The Manuscripts and the Scribes

We were originally given a list of nine manuscripts, but found three more, bringing the total to twelve manuscripts with partial or complete texts of the story. All manuscripts originate from the 19th c. The individual manuscripts are:
  1. Lbs 2296 8vo (18th-19th c.) Þattur af Poloster frækna missing two small sections. Hand perhaps similar to Sr. Björn Halldorsson í Sauðlaukssdal.
  2. Lbs 1971 4to (early 19th c., several hands) Beginning of Ævintýri af Polístator og Mondulfara near end of MS.
  3. Lbs 1657 8vo (1822-23, Þorsteinn Gíslason í Stokkahlöðum) The scribe adds in a colophon that his text is “snúin úr rímum”.
  4. Lbs 1993 8vo (ca. 1826-35, Sigurður Sigurðsson á Syðri-Fljótum and Jón Þorkelssson á Heiði) Dated 2 November 1826.
  5. ÍBR 41 8vo (1860-61, Bjarni Björnsson í Hjálmholti) Multiple handwritings, MS shows evidence of having been assembled at Hjálmholti. Date 1860 written on page in first section.
  6. Lbs 2786 8vo (1869, Finnur Gíslason) Otherwise unknown - Finnur‘s name written (undated) on title page or fly-leaf. Other texts in MS are riddarasögur.
  7. Lbs 1305 4to (1869 and 1878, Jónas Jónsson í Hörgsholti) Scribe Skúli Bergþórsson wrote 1r-28v, Jónas wrote rest, including Sagan af Pólóstator (6 Nov 1869). Other texts in MS are riddarasögur and two rímur.
  8. Lbs 4491 4to (1885-87, Eyjólfur Sigurðsson á Kaðlastöðum) Dated 6 December 1885 at end of saga.
  9. Lbs 878 4to (1886-87, Jón Sturlaugsson í Starkaðarhúsum) Sagan af Polostaðor og Mondulþara is the first text in the MS. Other texts are riddarasögur.
  10. SÁM 74 (1888-89, Guðbrandur Sturlaugsson á Hvítadal) Guðbrandur apparently wrote MS for his daughter (along with SÁM 73). Given to SÁM as gift from Uppsala’s Institutionen för nordiska spraak in 2003.
  11. Lbs 1509 4to (1889, Magnús Jónsson í Tjaldanesi) The MS of mostly riddarasögur contains Magnús’ unique prose re-telling of Pontus rímur, a 16th-c. cycle written by the same esteemed poet, Magnús prúði, who composed the first (now lost) rímur of Pólenstator.
  12. Lbs 2251 8vo (1893-95, Þorsteinn Halldórsson á Litlu Háeyri) Other scribe in the MS was Óláfur Bjarnason, whose name is written widely throughout the manuscript (as owner?). The collection is about mostly rímur, followed by two sagas and some random verses.
The following map shows the locations of the scribes in Iceland:


There are four different rímur versions preserved in several MSS (of which we had access to some of two versions’ MSS), and we know of two possible rímur which are no longer extant. We revised the identification of one of the rímur-manuscripts from oldest/unknown authorship to second rímur by Gísli Sigurðsson. The oldest set of rímur is only preserved in one manuscript that we know of (AM 613 d, 4to). This manuscript is dated 1692, and the scribe mentions that it was done in a hurry and encourages the reader to try to improve it. We do not know where it comes from, since we have not seen the text in another manuscript and have not been able to link a name to it.

What do the rímur tell us about the origins of the saga? It is obvious, since the oldest manuscript of rímur is from the late 17th Century and the oldest manuscript of the saga is from the beginning of the 19th century, that various saga-writers have taken the rímur and made a story out of it. There is one manuscript that states in a colophon that it is “snúinn úr rímum”.

A Tentative Stemma

Based on similarities and shared features, we suggest the following tentative stemma: