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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Run 1II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Runhent poem about Haraldr 1’ 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. 103-5.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonRunhent poem about Haraldr
12

Eitt ‘a single action’

2. einn (pron.; °decl. cf. einn num.): one, alone

notes

[1] eitt ‘in a single action’: Lit. ‘a single thing’. The word is adverbial, and hence not governed by at (which would require dat. case); hǫfðusk at ‘engaged’ is intransitive.

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hǫfðusk ‘engaged’

hafa (verb): have

[1] hǫfðusk: hǫfðu 39, ‘hafðez’ FskBˣ

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Eilífr ‘Eilífr’

Eilífr (noun m.): Eilífr

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sat ‘held sway’

sitja (verb): sit

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hǫfðingjar ‘chieftains’

hǫfðingi (noun m.; °-ja; -jar): chieftain

notes

[3] tveir hǫfðingjar ‘two chieftains’: Most prose sources seem to understand this as referring to Haraldr and Eilífr, but Flat precedes the first helmingr with a remark that both Jaroslav (Jarizleifr) and Haraldr went raiding with Eilífr for a time. In any event, Sigfús Blöndal suspects the ON sources of exaggerating Haraldr’s role in Jaroslav’s realm (1978, 54-5).

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tveir ‘Two’

tveir (num. cardinal): two

[3] tveir: ‘teír’ Hr

notes

[3] tveir hǫfðingjar ‘two chieftains’: Most prose sources seem to understand this as referring to Haraldr and Eilífr, but Flat precedes the first helmingr with a remark that both Jaroslav (Jarizleifr) and Haraldr went raiding with Eilífr for a time. In any event, Sigfús Blöndal suspects the ON sources of exaggerating Haraldr’s role in Jaroslav’s realm (1978, 54-5).

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hamalt ‘in wedge formation’

hamall (adj.): wedge-shaped

[4] hamalt: ávallt FskBˣ, um allt Flat

notes

[4] fylkðu hamalt ‘lined up their troops in wedge formation’: The eds of ÍF 28 and 29 explain that this involves forming a shield-wall with shields touching. Hamalt is n. nom. sg. of the adj. hamall ‘mutilated’, used adverbially; there are different theories about the semantic development (e.g. see ÍF 28; AEW: Hamal, hamalt). See also Note to Gísl Magnkv 10/6 and Mark Eirdr 15/3. — [5] ók ‘were driven’: The use is impersonal, with dat. Austr-Vinðum ‘East Wends’.

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fylkðu ‘lined up their troops’

fylkja (verb): marshal

[4] fylkðu: ‘fykðo’ E, fylgðu FskBˣ, ‘fylgtu’ Flat

notes

[4] fylkðu hamalt ‘lined up their troops in wedge formation’: The eds of ÍF 28 and 29 explain that this involves forming a shield-wall with shields touching. Hamalt is n. nom. sg. of the adj. hamall ‘mutilated’, used adverbially; there are different theories about the semantic development (e.g. see ÍF 28; AEW: Hamal, hamalt). See also Note to Gísl Magnkv 10/6 and Mark Eirdr 15/3. — [5] ók ‘were driven’: The use is impersonal, with dat. Austr-Vinðum ‘East Wends’.

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ǫngvan ‘a tight’

2. engi (pron.): no, none

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vasa ‘were not’

2. vera (verb): be, is, was, were, are, am

[7] vasa (‘vara’): varað 39, ‘uorad’ Flat

notes

[7, 8] réttr vasa ‘the terms were not’: The expression in the original is grammatically sg.

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Læsum ‘on the Læsir’

Læsir (noun m.): [on Læsir]

[7] Læsum: om. Hr, lesum Flat

notes

[7] Læsum ‘Læsir’: LP cites only this instance of the ethnic name, and translates ‘Ljacherne’. ÍF 28 explains that this is a version of an ancient name of the Poles, and cites the Nestorian Chronicle, which records a punitive raid on the Læsir undertaken by Jaroslav and Mstislav in 1031. Hkr 1991 explains the Læsir as a Polish tribe by the Visla (Wisla) river, here standing for Poles in general.

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léttr ‘easy’

(non-lexical)

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réttr ‘the terms’

1. réttr (noun m.; °-ar, dat. -/-i; -ir, acc. -i/-u): right, entitlement

notes

[7, 8] réttr vasa ‘the terms were not’: The expression in the original is grammatically sg. — [8] réttr ‘terms’: The exact sense of réttr m. is difficult to determine. The present translation (that of Andersson and Gade 2000) assumes a sense somewhere between the usual ‘right, law’, and ‘situation, lot’, as in hann ... gǫrði harðan rétt landsmanna ‘he made the lot of the landsmen harsh’ (cited from Ágr, Fritzner: réttr m. 5). However, Finnur Jónsson in Skj takes it to mean ‘pursuit’ (forfølgelse), perhaps influenced by the fact that réttr can also apply to the motion of a ship (Fritzner: réttr m. 7), and in ModIcel. to the autumn round-up of sheep.

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réttr ‘the terms’

1. réttr (noun m.; °-ar, dat. -/-i; -ir, acc. -i/-u): right, entitlement

notes

[7, 8] réttr vasa ‘the terms were not’: The expression in the original is grammatically sg. — [8] réttr ‘terms’: The exact sense of réttr m. is difficult to determine. The present translation (that of Andersson and Gade 2000) assumes a sense somewhere between the usual ‘right, law’, and ‘situation, lot’, as in hann ... gǫrði harðan rétt landsmanna ‘he made the lot of the landsmen harsh’ (cited from Ágr, Fritzner: réttr m. 5). However, Finnur Jónsson in Skj takes it to mean ‘pursuit’ (forfølgelse), perhaps influenced by the fact that réttr can also apply to the motion of a ship (Fritzner: réttr m. 7), and in ModIcel. to the autumn round-up of sheep.

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

After the battle of Stiklestad (Stiklastaðir, 1030), the young Haraldr Sigurðarson makes his way to north-west Russia (Garðaríki), where he is well received by King Jaroslav (Jarizleifr) and put in charge of his defence forces, together with Eilífr, son of Rǫgnvaldr jarl. Flat reports Haraldr’s arrival in Russia, cites Bǫlv Hardr 1 and the second helmingr of the present st., then mentions Haraldr’s position with Jaroslav, with the first helmingr in support.

The integrity of the st. is accepted here, as by previous scholars, and the contrast of two positional images, hamalt ‘wedge formation’ (l. 4) of the victors and í ǫngvan krók ‘into a narrow corner’ (l. 6) of their victims, seems felicitous. On the other hand the switch of focus from two leaders in ll. 1-4 to a sg. or impersonal ók ‘drove’ in l. 5 is slightly disconcerting, added to the fact that Fsk only cites the second helmingr, and that Flat (Flat) separates the two helmingar, with the second first.

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