A Copy of Sníðúlfs ævintýri: Copenhagen, Arnamagnæan Collection AM 578 i 4to

Last month I wrote a short introduction to Rask 33, one of the manuscripts in the Arnamagnæan Collection in Copenhagen, which may have had a connection to Magnús Jónsson í Vigur. Here I’ll highlight another manuscript in the same collection, AM 578 i 4to, part of which, like Rask 33, was copied by one of the main scribes who worked for Magnús Jónsson í Vigur. Again, the connection to Magnús as a potential patron or owner of the manuscript is as yet unclear, but it has been interesting investigating the manuscript as another example of the handiwork of one of Magnús’s many copyists. The scribe in question this time is Magnús Ketilsson, the last to work for Magnús í Vigur, and the text in question is a short tale known as Sníðúlfs ævintýri.

Sníðúlfs ævintýri is an exemplum (plural: exempla), that is to say, a short tale commonly used in preaching. Many tales of this kind survive from throughout the European Middle Ages, in Latin and vernacular languages, including Old Norse. Although the exemplum contained in AM 578 i 4to was copied at the end of the seventeenth century (probably around 1696–1700) in Lutheran Iceland by a scribe who went on to be a Lutheran minister, the text’s origins go back to the Catholic Middle Ages and the story of the life of St Gangulphus.

Copenhagen, Arnamagnæan Institute, AM 578 i 4to

Copenhagen, Arnamagnæan Institute, AM 578 i 4to, the end of Sníðúlfs ævintýri copied by Magnús Ketilsson (ff.2v–3r). Photo: SMW.

As interesting as it would be to be able to connect this particular copy of the story to Magnús Jónsson’s library, we can actually already be certain that he had other copies of the same story in different manuscripts: two copies of slightly different lengths are preserved in the manuscript Add. 11,153 4to, and a third copy is in Add. 4859.

I recently wrote about this manuscript in more detail for the Arnamagnæan Institute’s series Manuscript of the Month (Månedens Håndskrift) for March 2018 and you can read about it on their website in either English (manuscript.ku.dk) or Danish (haandskrift.ku.dk):

“A Scribe’s Favourite Exemplum?”

“En skrivers yndlingshistorie?”

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