Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Magndr 14II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 14’ 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, pp. 223-4.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonMagnússdrápa

Skeiðr tók Bjarnar bróður
ballr Skônungum allar
— þjóð røri þeirar tíðar
þingat — gramr með hringum.

Gramr, ballr Skônungum, tók allar skeiðr {bróður Bjarnar} með hringum; þjóð røri þingat þeirar tíðar.

The monarch, baleful to the Skánungar, seized all the warships {of Bjǫrn’s brother} [= Sveinn], every one; men rowed up at the right moment.

Mss: (517r), 39(17vb), E(9r), J2ˣ(254v) (Hkr); FskBˣ(59r); H(12r), Hr(11ra) (H-Hr); Flat(191vb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] tók: tókt FskBˣ;    bróður: bróðir FskBˣ, Flat    [2] ballr: baldr 39, FskBˣ, hallr Flat;    Skônungum: ‘skæningum’ FskBˣ, kann ungum Flat    [3] røri: reyri J2ˣ, H;    þeirar: þeirra Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 341-2, Skj BI, 314, Skald I, 159; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 64, ÍF 28, 58, Hkr 1991, 594 (Mgóð ch. 33), E 1916, 30; Fsk 1902-3, 214 (ch. 42), ÍF 29, 224-5 (ch. 50); Fms 6, 85 (Mgóð ch. 40), Fms 12, 138; Flat 1860-8, III, 284, Andersson and Gade 2000, 126, 470 (MH); Whaley 1998, 209-11.

Context: In Hkr, Fsk and H-Hr, the st. appears in the account of the battle at Helgenæs (Helganes). Flat by contrast attaches the st. to the battle south of Århus (Áróss), citing it immediately after st. 15.

Notes: [1] bróður Bjarnar ‘of Bjǫrn’s brother’: This is Sveinn Úlfsson. Bjǫrn is mentioned together with Sveinn in Knýtl (ÍF 35, 97, 141) and Mork (1928-32, 223). An English earl, he was treacherously killed by Swegn Godwineson (ASC ‘C’ s. a. 1049, ‘D’ s. a. 1050, ‘E’ s. a. 1046). — [2] ballr Skônungum ‘baleful to the Skánungar’: (a) The idiom ballr e-m ‘baleful, harsh, fearsome to sby’ may be paralleled in Bdr 5/7-8 réðo ... hví væri Baldri ballir draumar ‘discussed … why his dreams were baleful to Baldr’ (NK 277), if dat. sg. Baldri ‘to Baldr’ is construed, as here, with ballir ‘baleful’, hence ‘discussed … why Baldr’s dreams were baleful’ (réðo … hví draumar væri ballir Baldri). There does not appear to be a more secure example of ballr e-m (e.g. ONP has none), but such a construction might have been encouraged by the phonetically and semantically similar bella e-m ‘harm sby’ (strong verb), or by adj. phrases such as reiðr e-m ‘angry with sby’ or hættr e-m as in hættr Serkjum ‘dangerous to Saracens’ (ÞjóðA Sex 2). The postulated phrase ballr Sknungum is also compatible with the tradition that the people of Skåne (Skáney, now southern Sweden but then Dan. territory) earned Magnús’s hostility by supporting his enemy Sveinn. This interpretation is adopted by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28, 58 n.). (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B and Kock in Skald, on the other hand, emend to gen. pl. Sknunga, which they take with gramr, hence ‘monarch of Skánungar’. — [3] þeirar tíðar ‘at the right moment’: So Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, who renders tíð as heillastund (?) ‘fortunate time (?)’ (ÍF 28, 58 n.). Although tíð f. normally has a neutral sense which can be qualified by góð ‘good’ or ill ‘bad, evil’, the possibility that it can have a favourable sense is suggested by its antonym ótíð ‘bad season, bad weather, inappropriate time’ and by the adj. tíðr ‘accustomed, popular, beloved’.


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  6. Whaley, Diana, ed. and trans. 1998. The Poetry of Arnórr jarlaskáld: An Edition and Study. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 8. Turnhout: Brepols.
  7. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  8. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  9. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  12. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  13. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  14. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  15. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  16. ASC [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle] = Plummer, Charles and John Earle, eds. 1892-9. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1952.
  17. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  18. Internal references
  19. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ 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. clxi-clxii.
  20. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Hulda and Hrokkinskinna (H-Hr)’ 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].
  21. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Morkinskinna (Mork)’ 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].
  22. Not published: do not cite (MHII)
  23. Not published: do not cite ()
  24. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 2’ 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, pp. 113-14.

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