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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;

11. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga (ErfÓl) - 28

Skj info: Sigvatr Þórðarson, Islandsk skjald, o. 995-o. 1045 (AI, 223-75, BI, 213-54).

Skj poems:
1. Víkingarvísur
2. Nesjavísur
3. Austrfararvísur
4. En drape om kong Olaf
5. Vestrfararvísur
6. Et kvad om Erlingr Skjalgsson
7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson
8. Tryggvaflokkr
9. Et digt om dronning Astrid
10. Knútsdrápa
11. Bersǫglisvísur
12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga
13. Lausavísur
14. Et par halvvers af ubestemmelige digte

Sigvatr or Sighvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) is said (ÍF 27, 54) to have been the son of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, an Icelander who served, in succession, Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, who campaigned in England, and Óláfr Haraldsson, later king of Norway (r. c. 1015-30) and saint. Þórðr is listed as one of Sigvaldi’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 259, 268), but none of his poetry survives. The family tradition of poetry can also be traced in Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’, said to have been Sigvatr’s sister’s son (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203). Sigvatr was brought up by a certain Þorkell, at Apavatn in south-west Iceland. When nearly fully grown he sailed to what is now Trondheim, where he met up with his father and joined King Óláfr’s retinue. According to Snorri (ÍF 27, 54-6; ÓH 1941, I, 81-3), Sigvatr recited Lv 2-3 at this time, and he interceded with the king on behalf of Icelandic merchants forced to pay a heavy tax in Norway (cf. Sigv Lv 4). It is also likely that this is when Þórðr provided Sigvatr with the material for Víkv (see Introduction to Sigv Víkv), which may be the poem referred to in the prose introduction to Sigv Lv 2 (Fidjestøl 1982, 118). There is no evidence that Sigvatr ever returned to Iceland, and according to the anecdote in which Sigv Lv 11 is preserved, he died on the island of Selja in north-western Norway and was buried at Kristskirkja (Kristkirken) in Trondheim. His poetry records his various journeys to Sweden, England and the Continent, as well as incidents in Norway. We know nothing of Sigvatr’s private life, except that he had a daughter called Tófa, who had King Óláfr himself as her godfather (Sigv Lv 19).

Sigvatr’s surviving poetic oeuvre is both large and remarkably diverse, encompassing different kinds of encomia not only on King Óláfr (Sigv Víkv, Sigv Nesv, Sigv Óldr, Sigv ErfÓl), but also on King Knútr of Denmark (Sigv Knútdr) and the Norwegian nobleman Erlingr Skjálgsson (Sigv Erl, Sigv Erlfl). Sigvatr was godfather to King Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and composed some avuncular words of advice to the boy-king (Sigv BervII). All of these patrons are recognised in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252-4, 258, 260-2, 269), where Sigvatr is also credited with having composed for the Swedish king Ǫnundr Óláfsson (although no such poetry survives, cf. Sigv Knútdr 4/6) and the Norwegian chieftain Ívarr inn hvíti ‘the White’ (cf. Context to Sigv Lv 8). Sigvatr also composed a poem on the Norwegian pretender Tryggvi Óláfsson (Sigv Tryggfl) and is unique in having composed in dróttkvætt in praise of a woman, Óláfr Haraldsson’s widow Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir (Sigv Ást). Several of Sigvatr’s poems are more or less loosely connected sequences of stanzas rather than more formal compositions, and encompass both travelogue (Sigv Austv) and political commentary (Sigv Vestv, Sigv BervII). The latter genre is also well represented in his lausavísur, which also include some remarkably personal stanzas expressing his grief at the death of King Óláfr (Sigv Lv 22-4). Sigvatr’s status as a hǫfuðskáld ‘chief skald’ was recognised in the twelfth century (cf. Esk Geisl 12/8VII). His versatility as a poet has clearly inspired a number of anecdotes focusing on the composition of poetry, mostly of doubtful authenticity (cf. Contexts to Sigv Lv 1, 8, 11, 27; also Introduction to Ótt Hfl). Apart from two fragments preserved in SnE (Sigv Frag 1-2III), Sigvatr’s poetry is transmitted in a wide range of texts within the tradition of the kings’ sagas and is therefore edited in this volume or (in the case of the late Sigv Berv) in SkP II. For general studies of Sigvatr’s life and works, see Paasche (1917), Hollander (1940) and Petersen (1946).

Erfidrápa Óláfs helga (‘Memorial drápa for Óláfr inn helgi (S. Óláfr)’) — Sigv ErfÓlI

Judith Jesch 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga’ 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. 663.

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Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga, o. 1040 (AI, 257-65, BI, 239-45)

SkP info: I, 673

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Sigv ErfÓl 7I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 7’ 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. 673.

