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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, 96

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — Eil Þdr 10III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 10’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 96.

unz með ýta sinni
— aflraun vas þat — skaunar
á seilhimin sjóla
sjalflopta kom Þjalfi.
Œddu stáli stríðan
straum Hrekkmímis ekkjur;
stophnísu fór steypir
stríðlundr með vǫl Gríðar.

unz Þjalfi kom sjalflopta á {seilhimin} sjóla með {sinni {ýta skaunar}}; þat vas aflraun. {Ekkjur Hrekkmímis} œddu straum stríðan stáli; {steypir {stophnísu}} fór stríðlundr með vǫl Gríðar.

until Þjálfi came hovering through the air on {the strap-sky} [SHIELD] of the ruler with {the helper {of the launchers of the shield}} [WARRIORS > LEADER = Þórr]; it was a test of strength. {The widows of Hrekkmímir <giant>} [GIANTESSES] infuriated the stream, harsh against the weapon; {the overcomer {of the cliff-porpoise}} [GIANTESS > = Þórr] went stubbornly with the staff of Gríðr <troll-woman>.

Mss: W(53), R(24v-25r), Tˣ(25v) (SnE)

Readings: [3] á seilhimin sjóla: ‘[…]’ R    [4] sjalflopta kom Þjalfi: ‘[…]’ R    [5] Œddu stáli stríðan: ‘[…]’ R;    Œddu stáli: ‘að ostali’ W, ‘Od ostali’ Tˣ    [6] straum Hrekkmímis ekkjur: ‘[…]’ R;    Hrekkmímis: ‘bekkmimi’ Tˣ    [7] stophnísu fór steypir: ‘[…]for stey[…]’ R    [8] stríðlundr með vǫl: ‘[…]ꜹl’ R;    ‑lundr: ‘‑lyndr’ Tˣ

