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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóðólfr ór Hvini (Þjóð)

9th century; volume 1; ed. Edith Marold;

1. Ynglingatal (Yt) - 37

Skj info: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski, Norsk skjald, 9 årh. (AI, 7-21, BI, 7-19).

Skj poems:
1. Ynglingatal
2. Haustlǫng
3. Et digt om Harald hårfagre, næppe ægte
4. Lausavísur

Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, or inn hvinverski, ‘from Hvinir’ (Þjóð) was a Norwegian skald of the late ninth or early tenth century. As his nickname indicates, he was from Hvinir (Kvinesdal, Vest-Agder). His biography is largely unknown. Skáldatal names him as poet to several rulers and powerful men: Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ and Rǫgnvaldr heiðumhár or heiðumhæri ‘High with Honours’ (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273), Hákon jarl Grjótgarðsson (ibid., 256, 265, 280), Þorleifr inn spaki ‘the Wise’ (ibid., 259, 268, 285), Strút-Haraldr jarl (ibid., 259, 284) and an unknown Sveinn jarl (ibid., 268). However, the associations with Hákon, Strút-Haraldr and Þorleifr are uncertain since they may have lived later in the tenth century; see Bugge (1894, 145, 175); Åkerlund (1939, 7). In Hkr, both within the Prologue (ÍF 26, 4) and in HHárf (ÍF 26, 127-8, 139), Þjóðólfr is represented as skald and friend to Haraldr hárfagri and as a dedicated foster-father to Haraldr’s son Guðrøðr ljómi ‘Beam of Light’. It is in this context that he speaks the two lausavísur associated with him (Þjóð Lv 1-2). Þjóðólfr ór Hvini is the composer of the poems Ynglingatal (Þjóð Yt) and Haustlǫng (Þjóð HaustlIII, edited in SkP III). Five stanzas of a poem dedicated to Haraldr hárfagri (Þjóð Har) are also attributed to him. Several stanzas of Haraldskvæði (Þhorn Harkv) are falsely attributed to Þjóðólfr; see Introduction to Harkv. Finally, a fragment (Þjóðólfr FragIII) edited in SkP III is likely to be the work of a different Þjóðólfr, though it is tentatively associated with Þjóð Yt in Skj; see Introduction to Yt.

Ynglingatal — Þjóð YtI

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal’ 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. 3.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27 

for reference only:  8x   11x   13x   14x   15x   16x   17x   20x   25x   26x 

Skj: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski: 1. Ynglingatal (AI, 7-15, BI, 7-14); stanzas (if different): 9 | 10 | 11 | 12-13 | 13 | 14 | 15-16 | 16 | 17-18 | 18 | 19-20 | 20 | 21-22 | 22 | 23-24 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27-28 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33-34 | 34 | 35-36 | 36 | 37 | 38(?)

SkP info: I, 31

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — Þjóð Yt 14I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 14’ 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. 31.

Ok lofsæll
ór landi fló
Týs ôttungr
Tunna ríki.
En flæmingr
farra trjónu
jǫtuns eykr
á Agli rauð,
sás of austmǫrk
áðan hafði
brúna hǫrg
of borinn lengi.
En skíðlauss
Skilfinga nið
hœfis hjǫrr
til hjarta stóð.

Ok {lofsæll ôttungr Týs} fló ór landi ríki Tunna. En flæmingr, {eykr jǫtuns}, sás áðan hafði of borinn {hǫrg brúna} lengi of austmǫrk, rauð {trjónu farra} á Agli. En {skíðlauss hjǫrr hœfis} stóð til hjarta {nið Skilfinga}.

And {the famous descendant of Týr <god>} [= Swedish king] fled the country before the power of Tunni. And the roamer, {the draught-animal of the giant} [BULL], which before had long borne {the cairn of the brows} [HEAD] about the eastern forest, reddened {its weapon of the bull} [HORN] upon Egill. And {the sheathless sword of the bull} [HORN] stuck in the heart {of the descendant of the Skilfingar} [= Swedish king].

Mss: (28v), papp18ˣ(7v), 521ˣ(32), F(5ra), J2ˣ(15v), R685ˣ(15v) (Hkr); 761aˣ(59r-v)

Readings: [3] Týs: ‘tyrs’ F;    ôttungr: ôttunga F    [5] flæmingr: so J2ˣ, R685ˣ, flæming Kˣ, papp18ˣ, 521ˣ, F, 761aˣ    [6] trjónu: ‘tono’ 521ˣ    [9] austmǫrk: so J2ˣ, austr Kˣ, papp18ˣ, 521ˣ, haust F, austrmark R685ˣ    [11] brúna: brotna J2ˣ, R685ˣ    [12] borinn: borit 521ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski, 1. Ynglingatal 17-18: AI, 11, BI, 10, Skald I, 6-7, NN §§75, 854, 1808; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 51, IV, 15-16, ÍF 26, 52-3, Hkr 1991, I, 30 (Yng ch. 26), F 1871, 19-20; Yng 1912, 34, 63-4, Yng 2000, 40; Yt 1914, 9, Yt 1925, 202, 235-7.

