Compton, Todd M. 2006. Victim of the Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth and History. Hellenic Studies Series 11. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Compton.Victim_of_the_Muses.2006.
Chapter 18. The Stakes of the Poet: Starkaðr/Suibhne
Starkaðr: Sacrificer, Sacrifice, Satirist
er mik séa,
“Warriors laugh who see me,” he complains, “with ugly muzzle, long snout, wolfgrey hair and hanging paws, rough neck and rugged hide.”  Nevertheless, he had a saving, culture hero aspect, was “a man regularly at the side of the distressed, one who often happily intervened to rescue people in desperate straits.”  Thus he is a remarkable hero in every way, extraordinary in size, courage, generosity; and also extraordinary in his skill in carmina, whether that is translated “songs” or “spells.” Hatherus, Starkaðr’s final executioner, addresses him as “adept composer of native poetry … fluent bard [uates] of a Danish muse.”  In the Skáldatal (List of Poets), Starkaðr is the first poet mentioned, the oldest of the poets.  Starkaðr receives his poetic gifts from Odin, in the curious consecration scene in which Odin and Thor award him his good and bad fates. The last three fate themes are battle success (Odin), balanced by a wound in every combat (Thor); the gift of poetry (skáldskap) and “improvisation”  (Odin), balanced by inability to remember his poetry (Thor); a strong tie to the highborn (Odin), balanced by hatred of the common people (Thor).  Thus, his gifts of poetry and war prowess are parallel. 
Theutonum ritus celebrare gestit,
instruit luxus et adulterinas
The wife of Ingel, skittish and wanton,
joys to practice Teuton rites,
devises orgies and
prepares adulterate foods.
The poem, not to miss a standard blame topos, intra-sexual tension, lingers on the queen: “a loathsome female, heedless of decency, priestess of vice.” 
advenae digno vacuus receptu,
aspero carpor sale, dum loquaci
I am baited by the titters of this courtly throng,
denied the welcome a stranger deserves,
rent with their thorny wit and gnawed by
Thus the satirist is mocked, and retaliates with interest. The theme of inhospitality is also explicitly brought to the fore.
í viði hávum
goðum of signa;
lagða ek geiri
gram til hjarta,
þat er mér harmast
“I was made to dedicate Vikar (the killer of Geirthjof) to the gods high up in the tree. I thrust with a spear into the king’s heart: no act of mine has brought me such pain.”  It is one of the sins Thor has cursed him with, and Starkaðr blames that god for forcing him to commit the crime: “I was forced without glory to do evil.”  “From this deed Starkaðr became much despised by the people, and was exiled from Hördaland.”  Here we have the theme of exile, though it has nothing obvious to do with poetry. Instead he is exiled for deceitful regicide, a godordered sacrifice.  He is exiled as sacrificer. But the sacrifice has a relationship to the giving of poetry. Not only is poetry one of the gifts that obligates Starkaðr to perform the regicide, but there is an even tighter link in the myth of Odin’s poetic consecration through hanging on a tree.
vindga meiði á
nætr allar níu
ok gefinn Óðni
sjálfr sjálfum mér …
… nýsta ek niðr
nam ek upp rúnar
fell ek aptr þaðan
nam ek af inum frægja syni
Bölþórs Bestlu föður
ok ek drykk of gat
ins dýra mjaðar
Þá nam ek frævask
ok fróðr vera
ok vaxa ok vel hafask
orð mér af orði
verk mér af verki
I know that I hung
on the windswept tree
for nine full nights,
wounded with a spear,
and given to Óthinn,
myself to myself …
I peered downward,
I grasped the runes,
screeching I grasped them;
I fell back from there.
I learned nine mighty songs
from the famous son
of Bölthórn, father of Bestla, 
and I got a drink of the precious mead,
I was sprinkled with Ótherir. 
Then I began to grow
and gain in insight, to wax also in wisdom:
one verse [orð] led on to another verse,
one poem [verk] led on to the other poem.
The poem goes on to describe Odin’s knowledge in magical spells, writing, reading, painting runes, understanding, asking, offering, supplicating, and sacrificing.
Suibhne: Warrior, Poet, Madman
rotreaghd mo chorp an gháoth ghlan,
toll mo throighthiu, glas mo ghrúadh,
a Dhé mhóir, atá a dhúal damh.
… anocht robhretait mo bhoill
i nglaic chroinn i nGáille ghlúair.
Rofhuilnges mór ttreas gan tlás
ó rofhás clúmh ar mo chorp,
ar gach n-oidhche is ar gach ló
as mó sa mhó fhuilghim d’olc.
Romchráidh sioc, síon nach súairc,
romthuairg snechta ar Sléibh mhic Sin,
anocht romgeóghain an ghaéth
gan fraech Ghlenna Bolcáin bil.
Utmhall mh’imirce in gach íath …
Dúairc an bhetha bheith gan teach,
as truagh an bhetha, a Chríosd chain …
Tuisledh do bharraibh chraobh ccríon,
imthecht aitin, gníom gan gháoi,
seachna daoine, cumann cúan,
coimhrith re damh rúadh dar raéi.
