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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 25 June 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, 159

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — ESk Frag 8III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Fragments 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 159.

The helmingr (ESk Frag 8) is found in SnE (mss R (main ms.), , U, A, B (and 744ˣ), C). The metre is dunhent (see Frag 6 above, Note to [All]), and the poet’s name is given as Einarr (no patronymic) in all mss. The battle imagery suggests that the stanza belonged to an encomium.

Sámleitum rauð sveita
— sleit ǫrn Gera beitu —
— fekksk arnar matr jǫrnum —
Jarnsǫxu grǫn faxa.

Rauð grǫn {sámleitum faxa Jarnsǫxu} sveita; ǫrn sleit {beitu Gera}; {matr arnar} fekksk jǫrnum.

He reddened the whiskers {of Jarnsaxa’s <troll-woman’s> swarthy steed} [WOLF] with blood; an eagle tore {Geri’s <wolf’s> bait} [CORPSES]; {food of the eagle} [CORPSES] was provided by weapons.

Mss: R(38r), Tˣ(39v), U(40v), A(14r), B(6v), 744ˣ(45r), C(7r) (SnE)

Readings: [2] Gera: so Tˣ, U, A, C, gróa R, geira B;    beitu: beitur A, B    [3] matr: ‘[…]’ B, ‘matr’ 744ˣ;    jǫrnum: ‘ærnum’ C    [4] ‑sǫxu: ‑sǫxum A, B;    grǫn: ‘nog’ C;    faxa: so Tˣ, U, A, B, fǫxu R, C

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur 8: AI, 481, BI, 452-3, Skald I, 223; SnE 1848-87, I, 490-1, II, 354, 457, 544, 597, III, 101, SnE 1931, 173, SnE 1998, I, 92.

Context: The helmingr is given as an example of a heiti for ‘eagle’ (ǫrn ‘eagle’; arnar ‘of the eagle’).

Notes: [All]: For the metre, see Note to Frag 6 above. — [2]: This line is also found in Hókr Eirfl 7/6I. — [2] Gera ‘Geri’s <wolf’s>’: Geri was one of Óðinn’s wolves in Old Norse myth. Gróa ‘of Grói’ (so R) makes little sense in the context (gróa inf. ‘grow’ or Gróa f. nom. sg., which is the name for a sorceress or a sword; see Note to Þul Sverða 1/5). Geira ‘of spears’ (so B) must be a lectio facilior. — [4] Jarnsǫxu ‘of Jarnsaxa’s <troll-woman’s>’: Jarnsǫxum ‘iron-swords’ (so A, B) is also a lectio facilior. For Jarnsaxa, see Note to Þul Trollkvenna 3/3. — [4] faxa (m. gen. sg.) ‘steed’: So , U, A, B. Faxi is a horse (lit. ‘one with a mane’). Fǫxu (R, C) cannot be construed in any meaningful way and must be the result of scribal confusion and an attempt to create aðalhending with -sǫxu.

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