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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 18 May 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, 218

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Arn Magndr 9II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 9’ 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, p. 218.

Fúss lét á Ré ræsir
rammþing háit Glamma;
valska rauð fyr víðu
Vestlandi gramr branda.

Ræsir lét fúss {rammþing Glamma} háit á Ré; gramr rauð valska branda fyr víðu Vestlandi.

The ruler, eager, caused {a mighty encounter of Glammi <sea-king>} [BATTLE] to be held at Rügen; the sovereign reddened Frankish blades off broad Vestland.

Mss: (512v), 39(16vb), F(40rb), E(8r), J2ˣ(251r) (Hkr); H(7r), H(10r), Hr(7vb), Hr(10ra) (H-Hr); Flat(190vb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] Ré: ‘ræ’ Hr(7vb), Flat;    ræsir: ‘hræsir’ H(7r)    [2] ramm‑: rym‑ H(10r), Hr(10ra);    ‑þing: ‑þings F;    háit: so 39, F, H(7r), Hr(10ra), hátt Kˣ, E, J2ˣ, H(10r), Hr(7vb), Flat;    Glamma: gamma 39, F, glymja H(10r), Hr(10ra), gamla Flat    [3] valska rauð: virðum rautt H(7r), Flat, ‘valska hraunn’ H(10r), Hr(10ra), virðum rauð Hr(7vb);    víðu: om. F, riðu Flat    [4] Vestlandi: Vindlandi H(7r), Vinlandi Hr(7vb), Flat, veldi Hr(10ra)

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 3. Magnúsdrápa 9: AI, 340, BI, 313, Skald I, 159; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 51, ÍF 28, 46, Hkr 1991, 586 (Mgóð ch. 29), F 1871, 184, E 1916, 26; Fms 6, 55, 75 (Mgóð chs 28, 37), Fms 12, 133; Flat 1860-8, III, 275, Andersson and Gade 2000, 115, 469 (MH); Whaley 1998, 199-201. 

Context: In Hkr and the second citation in H-Hr, it is said that the st. refers to a battle between Magnús, the victor of Lyrskovshede (Hlýrskógsheiðr), and Sveinn Úlfsson. They engage fyrir Vestlandi á Ré ‘off Vestland on Rügen’ (Hkr) or fyrir vestan Aren ‘west of Aren’ (H-Hr). After the battle Sveinn flees to Skåne (Skáney) and Magnús returns to Jylland. In Flat and the first citation in H-Hr, the setting is quite different: a chance encounter in which Magnús, returning to Denmark from Wollin (Jóm) before the battle of Lyrskovshede triumphs over a large Viking fleet fyrir Ré á Vestlandi ‘off Rügen in Vestland’ (H) or fyrir Vestland ‘off Vestland’ (Hr).

Notes: [All]: H-Hr represents two textual traditions here. In the first instance, H-Hr (and Flat) copies Mork (Mork has a lacuna here) and in the second instance, H-Hr copies Hkr. — [1] ‘Rügen’: The phrase á Ré suggests that the fighting was on land. The tradition of a sea-battle recorded in Flat and H-Hr (Fms 6, 55) may rest on a false assumption that fyr ... Vestlandi ‘off Vestland’ in ll. 3-4 refers to the fighting rather than to the island of Rügen (see Note to st. 9/4 below). On the other hand, the account of the occasion of the battle in these two sources (above) is, because of the location of Rügen, more plausible than that in Hkr and H-Hr (Fms 6, 75); see Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, ÍF 28, 46 n. — [2] háit ‘caused to be held’: Háit is the older, and hátt the younger, form of the n. sg. p. p. from the verb heyja. The disyllabic háit is required by the metre. The use of the verb with the battle-kenning rammþing Glamma ‘a mighty assembly of Glammi’ plays on the legal phrase heyja þing ‘hold an assembly’; there are precedents for this in the work of Sigvatr Þórðarson and others. — [3] valska ‘Frankish’: Or perhaps more broadly ‘southern, foreign’ (see Falk 1914, 40). The variant virðum (m. dat. pl.) ‘men’ would also give good sense: ‘the ruler reddened blades on men’. — [4] Vestlandi ‘Vestland’: This is, judging from LP, a unique record of this p. n. The prep. fyr ‘off, before’ is compatible with the surmise that Vestland is a coastal area, either on the island of Rügen, as assumed in LP, or on the mainland opposite (modern western Pomerania), as assumed by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, index to ÍF 28. The epithet víðr ‘broad’ (here dat. sg. víðu) is somewhat conventional (see LP entry, also for breiðr), but if it has literal significance here and if the battle was fought on land, it would point to Vestland having been on the mainland rather than on the small island of Rügen.

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