Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA)
11th century; volume 2; ed. Diana Whaley;
1. Magnússflokkr (Magnfl) - 19
2. Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi (Magn) - 14
3. Runhent poem about Haraldr (Run) - 4
4. Sexstefja (Sex) - 32
5. Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr (Har) - 7
6. Fragments (Frag) - 5
7. Lausavísur (Lv) - 11
Skj info: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson, Islandsk skjald, d. 1066. (AI, 361-83, BI, 332-53).
2. Runhent digt om Harald hårdråde
Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA) is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262) among the poets of Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson, and virtually all his extant poetry seems to have been composed in honour of them, or in association with them; hence it dates from the period 1035-1066. The text of Skáldatal in AM 761 a 4°ˣ (SnE 1848-87, III, 259) also credits Þjóðólfr with poetry for Haraldr Þorkelsson, son of Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’ and one of the Dan. magnates present in Norway during the reign of Sveinn Álfífuson (1030-35). No identifiable fragments of this remain, but if true the tradition would suggest that Þjóðólfr was born not much later than 1010. Hemings þáttr Áslákssonar (Hem) has him die at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, and there is no record of him after that date, though Lv 11 has the air of being composed after the battle. Þjóðólfr was, according to Skáldatal and Fsk (ÍF 29, 245), the brother of another skald, Bǫlverkr Arnórsson (Bǫlv), and according to Sneglu-Halla þáttr (Snegl) in Flat (1860-8, III, 415), was from an undistinguished family in Svarfaðardalur, northern Iceland. The same þáttr (p. 421) names his father not as Arnórr but as Þorljótr, in the context of a scurrilous anecdote told against Þjóðólfr by Sneglu-Halli (SnH), who also taunts him with having composed the otherwise unknown Sorptrogsvísur ‘Dustbin Vísur’. The þáttr nevertheless describes him as accomplished (menntr vel) and courteous (kurteis maðr), highly favoured by King Haraldr and chief of his poets (haufutskꜳlld sitt, p. 415). Þjóðólfr’s poetry, rich in allusion and imagery, has continued to be widely admired, and it gains colour and vigour from the fact that he participated in many of the campaigns he depicts. It undoubtedly also reflects the fact that he was one of an exceptional circle of poets patronised by Haraldr (see Turville-Petre 1968), and much of his poetry shares topics and imagery with that of his contemporary Arnórr jarlaskáld (Arn), though there is no account of the dealings between these two. Þjóðólfr figures in several anecdotes centring on poetic composition: see Contexts to Lv 2-6, though we have no way of knowing whether he was so touchy about his reputation as the Context to Lv 4, and Snegl, would suggest; he also features as a go-between figure in Brands þáttr ǫrva, which cites no poetry. For brief biographies of Þjóðólfr see, e.g. SnE 1848-87, III, 578-9; LH 1894-1901, I, 627-32; Hollander 1945, 189-96.
In addition to the works edited here as Þjóðólfr’s, there have been further attributions to him. Þfagr Sveinn 7 is attributed to Þjóðólfr in Mork (1928-32, 165-6) and Flat (1860-8, III, 341), but to Þorleikr fagri in other sources; ÞKolb Eirdr 17I is attributed to Þjóðólfr in the U ms. alone, and Þfisk Lv 3 is attributed to him in F. Further, Flat, by citing Okík Magn 1 after ÞjóðA Magnfl 18 without announcing a change of skald implicitly assigns the latter to Þjóðólfr. We might perhaps also imagine Þjóðólfr having a hand in Anon (HSig) 2, the st. collaboratively composed by Haraldr’s men. A further set of six sts presented are anonymous in the medieval sources but are presented in this edn as Halli XI Fl (for reasons explained in Halli Biography below). These are printed among Þjóðólfr’s works in CPB II, 210-11 and listed under his name in SnE 1848-87, III, 583-4; Poole also finds ‘the ascription to Þjóðólfr Arnórsson … tempting, on stylistic grounds’ (1991, 75).
Preserved mainly in the kings’ sagas, above all in Hkr, Þjóðólfr’s oeuvre presents exceptional problems of reconstruction, which are discussed at some length in the Introductions to the individual poems or sets of sts. The chief problem is that Þjóðólfr certainly composed a major dróttkvætt poem for each of his patrons Magnús (Magnússflokkr, Magnfl) and Haraldr (Sexstefja, Sex), but that in each case there is also a set of sts that may or may not belong in the main encomium. The decision has been taken here to print them separately: fourteen sts depicting the aftermaths of Magnús’s major battles at Århus (Áróss) and Helgenæs (Helganes) are presented as ‘Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi’ (Magn), and seven describing the launch of Haraldr’s great levied fleet from Nidelven (the river Nið) as ‘Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr’ (Har). As a reference aid, the arrangement of Þjóðólfr’s oeuvre in SkP and Skj is shown here.
