Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞKolb Eirdr 6I

Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 6’ 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. 497.

Þórðr KolbeinssonEiríksdrápa

Meinrennir, brá — manna
margs fýsa skǫp —, varga,
ljóða lítlu siðar
læ Hôkunar ævi.
Enn til lands, þess’s lindar
láðstafr vegit hafði
hraustr, þás herr fór vestan,
hykk kómu son Tryggva.

{Varga {meinrennir}}, lítlu siðar brá læ ljóða ævi Hôkunar; skǫp manna fýsa margs. Enn hykk {son Tryggva} kómu til lands, þess’s {hraustr {lindar láð}stafr} hafði vegit, þás herr fór vestan.

{{Harm-banisher} [GLADDENER] of wolves} [WARRIOR = Eiríkr], a little later the people’s treachery ended the life of Hákon; the fate of men urges much on. And I think {the son of Tryggvi} [= Óláfr] came to the land which {the bold staff {of the land of the linden spear}} [(lit. ‘bold land-staff of the linden spear’) SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon] had vanquished, when the army advanced from the west.

Mss: (172r-v), Kˣ(199r) (l. 1), F(29ra), F(34ra) (l. 1), J1ˣ(103r-v), J1ˣ(122r) (l. 1), J2ˣ(95v-96r), J2ˣ(108v-108r) (l. 1) (Hkr); 61(25rb), 61(65rb) (l. 1), 53(22vb), 53(62ra) (l. 1), 54(23va), 54(60rb) (l. 1), Bb(34va), Bb(96ra) (l. 1), Flat(32ra), Flat(69rb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(32r) (ll. 1-4), FskAˣ(118) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Mein‑: ‘Me[…]’ J1ˣ(103r), ‘M[…]inn’ Bb(34va), men‑ Flat(69rb);    ‑rennir: remmir Kˣ(199r), F(29ra), F(34ra), J1ˣ(103r), J1ˣ(122r), J2ˣ(108v), 61(25rb), 53(22vb), 53(62ra), 54(23va), Bb(34va), FskBˣ, ‘remir’ 61(65rb), ‘‑ræínir’ Flat(69rb);    manna: om. F(34ra), mána J1ˣ(103r), J2ˣ(108v), 61(25rb), 61(65rb), 53(22vb), 53(62ra), 54(23va), 54(60rb), Bb(96ra), Flat(69rb), FskBˣ, ‘mara’ J1ˣ(122r)    [2] margs: marg 53(22vb), 54(23va), Bb(34va), Flat(32ra);    fýsa: fúsa 53(22vb), 54(23va), Flat(32ra), ‘fꜹsa’ Bb(34va)    [3] ljóða: ‘liða’ FskAˣ;    lítlu: lítla F(29ra), ‘li[…]’ J1ˣ(103r)    [4] læ: lá Bb(34va);    ævi: ‘æfiu’ 54(23va), Flat(32ra)    [5] til: í J1ˣ(103r)    [6] ‑stafr: ‘staf[…]’ J1ˣ(103r);    vegit: vegar 54(23va), Bb(34va);    hafði: hafðr J1ˣ(103r)    [7] hraustr: hrausts FskAˣ;    þás (‘þa er’): þá 53(22vb);    fór: fǫr F(29ra), fóru 53(22vb);    vestan: austan Bb(34va), vesta Flat(32ra)    [8] hykk: ‘hogg ek’ FskAˣ;    kómu: kominn 53(22vb), kœmi Flat(69rb)

Editions: Skj AI, 212, Skj BI, 202, Skald 106, NN §§576, 1105, 2465A; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 358, 415, IV, 92, ÍF 26, 300, 337, Hkr 1991, I, 202, 228 (ÓTHkr chs 51, 89), F 1871, 132; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 244, II, 241 (chs 105, 243), Flat 1860-8, I, 242, 518; Fsk 1902-3, 107, ÍF 29, 140 (ch. 22).

