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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Háleygjatal — Eyv HálI

Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Háleygjatal’ 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. 195.

 

Háleygjatal ‘Enumeration of the Háleygir (people of Hálogaland)’ (Eyv Hál) praises Hákon jarl Sigurðarson (c. 970-c. 995) and enumerates his ancestors back to Óðinn. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 265), it described the death and burial place of each. From the early heartland in Hálogaland (Hålogaland) implied by the Háleygir of the title (Olsen 1942a), the jarls exerted overlordship or virtual kingship over the coastal areas in the north of Norway and extended their sphere of influence further south, adopting Hlaðir (Lade, Nord-Trøndelag) as their base and becoming known to history as the Hlaðajarlar or Hlaðajarlaætt ‘(kindred of the) jarls of Hlaðir’. During Eyvindr’s lifetime they energetically opposed the Christianization of Norway. The poem also covers Hákon’s triumph at Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen) in sts 11-12. The date of the sea-battle is uncertain, but if the credible and widely-accepted date of c. 985 is correct, the poem may date from that year or soon after.

The poem is named Háleygjatal in Hkr, ÓTFsk, Ágr and SnE (with variant Háleygjadrápa in Flat), and consistently ascribed to Eyvindr, and this, along with an implied tenth-century date of composition, is universally accepted in the published scholarship. Only sts 4-5, 9-10 and 11 are cited explicitly from Hál, but the content and kviðuháttr metre of the remaining stanzas provide a firm basis for ascription to the poem. The extant Hál is incomplete, with only thirteen whole or partial stanzas (as reconstructed here), but its original scope is indicated by a genealogy of the Hlaðajarl dynasty cited by Thormod Torfæus (1711, I, 146), apparently from a now lost ms. of c. 1300, which also, together with the ordering of stanzas in Hkr and Fsk, guides the ordering of the stanzas. Twenty-seven generations are enumerated, the same number as in Þjóðólfr ór Hvini’s Ynglingatal (Þjóð Yt), whose relation to Hál is discussed later in this Introduction. The members of the dynasty are named by Torfaeus in Latinised forms in the following order: 1. Sæmingus (?), 2. Godhialtus, 3. Sverdhialtus, 4. Hodbroddus, 5. Himinleigus, 6. Vedrhallus, 7. Havar Manufortis, 8. Godgestus, 9. Heimgestus Huldrefrater, 10. Gylaugus, 11. Gudlaugus, 12. Mundill Senex, 13. Herser, 14. Brandus Comes, 15. Brynjolfus, 16. Bardus, 17. Hergils, 18. Havar, 19. Haraldus Trygill, 20. Throndus, 21. Haraldus, 22. Herlaugus, 23. Herlaugus, 24. Griotgardus, 25. Hacon Hladajarl, 26. Sigurdus, 27. Hacon rikus. While the genealogy is probably not reliable in detail (cf. ÍF 26, 57-8 n. 6) it is possible to reach a rough correlation with the extant stanzas of Hál as follows: st. 2, Sæmingus (?); st. 3, unknown; sts 4-5, Gudlaugus; st. 6, unknown; sts 7-8, Hacon son of Griotgardus; sts 9-10, Sigurdus; sts 11-12, Hacon rikus. The remaining two (sts 1 and 13) belong to the exordium and conclusion respectively. Additionally, the lost part of the poem devoted to Hersir (Herser) is paraphrased in the prose of Ágr (ÍF 29, 18), with a direct reference to Hál; the account of the death of Goðgestr (Godgestus) in Hkr (ÍF 26, 57) may represent a further paraphrase (Hermann Pálsson 1997, 31). (For a selective genealogy of the Hlaðajarlar, see Hkr 1991, III, 137.) The place of sts 3 and 6 in the sequence of the poem is uncertain, since they are preserved only in SnE in non-narrative contexts. A further problem of reconstruction concerns stanza length. On the available evidence, this varies between eight and twelve lines, similar to the stanzas of Þjóð Yt, and this variation has led to uncertainties as to stanza division (see Notes to sts 1 [All], 2 [All] and 11 [All]).

