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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, 119

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

20 — Eil Þdr 20III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 20’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 119.

Glaums niðjum fór gǫrva
gramr með dreyrgum hamri;
of salvanið Synjar
sigr hlaut arinbrautar.
Kom at tvíviðar tívi,
tollurr karms þás harmi,
-brautar liðs, of beitti,
bekk- fall, jǫtuns rekka.

Gramr með dreyrgum hamri fór gǫrva {niðjum Glaums}; hlaut sigr of {salvanið {Synjar {arinbrautar}}}. Fall liðs {bekkbrautar} kom at {tívi tvíviðar}, þás {tollurr karms} of beitti rekka jǫtuns harmi.

The ruler with the bloody hammer [= Þórr] totally destroyed {the descendants of Glaumr <giant>} [GIANTS]; [he] gained victory over {the hall-visitor {of the Syn <goddess> {of the hearth-stone-path}}} [MOUNTAINS > GIANTESS > GIANT]. The fall of the retinue {of the bench-road} [HOUSE] came at {the god of the bow} [WARRIOR = Geirrøðr], when {the pole of the wagon-cab} [CHARIOTEER = Þórr] inflicted violence on the warriors of the giant.

Mss: R(25r), Tˣ(26r), W(53-54) (SnE)

Readings: [3] Synjar: ‘syniot’ Tˣ, synja W    [4] ‑brautar: ‘brꜹti’ R, ‘bauti’ Tˣ, W    [5] tívi: ‘ty(v)i’(?) W    [6] tollurr: tollur all;    þás: sá er all    [8] jǫtuns: ‘iotvn(s)’(?) W;    rekka: ‘[…]kka’ W

