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Runic Dictionary

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Einarr skálaglamm Helgason (Eskál)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Edith Marold;

2. Vellekla (Vell) - 37

Little is certain about the life of Einarr skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ Helgason (Eskál), except that he came from a noble family from western Iceland. They were descendants of Bjǫrn austrœni ‘the Easterner’, i.e. ‘the Norwegian’, son of Ketill flatnefr ‘Flat-nose’. According to Ldn (ÍF 1, 123), Einarr’s mother was Niðbjǫrg, daughter of an Irish king. Einarr’s brother Ósvífr was the father of Guðrún Ósvífsdóttir, the heroine of Laxdœla saga. A few anecdotes link Einarr to Egill Skallagrímsson. Egils saga (Eg, ÍF 2, 268-73) tells of Einarr visiting Egill and the two talking at length about poetry. The meeting led to a long friendship, which is reflected in similarities between the two skalds’ poetry (de Vries 1964-7, I, 176). A valuable shield given to Egill by Einarr inspired Egill to compose a Skjaldardrápa or shield poem honouring the gift, of which only the first stanza has survived (Egill SkjalddrV).

Einarr must have lived c. 940-c. 990. He presumably spent much of his life at the court of Hákon jarl Sigurðarson in Norway, for whom he composed Vellekla (Eskál Vell) and another poem, Hákonardrápa (Eskál Hákdr). Two stanzas (Eskál HardrIII) that possibly stem from one or more Haraldsdrápur in honour of Haraldr blátǫnn ‘Blue-tooth’ Gormsson indicate that he might have spent time at the Danish court, perhaps as a companion of Hákon jarl. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266, 280) mentions Einarr only as one of Hákon jarl’s skalds. Besides these poems, three lausavísur are preserved in Jvs, Fsk, Flat and Eg. The first two are part of a typical skald anecdote about court poetry and its reward, and are preserved in versions that differ sufficiently for them to be printed in both SkP I (Eskál Lv 1a and Lv 2a) and SkP V (Eskál Lv 1bV (Eg 124) and Lv 2bV (Eg 125)). The third (Eskál Lv 3) concerns the death of Þorleifr skúma Þorkelsson (Þskúm), an Icelandic retainer of Hákon jarl, at the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen, c. 985).

According to Jvs (1969, 178-9), Einarr’s nickname skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ refers to a pair of precious and magically resounding scales (OIcel. skálar/skálir) with which Hákon jarl rewarded him for Vell (see Introduction to Eskál Lv 1-3). This explanation (apparently accepted in Finnur Jónsson 1907, 284) may, however, be a later etymological invention, and skálaglamm could instead derive from OIcel. skáli ‘hall, free-standing house’ either as part of a sky-, breast- or shield-kenning (Lie 1975, 643), or more likely as a ‘loud sound (glamm) in the hall’, in reference to his art of recitation. Jvs (1969, 178) also tells that Einarr earlier had the nickname Skjaldmeyjar-Einarr ‘Einarr of the shield-maiden’. Skjaldmeyjar are armed women who took part in battles (cf. Akv 16), but nothing is known about how Einarr got this nickname. According to Ldn and Jvs, Einarr drowned in Breiðafjörður on a voyage home (Ldn, ÍF 1, 123; Jvs 1969, 205); they add a legend according to which his scales (Jvs), or his shield and his coat (Ldn), wash ashore, inspiring the names of the islands Skáleyjar, Skjaldey and Feldarhólmr.

Vellekla (‘Lack of Gold’) — Eskál VellI

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 280.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37 

Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm: 3. Vellekla, o. 986 (AI, 122-31, BI, 117-24); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37

SkP info: I, 297

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

11 — Eskál Vell 11I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 11’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 297.

Hjalmgrápi vann hilmir
harðr (Lopts vinar) barða
(því kom vǫxtr í Vínu
vínheims) fíandr sína.
Ok forsnjallir fellu
fúrs í Þróttar skúrum
(þat fær þjóðar snytri)
þrír jarls synir (tírar).

Harðr hilmir vann fíandr sína barða {hjalmgrápi}; því kom vǫxtr í {Vínu {vínheims {vinar Lopts}}}. Ok þrír forsnjallir synir jarls fellu í {skúrum {fúrs Þróttar}}; þat fær {snytri þjóðar} tírar.

The hardy ruler had his enemies pelted {with helmet-hail} [BATTLE]; therefore, growth came to {the Vína <river> {of the wine-world {of the friend of Loptr <= Loki>}}} [= Óðinn > VAT > POEM]. And three exceedingly brave sons of a jarl fell in {the showers {of the fire of Þróttr <= Óðinn>}} [SWORD > BATTLE]; that brings glory {to the instructor of the people} [RULER = Hákon jarl].

