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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Diana Whaley;

3. Magnússdrápa (Magndr) - 19

Arnórr jarlaskáld ‘Jarls’-poet’ came from Hítarnes in western Iceland, the son of the prosperous farmer and poet Þórðr Kolbeinsson (ÞKolbI, born 974) and Oddný eykyndill ‘Island-candle’ Þorkelsdóttir, who was the subject of the long-running personal and poetic rivalry between Þórðr and Bjǫrn Hítdœlakappi (BjhítV) which is commemorated in Bjarnar saga Hítdœlakappa. According to that saga chronology, Arnórr would have been born c. 1011/12, and he features as a boy in ch. 23 of the saga, and in ch. 60 of Grettis saga. He went abroad, probably in his early twenties, for he is named in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267) among the skalds of King Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great) (d. 1035). From the evidence of the memorial poems Rǫgnvaldsdrápa (Arn Rǫgndr), especially st. 2, and Þorfinnsdrápa (Arn Þorfdr), especially sts 3, 4 (cf. Lv 1), he spent several years in the Orkney Islands as poet and intimate of the jarls Rǫgnvaldr (d. c. 1045) and Þorfinnr (d. c. 1065). It is to this that his nickname refers. Arnórr was in Norway during the brief joint rule of Magnús Óláfsson and Haraldr Sigurðarson (c. 1045-6), and his performance of Hrynhenda (Arn Hryn) for Magnús and Blágagladrápa ‘The drápa of Dark Geese (= Ravens (?))’ for Haraldr is the subject of a spirited anecdote (Mork 1928-32, 116-18, Flat 1860-8, III, 321-3, Fms 6, 195-8; referred to below as ‘the Mork anecdote’). The later part of Arnórr’s career is obscure, but there is a second, memorial poem for Magnús, Magnússdrápa (Arn Magndr), and his composition of a Haraldsdrápa (Arn Hardr) in memory of Haraldr (d. 1066) suggests continuing links of some kind with Norway, though he also composed about Icelanders: a fragmentarily preserved poem for Hermundr Illugason (d. c. 1055; Arn HermIII) and a poem for Gellir Þorkelsson (d. 1073) of which Arn Frag 1III might be a remnant. For further outlines of Arnórr’s life and works, see Hollander 1945, 177-83; Turville-Petre 1968, 5-10, 1976, 93-4; Whaley 1998, 41-7.

The majority of Arnórr’s surviving oeuvre takes the form of memorial encomia (erfidrápur) for rulers of Norway or Orkney in the dróttkvætt metre: ten ll. only of Rǫgndr and longer fragments of Magnússdrápa (Magndr), Þorfdr and Hardr. His greatest contribution to the development of skaldic poetry, however, is his authorship of the first known encomium in the hrynhent metre: the Hrynhenda which, since it apostrophises Magnús góði, must predate the memorial Magndr. Arn Frag 1III is in the same metre but probably unconnected (see above). It is possible that Arn Frag 4III is in praise of Knútr inn ríki and the non-royal dedicatees of Herm and Frag 1 have been mentioned above. Arnórr also appears in one recension of Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 262) as a poet of Óláfr kyrri ‘the Quiet’ Haraldsson (d. 1093), and the pres. tense praise of Arn Frag 3III could have been addressed to him, or alternatively to Haraldr in Blágagladrápa. Only one st., Arn Lv 1, seems clearly to be a lv.; it was spoken during a civil conflict in the Orkneys. Herm and the eight other Fragments are printed in SkP III since they are preserved in SnE and LaufE and cannot be certainly assigned to any of the poems in the present volume.

The principal eds consulted in the course of editing Arnórr’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, 332-54, BI, 305-27, BI, and E. A. Kock’s in Skald I, 155-65, 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): Munch and Unger 1847, 119-20; CPB II, 184-98; Wisén 1886-9, I, 44-6, 141-2, 199-200 (Hryn only); Kock and Meissner 1931, I, 48-53; Hollander 1945,177-88 (annotated translations only, mainly Hryn); and (with five sts): Turville-Petre 1976, 93-7. Other works containing comment on the poetry are cited as appropriate in the Notes.

Magnússdrápa (‘Drápa about Magnús’) — Arn MagndrII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa’ 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. 206-29.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19 

Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 3. Magnúsdrápa (AI, 338-43, BI, 311-15); stanzas (if different): 13 | 14

SkP info: II, 207-9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Arn Magndr 1II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 1’ 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. 207-9.

Nú hykk rjóðanda reiðu
rógǫrs, þvít veitk gǫrva,
— þegi seimbrotar — segja
seggjum hneitis eggja.
Vasat ellifu allra
ormsetrs hati vetra,
hraustr þás herskip glæsti
Hǫrða vinr ór Gǫrðum.

Nú hykk segja seggjum reiðu {rógǫrs rjóðanda hneitis eggja}, þvít veitk gǫrva; {seimbrotar} þegi. {Hati {ormsetrs}} vasat allra ellifu vetra, þás {hraustr vinr Hǫrða} glæsti herskip ór Gǫrðum.

Now I mean to tell men of the career {of the strife-quick reddener of the sword’s edges} [WARRIOR], for I know it fully; let {gold-breakers} [GENEROUS MEN] be silent. {The hater {of the reptile’s home}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] was not fully eleven winters when [he], {the valiant friend of the Hǫrðar} [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús], arrayed warships to leave Russia.