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 9: AI, 150, BI, 141, Skald I, 77, NN §§453, 1507, 1832; SnE 1848-87, I, 296-7, III, 31, SnE 1931, 108, SnE 1998, I, 27.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [All]: Ms. R is damaged and ll. 3-6 are illegible; hence W is used as the main ms. for this stanza. — [1-4]: The first sentence of the stanza is syntactically dependent on the last clause of the previous stanza, hence the first word is written in lower case. — [1, 2] sinni ýta skaunar ‘the helper of the launchers of the shield [WARRIORS > LEADER = Þórr]’: Sinnir is an agent noun from the weak verb sinna ‘accompany, support sby’ (Fritzner: sinna 2). Ýta is understood here as the gen. pl. of ýtir, an agent noun from the weak verb ýta ‘push out, launch’, qualified by a term for ‘weapon’ to form a warrior-kenning (LP: ýtir); cf. Kock (NN §§453, 1832) and, with an opposing view, Reichardt (1948, 358). Skaun ‘shield’ is only attested as a simplex here and in the þulur (Þul Skjaldar 1/2); the gender (m. or f.) and the etymology are disputed. Earlier eds (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 8, 26; Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 387 and Skj B; Reichardt 1948, 358) combine skaunar with seil ‘strap, rope’ (l. 3). This reduces the Þórr-kenning to sinni ýta ‘helper of men’ (l. 1) in which ýta is the gen. pl. of ýtar ‘people’. The problems with this interpretation are seil, which must be combined with himin for metrical reasons (see Note to l. 3), and skaunar, which as the last word in an even line cannot be integrated into the prepositional phrase in l. 3 (NN §1832). Moreover, a kenning such as seilhiminn skaunar ‘the sky of the strap of the shield [SHIELD-STRAP > SHIELD]’ is irregular, since its determinant already makes use of the referent (‘shield’). Hence skaunar can only be accommodated in the Þórr-kenning of l. 1. Þórr-kennings referring to the god as the helper or supporter of people or warriors are rare (Meissner 254), and the kenning could equally well be a leader-kenning, applied to Þórr. See the Introduction above for warrior- or ruler-kennings referring to gods and divine beings in Þdr. — [3] á seilhimin sjóla ‘on the strap-sky [SHIELD] of the ruler’: Here, too, Þórr is referred to by a heiti for a mortal ruler (sjóli). The shield-kenning consists of the base-word himinn ‘sky’ and the determinant seil ‘rope, strap’. The shield-kenning sól seilar ‘sun of the strap’ in Tindr Hákdr 4/3I confirms that seil ‘strap’, as a component of a shield, can serve as a determinant. Sjóla m. gen. sg. ‘ruler’ must belong to the prepositional phrase á seilhiminn ‘on the strap-sky’, as positions 2-6 of a Type C odd line normally constitute a syntactic unit (Gade 1995a, 123). The interpretations of Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1851, 8) and Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 387; Skj B) violate this rule by combining seil ‘strap’ (l. 3) with skaunar ‘of the shield’ (l. 2) and integrate himinsjóla ‘of the sky-king’ as a kenning for Þórr in the parenthesis aflraun vas þat himinsjóla ‘this was a test of strength of the sky-king’. Kock (NN §453) noticed the metrical problem this creates: metrical positions 2-4 in such lines are usually occupied by a cpd or a noun phrase (Kuhn 1983, 142; Gade 1995a, 123-8). A cpd like himinsjóla occupying positions 3-6 would thus clearly violate the metre. Moreover, calling Þórr a ‘sky-king’ would be unique and is therefore doubtful (Reichardt 1948, 358; Meissner 253-4). Aside from his connection with thunder, there is no support for Þórr’s role as a ruler of the sky in the surviving myths about Þórr. — [4] sjalflopta ‘hovering through the air’: This is an adjectival cpd formed from sjalf- ‘self’ and ‑loptr, an adj. derived from lopt n. ‘air’, lit. ‘in the air of his own accord’, meaning ‘hovering in the air’. According to LP: sjalflopti, taken as an adj. should follow the weak declension, but the ‑a ending can only be accounted for if it is indeclinable (Kiil 1956, 125) or if, as in this edn, it is used adverbially. — [4] Þjalfi ‘Þjálfi’: In a few myths (those about Þórr’s encounters with Hrungnir and Útgarðaloki), Þjálfi is the servant and companion of Þórr. In this particular version of the Geirrøðr myth, this is the first stanza to mention Þjálfi by name. See Introduction above for Þjálfi and his role in the myth about Geirrøðr. Despite much research (see ARG II, §428), this figure remains opaque, and none of the etymological speculations (most recently by Kiil 1956, 126-7) are convincing (for the homophone þjálfi ‘enclosure’, cf. Note to st. 18/4). — [5] œddu ‘infuriated’: The readings of both mss ( and W; R is damaged here) are quite similar (‘od ostali’ , ‘að ostali’ W), but it is difficult to decipher their meanings. The first of the last two syllables, ‘stali’ (so both mss), carries alliteration and can be construed as stáli n. dat. sg. ‘with the weapon’. The remaining ‘od o’ or ‘að o’, must be the finite verb in the first clause. Previous eds have suggested (a) œddu 3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. of œða ‘infuriate’ (NN §1507, followed by Kiil 1956, 128), whose object could be either a person’s mind or, figuratively, hailstorms (LP: œða). For semantic reasons, this interpretation has been adopted in the present edn. The use of this verb does not imply a personification of the stream. (b) Hôðu 3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. of heyja ‘hold, conduct’ (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 387 and Skj B; Reichardt 1948, 359), whose object might be a legal assembly, a battle or a meeting (see LP: heyja). — [5] stríðan stáli ‘harsh against the weapon’: There are two possible interpretations. (a) ‘Harsh against/to the weapon’. This would mean that the river is harsh against the weapons that Þórr and Þjálfi are using, i.e. their spears or possibly the Gríðarvǫlr ‘staff of Gríðr’ which is mentioned in l. 4 (cf. Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 383; Reichardt 1948, 359). (b) ‘Harsh by the weapon’. This could be the third reference (the first two are in sts 6 and 9, respectively) to the dangerous aspects of the river of swords. Stáli must be an instr. dat. here. (c) Kiil (1956, 128) places stáli in the main clause in an instrumental sense, interpreting it as ‘vulva’ in light of hjalt in st. 6 (Kiil 1956, 109). — [6] ekkjur Hrekkmímis ‘the widows of Hrekkmímir <giant> [GIANTESSES]’: Hrekkmímir is a cpd name consisting of ‑mímir, a familiar element in numerous giant-names (cf. Søkkmímir in Grí 50/2 and Þul Jǫtna I 6/5, Sǫkmímir in Þjóð Yt 2/10I ), and the noun hrekkr ‘trickery, scheming’. It is unclear whether this is a traditional giant-name or an ad hoc coinage. All previous eds have understood Hrekkmímir as a name for Geirrøðr and ekkjur Hrekkmímis as his daughters. However, that kenning could also refer to giantesses in general. Ekkjur ‘widows’ is a variation on the term ‘woman’ (cf. e.g. brúðr ‘bride’ for ‘woman’). Kiil’s (1956, 127-8) speculation that this kenning might suggest incest between Geirrøðr and his daughters is implausible. — [7] stophnísu ‘of the cliff-porpoise [GIANTESS]’: Hnísa f. is a porpoise (Delphinus phocoena). Animals of various species, such as wolf, whale, snake, reindeer, calf etc. can be used as base-words in giant-kennings (Meissner 258-9). Hnísa may have been chosen as the base-word in this giantess-kenning because of the f. gender of the noun. The first element, stop-, is not attested as a simplex, but the meaning ‘cliff, rise, hill’ can be inferred from the related adj. stopall ‘uneven’. — [8] vǫl Gríðar ‘the staff of Gríðr <troll-woman>’: The prose narrative in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 24-5) describes how Þórr, on his way to Geirrøðr, arrives at the home of the troll-woman (gýgr) Gríðr, who lends him a belt of strength and her staff Gríðarvǫlr. Her role is that of a typical helper on an adventurous journey as analysed by Clunies Ross and Martin (1986, 61, 67).

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