Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorleifr skúma Þorkelsson (Þskúm)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

Lausavísa (Lv) - 1

Skj info: Þórleifr skúma Þórkelsson, Islænder, deltog i Jomsvikingeslaget. (AI, 117, BI, 111-112).

Skj poems:

Þorleifr (Þskúm), together with the sole stanza attributed to him, features in the Jvs and Fsk accounts of the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen, c. 985), in which he fell; see Eskál Lv 3, Bjbp Jóms 34/5 and Context to Jóms 34. He is said in Jvs (1879, 73) to have been the son of Þorkell inn auðgi ‘the Wealthy’ of Mýrar in Dýrafjörður, north-west Iceland, and skúma appears as his nickname, whereas Fsk (ÍF 29, 131) refers to Skúmr as his given name, and regards Þórðr ǫrvhǫnd ‘Left-handed’ (also mentioned in Jvs) as his brother. The meaning of the nickname skúma is uncertain. Finnur Jónsson (1907, 200) and Lind (1920-1, 335) take it to mean ‘squinting’, though the root skúm- also has associations with darkness, as in skúmi m. ‘dusk’ and skúma-skot n. ‘dusk, a dark nook’ (CVC: skúmi; LP: skúmr), and Finnur Jónsson (LP) suggests skummelt udseende person ‘gloomy-looking person’ for skúmr m. in Hundk Lv 3/7VIII.

Lausavísa — Þskúm LvI

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þorleifr skúma Þorkelsson, Lausavísa’ 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. 359.


Skj: Þórleifr skúma Þórkelsson: Lausavísa, o. 986 (AI, 117, BI, 111-112); stanzas (if different): [v]

in texts: Flat, FoGT, Fsk, Gramm, Jvs, LaufE

SkP info: I, 359

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


This fornyrðislag stanza (Þskúm Lv) is attributed to one of the Icelanders fighting for the Norwegians against the Jómsvíkingar at the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen), c. 985, and this man is identified as Þorleifr skúma Þorkelsson in Jvs and in FoGT but as Vígfúss Víga-Glúmsson in Fsk (ÍF 29, 131, and see Context below), which on the other hand attributes Eskál Lv 3 to ‘Skúmr’ as he died of his wounds after the battle; see Context for that stanza. There is little evidence on which to build a case for either of the rival attributions, but since there is a stronger tradition that Vígfúss Víga-Glúmsson was a skald (see his Biography) than that Þorleifr was, the attribution of this stanza to Vígfúss may have been erroneous. A similar (Latin) stanza is found in Saxo Grammaticus (Saxo 2005, I, 7, 2, 10, p. 450), uttered by Haldanus as he brandishes a hastily-improvised wooden club. The present stanza is preserved in Jvs (mss 291, Flat, 510, 7); Fsk (of which the best transcripts, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, are used here); and FoGT (ms. W). A further text in LaufE (1979, 380) was copied from W and is therefore not used in this edition. Ms. 291 is used as main ms. since it has a fuller text (see Note to ll. 3-4).

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