Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóðólfr ór Hvini (Þjóð)

9th century; volume 1; ed. Edith Marold;

2. Poem about Haraldr hárfagri (Har) - 5

Skj info: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski, Norsk skjald, 9 årh. (AI, 7-21, BI, 7-19).

Skj poems:
1. Ynglingatal
2. Haustlǫng
3. Et digt om Harald hårfagre, næppe ægte
4. Lausavísur

Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, or inn hvinverski, ‘from Hvinir’ (Þjóð) was a Norwegian skald of the late ninth or early tenth century. As his nickname indicates, he was from Hvinir (Kvinesdal, Vest-Agder). His biography is largely unknown. Skáldatal names him as poet to several rulers and powerful men: Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ and Rǫgnvaldr heiðumhár or heiðumhæri ‘High with Honours’ (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273), Hákon jarl Grjótgarðsson (ibid., 256, 265, 280), Þorleifr inn spaki ‘the Wise’ (ibid., 259, 268, 285), Strút-Haraldr jarl (ibid., 259, 284) and an unknown Sveinn jarl (ibid., 268). However, the associations with Hákon, Strút-Haraldr and Þorleifr are uncertain since they may have lived later in the tenth century; see Bugge (1894, 145, 175); Åkerlund (1939, 7). In Hkr, both within the Prologue (ÍF 26, 4) and in HHárf (ÍF 26, 127-8, 139), Þjóðólfr is represented as skald and friend to Haraldr hárfagri and as a dedicated foster-father to Haraldr’s son Guðrøðr ljómi ‘Beam of Light’. It is in this context that he speaks the two lausavísur associated with him (Þjóð Lv 1-2). Þjóðólfr ór Hvini is the composer of the poems Ynglingatal (Þjóð Yt) and Haustlǫng (Þjóð HaustlIII, edited in SkP III). Five stanzas of a poem dedicated to Haraldr hárfagri (Þjóð Har) are also attributed to him. Several stanzas of Haraldskvæði (Þhorn Harkv) are falsely attributed to Þjóðólfr; see Introduction to Harkv. Finally, a fragment (Þjóðólfr FragIII) edited in SkP III is likely to be the work of a different Þjóðólfr, though it is tentatively associated with Þjóð Yt in Skj; see Introduction to Yt.

Poem about Haraldr hárfagri — Þjóð HarI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Poem about Haraldr hárfagri’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Brepols, Turnhout, p. 60.

 1   2   3   4   5 

Skj: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski: 3. Et digt om Harald hårfagre, næppe ægte (AI, 20-1, BI, 18-19)

in texts: Flat, Fsk, HarHárf

SkP info: I, 60

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


These five stanzas (Þjóð Har) concern Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ Hálfdanarson (r. c. 860-c.932; see ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume), but their unity is questionable, and their authenticity is far from certain. Stanzas 1-3 doubtless belong together, given that they are presented all together in Haralds þáttr hárfagra (HarHárf) in Flat, and given the similarity of their style and their common subject: the popularity and generosity of Haraldr. There is also a relative sameness to their irregular metre, a blend of fornyrðislag, kviðuháttr and málaháttr. Stanza 4, concerning the battle of Hafrsfjǫrðr (Hafrsfjorden, c. 885-c. 890), is presented several chapters later, and although its content is dissimilar, like the others it pertains to Haraldr hárfagri, and it has their style and form. It is attributed in Flat not to Þjóðólfr but to his contemporary Þorbjǫrn hornklofi (Þhorn), but this may well be an error arising from the fact that its opening line is identical with Þhorn Harkv 10/1. Stanza 5 is found in a different text, Fsk (and then only in the FskA transcripts), and it is also attributed to Þorbjǫrn. However, it too may well belong with Þjóð Har, since it concerns Haraldr, referring to his nickname Lúfa ‘Shaggy-locks’ (cf. st. 4/1), is stylistically compatible and could be composed in the same metre. It was tentatively assigned to the present poem, as its first stanza, in SnE (1848-87, III, 399-400), and is printed by Finnur Jónsson as a possible st. 5 in Skj AI, 21, though only in the apparatus of variants to st. 4; it is omitted from Skj BI, 19 on grounds of its fragmentary nature. Finnur (Skj AI, 20) also treats the attribution of sts 1-4 to Þjóðólfr as implausible, labelling the poem næppe ægte ‘hardly genuine’. Indeed, the diction of all these stanzas is notably less poetic than that of any of Þjóðólfr’s known compositions, and they may be a later imitation of Þhorn Harkv.

Stanzas 1-4 are found only in Flat. They were copied by Árni Magnússon in 761aˣ (fols 22r and 28v), but this ms. offers no original witness, only a likely emendation (see Note to st. 2/1). Stanza 5 is preserved in the FskA transcripts 301ˣ (used as main ms. since it is the one with the fullest text), FskAˣ and 52ˣ. It was apparently only partly legible in the exemplar when the transcripts were made, as they preserve it imperfectly.

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