Context: King Egill, son of Aun, is driven from the country by the farmhand Tunni, who instigates an uprising with other labourers. Egill finds refuge with the Danish king Fróði inn frœkni ‘the Valiant’ on Selund (Zealand). With the help of Danish fighters he routs Tunni, who dies in battle. Three years later, a bull that should have been sacrificed escapes into the forest, turns mad and becomes a great danger to the people. Egill encounters this bull while hunting, and it kills him. He is buried in a mound in Uppsala.

Notes: [All]: This stanza seems exceptional within Yt insofar as it gives details of the king’s life, not only the circumstances of his death. Noteworthy in connection with Egill’s killing by a bull is that the Danish king Fróði, to whom he flees, dies the same way: pierced either by a stag’s antlers while hunting (Skjǫldunga saga, ÍF 35, 15) or by the horn of a sorceress transformed into a cow (Saxo 2005, I, 5, 16, 2, pp. 359-60). For other related narratives cf. Schück (1905-10, 110) and Olrik (1903-1910, II, 246-9). — [1, 3] lofsæll ôttungr Týs ‘the famous descendant of Týr <god> [= Swedish king]’: It is uncertain whether this refers to Týr, the god, or is simply the common noun týr ‘god’. All eds except for Noreen (1912b and Yt 1925) indicate, through capitalisation, that they think it refers to the god Týr. One argument for this might be that such periphrases referring to rulers occur in both Eyv Hál and Yt, e.g. ttungr Freys ‘Freyr’s kinsman’ (Eyv Hál 7/7, Yt 16/7), afspring Freys ‘Freyr’s offspring’ (Yt 10/11) or ttungr Týs ‘Týr’s kinsman’ (Eyv Hál 10/7, Yt 14/3). Baetke (1964, 122) takes Týr as a proper name, but thinks the phrase is just a variation on the device that refers to a ruler as ‘descendant of a god’, and in the light of Ingjaldr being called goðkynningr ‘the one descended from gods’ in Yt 20/7, this may be correct. It may also be possible to understand týs as gen. sg. of the appellative týr ‘god’ (Noreen 1912b; Yt 1925; Sundqvist 2005a, 102). Yet this remains doubtful because kennings referring to a ruler’s divine ancestry, except for goðkynningr, always name an individual god, as in the examples above or, e.g., niðr Yggs ‘descendant of Yggr <= Óðinn>’ (Eskál Vell 19/8). — [5] flæmingr ‘the roamer’: (a) ON flæmingr is known from prose in the meaning ‘flight, fleeing’ arising from the verb flæma ‘drive away’ (Fritzner: flæmingr); cf. also ModIcel. flæmingur ‘vagabond’, OE flȳming ‘refugee, fugitive’. The nom. flæmingr is taken here as ‘vagabond, fugitive, roamer’ in apposition to eykr jǫtuns ‘draft animal of the giant [BULL]’, referring to an escaped bull roaming at large, as understood by Snorri (see Context; so also Noreen, Yt 1925). Although a preceding appositive is arguably unusual (Konráð Gíslason 1869, 52; Åkerlund 1939, 95) this interpretation is preferable to others, firstly because flæmingr appears in and J2ˣ and must, as a nom., belong with nom. eykr, and secondly in light of the interpretation of trjónu farra, cf. Note to l. 6. (b) Many commentators understand flæmingr as ‘sword’ (originally of Flemish manufacture, Storm 1899, 121). It only occurs here and in the þulur (Þul Sverða 7/2III), for which, however, this part of Yt may have been the source (Yt 1925). Further, connecting flæmingr ‘sword’ to the following trjónu farra poses difficulties, cf. Note to l. 6. — [6] trjónu farra ‘its weapon of the bull [HORN]’: This has been the subject of numerous interpretative efforts. (a) In summary, the case for the present interpretation is as follows. Trjóna is etymologically related to ON tré ‘tree, wood’ and can denote a wooden bar or rod (Fritzner: trjóna 2); cf. eintrjánungr ‘log boat (made of one piece of wood)’. The meaning ‘weapon’ is attested in Grott 18/2 (NK 300), hence Hendr scolo hǫndla harðar triónor, vápn valdreyrug ... ‘Hands will handle hard triónor, weapons bloody with battle-slain’ (see S-G II, 461; Kommentar III, 935-6) and possibly in Þjóð Haustl 17/7III trjóna trolls, which refers to the hammer Mjǫllnir and might be rendered as ‘the weapon of the troll’, i.e. weapon for use against the troll (Marold 1983, 173). Farri is only attested in ON prose in the meaning ‘vagabond, vagrant’ (Fritzner: farri), but Sigfús Blöndal (1920-4: farri) gives an obsolete meaning ‘bull’ along with the figurative meaning ‘vagabond’, and the word has Gmc cognates meaning ‘bull’ or ‘cow’ (see AEW: farri 3). The combination of trjóna ‘wooden rod, weapon’ with farri ‘bull’ yields a pattern of kenning Þjóðólfr uses frequently: ‘weapon of the bull’ to denote ‘horn’. (b) Trjóna may alternatively have the sense ‘snout’ (which is given as the first sense in LP, Fritzner: trjóna), either as a figurative extension of ‘rod’ or through confusion with its derivative trýni (on this see AEW: trjóna, trýni). The word occurs in Gsind Hákdr 2/3, where it seems to refer to a promontory, and in StarkSt Vík 33/4VIII (Gautr 41), in a list of ugly body parts. