex RegiusCodex TrajectinusCodex WormianusEmended &Modernized
3 : 1-4 VariantsVariants 
GoR varţ ífor fyRij faurgerđrGörr, varđ í för fyrri,
farms meinsvarans armafarmrfarmrfarmr, meinsvárans, arma,
soknar hafsz međ sviptihapzhapzsóknar, hapts, međ svipti
sagna galdrs enta/gnir ;enn raugnirrognirsagna, galdrs, en rögnir;

This half-stanza is extremely obscure. No certain meaning can be established. The interpretation offered here is no better (and no worse) than those of other commentators (a couple of which will be treated below). The subject of the sentence could be either farmur or Rögnir, and the allocation of the genitives (meinsvárans, sóknar, hapts, sagna, galdurs) is anybody's guess.

After Finnur Jónsson, I have chosen to read: Rögnir sóknar varđ fyrri í för međ svipti sagna en farmr arma galdrs hapts, gjör meinsvárans, i.e. "Rögnir of the battle [Ţjálfi] was quicker to join the swift mover of armies [Ţórr] on the expedition than the perjurious burden of the arms of the hapt of sorcery [Loki]", implying that Loki stayed behind. In stanza 9, we learn that Ţjálfi accompanied Thor, but Loki is never mentioned again by the poet.

sóknar rögnir međ svipti sagna] Two persons are implied: "battle-rögnir" and "swift mover of hosts". The context demands that Thor is one. The identity of the other is not clear, but Ţjálfi is the most likely candidate. Sóknar rögnir "battle ruler, battle god" can simply mean "warrior". Sviptir sagna "mover of hosts" implies a leader, i.e. Thor.

(Ţjálfi) varđ fyrri í för en (Loki) ] literally means "(Ţjálfi) was quicker to join the expedition than (Loki)". This implies: "Ţjálfi was eager to accompany Thor, while Loki was not", i.e. Loki stayed behind.

farmr arma galdrs hapts ] Farmur arma "the arm-burden" is a well known paraphrase for "husband". Odin is farmur Gunnlađar arma, Loki is farmur Sigynjar arma. (Cp. Fjölsvinnsmál 41 and 42: er knegi á Menglađar svásum armi sofa, literally "who may sleep on Menglod's sweet arm".) The husband, or lover, was seen as resting (as a burden) in the woman's arms. Thus, galdrs hapt "the god(ess) of sorcery" must refer to Loki's wife or lover. Lexicon Poeticum settles on Sigyn, and suggests a "lost myth" behind this appellation. This is possible, but I would suggest that galdrs hapt refers to Gullveig (also known as Heiđur, Aurbođa, Angurbođa). As Rydberg has clearly shown, she was Loki's female counterpart, an incarnation of evil, who was repeatedly burnt at the stake by the gods. Evil can never be exterminated, and neither can Gullveig. Despite the gods' attempts to get rid of her, she was repeatedly reincarnated, and spread the arts of evil sorcery among gods and men. She was burnt three times, and after each conflagration Loki found her heart among the embers, ate it, and became impregnated with vile monsters. Although the roles of the sexes are reversed in this myth of Loki and Gullveig, he can surely be referred to as her lover, her "arm-burden".

gjör meinsvárans ] The word meinsváran occurs nowhere else, but must be the same as meinsćri "perjury". The phrase means "ready/eager to commit perjury", a typical description of Loki.

The words of this half-stanza have been interpreted in various other ways. For example, Egilsson read:

Farmr arma hapts meinsvárans, gjör galdrs, varđ fyrri í för en sóknar rögnir međ svipti sagna, i.e. "Geirröd's daughters, wielding magic, anticipated the visit of Thor and Loki"; interpreting hapt meinsvárans as Geirröd, his arma farmur as his daughters, Gjálp and Greip, who anticipated (varđ fyrri í för) Thor (sóknar rögnir) and Loki (sagna sviptir). The impossibilites are too numerous to be treated in detail. Farmr arma cannot possibly refer to a daughter (or daughters). Sviptir sagna cannot possibly refer to Loki.

Kiil's interpretation is far more complex:

Farmr arma meinsvárans sóknar hapts varđ gjör í för međ Svipti fyrri en galdrs sagna rögnir, i.e. "Thor was ready to travel with Ţjálfi, before Loki was". This interpretation is based on the (dubious) theory that Loki's lover is the obscure goddess Syn, the preventer (hapt) of perjury; and that Syn is identical with Sif. Kiil also reads Sviptir as a name for Ţjálfi, and (interestingly) reads rögnir galdrs sagna as "ruler of the hosts of sorcery", equating galdrs sagnir with Múspells lýđir in Völuspá 51, pointing out that they are ruled by Loki (Loki stýrir).

Rydberg's interpretation of this half-stanza (see Teutonic Mythology 114) is ingenious, but linguistically impossible to accept. Like Egilsson, he reads farmur arma meinsvárans hapts, but while Egilsson interprets meinsvárans hapt as Geirröd, Rydberg interprets the expression as referring to Ívaldi, the father of Elves. Elsewhere (Teutonic Mythology 113), he shows that Geirröd's daugther Greip is the mother of Ívaldi's three sons, Völundur (Ţjazi, Rögnir), Egill (Aurvandill, Gangur), and Slagfinnur (Iđi). Rydberg's theories on these matters, although worthy of consideration, will not be treated here - as far as I can see, they are irrelevant to the interpretation of this half-stanza and, indeed, the rest of the poem.

PREVIOUS [2:5-8] TOP [3:1-4] NEXT [3:5-8]