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Runic Dictionary

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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 28 January 2022)

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, 213-15

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Arn Magndr 5II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 5’ 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. 213-15.

Afkarlig varð jarla
orðgnótt, sús hlaut dróttinn;
fylgði efnð, þvís ylgjar
angrtælir réð mæla:
at framm í gný grimmum
grafnings und kló hrafni
fúss lézk falla ræsir
feigr eða Danmǫrk eiga.

Orðgnótt jarla, sús dróttinn hlaut, varð afkarlig; efnð fylgði, þvís {{angrtælir} ylgjar} réð mæla: at ræsir lézk fúss falla feigr und kló hrafni framm í {grimmum gný grafnings} eða eiga Danmǫrk.

The lordly wealth of words with which the liege was endowed was prodigious; his deeds matched what {{the grief-beguiler} [GLADDENER] of the she-wolf} [WARRIOR = Magnús] did say: that the prince said, glad, he would fall doomed under the claw of the raven, ahead in {the cruel clash of the graven shield} [BATTLE], or else possess Denmark.

Mss: (506r), 39(15ra), F(39ra), E(6r), J2ˣ(246v-247r) (Hkr); FskBˣ(55r), FskAˣ(211) (Fsk); H(5v), Hr(7ra) (H-Hr); Flat(190va) (Flat)

Readings: [1] Afkarlig: ‘Af kærlig’ FskBˣ, Ákaflig Flat;    varð: var FskAˣ;    jarla: jǫfra FskBˣ, árla FskAˣ, H, Hr    [2] sús (‘su er’): sú 39;    hlaut: hér Flat;    dróttinn: so 39, F, E, J2ˣ, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, H, dróttin Kˣ, dróttni Flat    [3] fylgði: fylldi Flat;    efnð: ‘eimd’ FskBˣ, erfð Hr;    þvís (‘því er’): því at Hr, sú er Flat    [4] réð: læt 39    [5] at: so all others, ok Kˣ;    grimmum: grimman Flat    [6] grafnings: grafning 39, grams FskBˣ;    und: odd Flat;    kló: fló Hr;    hrafni: jafni FskBˣ    [7] lézk: lét H    [8] feigr: feigð 39

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 3. Magnúsdrápa 5: AI, 339, BI, 312, Skald I, 158, NN §§818, 819A, 2989A; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 35-6, ÍF 28, 32-3, Hkr 1991, 577 (Mgóð ch. 18), F 1871, 178, E 1916, 19; Fsk 1902-3, 202 (ch. 40), ÍF 29, 216 (ch. 48); Fms 6, 49 (Mgóð ch. 24), Fms 12, 131; Flat 1860-8, III, 272, Andersson and Gade 2000, 112, 468 (MH); Whaley 1998, 192-5.

Context: In Hkr, Snorri tells of a message that Magnús sent to the Danes after Hǫrðaknútr’s death in England, reminding them of his claim to Denmark, and takes this st. as a reference to this. In Fsk too, Hǫrðaknútr is said to have died in England. Magnús receives the news in Norway and vows publicly to possess Denmark; there is no mention of an embassy to the Danes. In H-Hr and Flat, the st. follows the account, mentioned in the Context to Arn Hryn 9, of the feast held for Magnús in Denmark at which Hǫrðaknútr is poisoned. In the H-Hr version Magnús declaims his vow immediately, while in Flat it is spoken after his return to Norway.

Notes: [1] afkarlig ‘prodigious’: The word is unique in recorded ON, although afkáralegur occurs in ModIcel. and afkárr in ON (see Note to st. 3/4). It appears from the parallel rhyme of afkart : hjarta in st. 3/4, that the vowel is short here. — [1-2] orðgnótt jarla ‘the lordly wealth of words’: (a) Jarla and orðgnótt, consecutive in the text, are here construed together. Jarla (m. gen. pl.), lit. ‘of jarls’, probably has the adjectival sense ‘lordly, fit for an earl’ (and Kock in NN §818 notes a gen. sg. parallel from Hávm 97). Hofmann (1955, 104) suggests that the generalised sense of jarlar, ‘noblemen’, is influenced by the cognate OE eorlas or OS erlos (b) Jarla could alternatively qualify dróttinn in l. 2, hence ‘lord of jarls’. It would be unusual for Arnórr to arrange the elements of a kenning thus, but not unparalleled. In Arn Þorfdr 24/5-8, for instance, inndróttar ... geymi ‘guardian of his retinue’ is interrupted by þeim hjalpi goð and by Þorfinni which belongs to a different cl. — [3-4] angrtælir ylgjar ‘the grief-beguiler [GLADDENER] of the she-wolf [WARRIOR]’: For kennings of this type, see Note to Arn Hryn 7/1, 2. — [5] at ‘that’: (a) This, the reading of all mss except for , produces a grammatically complicated structure, in which the second helmingr is a subordinate cl. amplifying því in þvís ylgjar angrtælir réð mæla ‘what the beguiler of the she-wolf’s grief did say’ (ll. 3-4). This being so, lézk ‘said’ is redundant: one would have expected a cl. meaning ‘that he would ...’ rather than one meaning ‘that he said he would ...’. It was doubtless this rather tangled construction which gave rise to the simpler secondary variant ok ‘and’ in . As elsewhere, the awkwardness of the original is preserved in the translation. (b) If ok ‘and’ were the correct reading, the second helmingr would form a cl. co-ordinate with the cl. built around fylgði ‘matched, followed’ in the first helmingr. Lines 3-4 would be parenthetic. — [5] framm ‘ahead’: (a) The adv. is construed here with í gný ... grafnings, hence ‘ahead in the battle, in the vanguard’. Although the adv. is usually directional, a static sense is also attested in phrases such as aptr ok fram(m) ‘fore and aft’. (b) Kock (NN §819), assumes a temporal sense ‘further, in the future’ (vidare, allt framjent), but his two other citations (Sigv ErfÓl 11/2I and ÞjóðA Magn 7/8) could equally well support interpretation (a), since, as in st. 5, framm is juxtaposed with a phrase meaning ‘in battle/battle-array’. (c) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28, 33 n.) construes falla framm together as ‘fall on his face’ (falla á grúfu). — [6] grafnings ‘of the graven shield’: On grafningr, see Note to Arn Rǫgndr 1/2.

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