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Runic Dictionary

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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

8. Eysteinsdrápa (Eystdr) - 2

We know very little about the life of Einarr Skúlason (ESk). He is called prestr ‘priest’ and is mentioned in a catalogue (c. 1220) of priests of noble birth who were alive in western Iceland in 1143 (Stu 1878, II, 502). It is likely that he came from Borg, belonged to the Mýrar family and was a direct descendant of Þorsteinn Egilsson and a brother of Snorri Sturluson’s maternal grandfather (LH 1894-1901, II, 62-3; ÍF 3, 51 n. 3). He was probably born c. 1090. In 1153, he recited the poem Geisli ‘Light-beam’ (ESk GeislVII) in Kristkirken in Trondheim. He was marshal (stallari) at King Eysteinn Magnússon’s court, and he composed poetry in praise of the Norw. kings Sigurðr jórsalafari ‘Jerusalem-farer’ and Eysteinn Magnússon, Haraldr gilli(-kristr) ‘Servant (of Christ)’, Magnús inn blindi ‘the Blind’ Sigurðarson, Haraldr gilli’s sons, Ingi, Sigurðr munnr ‘Mouth’, and Eysteinn, and about the Norw. chieftain Grégóríus Dagsson (see SnE 1848-87, III, 254-5, 263-4, 269, 276-7, 286). According to Skáldatal, he also honoured the Norw. magnate Eindriði ungi ‘the Young’ Jónsson as well as Sørkvir Kolsson and Jón jarl Sørkvisson of Sweden and King Sveinn Eiríksson of Denmark (SnE 1848-87, III, 252, 258, 260, 268-9, 272, 283, 286). About the latter he recited a poem for which he received no reward (see ESk Lv 3; ÍF 35, 275). The extant portion of his poetic oeuvre consists of the following poems (excluding lvv.): Sigurðardrápa I (Sigdr I, five extant sts about Sigurðr jórsalafari); Haraldsdrápa I (Hardr I, two extant sts about Haraldr gilli); Haraldsdrápa II (Hardr II, five extant sts about Haraldr gilli); Haraldssonakvæði (Harsonkv, two extant sts about the sons of Haraldr gilli); Sigurðardrápa II (Sigdr II, one extant st. about Sigurðr munnr Haraldsson); Runhenda (Run, ten extant sts about Eysteinn Haraldsson); Eysteinsdrápa (Eystdr, two extant sts about Eysteinn Haraldsson); Ingadrápa (Ingdr, four extant sts about Ingi Haraldsson); Elfarvísur (Elfv, two extant sts about Grégóríus Dagsson); Geisli (GeislVII, seventy-one sts about S. Óláfr); Øxarflokkr (ØxflIII, ten extant sts about the gift of an axe).

It must be emphasised that, although the poetry included in the royal panegyrics below clearly belongs to poems of that genre, with two exceptions (Hardr II and Elfv), all the names of the poems are modern constructs (notably by Jón Sigurðsson and Finnur Jónsson). That also holds true for the assignment of sts to the individual poems. In some cases, sts were assigned to a particular poem for metrical reasons (so Run), in other cases because of the content or the named recipients of the praise. For the sake of convenience, the names of the poems and the sts assigned to them as found in Skj have been retained in the present edn. In addition to the royal encomia, a number of fragments and lvv. attributed to Einarr are preserved in SnE, TGT and LaufE (see ESk Frag 1-18III; ESk Lv 7-15III). These have been edited separately in SkP III. Six lvv. are transmitted in the kings’ sagas and edited below.

Eysteinsdrápa (‘Drápa about Eysteinn’) — ESk EystdrII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr Skúlason, Eysteinsdrápa’ 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. 559-61.

stanzas:  1   2 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 8. Eysteinsdrápa, o. 1158 (AI, 475, BI, 447)

SkP info: II, 560-1

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — ESk Eystdr 2II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Eysteinsdrápa 2’ 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. 560-1.

Mun, sás morði vanðisk,
margillr, ok sveik stilli,
síð af slíkum rôðum
Símun skalpr of hjalpask.


The very wicked Símun skálpr (‘Sword-sheath’), who practised murder and betrayed the ruler, will be saved late by such actions.

context: Eysteinn Haraldsson was killed by his one-time retainer, Símun skálpr Hallkelsson (21 August 1157).

notes: Símun was married to Eysteinn’s half-sister, Máría, and thus Eysteinn’s brother-in-law (see Genealogy II.4 in ÍF 28). He had been Eysteinn’s retainer but defected to Eysteinn’s half-brother, Ingi. When, in August of 1157, Ingi and his men set out to look for Eysteinn in the forest near Foss (on the eastern side of Oslofjorden), Símun found him hiding in some bushes. Although Eysteinn begged him to help him get away, Símun ordered his execution. Eysteinn then lay down on his stomach with his arms stretched out and told them to strike their blows in the shape of a cross on his back. The execution resembles that of Earl Waltheof of Northumbria (see Fsk, ÍF 29, 294; ‘Biographies of Other Dignitaries’ in Introduction to this vol. and ÞSkall Valfl), and, like Waltheof, Eysteinn was also rumoured to be a saint after his death: …ok kalla menn hann helgan. Þar sem hann var hǫggvinn ok blóð hans kom á jǫrð, spratt upp brunnr, en annarr þar undir brekkunni, sem lík hans var nattsætt ‘…and men call him a saint. Where he was executed and his blood fell on the ground, a well sprang up, and another one sprang up beneath the hill where his body had been laid out overnight’ (ÍF 28, 345). According to Hkr, many miracles took place at Eysteinn’s grave until his enemies poured dog broth on it (ibid.).

texts: Fsk 270, H-Hr 350, HSona 18 (III 228), Hkr 610 (III 228)

editions: Skj Einarr Skúlason: 8. Eysteinsdrápa 2 (AI, 475; BI, 447); Skald I, 220; ÍF 28, 346 (Hsona ch. 32), Andersson and Gade 2000, 404 (Hsona), F 1871, 347, E 1916, 207; ÍF 29, 341 (ch. 101); Fms 7, 251 (Hsona ch. 29).


AM 63 folx (Kx) 670v, 14 - 670v, 17 (Hkr)  image  
AM 45 fol (F) 75rb, 17 - 75rb, 19 (Hkr)  image  image  image  image  
AM 47 fol (E) 59v, 17 - 59v, 18 (Hkr)  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 361v, 5 - 361v, 8 (Hkr)  image  
AM 42 folx (42x) 50v, 34 - 51r, 2 (Hkr)  image  
AM 303 4°x (FskAx) 388, 20 - 388, 23 (Fsk)  image  
AM 66 fol (H) 127r, 3 - 127r, 3 (H-Hr)  image  image  image  image  
GKS 1010 fol (Hr) 83ra, 15 - 83ra, 15 (H-Hr)  image  
AM 301 4°x (301x) 144v, 22 - 144v, 24 (Fsk)  
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