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Runic Dictionary

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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 1 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, 156

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — ESk Frag 5III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Fragments 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 156.

The helmingr (ESk Frag 5) must have belonged to an encomium honouring a king of Norway, and Jón Sigurðsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 357) assigned it to Einarr’s panegyric about the sons of Haraldr gillikristr (ESk HarsonkvII). The helmingr is preserved in mss R, , W, U, A and C of Skm (SnE), as well as in LaufE (mss 2368ˣ, 743ˣ) and in RE 1665(Ll), the latter of which has no independent value. Ms. U is the only ms. which contains all four lines, and it is therefore the main ms. The poet’s name is given as Einarr (without patronymic) in all mss of SnE and in 2368ˣ (it is omitted in 743ˣ).

Leyg rýðr ætt á ægi
Óláfs skipa sólar
(ylgr brunar hvatt) ins helga
(hrægjǫrn í spor ǫrnum).

{Ætt ins helga Óláfs} rýðr {leyg {sólar skipa}} á ægi; hrægjǫrn ylgr brunar hvatt í spor ǫrnum.

{The kinsman of the holy Óláfr} [NORWEGIAN KING] reddens {the flame {of the ships’ sun}} [SHIELD > SWORD] at sea; the corpse-eager she-wolf rushes fast in the track of eagles.

Mss: U(33r), R(34r) (ll. 1-2), Tˣ(35v) (ll. 1-2), W(77) (ll. 1-2), A(11r) (ll. 1-2), C(5v) (ll. 1-2) (SnE); 2368ˣ(132), 743ˣ(99r) (LaufE, ll. 1-2)

Readings: [1] Leyg: so R, Tˣ, W, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ, leygr U, A, C;    rýðr: ríðr C;    ætt: ‘eit’ Tˣ, ‘att’ A;    á: at C    [2] Óláfs: Óláfr Tˣ

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur 5: AI, 480, BI, 452, Skald I, 222, NN §2539; SnE 1848-87, I, 424-5, II, 329, 439, 589, III, 79-80, SnE 1931, 151, SnE 1998, I, 69; LaufE 1979, 397.

Context: Sól skipa ‘sun of ships’ is given as one of many kennings for ‘shield’ in Skm and LaufE.

Notes: [1, 2, 3] ætt ins helga Óláfs ‘the kinsman of the holy Óláfr [NORWEGIAN KING]’: ‘The holy Óláfr’ is S. Óláfr Haraldsson (d. 29 August 1030). The identity of this particular kinsman is not clear. Einarr did compose a poem about S. Óláfr (ESk GeislVII), but none of the other kings of Norway whom Einarr honoured with panegyrics was a direct descendant of Óláfr, because Óláfr’s only son, Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ (d. 1047), only left behind a daughter, Ragnhildr. Subsequent kings of Norway were descendants of Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson (r. 1046-66), Óláfr’s half-brother. — [3] hvatt ‘fast’: This adv. could modify rýðr ‘reddens’ in the first clause (so Skj B). That construction is, however, less likely because the syntactic caesura falls after positions 1 or 3 in A-lines of this type (see NN §2539; Gade 1995a, 150-5).

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