The Northern Way

Grimm Centenary: Sigfred-Arminivs and Other Papers

Page 6

VI.

Of the Family somewhat was said in the Corpus Poeticum (vol. ii. 472), but there are some additions to be made to the citations there placed in a different connection.

The main word for family is 'ætt' ought, the family in its aspect of a mass of rights and property possibly. A kinsman is 'ættingi,' Grip. 37. 'ættar-scioldr,' Egil Sonat. 56, is a poetical expression for son, scion, cf. 'ætt-conr.' The near of kin are 'hæfod-nið,' as Ord. 20.


                sleit marr bönd mínnar ættar
                snaran þátt af sialfom mer. Sonat. 31-2.
                þuiat ætt mín á enda stenze. Sonat. 17.
                lífið einir ið þátta ættar mínnar. Hamd. 17.


        The chief words in the poems for kinship by blood are: ---

grandmother, 'amma,' Hym. 27, Righ. 62.

father, 'fadir,' passim.

mother, 'móðir,' Grip. 12.

mother's brother, 'móðor-bróðir,' Grip. 23, cf. Tacitus Germ.

brother, 'bróðir,' 'hlýri,' Lac. Lay, vol. i. 315, l. 13, barmi, Thul. 211; brother german, 'hnit-bróðir,' Hym. 91.

son, 'sonr,' 'nidjar,' Akv. 36, Atlam. 377, Yng. 18; 'ióð,' Treg. 25; 'mægr,' Hym. 27; 'búrr,' Grott. 82; 'afspring,' Yng. 60; 'frændr,' Yng. 58; and of the son as heir 'erfi-nytja,' L. B. L. 102; 'erfi-uærd,' Treg. 25; 'lang-feðgar,' Yng. 142. corr. (son after father); 'lang-niðjar,' vol. i. 79, l. 25.

sister, 'systir,' passim; 'iodís,' Yng. 37; 'dís,' Yng. 52; 'nipti,' Helg. I. 253; mother's sister's son, 'systrungr,' Atlam. 196, Vsp. 109; brother and sister, 'systkin,' Atlam. 354.

daughter, 'dóttir,' passim; 'brúdir,' Harb. 105; 'mær,' Yng. 40; brother's sister or niece, 'bróðor-mær,' Yng. 150. The words for this relationship, as for sister, are often merely terms signifying young women.

Affinity is 'mægð,' Atlam. 189; and kinsman-in-law, whether son-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, is 'mágr,' a word even used for son, the primitive idea being probably that of strengthening (cp. 'eflðisc hann uið Eymund,' Hyndl.) (8) an early political section. Another even stronger word for a relative by affinity is 'hleyti,' which recalls the Latin consors.


                mun ec uið þá G ........ gœrua hleyti
                oc G ........... ganga at eiga. Grip. 133-4.
                broeðra-hleyti. Sonat. 66. corr.
                Hué mun at ynði eptir uerða
                mægð med mönnum. Grip. 173-4.
                mægð gat-ec micla. Atlam. 189.


        Sib, 'sifjar,' is a third word for affinity; its derivation is 'sifjungr,' Atlam. 304; Thul. 218.


                muno synir Giúca a sifjungi mer
                eggjar rióda. Grip. 199, 200.
                ......... barna-sifjar duga
                        oc allra ósc-maga. Lokas. 62-3.
        Other words denoting affinity are: ---
                sister's husband, 'systur-uerr,' L. Brun. Lay, 107.
                daughter-in-law, 'snor,' Treg. 45.
                mother-in-law, 'suæra,' Atlam. 347.
                brother-in-law, 'suárr,' Thorod. Eirics Drápa, 29.

Fosterage, so prominent in Ireland, and of much importance in Norway and Iceland, appears in the later poems, as in the Icelandic Family Histories.


                enn dýrr conungr
                ....... man Heimir fœdir. Grip. 107-8.
                Fóstra Heimiss. Grip. 114, 124.
                fóstr-man mítt oc faðerni. L. B. L. 268.

Sworn-brother-hood (C. P. B. i. 423). Beside the classic passage in Brunhild's Lay, describing the blending of the two sworn brethren's blood, is the footstep, a ceremony, the exact significance of which is dark to us. There are several notices of this tie, which is more fully noticed by Are and the composers of the Histories of the early days of the Settlement.


                mantu þat ....... es við í ár-daga.
                        blendom blóði í spor. Lokas. 34. corr.
                sifjom es þá blandit huerr es segja ræðr
                        einom allan hug. G. W. 125-6.
                mantatta, G ........ til gœrua þat
                        es it blóði í spor báðir renndot. Sh. Brun. L. 66.

VII.

Marriage. On this head there is pretty full evidence in the poems, and nearly every legal aspect of the status is touched on. There is in Thrymskvida an excellent description of the bridal dress and of the bridal feast, while in the Atlamal (which is the most full of legal information of all the poems) and in Aluismal there is a complete notice of the wooing and bringing home of the bride.

