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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

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

III. 1. Øxarflokkr (Øxfl) - 10

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.

Øxarflokkr (‘Flokkr about an Axe’) — ESk ØxflIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr Skúlason, Øxarflokkr’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 140.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 11. Øxarflokkr(?) (AI, 477-9, BI, 449-51); stanzas (if different): 11

SkP info: III, 143

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — ESk Øxfl 3III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Øxarflokkr 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 143.

Hróðrbarni knák Hǫrnar
— hlutum dýran grip — stýra
(brandr þrymr gjalfrs á grandi)
gollvífiðu (hlífar).
Sáðs (berr sínar móður)
svans unni mér gunnar
fóstrgœðandi Fróða
(Freys nipt bráa driptir).

Knák stýra {gollvífiðu hróðrbarni Hǫrnar}; hlutum dýran grip; {brandr gjalfrs} þrymr á {grandi hlífar}. {Fóstrgœðandi {svans gunnar}} unni mér {sáðs Fróða}; {nipt Freys} berr {{driptir bráa} móður sínar}.

I possess {the gold-wrapped glory-child of Hǫrn <= Freyja>} [= Hnoss (hnoss ‘treasure’)]; we [I] received a precious treasure; {fire of the surge} [GOLD] rests on {the harm of the shield} [AXE/SWORD]. {The provisions-increaser {of the swan of battle}} [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR] gave me {Fróði’s <legendary king’s> seed} [GOLD]; {Freyr’s <god’s> niece} [= Hnoss (hnoss ‘treasure’)] bears {{the rain of eyelashes} [TEARS] of her mother <= Freyja>} [GOLD].

Mss: R(28r), Tˣ(29r), W(73) (SnE); 2368ˣ(91) (l. 8), 743ˣ(72r) (l. 8) (LaufE)

Readings: [3] þrymr: þrumir Tˣ, W;    gjalfrs: so Tˣ, gjalfr R, gjalfs W    [4] ‑vífiðu: ‘vifodo’ Tˣ;    hlífar: so Tˣ, hlíðar R, W    [7] Fróða: ‘fro᷎da’ Tˣ, fræða W    [8] Freys nipt bráa driptir: ‘Brꜳ dripter freys niptar’ 2368ˣ, ‘Bra̋dripter freys niptar’ 743ˣ

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 11. Øxarflokkr(?) 3: AI, 478, BI, 450, Skald I, 221, NN §956; SnE 1848-87, I, 348-9, III, 57, SnE 1931, 125, SnE 1998, I, 44; LaufE 1979, 346.

Context: The stanza is given in Skm after st. 2 above to illustrate that the goddess Freyja could be referred to as móðir Hnossar ‘the mother of Hnoss’. In LaufE l. 8 is found in a section with kennings for ‘gold’, where Freyja’s tears are ‘gold’ (see Note to l. 8 below).

Notes: [All]: In Skm the stanza is separated from st. 2 by Ok enn svá ‘And again thus’, and in LaufE l. 8 is attributed to Einarr Skúlason. — [1] hróðrbarni Hǫrnar ‘glory-child of Hǫrn <= Freyja> [= Hnoss (hnoss ‘treasure’)]’: Hnoss is the daughter of the goddess Freyja in Old Norse myth, and hnoss also means ‘treasure’, thus allowing for an ofljóst ‘too transparent’ construction here and in the next helmingr. Cf. SnE 2005, 29: Dóttir þeira heitir Hnoss. Hon er svá fǫgr at af hennar nafni eru hnossir kallaðar þat er fagrt er ok gersemligt ‘Their daughter is called Hnoss. She is so beautiful that what is beautiful and precious is called hnossir [‘treasures’] from her name’. — [4] hlífar ‘of the shield’: So . The R, W variant hlíðar ‘of the slope’ makes no sense in the context and leaves the line without internal rhyme. The kenning grand hlífar ‘the harm of the shield’ (ll. 3, 4) could refer either to an axe or to a sword. See also Note to st. 9/1-2, 3, 4. — [5-8]: For Freyja weeping tears of gold, see Note to st. 1/1-4 above. — [5] móður sínar ‘of her mother’: This is an unusual kenning, because sínar is an adjectival pron. rather than a name or a noun. For the form sínar, see ANG §456.3. — [5, 6, 7] sáðs Fróða; fóstrgœðandi svans gunnar ‘Fróði’s <legendary king’s> seed [GOLD]; the provisions-increaser of the swan of battle [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]’: The first kenning refers to the story told in Grottasǫngr (Grott, SnE 1998, I, 51-8) about two giantesses, Fenja and Menja, who grind gold under duress for the legendary king Fróði of Denmark (see NN §956). Sáð ‘seed’ must be a variation of ‘flour’ or ‘grain’ here. See also Note to Anon Bjark 4/3. Skj B construes the kennings as Fróða fóstr-sáð ‘Fróði’s fosterling-seed’ (i.e. ‘Fenja and Menja’s seed’, with tmesis) and gœðandi svans gunnar ‘feeder of the swan of battle’ (so also SnE 1998, I, 44, II, 278, 298). That interpretation is less preferable because it creates an awkward tripartite odd line of Type D. — [8] nipt Freys ‘Freyr’s <god’s> niece [= Hnoss (hnoss ‘treasure’)]’: See Note to l. 1 above. Nipt means ‘female relative, sister, daughter, woman’ and Freyr was Freyja’s brother, hence ‘niece’ here. As it stands in LaufE, this line can be construed as brádriptir niptar Freys ‘the eyelash-rains of the sister of Freyr’, i.e. as another kenning for ‘gold’.

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