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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ágrip af Noregskonunga sǫgum (Ágr) - 7

Ágrip af Noregskonunga sǫgum (Ágr)

Skaldic vol. 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade

verse introduction manuscripts contents

Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035 > 8. Volume Introduction > 3. Sources for skaldic poetry cited in the kings’ sagas: manuscripts, facsimiles and editions > 3.1. Sagas of the kings of Norway to c. 1035 > 1. Ágrip af Nóregs konunga sǫgum (Ágr)


Ágr:       Ágrip, AM 325 II 4° (Icelandic, c. 1225).

Editions: Ágr 1929, ÍF 29 (Ágr and Fsk), Ágr 2008.

This short work (whose title, meaning ‘Summary of the histories of the kings of Norway’, is editorial) was probably composed in Trøndelag, Norway at the end of the twelfth century; it is preserved in a single, Icelandic, ms. It is the earliest surviving vernacular history of Norway, and the first to use skaldic poetry as source material for the sagas of kings (Fidjestøl 1982, 21). The first leaf and a gathering at the end are missing, so Ágr’s original coverage is unknown, but it is thought to have begun with Hálfdan svarti ‘the Black’ in the mid ninth century and ended in 1177 with Sverrir Sigurðarson’s accession to the Norwegian throne. The surviving part recounts the reigns of kings from Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ to Ingi in the twelfth century, in widely varying detail. The question of Ágr’s sources is extremely complex. Its author seems to have translated sections directly from the Latin Historia de antiquitate regum Norwagiensum by Theodoricus. There are also similarities between Ágr and the anonymous Latin Historia Norwegiae, though here the two works may draw on a now-lost common source. A number of other lost sources have been proposed, and Ágr’s author also used orally-transmitted material, including skaldic poetry. (On the sources see further the summaries by Bjarni Einarsson in ÍF 29, x-xvii and Driscoll in Ágr 2008, xiii-xx.)


Ágr preserves seven stanzas, three of which relate to the reigns up to 1035 covered in SkP I: Anon Oddmjór, Anon (Ágr) Lv and Sigv Lv 26; the two anonymous stanzas are preserved only in Ágr. The remaining four are edited in SkP II and listed at SkP II, lv. Eyv Hál is named as a source (ÍF 29, 18), but nothing is quoted from it, nor are the events described in this part of Ágr mentioned in the surviving stanzas of Hál.

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 4. Sources for Skaldic Poetry Cited in the Kings' Sagas > 1. Sagas of the kings of Norway after 1035 > 1. Ágrip af Nóregs konunga sǫgum (Ágr)


Ágr:          Ágrip, AM 325 II 4° (Icelandic, c. 1225).

Editions: Ágr 1929, ÍF 29 (Ágr and Fsk), Ágr 1995, Ágr 2008.


The part of Ágr covered in SkP II comprises the sagas from Mgóð (c. 1035) to Hsona (c. 1150) and contains four stanzas: Sigv Berv 12, Anon (Ólkyrr) 1, SteigÞ Kv, Sjórs Lv 1. The last is preserved only in Ágr.

[14] For a full discussion of Ágr, see Introduction to SkP I. The revised edition of Ágr 1995 (Ágr 2008) appeared too late to be included in the present volume.

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