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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Skúli Þorsteinsson, 1. Poem about Svǫlðr, 2 [Vol. 3, 362]

[1] dolgi Frísa ‘the Frisians’ enemy [= Eiríkr]’: No other ruler in the surviving skaldic corpus is described as an enemy of the Frisians. This kenning is usually presumed to refer to Eiríkr jarl (see his Biography in Introduction to SkP I), son of Hákon jarl inn ríki ‘the Mighty’ and, after his victory at the battle of Svolder, ruler of Norway (as a vassal of the Danish king Knútr inn ríki, son of another of Svolder’s victors, Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Forkbeard’), although no source associates Eiríkr with campaigns in Frisia (ÓT ch. 90, cited by Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901, IV, 97, does not in fact mention Frisia), and some have doubted the association with him (cf. the references in Baetke 1951, 93; Wood 1964, 180).  Baetke (1951, 93-4) argues that the kenning could refer to Eiríkr’s later campaigns in England. According to Hkr (ÓTHkr ch. 105, ÍF 26, 358), Skúli was Eiríkr’s forecastle man during the battle of Svolder; cf. also Egils saga (Eg ch. 87, ÍF 2, 300): Skúli var lengi í víking; hann var stafnbúi Eiríks jarls á Járnbarðanum, þá er Óláfr konungr Tryggvason fell ‘Skúli was for a long time on viking expeditions; he was Eiríkr jarl’s forecastle man on Járnbarðinn ‘Iron-prow’ when King Óláfr Tryggvason fell’.


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