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; LP: trjóna), partly following Konráð Gíslason (1869, 52-3; 1881, 230), takes trjóna farra as ‘snout of the bull’ and flæmingr as the sword-heiti listed in Þul Sverða 7/2III, hence ‘horn’, but it is questionable whether a bull’s horn could be referred to as the ‘sword of the snout of the bull’. (c) Farri, as the animal that kills Egill, has been interpreted as ‘boar, pig’, e.g. by Schück (1905-10, 105-7, and cf. AEW: farri 4). Schück also notes that in the series of Swedish princes featured in Beowulf, Ongenþēow, the ruler who corresponds to Egill (see Note to l. 14 below), is killed by a man named Eofor, whose name in OE means ‘Boar’ (Beowulf ll. 2486-9, 2961-81; cf. Schück 1905-10, 120; Lindqvist 1936, 301). — [7] eykr jǫtuns ‘the draught-animal of the giant [BULL]’: Why a bull is associated with a giant is unknown (Meissner 111; LP: eykr). Kock (NN §75) names a few myths associating bulls with giants, e.g. the myth in Bragi Frag 1III and Gylf (SnE 2005, 7) in which Gefjun turns her sons by a giant into bulls and uses them to dig up a large piece of land from Sweden and drag it into the sea, forming Zealand. A conceivable parallel to the kenning might be Þjóð Haustl 5/2, 4III hval(r) Várar þrymseilar ‘the whale of the Vár <goddess> of the bowstring [= Skaði <giantess> > OX] ’. But Þjóðólfr’s other bull-kennings are more straightforward: okhreinn ‘yoke-reindeer’ (st. 13/13) or okbjǫrn ‘yoke-bear’ (Þjóð Haustl 6/4III). From ll. 9-12 the bull appears to be no ordinary animal but perhaps one with supernatural strength that controlled the whole district and was more than a fleeting threat. The lines recall Bragi’s description of Gefjun’s giant bulls (Bragi Frag 1/5-6, 8III), Øxn bôru átta ennitungl ok fjǫgur haufuð ‘The oxen bore eight forehead-moons [EYES] and four heads’. The expression ‘to bear the head’ could be a metaphor for claiming authority over an area, cf. examples of bera hǫfuð, lit. ‘to bear the head’, in Fritzner: höfuð 1. — [9] austmǫrk ‘the eastern forest’: This, the reading of J2ˣ, is metrically acceptable (Sievers 1893, 117), and is supported by Snorri’s having adapted -mǫrk to á viðum ‘in the forests’ in his narrative (so Yt 1925). Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901; Yng 1912; Skj B) and Kock (Skald) opted for ’s reading austr ‘in the east’. — [11] hǫrg brúna ‘the cairn of the brows [HEAD]’: Hǫrgr can mean ‘temple’, ‘altar’ or ‘stone mound’ (Fritzner: hǫrgr, though LP: hǫrgr gives only ‘temple’), and it is difficult to decide among these, since the base-word of a head-kenning may denote a building as well as rocks, cliffs or hills (Meissner 127). That the majority is of the latter type favours ‘cairn’ (cf. Hellquist 1903-6, 226). — [13] skíðlauss ‘sheathless’: Here the adj. points up the metaphorical character of the base-word ‘sword’. Unlike a sword, a horn has no sheath, cf. st. 1/7 vindlauss ‘windless’. — [14] nið Skilfinga ‘of the descendant of the Skilfingar [= Swedish king]’: The Skilfingar are mentioned among the dynasties of heroes and kings in Hyndl 11/6 and 16/2 and in SnE 2005, 103. The sg. skilfingr is attested as a heiti for Óðinn (Þul Óðins 8/5III), for ‘prince’ (Þul Konunga 3/3III) and for ‘sword’ (Þul Sverða 7/3III). In Beowulf the Swedish ruler Ongenþēow is designated gomela Scylfing/Scilfing ‘the old Skilfing’ (Beowulf ll. 2487, 2968, Beowulf 2008, 85, 101), and Ongenþēow is generally agreed to correspond in the genealogy with Egill in Yt, though the difference in their names (and in their deaths) could suggest that Egill was the brother of Ongenþēow (ON Angantýr). The relationship between the Skilfingar and the Ynglingar (a name strikingly absent from Yt) is also highly problematic. Baetke (1964, 134-5) may be right to assume that the Uppsala kings bore the name Skilfingar, but only the Norwegian kings of Vestfold were called Ynglingar.

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