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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson (Eyv)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Russell Poole;

1. Hákonarmál (Hák) - 21

Skj info: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, Norsk skjald, 10. årh. (d. omkr. 990). (AI, 64-74, BI, 57-65).

Skj poems:
1. Hákonarmál
2. Háleygjatal
3. Lausavísur

Eyvindr (Eyv, c. 915-990) has been called the last important Norwegian skald (Genzmer 1920, 159; also Boyer 1990a, 201). He is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 256, 261, 265-6) among the poets of Hákon góði ‘the Good’ Haraldsson and Hákon jarl Sigurðarson. His maternal grandmother was a daughter of Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’, and he seems to have been close to Haraldr’s son Hákon góði from early on, serving at his court as one of a group of brilliant skalds. After Hákon’s death he resided at the court of Haraldr gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’, but relations with Haraldr seem to have soured quickly, as evidenced by his lausavísur. Eyvindr spent the last part of his life with the powerful Hákon jarl Sigurðarson of Hlaðir (Lade), whose family had supported Hákon góði against the sons of Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’. According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 221), in addition to Háleygjatal (Hál), Hákonarmál (Hák) and the lausavísur, Eyvindr composed a poem Íslendingadrápa, but this has not come down to us. The epithet skáldaspillir is usually interpreted to mean ‘Plagiarist’, literally ‘Destroyer (or Despoiler?) of Poets’ in reference to his habit of drawing inspiration from and alluding to earlier compositions, specifically Ynglingatal (Þjóð Yt) for Hál and Eiríksmál (Anon Eirm), along with several eddic poems, for Hák (see Introductions to Hál and Hák). The alternative interpretation ‘Poem-reciter’ proposed by Wadstein (1895a, 88) is unconvincing; see further Olsen (1962a, 28), and Beck (1994a). For further biographical information, see LH I, 447-9, Holm-Olsen (1953) and Marold (1993a).

Hákonarmál (‘Words about Hákon’) — Eyv HákI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál’ 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. 171.

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Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir: 1. Hákonarmál, 961 (AI, 64-8, BI, 57-60)

SkP info: I, 180

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — Eyv Hák 6I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 6’ 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. 180.

Trǫddusk tǫrgur         fyr Týs of bauga
hjalta harðfótum         hausar Norðmanna.
Róma varð í eyju;         ruðu konungar
skírar skjaldborgir         í skatna blóði.

Tǫrgur, hausar Norðmanna trǫddusk fyr {harðfótum hjalta} {Týs of bauga}. Róma varð í eyju; konungar ruðu skírar skjaldborgir í blóði skatna.

Shields [and] Norwegians’ skulls were trampled under {the hard feet of hilts} [SWORDS] {of the Týr <god> of rings} [MAN]. Battle arose on the island; kings reddened gleaming shield-fortresses in the blood of men.

Mss: (103r), Kˣ(105v) (l. 1), F(18ra), F(18va) (l. 1), J1ˣ(63v) (l. 1), J2ˣ(60r) (l. 1) (Hkr); FskBˣ(10v), FskAˣ(52) (Fsk); 761bˣ(97v)

Readings: [1] Trǫddusk: trǫðuðu FskBˣ, FskAˣ    [2] fyr Týs of bauga: fyr týs ok bauga Kˣ, F(18ra), 761bˣ, við týss of valdi FskBˣ, ‘við tysvin valde’ FskAˣ    [4] hausar: ok hausar F(18ra), hausa FskBˣ, FskAˣ    [6] konungar: firar margir F(18ra)    [7] skírar: skíra FskBˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 1. Hákonarmál 6: AI, 65, BI, 58, Skald I, 35-6, NN §§1053, 2423; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 214, 219, IV, 56, ÍF 26, 188, 193, Hkr 1991, I, 121, 126 (HákGóð chs 30, 32), F 1871, 82; Fsk 1902-3, 42 (ch. 12), ÍF 29, 89 (ch. 13); Möbius 1860, 233, Jón Helgason 1968, 26, Krause 1990, 70-5.

Context: In Hkr, as for st. 1. In Fsk, as for st. 5.

Notes: [1-4]: (a) Of (l. 2), the reading of FskBˣ (and its sister transcripts 51ˣ and 302ˣ), is here taken as the expletive particle and adopted rather than the Hkr reading ok ‘and’ (so also Kock, Skald). Of bauga, the particle plus bauga (gen. pl.) ‘of rings’, occurs again in st. 8/4, written um bauga. The reading um/of also appears to be supported by ‘tysvin’ in FskAˣ (and 52ˣ and 301ˣ), which is almost certainly an error for ‘tysvm’ (= týs of, so Jón Helgason 1968); the same error, vin for um = of, occurs in the same mss in Þhorn Harkv 2/8. This solution seems preferable to the alternatives, although it entails assuming an understood conj. between tǫrgur and Norðmanna hausar, hence ‘shields and Norwegians’ skulls’, as well as the difficulty articulated by Sahlgren in (c) below. (b) It is possible to retain the Hkr reading ok, giving a cpd gen. phrase ‘under the swords of the warrior [Hákon] and of the Norwegians’ (so Skj B and, presumably, Möbius (1860) and Fsk 1902-3), or ‘under the hard feet [weapons (?)] of the god of hilts [swords] and shields [WARRIOR]’ (so Hkr 1991). However, the resulting syntax is strained. (c) Sahlgren (1927-8, I, 53-4) thinks it unlikely that Norwegians’ skulls (hausar Norðmanna, l. 4), should here be said to be trampled, and he would construe Norðmanna with harðfótum hjalta ‘hard feet of hilts [SWORDS]’ (so earlier Olsen 1916a, 3, though his overall interpretation of the helmingr is unconvincing). (d) Lie (1948), for similar reasons, would adopt the Fsk reading hausa, as opposed to hausar in the other mss, interpreting it as ‘head’ (gen. sg. of a rare hausi m.), in reference to Haraldr as ‘head’ of the Norwegians, parallel to týs of bauga (cf. also Herbert 1804, 122-3; Ulset 1975, 48; Seim 1984). (e) Lindquist (1929, 12-13) takes the meaning to be that shields made it difficult for the swords to get at the Norwegians’ heads. — [2] Týs ‘of the Týr <god>’: For Týs/týs as proper name or common noun, see the Note to st. 1/2 Gautatýr, where the common noun appears more likely. In the present context of a stereotyped man-kenning, either is possible but a proper name is usual (cf. Meissner 260-3). — [2] bauga ‘of rings’: This could alternatively refer to rings painted around shield-bosses (as in st. 8/4), hence by synecdoche ‘of shields’, forming a warrior-kenning with Týr/týr. — [7] skjaldborgir ‘shield-fortresses’: This designates a defensive formation of shields held close together: cf. OE scieldburh, OHG sciltburg, and see Falk (1914b, 151).

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