Mss: (118r), F(20vb), J1ˣ(71v), 325VIII 1(2vb) (Hkr); 61(8ra), 53(5vb), 54(1ra), Bb(10vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] ‑grápi: ‑faldinn 61, ‑greip er 53, ‑gráp er 54, Bb    [2] harðr: so F, 325VIII 1, harð Kˣ, J1ˣ, 61, 53, 54, Bb;    Lopts: so J1ˣ, 325VIII 1, 61, 54, Bb, lopt Kˣ, F, lofs 53    [3] vǫxtr: vestr Bb    [5] Ok: at J1ˣ, 325VIII 1, 61, 53, 54, Bb    [6] Þróttar: Þundar 61, 53, 54, Bb    [7] fær: fór J1ˣ;    þjóðar: þróttar 61, þjóstar 53, 54, Bb;    snytri: snyrti 54, Bb    [8] synir: ‘seynir’ F

Editions: Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm, 3. Vellekla 12: AI, 125, BI, 118-19, Skald I, 67, NN §§399, 1884C, 2240B, 2242, 2513; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 250-1, IV, 69-70, ÍF 26, 219, Hkr 1991, I, 146 (HGráf ch. 15), F 1871, 94; Fms 1, 65; Fms 12, 33, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 66 (ch. 41).

Context: King Haraldr gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’ and his brother Guðrøðr advance northwards to Þrándheimr (Trøndelag) with a large army. When Hákon jarl learns of this, he heads south to Mœrr (Sunn- or Nordmøre) with his own army and pillages there. Grjótgarðr, Hákon jarl’s uncle, has been charged with defending the region and calls up an army on the orders of Haraldr and Guðrøðr. The two armies fight and Grjótgarðr is killed.

Notes: [2]: The line is divided into three parts in almost all interpretations. Only Kock (NN §399) avoids the tripartition by conjoining vinar Lopts ‘of the friend of Loptr <= Loki> [= Óðinn]’ and hilmir ‘ruler’, but this sacrifices the determinant of vínheims ‘of the wine-world’ in the intercalary clause (cf. Reichardt 1930, 243-4). Subsequently Kock (NN §2242), following a suggestion of Meissner (Kock and Meissner 1931, I, 9), conjoins harðr ‘hardy’ with vǫxtr ‘growth’ from the intercalary clause. This also avoids the tripartition (cf. Frank 1978, 85), but harðr is semantically better suited to hilmir than vǫxtr. — [2, 3, 4] Vínu vínheims vinar Lopts ‘the Vína <river> of the wine-world of the friend of Loptr <= Loki> [= Óðinn > VAT > POEM]’: Vína is the Northern Dvina river, here standing for ‘river’ in general (LP: 1. Vína; Note to Þul Á 3/1III). Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 46) resolves the kenning convincingly and is followed by most later eds. This edn, with most others, interprets vínheimr ‘wine-world’ as referring to the vat in which the mead of poetry is stored (LP: vínheimr). Kock’s interpretation (NN §2513) as a hall in which wine is drunk is doubtful, because the kenning would not then mean ‘poem’ (cf. Kreutzer 1977, 108). — [3]: This line lacks a skothending. Various attempts have been made to correct this through emendation. Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 46) suggests sýnisk ‘it appears’ in place of því kom ‘in this way came’, and Kock (NN §1884C) suggests Vixlu instead of Vínu. — [4]: The metre of the line dictates that fíandr be read as disyllabic. — [5] ok ‘and’: The mss offer both ok ‘and’ and at ‘that’. (a) Ok is chosen here, since it is both the reading of the Kringla group mss including the main ms. and the reading that yields the most natural syntactic and semantic structure for the stanza as a whole. It produces a conventional statement that the hero of the poem causes it to swell, his great deeds supplying material for praise. (b) The variant at in the Jöfraskinna group mss and the mss of ÓT would introduce a subordinate clause in the second helmingr which is dependent on því in the first helmingr, giving ‘for this reason the poem grew … that the three sons of the jarl fell’; but it would be unusual to make such a claim about defeated enemies. — [5, 8] þrír forsnjallir synir jarls ‘three exceedingly brave sons of a jarl’: One of these is Grjótgarðr, the uncle of Hákon jarl and son of another Hákon; the others are unidentified (see ÍF 28, Ættaskrár V, for a genealogy of the jarls of Hlaðir (Lade)). — [7] snytri þjóðar ‘to the instructor of the people [RULER = Hákon jarl]’: Snytrir ‘instructor’, derived from snotr ‘wise’, must refer to the ruler. The sole other instance of the word is Þjóð Haustl 3/3III snytrir hapta ‘instructor of the divine powers’, a kenning for Óðinn.

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