|15||Náði jarl at eyða ||19|
|16||Rǫnn lézt, ræsir Þrœnda,||20|
|17||Hizig laut, es heitir ||21|
|18||Flýði jarl af auðu, ||22|
|19||Háðisk heilli góðu||25|
Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi (ÞjóðA Magn)
|1||Hrauð leifs mǫgr áðan ||Magnfl 15|
|2||Misst hafa Sveins at sýnu, ||Magnfl 16|
|3||Gær sák grjóti stóru ||Lv 1|
|4||Spurði einu orði ||Magnfl 17|
|5||Saurstokkinn bar svíra ||Magnfl 18|
|6||Hrindr af hrókalandi ||Lv 2|
|7||Menn eigu þess minnask, ||Lv 3|
|8||Skjǫld bark heim frá hjaldri ||Magnfl 23|
|9||Bauð leifs sonr áðan ||Magnfl 24|
|10||Nú taka Norðmenn knýja,||Lv 4|
|11||Brum jǫrn at œrnu||Lv 5|
|12||Svíðr of seggja búðir||Lv 6|
|13||Fjǫrð lét fylkir verða||Lv 7|
|14||Ek hef ekki at drekka||Lv 8|
Runhent poem about Haraldr (ÞjóðA Run)
|6||Þjóð veit, at hefr háðar||7|
|7||Stólþengils lét stinga||6|
|8||Ok hertoga hneykir||25|
|9||Reist eikikjǫlr austan||8|
|10||Vatn lézt, vísi, slitna,||9|
|11||Gegn skyli herr, sem hugnar||10|
|12||Frn hefr sveit við Sveini||11|
|13||Lét vingjafa veitir||12|
|14||Fast bað fylking hrausta||13|
|15||Alm dró upplenzkr hilmir||14|
|16||Flest vas hirð, sús hraustum||15|
|17||Sogns kvðu gram gegnan||16|
|18||Sveinn át sigr at launa||17|
|19||Nús of verk, þaus vísi,||18|
|20||Létu lystir sleitu||19|
|21||Tók Holmbúa hneykir||20|
|22||Gagn brann greypra þegna; ||21|
|23||Fœrði fylkir Hǫrða,||22|
|24||Áræðis naut eyðir||23|
|25||Refsir reyndan ofsa||24|
|26||Mǫrk lét veitt fyr verka||26|
|27||Ǫrð sær Yrsu burðar||27|
|28||Lét hræteina hveiti||32|
|29||Blóðorra lætr barri||30a|
|30||Geirs oddum lætr greddir||30b|
|31||Gera vas gisting byrjuð||29|
|32||Hár skyli hirðar stjóri||35|
Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr (ÞjóðA Har)
|1||Skeið sák framm at flœði, ||Lv 18|
|2||Slyngr laugardag lǫngu ||Lv 19|
|3||Rétt kann rœði slíta ||Lv 20|
|4||Sorgar veit, áðr slíti ||Lv 21|
|5||Eigu skjól und skógi ||Lv 22|
|6||Hléseyjar lemr hvan ||Lv 23|
|7||Haraldr þeysti nú hraustla ||Lv 24|
|1|| Nús valmeiðum víðis||Lv 9|
|2||Jarl/Ǫrr lætr, odda skúrar ||Sex 28|
|3||Ganga él of Yngva ||Sex 31|
|4||Snart við sæþráð kyrtat ||Sex 33|
|5||Útan bindr við enda ||Sex 34|
|1||Leiða langar dauða ||Lv 10 |
|2||Sumar annat skal sunnar ||Lv 11|
|3||[Logit hefr Baldr at Baldri]|
|4||Mildingr rauð í móðu ||Lv 13|
|5||Varp ór þrætu þorpi ||Lv 14|
|6||Sigurðr eggjaði sleggju|| Lv 15|
|7||Haddan skall, en Halli ||Lv 16|
|8||Út stendr undan báti ||Lv 17|
|9||Ǫld es, sús jarli skyldi ||Lv 25|
|10||Skalka frá, þótt fylkir ||Lv 26|
|11||Ǫld hefr afráð goldit ||Lv 27|
Reconstructions of the Þjóðólfr corpus are offered by Finnur Jónsson in SnE 1848-87, III, 579-90, which is the basis (almost unchanged) for Skj (AI, 361-83, BI, 332-53), and the Skj ordering is retained in Skald (I, 168-77); other major contributions are by Guðbrandur Vigfússon in CPB (II, 198-212) and by Fidjestøl (1982, 133-43, 172).
The principal eds consulted in the course of re-editing Þjóðólfr’s poetry for SkP are listed for each st., and are of two main types: eds of the skaldic corpus (Finnur Jónsson’s in Skj AI, 361-83; BI, 332-53 and Ernst Albin Kock’s in Skald I, 168-77, supported by numerous NN) and eds of the various prose works in which the poetry is preserved. Extracts are also included in anthologies, articles and other works including (with ten or more sts): CPB II, 198-212; Kock and Meissner 1931, I, 57-60; Hollander 1945,190-6 (annotated translations only), Poole 1991, 59-63; and (with seven sts) Turville-Petre 1976, 97-102. Such works as these, together with others containing comment on the poetry, are cited as appropriate in the Notes.
Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Lausavísur’ 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. 163-76.
Skj: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson: 4. Lausavísur (AI, 377-83, BI, 347-53); stanzas (if different): 1 |
in texts: Flat, Fsk, Gramm, H-Hr, Hb, Hkr, HSig, MH, Mork, Skm, SnE, Snegl, TGT
SkP info: II, 163-76
A small group of Þjóðólfr’s sts (ÞjóðA Lv 1-11) preserved mainly in Mork, Flat and H-Hr can be regarded with confidence as lvv. With the exception of Lv 5-6 and to some extent 7-8 they do not form distinct groupings, and are therefore introduced collectively here.
Lv 1 expresses grief at the death of Magnús (1047): the skald’s own, and that of the followers who carried the king to the grave; since Magnfl is clearly addressed to Magnús during his lifetime this st. cannot belong there. It is preserved only in TGT (W, A).
Lv 2-6 are preserved in H-Hr (H, Hr), Mork (Mork) and Flat (Flat). Lv 2-3 are additionally in Fsk (FskAˣ, FskBˣ), Lv 2 in Hkr (Kˣ, 39, F, J2ˣ, E) and Lv 3 in F. Lv 5-6 are in Snegl (593bˣ), as are Lv 7 (Mork, Flat, 563aˣ) and Lv 8 (Flat, 563aˣ). Priority has been given in each case to the ms. which has the best text, supported by the other mss: Kˣ, F, FskBˣ, Mork, Flat. These five lvv. are all presented in their prose sources as lvv., and specifically as extemporisations which Þjóðólfr produces on an order or a poetic cue from Haraldr Sigurðarson (see Contexts). Lv 2 has a strongly anticipatory feel, employing the verb skal ‘shall’ and the phrase segik eina sp ‘I speak a prophecy’. It is indeed a ‘genuine-seeming improvisatory verse’ (Poole 1991, 68). Lv 3, embedded in a conversation between king and poet and introduced with phrases such as svaraði ‘replied’, Þá segir ‘then says’ and Þjóðólfr tók þegar undir ok sagði ‘Þjóðólfr at once picked this up and said’, deplores a breach of trust by a ruler to the south, praising the one to the north—weighty enough matters to inhabit a formal encomium, but the perfect tense hefr logit ‘has betrayed’ and the demonstrative þós sjá ‘and yet this’ are compatible with a lv. The two helmingar of Lv 4 offer a pair of retrospective battle descriptions, but the contrastive þat vas skǫmmu and þat vas lǫngu ‘that was a short / long time ago’ establishes the speaker’s present as the standpoint, and echoes other contributions to a lively verse exchange (see Context); it clearly had the status of a lv. in the minds of the saga compilers. Lv 5-6, mock-heroic accounts of the quarrel between a tanner and smith are unequivocally treated as lvv. in Mork, Flat and H-Hr. They are introduced Þjóðólfr kvað vísu ‘Þjóðólfr spoke a verse’, and although the 3rd-pers. narration in pret. tense would be compatible with an extended poem, the witty and unusual content is more suggestive of lvv. Lv 5-6 clearly belong together, but whether there were more forming a larger group we cannot know. Lv 7-8, on Halli’s porridge-guzzling and womanising, are similarly given a graphic context in Snegl. Lv 7 is alternatively attributed to Sneglu-Halli, and Lv 8 acts as a delayed rejoinder to SnH Lv 8.
Lv 9-11 concern serious military matters, and are preserved in Hkr (Kˣ, 39, F, J2ˣ, E, with 39 lacking 10), H-Hr (H, Hr), Mork (Mork), and Flat (Flat); there are also texts of Lv 10-11 in Fsk and of Lv 11 in Hb and SnE (see the ms. listing for the individual sts for details). Lv 9 is an account of an expedition which the prose sources plausibly identify as Haraldr’s expedition to Västergötland (Gautland), narrated in the 3rd pers. pret. (the perfect es gefin helju ‘has been handed over to death’s realm’ representing an enduring situation). As such it is conceivable that it had a place in an extended poem, and indeed it is included in Sex in CPB (II, 206). However, it does not seem that any other part of the poem as it survives relates to this episode, and the st. is introduced with the Þá kvað ‘Then spoke’ formula in all sources. It is therefore best treated as a lv., though the possibility that it is a fragment of an extended poem cannot be excluded.
Lv 10-11 name Haraldr and have a tremendous immediacy: skalka frá ‘I shall not desert’, gengr sem goð vill ‘it will go as God wills’ (10); vér ’róm allir í vǫndum stað ‘we are all in a difficult position’ (11). They are treated as lvv. in the sagas, embedded with rather elaborate introductions into accounts of the king’s fatal battle at Stamford Bridge (see Contexts). The exact circumstances of composition may be tradition rather than historical fact, but the status of the sts as lvv. can be safely maintained.