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Runic Dictionary

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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

III. 3. Lausavísur (Lv) - 9

We know very little about the life of Einarr Skúlason (ESk). He is called prestr ‘priest’ and is mentioned in a catalogue (c. 1220) of priests of noble birth who were alive in western Iceland in 1143 (Stu 1878, II, 502). It is likely that he came from Borg, belonged to the Mýrar family and was a direct descendant of Þorsteinn Egilsson and a brother of Snorri Sturluson’s maternal grandfather (LH 1894-1901, II, 62-3; ÍF 3, 51 n. 3). He was probably born c. 1090. In 1153, he recited the poem Geisli ‘Light-beam’ (ESk GeislVII) in Kristkirken in Trondheim. He was marshal (stallari) at King Eysteinn Magnússon’s court, and he composed poetry in praise of the Norw. kings Sigurðr jórsalafari ‘Jerusalem-farer’ and Eysteinn Magnússon, Haraldr gilli(-kristr) ‘Servant (of Christ)’, Magnús inn blindi ‘the Blind’ Sigurðarson, Haraldr gilli’s sons, Ingi, Sigurðr munnr ‘Mouth’, and Eysteinn, and about the Norw. chieftain Grégóríus Dagsson (see SnE 1848-87, III, 254-5, 263-4, 269, 276-7, 286). According to Skáldatal, he also honoured the Norw. magnate Eindriði ungi ‘the Young’ Jónsson as well as Sørkvir Kolsson and Jón jarl Sørkvisson of Sweden and King Sveinn Eiríksson of Denmark (SnE 1848-87, III, 252, 258, 260, 268-9, 272, 283, 286). About the latter he recited a poem for which he received no reward (see ESk Lv 3; ÍF 35, 275). The extant portion of his poetic oeuvre consists of the following poems (excluding lvv.): Sigurðardrápa I (Sigdr I, five extant sts about Sigurðr jórsalafari); Haraldsdrápa I (Hardr I, two extant sts about Haraldr gilli); Haraldsdrápa II (Hardr II, five extant sts about Haraldr gilli); Haraldssonakvæði (Harsonkv, two extant sts about the sons of Haraldr gilli); Sigurðardrápa II (Sigdr II, one extant st. about Sigurðr munnr Haraldsson); Runhenda (Run, ten extant sts about Eysteinn Haraldsson); Eysteinsdrápa (Eystdr, two extant sts about Eysteinn Haraldsson); Ingadrápa (Ingdr, four extant sts about Ingi Haraldsson); Elfarvísur (Elfv, two extant sts about Grégóríus Dagsson); Geisli (GeislVII, seventy-one sts about S. Óláfr); Øxarflokkr (ØxflIII, ten extant sts about the gift of an axe).

It must be emphasised that, although the poetry included in the royal panegyrics below clearly belongs to poems of that genre, with two exceptions (Hardr II and Elfv), all the names of the poems are modern constructs (notably by Jón Sigurðsson and Finnur Jónsson). That also holds true for the assignment of sts to the individual poems. In some cases, sts were assigned to a particular poem for metrical reasons (so Run), in other cases because of the content or the named recipients of the praise. For the sake of convenience, the names of the poems and the sts assigned to them as found in Skj have been retained in the present edn. In addition to the royal encomia, a number of fragments and lvv. attributed to Einarr are preserved in SnE, TGT and LaufE (see ESk Frag 1-18III; ESk Lv 7-15III). These have been edited separately in SkP III. Six lvv. are transmitted in the kings’ sagas and edited below.

Lausavísur — ESk LvIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Lausavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 169. <> (accessed 29 May 2022)

stanzas:  7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 11. Lausavísur (AI, 482-5, BI, 454-7)

SkP info: III, 176

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

13 — ESk Lv 13III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Lausavísur 13’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 176.

The stanza (ESk Lv 13) is transmitted in FoGT (ms. W; main ms.), in LaufE (mss 2368ˣ, 743ˣ) and in RE 1665(Kk). It is anonymous in FoGT but attributed to Einarr Skúlason in mss 2368ˣ and 743ˣ of LaufE (RE 1665 has Einar Skes qvade ‘Einar ‘Skes’ said’, clearly from a LaufE ms.). Faulkes (LaufE 1979, 169) finds that attribution plausible and suggests that Magnús Ólafsson may have known the stanza from another source besides W (but see TGT 1884, lxxx-lxxxii).

