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Note to stanza
[All]: The stanza stands apart from the preceding ones, which narrate Erlingr’s last stand and death; see Introduction. Jón Helgason (1936) made a compelling argument for regarding this stanza as containing two helmingar from two originally different stanzas. He suggested that ll. 1-4 originally belonged to a stanza about Erlingr, in which the (now lost) second helmingr recorded that Sveinn jarl married his daughter to Erlingr’s son Áslákr, while ll. 5-8 belonged to a stanza about Óláfr Tryggvason and were preceded by a helmingr about Óláfr marrying his sister to Erlingr Skjálgsson. However, they have been kept here as a single stanza since they are considered as such in the sagas of both Óláfr Tryggvason and Óláfr helgi, across a wide range of mss. Arguably, too, the two helmingar are sufficiently connected by the theme of marriage alliances made by Óláfr Tryggvason, which has the effect of assigning the same prestige to Erlingr as to Rǫgnvaldr Úlfsson (on whom, see Note to ll. 7, 8 below). The stanza summarises two of the salient reasons for Erlingr’s enormous power and influence, his political alliances and the force of his personality, and was interpreted as such by Snorri (ÍF 27, 28-9), who notes that Eiríkr jarl made no effort to fight Erlingr because he had many important relatives and was powerful and popular.
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