who adds a third letter written by himself to Bishop
Urne, vindicating his application to Saxo of the title
Grammaticus, which he well defines as “one who
knows how to speak or write with diligence, acuteness,
or knowledge.” The beautiful book he produced
was worthy of the zeal, and unsparing, unweariable
pains, which had been spent on it by the band of enthusiasts,
and it was truly a little triumph of humanism.
Further editions were reprinted during the sixteenth
century at Basic and at Frankfort-on-Main, but they
did not improve in any way upon the first; and the
next epoch in the study of Saxo was made by the edition
and notes of Stephanus Johansen Stephanius, published
at Copenhagen in the middle of the seventeenth century
(1644). Stephanius, the first commentator on
Saxo, still remains the best upon his language.
Immense knowledge of Latin, both good and bad (especially
of the authors Saxo imitated), infinite and prolix
industry, a sharp eye for the text, and continence
in emendation, are not his only virtues. His very
bulkiness and leisureliness are charming; he writes
like a man who had eternity to write in, and who knew
enough to fill it, and who expected readers of an
equal leisure. He also prints some valuable notes
signed with the famous name of Bishop Bryniolf of
Skalholt, a man of force and talent, and others by
Casper Barth, “corculum Musarum”, as Stephanius
calls him, whose textual and other comments are sometimes
of use, and who worked with a Ms
. of Saxo.
The edition of Klotz, 1771, based on that of Stephanius,
I have but seen; however, the first standard commentary
is that begun by P. E. Muller, Bishop of Zealand,
and finished after his death by Johan Velschow, Professor
of History at Copenhagen, where the first part of
the work, containing text and notes, was published
in 1839; the second, with prolegomena and fuller notes,
appearing in 1858. The standard edition, containing
bibliography, critical apparatus based on all the
editions and Ms
. fragments, text, and index, is
the admirable one of that indefatigable veteran, Alfred
Holder, Strasburg, 1886.
Hitherto the translations of Saxo have been into Danish.
The first that survives, by Anders Soffrinson Vedel,
dates from 1575, some sixty years after the first
edition. In such passages as I have examined it
is vigorous, but very free, and more like a paraphrase
than a translation, Saxo’s verses being put
into loose prose. Yet it has had a long life,
having been modified by Vedel’s grandson, John
Laverentzen, in 1715, and reissued in 1851. The
present version has been much helped by the translation
of Seier Schousbolle, published at Copenhagen in 1752.
It is true that the verses, often the hardest part,
are put into periphrastic verse (by Laurentius Thura,
c. 1721), and Schousbolle often does not face a difficulty;
but he gives the sense of Saxo simply and concisely.
The lusty paraphrase by the enthusiastic Nik.
Fred. Sev. Grundtvig, of which there have been
several editions, has also been of occasional use.
No other translations, save of a scrap here and there
into German, seem to be extant.