Feis oidhche gan chlúimh a ccoill
i mullach croinn dosaigh dhlúith,
gan coisteacht re guth ná glór,
a mhic Dé, is mór an mhúich.
I am in great grief tonight,
the pure wind has pierced my body,
wounded are my feet, my cheek is wan,
O great God! it is my due.
… tonight my limbs are racked
in the fork of a tree in pleasant Gaille.
I have borne many a fight without cowardice
since feathers have grown on my body;
each night and each day
more and more do I endure ill.
Frost and foul storm have wrung my heart,
snow has beaten on me on Sliabh mic Sin;
tonight the wind has wounded me,
without the heather of happy Glen Bolcain.
Unsettled is my faring through each land …
Wretched is the life of one homeless,
Sad is the life, O gentle Christ! …
Stumbling from withered tree-tops,
faring through furze—deed without falsehood—
shunning mankind, keeping company with wolves,
racing with the red stag over the field.
Sleeping of nights without feathers in a wood
in the top of a thick, bushy tree,
without hearing voice or speech;
O Son of God, great is the misery! 
“I am the most discontented and unhappy creature in the world,” says the unfortunate poet.  Thus Suibhne is an outcast/exile par excellence. He cannot tolerate the company of men for fear they will kill him or imprison him. 
éirigh agus imthigh leam,
tucc dhamh, a chridhe, in do lámh
ón lighe agus ón leachtán.
If it be the will of the King of the stars,
arise and come with me,
give me, O heart, thy hand
from the grave and from the tomb!”
Then Suibhne rose out of his “swoon” (niull, from néll),” only to die for the final time moments later as he touches a church (157–158).
Śiśupāla as Satirist
vyapāharac chiraḥ kruddhaś cakreṇāmitrakarṣaṇaḥ
sa papāta mahābāhur vajrāhata ivācalaḥ
tataś cedipater dehāt tejo ’gryaṁ dadr̥śur nr̥pāḥ
utpatantaṁ mahārāja gaganād iva bhāskaram
tataḥ kamalapatrākṣaṁ kr̥ṣṇaṁ lokanamaskr̥tam
vavande tat tadā tejo viveśa ca narādhipa
tad adbhutam amanyanta dr̥ṣṭvā sarve mahīkṣitaḥ
yad viveśa mahābāhuṁ tat tejaḥ puruṣottamam
anabhre pravavarṣa dyauḥ papāta jvalitāśaniḥ
kr̥ṣṇena nihate caidye cacāla ca vasuṁdharā
There are numerous remarkable elements in this account—especially the verbal violence paralleling the physical violence, producing war madness, berserker behavior. The conflict of blame between Bhīṣma and Kṛṣṇa on the one hand and Śiśupāla on the other is also notable; the execution of Śiśupāla by weapon seems merely an extension of verbal violence, a tool of the verbal violence. Most interesting, though, is the final isolation of the blame poet, after an unpredictably swift peripety, when all the kings turn against him and revile him. He who had the power nearly to make another man a sacrifice is suddenly himself the center of collective hostility and will be beheaded in a moment. It is his power to make another a victim that has made him a victim. He undergoes a typically ambiguous death, for our hero type: killed by his divine enemy, he flows into the god, and receives salvation.
νῦν δ’ ἤδη θεός ἐστι, κακῶν δ’ ἐξήλυθε πάντων,
ζώει δ’ ἔνθά περ ἄλλοι Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχοντες
ἀθάνατος καὶ ἄγηρος, ἔχων καλλ[ίσ]φυρον Ἥβην,
παῖδα Διὸς μεγάλοιο καὶ Ἥρης χρυσοπεδίλου·
τὸν πρὶν μέν ῥ’ ἤχθηρε θεὰ λευκώλενος Ἥρη
ἔκ τε θεῶν μακάρων ἔκ τε θνητῶν ἀνθρώ[πων,
νῦν δ’ ἤδη πεφίληκε, τίει δέ μιν ἔξοχον ἄλλ[ων
ἀθανάτων μετά γ’ αὐτὸν ἐρισθενέα Κρ[ο]νίωνα.
Just as Heracles seems to fit as the Indo-European warrior to a certain extent, but not neatly, so he only fits problematically as poet. Heracles is definitely a singer, aoidos, a mousikos anēr.  Yet he is not a thoroughgoing poet, like Starkaðr or Suibhne. His poetic aspects are merely a component in his all-around heroic persona, just as the warrior Achilles will take time out to play the lyre on occasion. Starkaðr, on the other hand, is given to savage satire that parallels, and often leads to, his warlike aggressiveness, and is known as a famous poet; Suibhne is primarily a poet. Archilochus, primarily a poet and warrior, is a much closer parallel to the Starkaðr/Suibhne poetic warrior type. And a closer parallel to Heracles as poet is Cuchulainn or Lugh, who, though they are primarily warriors, have strong poetic aspects.