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Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson (Bjbp)

13th century; volume 1; ed. Jonna Louis-Jensen;

Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) - 45

Bjarni Kolbeinsson (Bjbp) was born into a powerful family in the Orkney Islands, possibly c. 1150-60 (af Petersens, Jvs 1879, 122). His father was the Norwegian-Orcadian chieftain Kolbeinn hrúga ‘Heap’ and his mother was Herborg, a great-granddaughter of Páll jarl Þorfinnsson on the maternal side (see Ættaskrár [Genealogies] II in ÍF 35). Bjarni was also very well connected: he was a close friend of Haraldr jarl Maddaðarson (ÍF 35, 289), sent precious gifts to Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson in Iceland on three occasions (Guðrún P. Helgadóttir 1987, 2-3), and had connections with the Oddaverjar (see further Einar Ól. Sveinsson 1937, 17-18, 34-9).

Bjarni was Bishop of Orkney from 1188 (ÍF 35, 289) until his death on 15 September 1223. Among his achievements as bishop were the exhumation and canonisation of Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (ÍF 35, 282; SkP II, 575) and the extension of St Magnús’s Cathedral in Kirkwall. Bjarni was also a diplomat and is known to have travelled to Norway for political reasons in 1194-5, 1208-9, 1210, 1218 and 1223 (see Bugge 1875, 244; Holtsmark 1937a, 2-3); he probably died in Norway (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8, 46).

Bjarni is introduced as Bjarni skáld ‘Poet’ in Orkn (ÍF 35, 193), but Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) is the only literary work attributed to him in medieval sources. Suggestions that he compiled Orkn (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8) and the þulur in SnE (Bugge 1875) have not been generally accepted; see Introduction to Jóms below on the attribution of Anon Mhkv to Bjarni.

my abbr.

Jómsvíkingadrápa (‘Drápa about the Jómsvíkingar’) — Bjbp JómsI

Emily Lethbridge 2012, ‘ Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 954. <> (accessed 30 June 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45 

Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson: Jómsvíkingadrápa (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4

SkP info: I, 969

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — Bjbp Jóms 12I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 12’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 969.

Heitstrenging frák hefja
heiptmildan Sigvalda;
Búi var ǫrr at efla
órœkinn þrek slíkan.
Hétusk þeir af hauðri
Hákun reka fíkjum
— grimm var frægra fyrða
fjón — eða lífi ræna.

Frák heiptmildan Sigvalda hefja heitstrenging; órœkinn Búi var ǫrr at efla slíkan þrek. Þeir hétusk fíkjum reka Hákun af hauðri eða ræna lífi; fjón frægra fyrða var grimm.

I have heard strife-liberal Sigvaldi began the making of vows; the reckless Búi was swift to strengthen such daring. They vowed eagerly to drive Hákon from the land or rob him of life; the hatred of the famous men was grim.

Mss: R(53v); 61(19ra), 54(14vb-15ra), Bb(25rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Heit‑: ‘heip‑’ 61    [3] efla: auka all others    [4] órœkinn: ‘vrikin’ Bb;    þrek: styr 61    [7] grimm: gram 61;    frægra: frœknra 61, frœkna 54, Bb

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 12: AII, 3, BII, 3, Skald II, 2, NN §177; Fms 11, 166, Fms 12, 243, Jvs 1879, 108-9; Fms 1, 163, Fms 12, 40, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 179 (ch. 86), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 22, 76.

Context: Following a prompt from King Sveinn (see Context to st. 11), Sigvaldi drinks in memory of his father and swears an oath which parallels Sveinn’s: before three years have passed, Sigvaldi will have gone to Norway and killed Hákon jarl or driven him from the country. Sigvaldi’s brother, Þorkell inn hávi, swears to accompany him and not desert him in battle. Finally, Búi swears that he too will go to Norway with the brothers and will not flee from battle against Hákon jarl.

Notes: [3] efla ‘strengthen’: Auka ‘increase’ in the other mss makes equally good sense, and the metre is not affected by the choice of one or the other. — [4] órœkinn ‘reckless’: The adj. only otherwise occurs in KormǪ Lv 16/8V (Korm 17), applied to a wolf. On the basis of the related verb rœkja ‘to heed, cultivate, care for’ and adj. rœkinn ‘careful, caring’, the sense here may be ‘reckless’, i.e. not caring for his life, or possibly ‘ruthless’; cf. the gloss hugdjarfr ‘mind-bold’ in Fms 12, 243, and see LP: rœkja, rœkinn, órœkinn. Emendation to ofrækinn (so Skj B and suggested in LP: órœkinn), which could mean ‘greatly caring’ i.e. ‘bold in action, determined’, is not necessary. — [6] fíkjum ‘eagerly’: This adv. could be taken as modifying þeir hétusk ‘they vowed’, as here, or reka ‘to drive’. It is also used in sts 26/8 and 41/6 and in ÞGísl Búdr 10/5. — [7] frægra ‘famous’: The variant frœkna ‘bold’ in 54 and Bb (cf. frœknra in 61) is equally good in terms of sense and metre.

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