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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eilífr Goðrúnarson (Eil)

10th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

1. Þórsdrápa (Þdr) - 23

Skj info: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Islandsk skjald, omkr. 1000. (AI, 148-52, BI, 139-44).

Skj poems:
1. Et digt om Hakon jarl
2. Þórsdrápa
3. Af et kristeligt digt

Hardly anything is known about the life of Eilífr Goðrúnarson (Eil). According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266, 280), he was active as a skald at the court of Hákon jarl Sigurðarson in Norway around the end of the tenth century. Some scholars have argued that a word-play in a stanza preserved in Skm (SnE) conceals the name of Hákon jarl, thus confirming the information of Skáldatal, but the present edition, following Lie (1976, 399) is sceptical of that hypothesis (see Þdr 23, Note to [All]). Eilífr’s only surviving works are the long poem Þórsdrápa (Eil Þdr, 23 stanzas) and one fragment of a Christian poem (Eil Frag).

Þórsdrápa — Eil ÞdrIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘ Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 68. <> (accessed 30 June 2022)

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Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson: 2. Þórsdrápa (AI, 148-52, BI, 139-44); stanzas (if different): 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21

SkP info: III, 75

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Eil Þdr 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 75.

Flugstalla réð felli*
fjǫrnets goða at hvetja
— drjúgr vas Loptr at ljúga —
lǫgseims faðir heiman.
Geðreynir kvað grœnar
Gauts herþrumu brautir
vilgi tryggr til veggjar
viggs Geirrøðar liggja.

{Faðir {lǫgseims}} réð at hvetja {{felli* fjǫrnets} {goða {flugstalla}}} heiman; Loptr vas drjúgr at ljúga. {Vilgi tryggr geðreynir {Gauts {herþrumu}}} kvað grœnar brautir liggja til {viggs veggjar} Geirrøðar.

{The father {of the sea-thread}} [= Miðgarðsormr > = Loki] decided to goad {{the preparer of the life-net} [KILLER] {of the gods {of precipice-altars}}} [MOUNTAINS > GIANTS > = Þórr] to leave home; Loptr <= Loki> was assidious at lying. {The by no means trustworthy mind-tester {of the Gautr <= Óðinn> {of host-thunder}}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Þórr > = Loki] said that green paths lay towards {the steed of the wall} [HOUSE] of Geirrøðr <giant>.

Mss: R(24v), Tˣ(25r), W(52) (SnE)

Readings: [1] felli*: fellir all    [2] ‑nets: ‘‑niotz’ R, ‘‑motz’ Tˣ, ‘natz’ W;    hvetja: so Tˣ, W, hverja R    [4] ‑seims: ‘‑sems’ Tˣ    [5] grœnar: so Tˣ, W, greinar R    [6] Gauts: om. W;    ‑þrumu: ‘‑þrumi’ Tˣ    [8] ‑røðar: ‑raðar W;    liggja: ‘lig[…]a’ W

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 1: AI, 148, BI, 139, Skald I, 76, NN §§443, 776, 1916D, 2249, 2756; SnE 1848-87, I, 290-1, III, 24-5, SnE 1931, 107, SnE 1998, I, 25-6.

Context: Stanzas 1-4, 6-21 are cited in Skm (SnE) after a prose account of Þórr’s journey to Geirrøðargarðr ‘court of Geirrøðr’ and his fights with the giant and his daughters.