Máni skínn af mœni
moldar hofs of foldir
alla stund, meðan endisk
ævi lands ok sævar.
Veitk félaga fljótum
fróns prýði vel þjóna;
þeim vitu eigi ýtar
auðit lífs né dauða.

Máni skínn af {mœni {hofs moldar}} of foldir alla stund, meðan ævi lands ok sævar endisk. Veitk {prýði fróns} þjóna fljótum félaga vel; ýtar vitu eigi þeim auðit lífs né dauða.

The moon shines from {the roof-ridge {of the temple of the ground}} [SKY > ZENITH] throughout the countries all the time while the life of land and sea endures. I know that {the adorner of the earth} [SUN] serves its swift companion well; people do not know that one has been allotted neither life nor death.

Mss: W(118) (FoGT); 2368ˣ(124), 743ˣ(93v) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] ni: mœðu all    [7] vitu: vita 2368ˣ

Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], [C]. D. Religiøse og moraliserende vers af den 4. grammatiske afhandling 18: AII, 166, BII, 184, Skald II, 96, NN §2343; SnE 1848-87, II, 242-3, III, 162, FoGT 1884, 148, 292, FoGT 2014, 42-5, 136-7; LaufE 1979, 386.

Context: In FoGT the stanza illustrates the rhetorical device homopatia (SnE 1848-87, II, 240, 242): tveir lutir eru svâ bunnir ok samþykkir, at þat megi segjast annarr gjöra sem annarr gjörir ‘two things are joined together and agree in such a way that it may be said that one does what the other does’. In this particular case, the moon takes on the office of the sun (SnE 1848-87, II, 242): Hèr er túnglinu kent embætti sólarinnar, at skína jafnliga á jörðina, fyrir því er þat hefvir ekki ljós af sèr, heldr af sólinni, ok er dökt þeim megin, sem frá henni horfir, en albjart þat er at henni horfir ‘Here the office of the sun is attributed to the moon, always to shine on the earth, because it does not have light from itself but from the sun, and it is dark on the side that turns away from it [the sun], but completely bright where it turns towards it’. In LaufE the stanza is given in the same context under the heading figura in the section on kennings for ‘sun’, and the surrounding prose is roughly the same as in W.

Notes: [All]: For a more detailed discussion of this stanza and its indebtedness to medieval works on cosmology, see Clunies Ross and Gade (2012). — [1] ni (m. dat. sg.) ‘the roof-ridge’: Mœðu (f. dat. sg.) ‘weariness’ (so all mss) makes little sense in the context, and the line lacks internal rhyme. The present reading, which restores the rhyme, was first suggested by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SnE 1848-87, II, 242), and it has been adopted by all subsequent eds. — [5] fljótum félaga ‘its swift companion’: The identity of this swift companion is debated. Björn Magnússon Ólsen (FoGT 1884, 292) construed fljótum félaga fróns ‘the swift companion of the earth’, i.e. ‘the moon’, and took prýði (m. acc. sg.) ‘adorner’ (l. 6) as a half-kenning for ‘sun’. Finnur Jónsson (LP: félagi) interpreted fljótum félaga ‘swift companion’ as ‘earth’ and prýði (m. acc. sg.) fróns ‘adorner of the earth’ as ‘moon’. Kock (NN §2343) correctly pointed out that it makes little sense to regard the earth as the moon’s ‘swift companion’. He accordingly emended to fljótan félaga (m. acc. sg.) and took prýði as the f. dat. sg. ‘adornment’ to reverse the imagery: ‘I know that the swift companion (i.e. the moon) serves the adornment of the earth (i.e. the sun) well’. That emendation goes against the ms. witnesses and is unnecessary. The idea that the orbit of the moon is faster than that of the sun is in perfect accordance with ancient and medieval cosmological treatises and with the phenomenon called saltus lunae ‘the moon’s leap’, and Einarr must have been familiar with this concept (see Clunies Ross and Gade 2012, 205-6). — [6] prýði fróns ‘the adorner of the earth [SUN]’: Because the stanza is given in the section of LaufE illustrating kennings for ‘sun’, this is taken as a kenning for ‘sun’ here, and the base-word is the agent noun prýðir ‘adorner’ (see Note to SnSt Ht 27/7). See also the previous Note. — [7-8]: The last clause in the stanza must refer to the fact that the moon gives off no light on its own but takes its light from the sun (see Context above).  This is also an idea that is widely discussed in ancient and medieval writings on cosmology (see Clunies Ross and Gade 2012, 206).

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