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Runic Dictionary

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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

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

7. Runhenda (Run) - 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.

Runhenda (‘’) — ESk RunII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Runhenda’ 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. 551-9. <> (accessed 25 January 2022)

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

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 7. Runhenda, o. 1155 (AI, 473-5, BI, 445-7)

SkP info: II, 557-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — ESk Run 9II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Runhenda 9’ 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. 557-8.

Rauð siklingr sverð
— sleit gylðis ferð
prútt Parta lík —
í Pílavík.
Vann vísi allt
fyr vestan salt
— brandr gall við brún —
brennt Langatún.

Siklingr rauð sverð í Pílavík; {ferð gylðis} sleit prútt lík Parta. Vísi vann brennt allt Langatún fyr vestan salt; brandr gall við brún.

The prince reddened the sword in Pílavík; {the company of the wolf} [WOLVES] tore the splendid corpses of the Partar. The leader burned all Langatún west of the sea; the sword rang against the brow.

Mss: Mork(35v-36r) (Mork); Kˣ(659v), F(73vb), E(57r), J2ˣ(356v), 42ˣ(47r-v) (Hkr); Hr(81rb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [3] prútt: prúð F, Hr    [5] vísi: vísir 42ˣ, Hr    [7] við: í Kˣ    [8] brennt: brennt var Hr

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 7. Runhenda 9: AI, 474-5, BI, 447, Skald I, 220, NN §954; Mork 1867, 226, Mork 1928-32, 445, Andersson and Gade 2000, 392, 495 (Hsona); ÍF 28, 329 (Hsona ch. 20), F 1871, 340, E 1916, 199; Fms 7, 237 (Hsona ch. 20).

Context: As sts 5-8 above.

Notes: [1] sverð ‘sword’: This noun can be either sg. or pl. — [2] ferð gylðis ‘the company of the wolf [WOLVES]’: See Note to Grani Har 2/3, 4. — [3] prútt lík ‘the splendid corpses’: Lit. ‘splendid corpse’. Lík (n. acc. sg.) ‘corpse’ is used with a pl. meaning. The variant prúð lík (n. acc. pl.) ‘splendid corpses’ (so F, Hr) has been adopted by Skj B and Skald, but that reading is secondary. Alternatively, prútt could be taken as an adv. ‘splendidly, bravely’ with sleit ‘tore’ (l. 2), but that is less likely from a contextual point of view. — [3] Parta ‘of the Partar’: This ethnic name also occurs in Sigv Víkv 8/7I. Poole (1980, 276) argues that the Partar were the inhabitants of Partney, Lincolnshire, but that identification is problematic (see the discussion by Townend 1998, 62-5). Rather, it appears that Einarr, to achieve alliteration on [p], lifted the name from Sigvatr, whose st. also contains the adj. prúðr ‘splendid’ (prúðum Pǫrtum ‘splendid Partar’). — [4] í Pílavík ‘in Pílavík’: Pílavík can be translated as ‘Willows’ Bay’, but the ON p. n. bears no resemblance to any extant ModEngl. p. n. (see Townend 1998, 65-7). Poole’s (1980, 267-8) suggestion that it represents a Scandinavian version of Willoughby is possible, but unlikely, and according to Townend (1998, 67), this p. n. is probably a not a settlement name but a topographical name coined by the Norsemen. — [6] fyr vestan salt ‘west of the sea’: Skj B takes this prepositional phrase with the second cl., which creates an unnecessarily complicated w. o. (see NN §§954). — [8] Langatún ‘Langatún’: Poole (1980, 268-9) identifies this as Langton, near Partney in Lincolnshire. While this identification is attractive, it cannot be ascertained. According to Townend (1998, 50), there are at least twenty-one extant place names in England which can be derived from OE langa-tūn ‘long settlement’.

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