Notes: [1] flugstalla ‘of precipice-altars [MOUNTAINS]’: According to Fritzner: flug 2, flug means ‘steep mountain-side’ (cf. ModIcel. flug, ModNorw. and Faroese flog ‘steep bluff’) and stallr means ‘altar’ (Fritzner: stallr 1). This kenning is formed according to the pattern ‘place where something is’. ‘Place’ can be replaced by any location; here stallr ‘altar’. Hence flugstallr ‘precipice-altar’ is a kenning for ‘mountain’, the place where precipices are (see also Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 376). Genzmer (1934, 67) weighs various ways to interpret flugstallr and finally opts for ‘the high load-bearer, roof beam’, which he goes on to explain as an ofljóst construction for áss ‘one of the Æsir’ in light of its homonymy with áss ‘beam’. This is not very convincing (cf. also Reichardt 1948, 331). — [1-2] felli* fjǫrnets ‘the preparer of the life-net [KILLER]’: Lit. ‘one who casts his net for the life (of a person)’. Most eds emend fellir m. nom. sg. (so all mss) to felli m. acc. sg.; only Genzmer (1934, 65) retains the nom. fellir (for his interpretation see below). Fjǫrnets has been emended in accordance with most eds, following Konráð Gíslason (see Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 375), as none of the ms. readings makes any sense (‘-niotz’ R, ‘‑motz’ or ‘natz’ W). Fjǫrnets has been explained in various ways. This edn follows Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1902, 201-3), who offers the most convincing interpretation. According to him, fjǫrnets must mean ‘the net in which life gets caught’; cf. laxanet ‘salmon net’ and þorskanet ‘cod net’. For fella net Björn Magnússon Ólsen (ibid.) arrives at the meaning ‘prepare the net’ in light of lexical material from Modern Icelandic and Norwegian; the resulting interpretation is ‘the preparer of the net for (the giants’) lives’. Guðmundur Finnbogason (1924, 173) and Davidson (1983, 567) concur. Davidson (ibid.) suggests that this could be an allusion to the myth of Þórr as the fisher who catches Miðgarðsormr. Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 376) interprets fjǫrnet as an image for ‘life’, livet set under bildet af et knytted næt ‘life reflected in the image of a meshed net’; hence fellir fjǫrnets is ‘killer’. Genzmer (1934, 65) points out that life cannot be killed and he adopts Björn Magnússon Ólsen’s interpretation ‘who prepares (casts) the net for the life’. He combines fellir fjǫrnets with goða ‘of the gods’ only, however, and interprets ‘the caster of the net for the lives of the gods’ as a kenning for Loki (Genzmer 1934, 68), which he takes as the subject of the sentence. Kock (NN §443) emends to fjǫrnjóts ‘one who enjoys living (or life) with another’, which he connects with goða flugstalla ‘of the gods of the mountains [GIANTS]’ to form a giant-kenning. However, fjǫr is not attested in the sense ‘living together’ and, moreover, fjǫrnjóts fails to supply the needed aðalhending in this line. Elsewhere, Kock (NN §2249, followed by Reichardt 1948, 332), gives a different and doubtful interpretation, suggesting that the correct word could be fjǫrnnet, meaning ‘earth-net’, supposedly a periphrasis for ‘sea’. He combines this with flugstalla, which results in ‘steep bluff by the sea’. — [1, 2] goða flugstalla ‘of the gods of precipice-altars [MOUNTAINS > GIANTS]’: Genzmer (1934, 65 n.) objects to goða ‘of the gods’ as the base-word of a giant-kenning, but see Meissner 258; see also Reichardt (1948, 331) and NN §2756C. — [3] Loptr: This name, which means ‘one who travels or passes through the air’, appears in the Poetic Edda (Lok 6/3; Hyndl 41/5) and in Þjóð Haustl 8/6; it is one of Loki’s names. — [4] faðir lǫgseims ‘the father of the sea-thread [= Miðgarðsormr > = Loki]’: The Miðgarðsormr-kenning is based on the idea that the serpent encircles the whole world; cf. Meissner 114 for further examples. According to Gylf (SnE 2005, 27), Loki begot Hel, Fenrir and Miðgarðsormr with the giantess Angrboða. — [5, 6] geðreynir Gauts herþrumu ‘mind-tester of the Gautr <= Óðinn> of host-thunder [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Þórr > = Loki]’: The context clearly points to Loki as the referent of the kenning. The kenning Gauts herþrumu is a warrior-kenning consisting of a god’s name as the base-word qualified by a battle-kenning (Reichardt 1948, 332-3), but as a determinant to geðreynir ‘mind-tester’ it must refer either to Þórr or to Óðinn. There are several instances where warrior-kennings are used for Þórr and Þjálfi (see Introduction above). Loki is attested as a confidant of both Óðinn and Þórr. Loki is Þórr’s companion in many of the god’s dealing with the giants, e.g. in the stories about Þórr and the giants Þrymr (Þrymskviða), Hrungnir (Haustlǫng) and Útgarðaloki (Gylf, SnE 2005, 37-43). But Loki is also a companion of Óðinn, e.g. in Haustlǫng. In this stanza, two arguments point to Þórr, namely, the context of the stanza that shows Loki talking to Þórr and trying to persuade him, and, secondly, the problem with interpreting Gauts herþrumu as an Óðinn-kenning since the base-word Gautr is an Óðinn-heiti in its own right. Nevertheless, other eds have proposed that this is an Óðinn-kenning (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 376; Meissner 254 with reservations) or a proper Þórr-kenning (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 17; Genzmer 1934, 69; Kiil 1956, 95). A rearrangement of the kenning (Davidson 1983, 568-9) to geðreynir Hergauts þrumu ‘temper-tryer of the War-Gautr of thunder (i.e. of the Óðinn of thunder, i.e. of Þórr)’ is not necessary.

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