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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson (Bjbp)

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

Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) - 45

Skj info: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Orknøsk biskop, d. 1222. (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10).

Skj poems:

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 2 July 2022)

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

SkP info: I, 994

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

41 — Bjbp Jóms 41I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 41’ 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. 994.

Þar lét Eirekr ǫndu
átján þegar týna
(heldr frágum þá þverra)
þegna (lið fyr Vagni).
Mæltu hraustar hetjur
— haukligt var þat fíkjum —
— þau hafa þjóðir uppi —
þróttarorð með fyrðum.

Eirekr lét þegar átján þegna týna ǫndu þar; frágum lið þá heldr þverra fyr Vagni. Hraustar hetjur mæltu þróttarorð með fyrðum; þat var fíkjum haukligt; þjóðir hafa þau uppi.

Eiríkr immediately had eighteen retainers lose their lives there; we [I] have heard that the troop then diminished rather for Vagn. Bold heroes spoke forceful words to men; that was extremely hawk-like; people remember them.

Mss: 61(20va), 54(17ra), Bb(27rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [4] þegna: ógnar 54, Bb

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 41: AII, 9, BII, 9, Skald II, 6; Fms 1, 180, Fms 12, 45, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 196-7 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 32, 83; Fms 11, 174-5, Jvs 1879, 118-19.

Context: The defeated Vagn and his men are bound by the Norwegians when they come ashore, with a single rope binding all their feet together as they sit on a log. Þorkell leira approaches Vagn and mocks him for his vow that he would kill Þorkell; Þorkell wields an axe and strikes at the Jómsvíkingar one by one. Eighteen, though not Vagn, are put to death in this way, each of them speaking bold words before dying.

Notes: [All]: R does not preserve sts 41-5; the text here is from 61, as the best ÓT ms. The edn of the poem in Fms 11 and Jvs 1879 is also completed by using the ÓT text. — [6] haukligt ‘hawk-like’: The vows of the Jómsvíkingar are described as haukligar ‘hawk-like’ in st. 11/5; cf. also hauklyndr ‘hawk-tempered’, used of Vagn in st. 8/8, and see Note. — [7] þau ‘them’: The pron. is n. acc. pl., referring to þróttarorð ‘forceful words’. — [8] þróttarorð ‘forceful words’: Lit. ‘words of power, endurance’. The recurrence of this combination suggests it is best treated as a cpd: see Note to Hfr ErfÓl 3/8.

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