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28.11.2019

Sigrdrifumal

Sigrdrífumál (also known as Brynhildarljóð) is the conventional title given to a section of the Poetic Edda text in Codex Regius.

It follows Fáfnismál without interruption, and it relates the meeting of Sigurðr with the valkyrie Brynhildr, here identified as Sigrdrífa ("driver to victory"). Its content consists mostly of verses concerned with runic magic and general wisdom literature, presented as advice given by Sigrdrifa to Sigurd. The metre is fornyrðislag, except for the first stanza.

The end is in the lost part of the manuscript but it has been substituted from younger paper manuscripts. The Völsunga saga describes the scene and contains some of the poem.

The compound sigr-drífa means "driver to victory" (or "victory-urger", "inciter to victory") It occurs only in Fafnismal (stanza 44) and in stanza 4 of the Sigrdrifumal. In Fafnismal, it could be a common noun, a synonym of valkyrie, while in Sigrdrifumal it is explicitly used as the name of the valkyrie whose name is given as Hildr or Brynhildr in the Prose Edda. Bellows (1936) emphasizes that sigrdrifa is an epithet of Brynhildr (and not a "second Valkyrie").

The Sigrdrifumal follows the Fafnismal without break, and editors are not unanimous in where they set the title. Its state of preservation is the most chaotic in the Eddaic collection. Its end has been lost in the Great Lacuna of the Codex Regius. The text is cut off after the first line of stanza 29, but this stanza has been completed, and eight others have been added, on the evidence of the much later testimony of paper manuscripts.

The poem appears to be a compilation of originally unrelated poems. However, this state of the poem appears to have been available to the author of the Volsungasaga, which cites from eighteen of its stanzas.

The basis of the text appears to be a poem dealing with Sigurth's finding of Brynhild, but only five stanzas (2-4, 20-21) deal with this narrative directly. Stanza 1 is probably taken from another poem about Sigurd and Brynhild. Many critics have argued that it is taken from the same original poem as stanzas 6-10 of Helreid Brynhildar.

In stanzas 6-12, Brynhild teaches Sigurth the magic use of the runes. To this has been added similar passages on rune-lore from unrelated sources, stanzas 5 and 13-19. This passage is the most prolific source about historical runic magic which has been preserved.

Finally, beginning with stanza 22 and running until the end of the preserved text is a set of counsels comparable to those in Loddfafnismal. This passage is probably an accretion unrelated to the Brynhild fragment, and it contains in turn a number of what are likely interpolations to the original text.

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