Eyvindr requests a hearing meðan hans ætt til goða teljum ‘while I reckon his [Hákon’s] lineage back to the gods’ (st. 1/5, 8). Stanza 2 identifies Óðinn and the goddess Skaði as progenitors, while individual jarls are described as the kinsmen of Freyr (st. 7/7) and Týr (st. 10/7); st. 3 makes enigmatic reference to the outlying land of Freyr (see st. 3/1 and Note). With its exceptional claims concerning the jarls’ divine ancestry (Marold 1992, 699) and its focus upon the circumstances in which they met their deaths, Hál strongly resembles Þjóð Yt, an enumeration of the Yngling kings who appear in st. 4 as the adversaries of the jarls. Assuming the conventional datings of the poems to be correct, Hál clearly emulates Yt. It is also imitative in its ‘catenulate’ or catalogue structure and in its kviðuháttr verse-form, including stanza length (as noted above). Notwithstanding the possibility that his nickname skáldaspillir means ‘plagiarist’ (see Biography), Eyvindr’s use of material from the presumptively earlier poem should be viewed not as plagiarism in a modern understanding but as a form of rivalry and appropriation serving the ideology of the jarls of Hlaðir (for discussion of skaldic rivalry, cf. von See 1977a). The emphasis upon divine descent may form another element in this programme of emulation between dynasties, serving to promote the Hlaðajarlar as the equals of the Ynglingar.

The mss used in this edition are as follows: the Hkr mss (main ms.), F for sts 2, 4, 5, 7-11, J2ˣ for sts 2, 4, 5, 7-10, J1ˣ for sts 7-11, 39 for sts 9-11; the ÓT mss Bb and Flat for sts 9, 10; the Fsk mss FskBˣ, FskAˣ for sts 7-10, 12, plus 51ˣ, 302ˣ, 301ˣ for st. 12, since it is preserved only in Fsk; the SnE mss R for sts 1 (ll. 5-8 repeated), 3, 6, 9 (ll. 5-8 repeated), 13, for sts 1, 3, 6, 9 (ll. 5-8 repeated), 13, W for sts 1, 3, 6, 9 (ll. 5-8 repeated), U for sts 1 (ll. 1-8 only, with ll. 5-8 repeated), 3, 6, 9 (ll. 5-8 repeated), 13, A for sts 6, 9/5, 13, B for sts 1 (ll. 5-8 repeated), 9, C for sts 6, 13; the TGT mss W, A for st. 9/5-8. Stanzas 6 and 9 are also preserved in LaufE (1979, 383, 330 respectively), but the text is copied from W and is therefore not used below.

Previous editions of these stanzas include Skj, Skald, editions of the relevant prose works, Davidson (1983) within an edition of poetry for Hákon jarl and Krause (1990) within a complete edition of the Eyvindr corpus.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Ágr = [Anonymous] Ágrip af Nóregs konunga sögum.
  5. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  6. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  7. Davidson, Daphne L. 1983. ‘Earl Hákon and his Poets’. D. Phil. thesis. Oxford.
  8. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  9. Krause, Arnulf, ed. 1990. Die Dichtung des Eyvindr skáldaspillir: Edition-Kommentar-Untersuchungen. Altnordische Bibliothek 10. Leverkusen: Literaturverlag Norden Mark Reinhardt.
  10. Hermann Pálsson. 1997. Úr landnorðri: Samar og ystu rætur íslenskrar menningar. Reykjavík: Bókmenntafræðistofnun Háskóla Íslands.
  11. Marold, Edith. 1992. ‘Die Skaldendichtung als Quelle der Religionsgeschichte’. In Beck et al. 1992, 685-719.
  12. Olsen, Magnus. 1942a. ‘Eldste forekomst av navnet Hlaðir (Vellekla str. 14)’. MM, 154-6.
  13. See, Klaus von. 1977a. ‘Polemische Zitate in der Skaldendichtung. Hallfrøðr vandræðaskáld und Haldórr ókristni’. skandinavistik 7, 115-19. Rpt. in von See 1981a, 384-8.
  14. Torfæus, Thormodus [Þormóður Torfason]. 1711. Historia rerum Norvegicarum…. 4 vols. Copenhagen: Schmitgenii.
  15. Internal references
  16. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  17. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  18. Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘The Third Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  19. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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, pp. clix-clxi.
  20. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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, pp. clxiii-clxvi.
  21. Edith Marold 2017, ‘(Biography of) Þjóðólfr ór Hvini’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 431.
  22. 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.
  23. Not published: do not cite ()
  24. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Laufás Edda (LaufE)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
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