Mss: (494r), 39(12ra), F(37ra), E(2v-3r), J2ˣ(238v-239r) (Hkr); Holm2(73r), 972ˣ(578va), 325VI(41ra), 73aˣ(213r), Holm4(68rb-va), 325VII(41r), 325V(87vb), 61(129va), Bb(204vb-205ra), Tóm(160r) (ÓH); FskAˣ(202) (Fsk); Hr(3va) (H-Hr, ll. 1-4, 7-8); Flat(189rb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] hykk: hygg 39, F, 325VI, Flat, hygg ek FskAˣ;    rjóðanda: ‘ríǫðanda’ E, rjóðan 73aˣ, rjóðandi Flat;    reiðu: réðu 39, F, 73aˣ, Holm4, 325VII, 325V, ráða E, J2ˣ, ‘rędu’ 61, ‘tedu’ Tóm    [2] rógǫrs: ‘roghs hyrs’ FskAˣ;    róg‑: rang 61, ‘raugg’ Tóm, ‘rǫg’ Hr;    veitk: veit 39, F, J2ˣ, Holm2, 972ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, Holm4, 325VII, 325V, 61, Bb, Tóm, Hr, Flat, ‘væict’ FskAˣ;    gǫrva: ‘gervd’ Bb, gnógar FskAˣ    [3] þegi: om. 325VII, þeygi 61, Tóm;    seim‑: seima 325VII, seims FskAˣ;    ‑brotar: ‑brjótar 39, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, Bb, ‑brota Holm2, 325VI, ‑brjótr Holm4, 325V, 61, Tóm, ‘‑br(iota)’(?) 325VII, stafar FskAˣ, ‑stafir Hr, ‑staðar Flat;    segja: seggja 61    [4] hneitis: hneitis heitum Tóm;    eggja: eggjar J2ˣ, 61, Tóm, Hr, eggju 73aˣ    [5] Vasat (‘vara’): ‘vorar’ Tóm;    allra: alla FskAˣ    [6] ormsetrs: ormsetr E, J2ˣ, orms setrs Tóm, Flat;    hati: hatri Tóm, bati FskAˣ;    vetra: vettra F, FskAˣ, betri Tóm    [7] hraustr: austr 61, hraust Flat;    glæsti: geystusk 61, glæstu Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 3. Magnúsdrápa 1: AI, 338, BI, 311, Skald I, 158; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 3, ÍF 28, 3, Hkr 1991, 557 (Mgóð ch. 1), F 1871, 168, E 1916, 7; ÓH 1941, I, 614 (ch. 252); Fsk 1902-3, 192-3 (ch. 38), ÍF 29, 208-9 (ch. 45); Fms 6, 21-2 (Mgóð ch. 10), Fms 12, 126; Flat 1860-8, III, 262, Andersson and Gade 2000, 99, 466 (MH); Whaley 1998, 182-4.

Context: Magnús Óláfsson journeys west from north-west Russia. The summary account in Fsk is brought to a close by st. 1. The others are more leisurely and incorporate at least one other st.

Notes: [All]: In Hkr and ÓH the st. is identified as being from Magnússdrápa. — [1] reiðu ‘the career’: Reiða covers a wide semantic range. This translation, like Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson’s sýsla, iðja ‘activity’ (ÍF 28), assumes that attention is here focussed on Magnús’s deeds, but reiða can also refer to a man’s material splendour, often manifested in generous entertainment or equipping of retainers. — [3] seimbrotar ‘gold-breakers [GENEROUS MEN]’: Presumably Magnús’s hirð ‘retinue’ or close band of retainers were the first audience of this memorial poem. — [4] hneitis ‘of the sword’s’: See Note to ÞjóðA Magnfl 18/6. — [7-8]: These ll. are identical to the second couplet of a st. which is attributed in its sole ms. source, F, to Hallar-Steinn (HSt Frag 1I), the first couplet of which reads Tolf vas elds at aldri | ýsetrs hati vetra ‘The hater of the fire of the yew-bow’s rest [ARM/HAND > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] was twelve years in age’. That st. has been taken as belonging to the opening of Hallfreðr’s Óláfsdrápa (Hallfr ÓldrI), and since a st. by Hallfreðr influenced Arn Þorfdr 24 (see Note to [All]), one cannot rule out the possibility that Magndr 1 is composed in imitation of him (a view favoured by de Vries, 1952, 165). On the other hand, the scribe of one or other st., prompted by the similarity of the ll. ormsetrs hati vetra and ýsetrs hati vetra, may have unwittingly substituted hraustr ... Gǫrðum for its original couplet, which is now lost. If so, the likelihood is that hraustr ... Gǫrðum belongs to Arnórr’s st. rather than the other, since (i) it is found in all the diverse ms. texts of Magndr 1; (ii) the adj. hraustr ‘valiant, bold’ is also applied to Magnús in st. 2/6, where it stands at the corresponding point in the st.; and (iii) the doubtful attribution of the Hallar-Steinn/Hallfreðr st. Tolf vas elds... makes its text suspect also. Cf. Fidjestøl (1982, 107), who sees it as a spurious importation from the tradition about Magnús to that of Óláfr Tryggvason. — [7] herskip ‘warships’: This n. acc. noun could be grammatically sg., ‘warship’, but this seems unlikely in context. — [8] vinr Hǫrða ‘friend of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús]’: The periphrasis anticipates the boy Magnús’s acquisition of power at the end of his voyage (cf. Note to Arn Hryn 3/4, 5).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated