Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Sigv Erlfl 4I

[5-8]: This helmingr has caused previous eds much difficulty, though the general sentiment, that Erlingr was unsurpassed in valour, is clear enough. (a) Skj B understands varð as the pret. of verða ‘become’ and emends virðir ‘appreciator, one who values’ to virði, a dat. sg. of comparison, and leygðan to lǫggðan ‘lapped, encircled’. The result is a rather convoluted sentence en varð meiri ofrhugi geirs virði né kømr síðan á gjalfri lǫggðan víðbotn glyggs keri, which he renders men der har ikke været og der vil aldrig herefter komme nogen modigere mand end krigeren på den havombruste jord ‘but there has not been and there will never hereafter come any braver man than the warrior onto the sea-lapped earth’.  However, the metrical stress on varð (l. 5) points to varðkeri being a cpd, and varð is not negated as the translation ikke ‘not’ would suggest. (b) Kock (NN §2196B) retains the cpd and provides a negative, but his solution depends on selecting the least convincing variant for virðir, varðat from Tóm, giving the translation he had previously arrived at in NN §640 by quite different means: På den havomslutna jorden | har ej kommit och ej kommer | hädanefter någon furste, | någon jälte, mera käck! ‘To the sea-encircled earth | has never come and will not come | henceforth any prince, | any hero, more valiant!’. (c) The present translation (largely following ÍF 27) avoids the convoluted syntax required to read both a past and a future perspective into the helmingr and assumes the priority of the future-oriented impossibility topos (impossibilia or adynaton) common in skaldic praise poetry; see Note to Hfr ErfÓl 24/1, 4.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  5. Internal references
  6. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 24’ 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. 434.


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