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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

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

III. 2. Fragments (Frag) - 18

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.

Fragments — ESk FragIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 151. <> (accessed 5 July 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur (AI, 479-82, BI, 451-4)

SkP info: III, 153

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — ESk Frag 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 153.

This helmingr (ESk Frag 2) must have been part of an encomium honouring a king of Norway (see konungs Hǫrða ‘of the king of the Hǫrðar’ (l. 2) and Fidjestøl 1982, 100-1), but his identity cannot be established. Jón Sigurðsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 354) assigned the half-stanza to Einarr’s panegyric about Sigurðr jórsalafari ‘Jerusalem-farer’ (ESk Sigdr III). That attribution is highly unlikely, however, because all extant stanzas of that encomium are composed in the preterite tense and this helmingr, as well as the other stanzas which Jón assigns to that poem (Frag 10-11, 14-16 below), is in the present tense. The half-stanza is preserved in mss R (main ms.), , W and U of Skm (SnE) and it is attributed to Einarr in all mss, but no patronymic is given for him. He is more likely to be Einarr Skúlason than Einarr skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ Helgason (EskálI), the other skald designated as ‘Einarr’ in Skm, because Einarr skálaglamm is not known to have composed about any kings of Norway.

Snáks berr fald of frœknu
folkvǫrðr — konungs Hǫrða
frama telr greppr fyr gumnum —
geðsnjallr skarar fjalli.

{Geðsnjallr folkvǫrðr} berr {fald snáks} of {frœknu fjalli skarar}; greppr telr frama {konungs Hǫrða} fyr gumnum.

{The quick-witted guardian of the people} [RULER] wears {the headdress of the serpent} [HELMET] on {his heroic mountain of hair} [HEAD]; the poet recounts the prowess {of the king of the Hǫrðar} [NORWEGIAN KING] before men.

Mss: R(35v), Tˣ(37r), W(81), U(35r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] fald: fold U;    frœknu: so U, frœknum R, Tˣ, W    [2] folk‑: so all others, fold‑ R;    Hǫrða: orða U    [3] greppr fyr: gipt með U    [4] ‑snjallr: ‑snjallar Tˣ

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur 2: AI, 480, BI, 452, Skald I, 222; SnE 1848-87, I, 454-5, II, 335, III, 92, SnE 1931, 160, SnE 1998, I, 79.

Context: Folkvǫrðr ‘guardian of the people’ (R: foldvǫrðr ‘guardian of the earth’) is given in Skm as one of several kennings for ‘king’.

Notes: [1] fald snáks ‘the headdress of the serpent [HELMET]’: This refers to the helmet of terror (œgishjálmr) worn by the dragon Fáfnir (see Fáfn 16-19 and end prose, NK 188; see also Marold 1998a, 13-17 as well as Notes to Sturl Hákkv 14/2II and Eskál Vell 25/5, 6I). Here ‘wear a helmet of terror’ must mean ‘rule firmly’. — [1] frœknu (n. dat. sg.) ‘heroic’: So U. The adj. qualifies fjalli (n. dat. sg.) ‘mountain’ (l. 4), and the reading of the other mss, frœknum (m. dat. sg. or dat. pl.), is ungrammatical. — [2] folkvǫrðr ‘the guardian of the people [RULER]’: So , W and U. Foldvǫrðr ‘guardian of the land’ (R) is also possible but less likely in view of the majority of the ms. witnesses.

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