To take in order the various acts. --- The asking or bidding of the bride at her father or guardian's hands 'bidja'; his promise, 'heit,' heitasc; the vows of betrothal, 'selja uárar,' 'veitasc (bindasc) uárar,' C. P. ii. 527; the espousal, 'fastna'; the paying of the brideprice to the guardian, 'mundi caupa'; the bride's portion or dowry, 'meiðmar' --- such are the preliminary steps to marriage, after which the bride is spoken of as given to the husband, who takes her. (9)


                biðja B. til handa Gunnari. Grip. 139.
                ef ec scal mærrar meyjar ...... biðja. Grip. 143. cor.
                þa uas oss ........ synjat Suáfniss dóttor
                hringom gœddrar es uer hafa uildom. Helg. II. 20-1.
                þeim hétomc þá þiód-konungi. L. . Br. L. 160.
                hefir mínn faðir meyjo sinni
                grimmon heitit Granmars syni. Helg. I. 71-2.
                mund gallt ec mærri, meiðma fiöld þiggja,
                þræla þriá tigo, þýjar siau góðar,
                sœmð uas-at slíco, silfr uas þó meira. Atlam. 341-3.
                golli ceypta leztu Gymiss dóttor
                        oc seldir þítt suá suerð. Lokas. 168-9.
                þar hefir dýrr conungr dóttor alna
                þá mundu, Sigurðr, mundi caupa. W. W. L. 65-6.
                uas ec Höð-broddi í her föstnoð
                enn ec iofor þann eiga uilcac,
                þó siamc, fylcir, frönda reiðe
                hefi ec míns föður mund-rád brotið:
                hafa-cuaze hon H........z þau hel scyldi. Vols. kv. 7-12. new cor.
                mundu fastna þer ........ fóstro Heimiss. Grip. 156.
                mey budo hónom oc meiðma fiöld. L. B. L. 5-6.
                þu scalt ...... gerst um láta
                míno landi oc mer sialfri. L. B. L. 37-8.
                buðo þeir Atla bauga rauða
                bróðor mínom, bœtr ósmár,
                baud hann enn uið mer bú fimtán,
                hlið-farm Grana, ef hann hafa uildi;
                enn Atli ........ kuazc eigi uilja
                mund aldregi at megi Giúca. Ord. 76, 81. cor.
                unz mic Giúci golli reifði
                golli reifði, gaf Sigurði. O. G. L. 34.
                at ósætt mínni scalattu þat ið unga man hafa
                        oc þat giaforð geta. Alvm. 23-4.
                Þau Helgi oc Suáua ueittoz uárar. Lost part of Helgi III. See Corp. P. B. ii. 527.
                máca-ec víg-risnom várar selja. O. G. L. 97.
                Leyfð uastu eccja, léto stór-ráða,
                uarða uán-lygi es (uárar bundom).
                fórtu heim hingat fylgði oss herr manna;
                margs was allz sómi manna tiginna,
                naut wóro œrin, nutum af stórom. Atlam. 334-8. cor.


The power of the guardian over the woman in ward is shown, ---


                oc mer Atli þat einni sagðe
                at huárci lezc háfor um deila
                goll ne iarðir, nema ec gefasc létac,
                oc engi hlut auðins fíar,
                þa es mér iód-ungri eiga seldi
                oc mér iód-ungri aura talðe. L. B. L. 143-8.
                hann scaltu eiga unz þic aldr uidr
                uerlaus uesa, nema þú uilir þenna. O. G. L. 102-3.

The Lays of the Codex-Regius Lacuna in the Wolsunga Saga paraphrase have an interesting passage in which the guardian declares that it was never heard of that a man should offer his daughter before she was asked for, but that he will even do this for Sigfred, so much does he desire the match between them.

The succeeding steps seem to be fetching the bride home, which, as the Lay of Righ shows, was properly performed by driving her in a chariot (possibly an archaic survival of the capture-marriage). Then there came the bridal (brúd-laup) a feast, (10) at which the bride, according to Thryms-kuiða, seems to have given gifts of affection, 'brúd-fé,' to her husband's kinswomen. Mention is also made of the solemn making of the bridal-bed; and there seems to have been a ceremony at which the bride made a vow of fidelity. A kind of sacratio of the bride is performed in Thryms-kuiða by placing the hammer of Thor on the bride's lap: possibly the teraph of the family was normally used for this purpose (there are indications pointing that way). These ceremonies, especially the bridal feast (as is seen from an important passage in Landnáma-bóc), constitute the marriage; the husband is said to walk to own the wife 'ganga at eiga'; the wife to walk with the husband 'ganga med,' or, as the usage was for all married women to wear a head-gear of linen, 'ganga und líni,' to go under the linen; the pair were now husband and wife 'uer oc uærd.' There seems to be a hint of a morning-gift by the husband to the wife in a passage of the Brunhild's Lay.


                létom síga saman sátt-mál occor
                léc mer meirr í mun meiðmar þiggja
                bauga rauða burar Sigmundar,
                ne ec annars mannz aura uildac. L. B. L. 154-7.

The bridal-feast was often provided by the wife's father; the higher in rank and riches of the two, husband or guardian, seems at the time of the settlement of Iceland, c. 900, to have given the feast.

