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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson (Bjbp)

13th century; volume 1; ed. Jonna Louis-Jensen;

Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) - 45

Skj info: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Orknøsk biskop, d. 1222. (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10).

Skj poems:
Jómsvíkingadrápa

Bjarni Kolbeinsson (Bjbp) was born into a powerful family in the Orkney Islands, possibly c. 1150-60 (af Petersens, Jvs 1879, 122). His father was the Norwegian-Orcadian chieftain Kolbeinn hrúga ‘Heap’ and his mother was Herborg, a great-granddaughter of Páll jarl Þorfinnsson on the maternal side (see Ættaskrár [Genealogies] II in ÍF 35). Bjarni was also very well connected: he was a close friend of Haraldr jarl Maddaðarson (ÍF 35, 289), sent precious gifts to Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson in Iceland on three occasions (Guðrún P. Helgadóttir 1987, 2-3), and had connections with the Oddaverjar (see further Einar Ól. Sveinsson 1937, 17-18, 34-9).

Bjarni was Bishop of Orkney from 1188 (ÍF 35, 289) until his death on 15 September 1223. Among his achievements as bishop were the exhumation and canonisation of Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (ÍF 35, 282; SkP II, 575) and the extension of St Magnús’s Cathedral in Kirkwall. Bjarni was also a diplomat and is known to have travelled to Norway for political reasons in 1194-5, 1208-9, 1210, 1218 and 1223 (see Bugge 1875, 244; Holtsmark 1937a, 2-3); he probably died in Norway (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8, 46).

Bjarni is introduced as Bjarni skáld ‘Poet’ in Orkn (ÍF 35, 193), but Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) is the only literary work attributed to him in medieval sources. Suggestions that he compiled Orkn (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8) and the þulur in SnE (Bugge 1875) have not been generally accepted; see Introduction to Jóms below on the attribution of Anon Mhkv to Bjarni.

notes
my abbr.

Jómsvíkingadrápa (‘Drápa about the Jómsvíkingar’) — Bjbp JómsI

Emily Lethbridge 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 954.

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Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson: Jómsvíkingadrápa (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4

SkP info: I, 990

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

36 — Bjbp Jóms 36I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 36’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 990.

Bað, fyr borð at skyldi,
bǫðsvellandi, allir
— áðr frák vápnum verjask
Vagns lið — Búa þegnar.
Ok hreggboði hjǫrva
hraustr með þungar kistur
— sá var illr af aurum —
ótrauðr á kaf réði.

{Bǫðsvellandi} bað, at allir þegnar Búa skyldi fyr borð; áðr frák lið Vagns verjask vápnum. Ok {hraustr {hjǫrva hregg}boði} réði ótrauðr á kaf með þungar kistur; sá var illr af aurum.

{The battle-sweller} [WARRIOR = Búi] commanded that all Búi’s men should [go] overboard; I have heard that before that Vagn’s troop defended themselves with weapons. And {the valiant offerer {of the storm of swords}} [(lit. ‘storm-offerer of swords’) BATTLE > WARRIOR = Búi] plunged unhesitating into the sea with heavy chests; that one was mean with money.

Mss: R(54r)

Readings: [4] þegnar: ‘þ[...]’ R, þegnar RCP, RFJ

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 36: AII, 8, BII, 8, Skald II, 5, NN §3256; Fms 11, 173, Fms 12, 246, Jvs 1879, 116-17, 133. 

Notes: [All]: In some versions of the legend (e.g. ÓT 1958-2000, I, 195; Jvs 1962, 38) Búi’s hands have been chopped off in the fighting, so it is with the stumps that he grasps the treasure chests. — [2] bǫðsvellandi ‘the battle-sweller [WARRIOR = Búi]’: Presumably Búi, who according to Jvs (1879, 85) shouts ‘Firer bord allir Bua þegnar’ ‘“overboard all Búi’s men”’ as he leaps off the ship with his two chests of gold (cf. st. 37/3-4). — [3-4]: These lines are closely similar to st. 28/1-2. — [7] illr ‘mean’: Búi’s impulse to sink his treasure-chests in the sea rather than surrender them presumably lies behind this aside that he is mean with money. — [8] réði … á kaf ‘plunged ... into the sea’: Kaf n. is taken here in the sense ‘sea, the deep’. The phrase could alternatively mean ‘determined on a plunge’ (with kaf in the sense ‘dive, plunge’; cf. Note to ÞjóðA Lv 2/3II). Réði is 3rd pers. sg. pret. subj. of ráða, though indic. rather than subj. would be expected here. It is possible that the subj. communicates a sense that the event is reported tentatively and at second hand, perhaps influenced by l. 3 frák ‘I have heard’. Some eds (Jvs 1879; Skj B; Skald) emend l. 5 ok ‘and’ to áðr ‘before’, which is commonly followed by subj., and they consequentially emend l. 3 áðr to þá ‘then’. However, in the absence of other indicators of corruption, emendation is better avoided.

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