Matthew Townend 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þórarinn loftunga, Hǫfuðlausn’ 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. 849.
Only two lines now survive of Þórarinn’s Hǫfuðlausn ‘Head-ransom’ (Þloft Hfl) for King Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great). They are preserved solely in Snorri Sturluson’s Óláfs saga helga in the Separate (ÓH) and Hkr (ÓHHkr) versions (here jointly designated ÓH-Hkr), where they are said to be the poem’s stef ‘refrain’. The ‘head-ransom’ story supposedly behind the poem is narrated in both ÓH-Hkr and more fully in Knýtl (ÍF 35, 124-5), even though Knýtl does not quote any of the poem. According to the story, Þórarinn originally composed for Knútr something short of a full-scale drápa, described variously as a flokkr in ÓH-Hkr, as fár vísur ‘a few verses’ in Knýtl, and as a dræplingr ‘short drápa’ in both sources. The king’s anger at this insufficient tribute dictated that Þórarinn must compose a full drápa (specified as a þrítug drápa eða lengri ‘a thirty-stanza drápa or longer’ in Knýtl) by the following day, or lose his life. Both sources record Hǫfuðlausn as being the title of the resultant poem, and fifty marks of silver as the reward for it – a figure specified in Þórarinn’s Tøgdrápa (Tøgdr 7/1, 3; see Note). With so little of Þórarinn’s poem surviving, it clearly cannot be dated by internal references; however, Hfl evidently precedes his Tøgdr, which has a probable date of c. 1029, so a date of c. 1027-8 seems plausible (see further Townend 2001, 157). For better-preserved ‘head-ransom’ poems see Egill HflV and Ótt Hfl, and Introductions to those.
For the mss used in this edn, see below. Holm2 is the main ms.
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