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 19: AI, 151, BI, 143, Skald I, 78-9, NN §§466-8, 3056; SnE 1848-87, I, 302-3, III, 38-9, SnE 1931, 110, SnE 1998, I, 29.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [1]: This line lacks skothending. Kock attempts to restore the hending by emending gǫrvar ‘totally’ to gumna ‘of the men’ (NN §466) or griðja ‘of the comrades’ (NN §3056). Both emendations change the text significantly and are hardly justified by a missing hending. Reichardt (1948, 386) suggests reversing the order of niðjum and fór to create hending on gǫrva and fór. In that case, however, the hending falls on a dip, which rarely happens. — [1] Glaums ‘of Glaumr <giant>’: Because the kenning niðjum Glaums ‘descendants of Glaumr’ refers to giants, Glaumr must be a giant’s name, albeit one that is not otherwise attested (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 399). Reichardt (1948, 386) suggests replacing it with Glámr, but all mss have Glaumr, and emendation does not appear to be warranted here. — [2] með dreyrgum hamri ‘with the bloody hammer’: Reichardt (1948, 385-6) notes that Þórr now suddenly has his hammer, which he had left behind in accordance with Loki’s arrangement with the giants. The justification for this sudden appearance is that the attribute ‘hammer’ identifies Þórr independently of any context (so Kiil 1956, 158-9). Kiil’s solution is preferable to Reichardt’s (ibid.), who combines gǫrva with hamri to get ‘with the fish of the armaments’, a kenning that, according to him, refers to the staff Gríðarvǫlr. According to Clunies Ross (1981, 388), in whose view this myth represents the initiation of the young god (see Introduction) the hammer is identical with the red-hot iron from the previous stanza. Iron and hammer, in her view, are one and the same weapon, i.e. Þórr’s hammer Mjǫllnir, which he first obtains in his struggle against Geirrøðr (similarly Davidson 1983, 657 who thinks that the giants themselves supplied Þórr with his weapon). — [3, 4] salvanið Synjar arinbrautar ‘the hall-visitor of the Syn <goddess> of the hearth-stone-path [MOUNTAINS > GIANTESS > GIANT]’: This extended giant-kenning is formed according to the pattern ‘visitor of the giantess’. The base-word salvaniðr lit. means ‘one accustomed to the hall’. ‘Giantess’ is rendered according to the familiar pattern ‘goddess of the mountain’ in which ‘mountain’ is paraphrased by the kenning ‘path (i.e. whereabouts) of the hearth-stone’. Hearths were made of stone slabs; hence arinn denotes ‘stone’. The emendation of ‘brꜹti’ (R) to ‑brautar gen. is necessary to provide a determinant ‘stone’ or ‘mountain’ for Syn, a goddess (cf. Reichardt 1948, 386-7). Earlier solutions are not satisfactory, either because they employ tmesis extensively (cf. Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 399; Skj B: arin-Synjar salvanið-bauti ‘the killer of the visitor of stone-Syn’) or because of multiple emendations and incoherent syntax. Among the latter are Kock’s (NN §467) of Synjar salvaniðs Arinbauta ‘over the Syn <goddess> of the one who is used to the hall of Arinbauti (the hearth-hammerer)’ and Kiil’s (1956, 160) arinbauti laut of sigr salvaniðs Synjar ‘Arinbauti [stone-putter = Geirrøðr] crashed through the victory of the one who is used to the hall of Syn [= Þórr]’. — [5-8]: All earlier interpretations of this helmingr are problematic because of their many emendations and syntactic difficulties; Reichardt (1948, 387-8) believes that the half-stanza cannot be interpreted. The present interpretation proceeds from the fact that fall n. nom./acc. sg. ‘fall’ (l. 8) must be either the subject of the main clause or the acc. object of a verb. Since there is no verb in the helmingr which requires an acc., fall must be the subject of the main clause (cf. Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 399 and Skj B; NN §468; Reichardt 1948, 388), and that fits well with kom at tívi tvíviðar ‘came to the god of the bow [WARRIOR = Geirrøðr]’ (l. 5). However, fall as the subject of the main clause is difficult to reconcile with the subsequent rel. clause beginning with sás (m. nom. sg.), which can only refer to an antecedent m. nom. noun. Therefore sás has been emended to þás ‘when’. Tollurr karms ‘the pole of the wagon-box [CHARIOTEER = Þórr]’ (l. 6) is then the subject of the subordinate clause and is combined with of beitti harmi ‘inflicted violence on’ (ll. 6, 7). Rekka jǫtuns ‘the warriors of the giant’ (l. 8) is taken as the object of beitti harmi. This construction avoids the awkward syntactic fragmentation of the last line as e.g. in Skj B. Finally, fall ‘fall’ needs a qualifier, and this is provided by the remaining words brautar liðs (l. 7) and bekk (l. 8). Here tmesis is unavoidable: bekk- ‘bench’ is combined with ‑brautar ‘of the road’ to form the house-kenning ‘of the bench-road’ following the pattern ‘place where sth. can be found’. Joined with liðs ‘of the retinue’, this expression designates the giants, the followers of Geirrøðr. — [5] kom at ‘came at’: It is unusual to find a finite verb and a prep. in anacrusis, but it is not unattested (see also Kuhn 1983, 103). — [5] tívi tvíviðar ‘the god of the bow [WARRIOR = Geirrøðr]’: Tvíviðr lit. means ‘double-wood’ (cf. Þul Boga l. 2) and refers to a bow put together from two pieces of wood (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 29; all subsequent eds). Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 399) sees a Þórr-kenning in the combination tollur tvíviðar, but Reichardt (1948, 387) rightly disputes this, because ‘of the bow’ makes good sense as a determinant in a kenning for Geirrøðr (so also Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 29; Kiil 1956, 162) since Geirrøðr has already been described as œgir almtaugar ‘the terrifier of the bow-string [WARRIOR = Geirrøðr]’ (st. 16/5). Cf. also st. 12/7, in which ‘giants’ are referred to periphrastically as ‘relatives of the markswoman [= Skaði]’. — [6] tollurr karms ‘the pole of the wagon-cab [CHARIOTEER = Þórr]’: Because tollurr is the subject of the subordinate clause, tollur (all mss) has been emended to tollurr. Tollurr is usually interpreted either as an unknown tree-name or as a word for ‘stick’; cf. ModSwed. tolle ‘shoot, scion’, MLG toll ‘twig’ (AEW: tollurr). Here it functions as the base-word in a man-kenning. Karmr has several meanings: ‘frame’, ‘vessel’, ‘container’ or ‘parapet’. There is only one certain attestation of karmr in the sense ‘wagon, cart’ (see ONP: karmr); cf. also ModNorw. karm ‘sides of a wagon-cab’ or ‘back rest on a sled’. Hence karmr could refer to a part of a wagon, and it is taken here as pars pro toto for ‘wagon’. The wagon excavated in Oseberg has a removable cab or container, and such a wagon is also depicted on the tapestry found there. Moreover, the C10th wagon-boxes found in Denmark and Sweden, which were used as coffins, are of the same shape as the Oseberg wagon (Eisenschmidt 2006, 73-8). The whole kenning means ‘charioteer’, then; this unambiguously points to the god Þórr and his attribute, the wagon pulled by two goats.

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