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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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23 

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, 111

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

16 — Eil Þdr 16III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 16’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 111.

Fátíða nam frœði
(fjarðeplis) kon Jarðar
(mœrar legs né mýgðu
menn ǫlteiti) kenna.
Almtaugar laust œgir
angrþjóf sega tangar
Óðins afli soðnum
áttruðr í gin Suðra.

{Kon Jarðar} nam kenna fátíða frœði; né mýgðu {menn {legs {mœrar {fjarðeplis}}}} ǫlteiti. {Œgir almtaugar}, {áttruðr Suðra}, laust {afli soðnum sega tangar} í gin {{angrþjóf} Óðins}.

{The son of Jǫrð <goddess>} [= Þórr] got to know an uncommon skill; nor did {the men {of the lair {of the land {of the fjord-apple}}}} [STONE > MOUNTAINS > CAVE > GIANTS] suppress the ale-cheer. {The terrifier of the bow-string} [WARRIOR = Geirrøðr], {the relative of Suðri <dwarf>} [GIANT], struck {a hearth-boiled morsel of tongs} [PIECE OF IRON] into the mouth {{of the sorrow-thief} [HELPER] of Óðinn <god>} [= Þórr].

Mss: R(25r), Tˣ(25v), W(53) (SnE)

Readings: [1] frœði: so Tˣ, W, fróði R    [3] mœrar: ‘morar’ Tˣ, merar W;    mýgðu: ‘mvgþo’ R, ‘mugdo’ Tˣ, ‘mvgðv’ W    [5] ‑taugar: so W, ‘tǫgar’ R, togar Tˣ    [6] sega: so Tˣ, ‘‑segv’ R, ‑segi W;    tangar: ‘tongv’ R, tungu Tˣ, ‘tǫngv’ W    [7] Óðins: ‘oðnis’ all    [8] áttruðr: áttniðr W

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 15: AI, 151, BI, 142-3, Skald I, 78, NN §§464, 1833, 2409; SnE 1848-87, I, 300-1, III, 35-6, SnE 1931, 109, SnE 1998, I, 29.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [1, 4] nam kenna ‘got to know’: Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 396) translates kenna as lære, undervise ‘teach’, but in Skj B he translates nam kenna as viste ‘showed’; Kock (NN §1833), discarding both, suggests lære at kende, erfara ‘learn, get to know’ which Finnur Jónsson adopts in LP: 1. frœði. The present edn follows Kock. — [1] fátíða ‘uncommon’: Lit. ‘scarce, scarcely at hand’ is translated as sjældne ‘uncommon, unusual’ in Skj B (so also Kiil 1956, 147), but this cpd adj. could also mean ‘little desired’ (NN §464; Reichardt 1948, 379). Because Þórr is unable to use his attribute, the hammer, he is forced to resort to another, and for him ‘uncommon’ or ‘rare’, weapon here. — [2, 3, 4] menn legs mœrar fjarðeplis ‘the men of the lair of the land of the fjord-apple [STONE > MOUNTAINS > CAVE > GIANTS]’: This extended kenning, first suggested by Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 396), is superior to other arrangements and interpretations of these kenning elements (e.g. NN §464; Kiil 1956, 147). — [2] kon Jarðar ‘the son of Jǫrð <goddess> [= Þórr]’: Emendation of kon (so all mss) to konr is not necessary to supply a subject for the first clause (so Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 395; Skj B; Reichardt 1948, 379), since the nom. form kon occurs quite frequently (ANG §209-10, §285 Anm. 2). Other attempts to provide a subject are unconvincing. Kock (NN §464) tries to create a giant-kenning by emending fátíða (so all mss) to fátíði. He construes fátíði fjarðeplis ‘the loathed one in the mountain’, a kenning that Reichardt (1948, 379) rightly rejects, describing it as an unannehmbare Umschreibung ‘unacceptable periphrasis’. — [3, 4] né mýgðu menn … ǫlteiti ‘nor did the men … suppress the ale-cheer’: All eds, beginning with Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 395), emend the mss’ ‘mvgþo’ (R), ‘mugdo’ () and ‘mvgðv’ (W) to mýgðu. According to Finnur (ibid.), the giants did not let the fight between Geirrøðr and Þórr disturb their beer-drinking. — [5] œgir almtaugar ‘the terrifier of the bow-string [WARRIOR = Geirrøðr]’: From the context it is obvious that this kenning can only refer to Geirrøðr. This is a warrior-kenning and not a giant-kenning, but, as the apposition áttruðr Suðra ‘relative of Suðri <dwarf>’ makes clear, it does not refer to a human warrior. The kenning may have been motivated by occasional references to giants as archers, cf. st. 12/7, where the giants are called skyld-Breta skytju ‘kin-Britons of the markswoman [= Skaði]’ and st. 20/5, where Geirrøðr is referred to as ‘god of the bow’. — [6, 7] afli soðnum sega tangar ‘a hearth-boiled morsel of tongs [PIECE OF IRON]’: This is an ad hoc kenning formation and it follows no traditional pattern. It is based on the metaphorical likeness between cooking food (a piece of meat, boiled) and forging (tongs, hearth): a boiled piece of meat is likened to an iron object held in the tongs and heated to incandescence on the hearth. At the level of food, the metaphor is further developed through í gin ‘into the mouth’. The following stanzas make use of this metaphor as well (see Frank 1986, 98). — [6, 7] angrþjóf Óðins ‘of the sorrow-thief [HELPER] of Óðinn [= Þórr]’: The base-word of this kenning is itself a kenning, ‘anguish-thief [HELPER]’. The mss have ‘oðnis’ (not an Old Norse word) which all eds emend to Óðins. The scribes could have invented this form to repair what they perceived to be an inferior hending (with soðnum ‘boiled’). Rhyme on a single consonant in the postvocalic environment (here Óð- : soð-) is licit, however (Kuhn 1983, 77). The kenning refers to Þórr’s task of defeating giants who threaten Ásgarðr – the giants who are Óðinn’s ‘sorrow’. Most of the extant myths about Þórr deal with his role as giant-slayer. — [6] tangar ‘of tongs’: The mss’ ‘tongv’ (R), ‘tungu’ () and ‘tǫngv’ (W) have been emended to tangar f. gen. sg. both because of the required aðalhending with angr- and because tǫngu cannot be an inflected form of tǫng, a f. ō-stem (cf. ANG §375, although ONP: tǫng lists one C14th attestation of tǫngu). — [8] áttruðr Suðra ‘the relative of Suðri <dwarf> [GIANT]’: Lit. ‘family-bush of Suðri’. It seems odd that a giant is called the relative of a dwarf. Suðri is a dwarf who, along with three other dwarfs, Austri, Vestri and Norðri, supports the arc of the heavens (Gylf, SnE 2005, 12; see also Þul Dverga 2/6). Both giants and dwarfs reside in caves and mountains, however (cf. Davidson 1983, 640), and in some cases names of dwarfs are also attested as names of giants (e.g. Litr, see Note to Þul Dverga 6/2).

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