Context: In Hkr and ÓT, Óláfr Tryggvason is accepted as king throughout Norway; Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson, his brother Sveinn and their followers take refuge with King Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ in Sweden. ÓT makes explicit the enmity between Óláfr Tryggvason and the sons of Hákon. This stanza is found a second time in Hkr and ÓT (with st. 7 following in Hkr). It is reproduced complete in Flat but cited by l. 1 only in the other mss. The context of the repeat is a chapter about Eiríkr jarl, and the citation follows a brief reiteration of Eiríkr’s flight and Óláfr sœnski’s generosity to him, and acts as a prelude to an account of Eiríkr’s harrying in the Baltic region. For Fsk, see st. 5.

Notes: [All]: In the J transcripts and in ÓT, this stanza is attributed to Belgskakadrápa. For this, and the arrangments of helmingar in sts 5-7, see Introduction. — [1-2]: The mss diverge significantly in their l. 1 readings, the main alternatives being rennir/remmir and manna/mána, and these divergences do not group according to text or stemmata. (a) The present edn (with Skj B) adopts the readings -rennir and manna found in four of the mss, including the main ms.: the Hkr mss (172r) and J2ˣ(95v-96r), the ÓT ms. Flat(32ra), and FskAˣ. In kennings containing rennir ‘impeller, banisher’ its grammatical object is normally concrete, such as a term for ‘ship’ or ‘treasure’ (as noted in NN §576), but meinrennir varga forms a warrior-kenning belonging to a known sub-type, where the base-word amounts to ‘gladdener’ or ‘feeder’ but is unusually replaced by a kenning; cf. Note to Arn Hryn 7/1, 2II and ‘The diction of skaldic poetry’ in General Introduction. Here, as in Skj B, the kenning is taken as an apostrophe to Eiríkr jarl, though the apostrophe is itself somewhat problematic (see Introduction) and this construal results in considerable syntactic complexity (see NN §576). The reading manna is also adopted here, as by most eds, despite the eleven attestations of mána found in the listed mss, since it gives good sense and a satisfactory skothending (with -renn-). (b) ÍF 26 and ÍF 29 read -remmir ‘strengthener, increaser’ rather than -rennir (see also NN §576), and take varga as ‘of outlaws’ (cf. CVC: vargr II; LP: vargr 2) rather than ‘of wolves’, hence meinremmir varga ‘increaser of suffering of outlaws [(lit. ‘suffering-increaser of outlaws’) JUST RULER = Eiríkr jarl]’. This is read as an apostrophe and results in similarly complex syntax to (a) above. (c) Kock (NN §576) therefore proposed that meinremmir should instead be construed with manna, hence ‘injury-strengthener of men’, i.e. ‘inflictor of injuries’, as an appositive subject with læ ljóða ‘people’s treachery’, taken as a reference to Hákon’s killer Skopti karkr (see Context to st. 5). While this simplifies the syntax, this version of l. 1 is less than satisfactory in its skothending (mein- : mann-), occurs in only three mss ((199r), F(29ra), and Bb(34va)) and is less compatible with normal kenning usage. (d) There is a further, difficult alternative, favoured by Kock in Skald and NN §2465: meinremmir … mána ‘strengthener of the moon’s harm [(lit. ‘harm-strengthener of the moon’) WOLF]’. This refers to Gylf’s account (SnE 2005, 14) of Hati Hróðvitnisson, the wolf who chases and eventually swallows the moon. The ‘wolf’ of the stanza is again Skopti karkr, and again the kenning functions as an appositive subject with læ ljóða, though in this case the gen. pl. ljóða would be objective, hence ‘treachery against people’. This reflects a form of l. 1 found in six of the mss and must be counted a distinct possibility. The resulting intercalary, margs fýsa skǫp varga ‘the fate of outlaws urges much’ has the consecutive words skǫp varga forming a phrase rather than separated, and as Kock states, a reference to Hati would resonate by means of a pun (ofljóst) with varga in the sense ‘of wolves’. — [8] kómu ‘came’: An acc. with past inf. construction, (hykk) son Tryggva kómu, lit. ‘(I think) the son of Tryggvi to have come’. For similar constructions, see Notes to sts 10/6-8 and 11/1-4.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  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. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  9. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  11. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  12. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  13. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  14. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  15. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  16. Internal references
  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. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Not published: do not cite (GylfIII)
  21. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Óláfr Tryggvason’ 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. 383.
  22. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa 7’ 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. 191-2.

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