The chief passages relating to the actual marriage are


                báðo hennar, oc heim óco,
                gifto Iarli, gecc hon und líni. Rig. 159-60.
                heim óco þá H., gifto Carli. Rig. 84-6.
                mun-ec uið þá Gunnar gœrua hleyti,
                oc Gudrúno ganga at eiga. Grip. 134-5.
                eiga gecc Almveig. Hyndl.
                Becci breidi! Nú scal brúðr með mér
                        heim í sinni snuasc. Alvm. 1-2. cor.
                mey frum-unga fal hann megi Giúca. L. B. L. 17.
                saman muno blúdlaup bæði druccin.
                S. oc G. í sölom Giúca. Grip. 169-70.
                inn com in aldna Iötna systir
                hin es brúð-feár biðja þorði,
                láttu þer af hondom hringa rauða
                ef þu œðlasc uill ástir mínar,
                ástir mínar, alla hylli:
                drap hann ina öldno Iötna systor
                hin es brúð-fiár of beðit hafði;
                hón scell um hlaut fyrir scillinga,
                oc hœgg hamars fyr hringa fiöld. Thrym. 117-21, 130-4.
                ganga með ueri. O. G. L. 88.
                ganga með Ingólfi. Ditty. 23.
                uas ec þremr uerom uegin at húsi. Treg. 10.
                        enn um aptan
                þa es Gunnari gœrdag reccjo. Oddr. 44-5.
                leggit Miollni í meyjar kné!
                uígit ocr saman uárar hende. Thrym. 124-5.


        The single passage in which the wife vows everlasting fidelity is: ---


                mælt hafða-ec þat í Munar-heimi
                þa es mer Helgi ...... hringa ualdi,
                mundiga-ec lostig at liðinn fylci
                iöfor ócunnan armi uerja. Helg. II. 91-4.


        To the use of 'uer' and 'uærd' the following notices speak: ---


                uörð né uerr. Ord. 12.
                eigot þær uardir uera. Riddl. 72.
                þat er uálítit þótt ser uarðir uers fai. Lokas. 132-3.
                uarda. Thrym. 54.
                frum-uer. O. G. L. 81. L. B. L. 242.
                Friggjar-uerr. Sonat. 7.
                mey né mannz cono. Hávam. 120.

The words 'uergiorn,' Thryms Lay 54, and 'uerfang,' L. B. L. 338, are also found in the Poems.


                þa es breiddo uit blœjo eina. Oddr. 93.
                breiddo blœjor, oc bú gœrðo. Rig. 88.
                Hann uarði mey uarmri blœjo. Oddr. 22.
                þa es uit á beð bædi stigom. Treg. 48. cor.
                Gecc ec á beð
                þriðja sinni þiód-conungi. Treg. 23.
                oc hána Sigrœdr sueipr í ripti. L. B. L. 32.

Wedded love is termed 'ástir,' the plural, as so often, being used when the word is to be generalized.


                oc iofor ungan ástom leiðir. Helgi II. 90.
                ef þu œdlasc uill ástir mínar. Thrym. 120.

The bridal nights are termed 'hý-nætr' (Skirn. 176); and the superstitions connected with them have been noticed in the Corpus Poet. Bor. in connection with this Lay.


                hue um þreyjac þriár:
                opt mer mánaðr minni þótti,
                an sía half hý-nótt. Skirn. 175-6.

Notes:

8. The true meaning of the mægð seems to be the kindred, but in the bulk of the passages in the Eddic Lays which use this term, the kindred of a man to his mother's family is implied; the paternal family being unnoticed owing to the circumstances of the case. The best discussion of the legal force of the term is to be found in 'Essays in Anglo-Saxon Law,' Boston, 1882, in a chapter by Ernest Young, where the Sachsen-spiegel is employed to illustrate the allusions in the Old English law, according to the following system: --

Family
1. head, man and wife.
2. neck, full brothers and sisters.
                                Sifja or mægð
1. shoulder-joint, full brother's and sister's children, half brothers and sisters.
2. elbow.
3. wrist.
4. mid-finger, 1st joint.
5. " 2nd joint.
6. " 3rd joint.
7. " nail.

and the rights of succession is Descendants: 1. sons; 2. daughters; 3. grand-children, etc. Kinsfolk upon failure of issue succeeding thus: 1. father; 2. mother; 3. brother; 4. sisters.
        The only succession suit, clearly noticed in the Eddic Lays, is the suit for the Hoard after Fafni has slain his father, when, according to the corrected text of the W. Pl., the sisters egg on Regin to claim his share of the inheritance, according to law. The ancient, obscure word 'heyrom' (Dict. 261 b) seems here to be concealed under the corrupt 'hiorui.' [Back]

9. The Landnáma-bóc uses 'taca cono' correctly of the marriage by capture, and this is, we doubt not, the earlier and truer use; cf. Hornclofi's Ravensong 86. [Back]

10. This word bride-running clearly points to the capture-marriage: the bride-racing of the Esths, as witnessed by Wulfstan, will illustrate its earlier aspect. The Northmen seem to have disused the practice; and the word alone survives to prove its former existence. [Back]

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