Þórð frák þat sinn herða
— þreifsk sókn — með Ôleifi
(góð fóru þar) geirum
gǫrt víg (saman hjǫrtu).
Stǫng bar hôtt fyr Hringa
hjaldrmóðum gram bróðir
— fullt vann — fagrla gyllta
framlundaðr Ǫgmundar.

Frák Þórð þat sinn herða gǫrt víg geirum með Ôleifi; sókn þreifsk; góð hjǫrtu fóru þar saman. {Framlundaðr bróðir Ǫgmundar} bar hôtt fagrla gyllta stǫng fyr {hjaldrmóðum gram Hringa}; vann fullt.

I heard that Þórðr on that occasion intensified the full-scale battle with spears alongside Óláfr; the attack flourished; noble hearts advanced there together. {The eager-spirited brother of Ǫgmundr} [= Þórðr] carried high the beautifully gilded standard-pole before {the battle-bold prince of the Hringar} [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr]; he exerted himself to the utmost.

Mss: (461r) (Hkr); Holm2(65v), J2ˣ(221v), 73aˣ(196v-197r), 68(64v), Holm4(60va), 61(123rb), 75e 4, 325V(79rb), 325VII(36r), Bb(197ra), Flat(123va), Tóm(153v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Þórð: Þórðr 73aˣ, Bb, Flat;    þat sinn: þar svá 61, 75e 4, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm;    herða: harða 325V, Tóm, harðan Flat    [2] þreifsk: þreifk Holm2, þreifs 75e 4;    sókn: ógn 75e 4, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, sogn Bb    [3] fóru: vôru 73aˣ;    geirum: ‘gierom’ 75e 4    [4] hjǫrtu: bjǫrtum Bb    [5] bar: bar hann 68    [6] hjaldr‑: ‘hulldr’ 73aˣ, hjaldrs Flat;    ‑móðum: móðan 73aˣ;    bróðir: bróður 61, 75e 4, 325V, Flat, Tóm, bróðir corrected from bróður 325VII    [7] fullt: fyllt 73aˣ, full 61, 75e 4, Bb, Tóm, ‘fulld’ Flat;    vann: om. Holm2, ok J2ˣ, 73aˣ;    fagrla: fagrliga Flat;    gyllta: gyllda 61, 75e 4, Bb, Flat, Tóm, gylltum 325V    [8] fram‑: frán‑ 68;    ‑lundaðr: ‘lunðr’ 73aˣ, búnaðr Tóm;    Ǫgmundar: Guðmundar 75e 4, 325V

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 7: AI, 258-9, BI, 240, Skald I, 124; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 469, IV, 165-6, ÍF 27, 366-7, Hkr 1991, II, 520 (ÓHHkr ch. 212); ÓH 1941, I, 553 (ch. 209), Flat 1860-8, II, 346; Jón Skaptason 1983, 162, 303.

Context: At the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad), it is said that King Óláfr’s standard-bearer was Þórðr Fólason.

Notes: [All]: For the introduction to the stanza in ÓH-Hkr, see Introduction to this poem. This is the first of several stanzas in ErfÓl commemorating Óláfr’s fatal last battle at Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad) in 1030; for the battle and other skaldic poetry associated with it, see further ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume. — [1] Þórð ‘Þórðr’: Þórðr Fólason is mentioned as Óláfr’s merkismaðr ‘standard-bearer’ in ch. 83 of Hkr (ÍF 27, 122) in an anecdote also involving the poet Sigvatr. Þórðr was killed at Stiklastaðir (ÍF 27, 380-1). — [1] frák ‘I heard’: The skaldic convention of presenting material as hearsay has a precise meaning here. According to Snorri Sturluson (ÍF 27, 358) Sigvatr was criticised for not having been present at the battle. See also sts 15/7-8 and 27 below, Sigv Lv 23, Þorm Lv 20 and their Contexts. — [4] gǫrt ‘full-scale’: The word is here construed as the adj. ‘complete, ample, mighty’, qualifying víg ‘battle’ (so also LP: gǫrr 1). It could alternatively be an adv., ‘amply’ (so ÍF 27). — [5] stǫng ‘standard-pole’: A stǫng may be any kind of a pole (Whaley 2005b), but here it refers to that which carries the king’s battle-standard (Jesch 2001a, 253-4) or possibly the standard itself; see also sts 11/4, 12/3 below. — [6, 8] bróðir Ǫgmundar ‘brother of Ǫgmundr’: Nothing is known of Ǫgmundr and whether he was also Fólason. — [8] framlundaðr ‘eager-spirited’: This could alternatively be taken with the intercalary vann fullt (so Skj B; Skald), hence ‘the eager-spirited one exerted himself to the utmost’.

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