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Runic Dictionary

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Guthormr sindri (Gsind)

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

Hákonardrápa (Hákdr) - 8

Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 273) lists Guthormr (Gsind) among the skalds serving the following kings: Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’; Hálfdan svarti ‘the Black’ Haraldsson (no other skalds listed; omitted in the U text of Skáldatal); and Hákon góði ‘the Good’. Of the poems he may have composed for these rulers, only eight stanzas are extant, all apparently from Hákonardrápa (Hákdr).

Little is otherwise known about Guthormr’s identity, life and career. His place of origin is unknown, but Icelandic birth is hardly likely at this early date, and the name was always much commoner in Norway than in Iceland (Lind 1905-15, 397); equally unknown are his patronymic or matronymic. On the basis of internal evidence in Hákdr, he must have survived the battle at Rastarkálfr on the island of Fræði (Frei) c. 955; he is not mentioned after the death of King Hákon (c. 961), by which time, if he indeed composed for Haraldr hárfagri, he would have been an old man. The sole anecdote about Guthormr, transmitted in Hkr (HHárf, ÍF 26, 141-2) and ÓT (1958-2000, I, 12-13), tells that he was a good skald and a member of the following of Hálfdan svarti. He had earlier been in the entourage of Hálfdan’s father Haraldr hárfagri, was a friend of both men, and had composed a poem about each of them, for which he declined any reward, asking instead that the two men grant a special request from him on some future occasion. When Haraldr and Hálfdan subsequently fell out, his request was that they reconcile with one another, which they did. Credence is lent to this story by the Sendibítr of Jórunn skáldmær (Jór Send), which makes allusion to Guthormr and his stratagem with evident approval, though the details remain obscure (Kreutzer 1972; Jesch 1987, 6-10).

The spelling of the skald’s given name varies (Lind 1905-15, 397) and it is often abbreviated in references to him. The variation may reflect dual origins, in compounds of goð ‘god’ with either þormr ‘protector’ or ormr ‘snake’; alternatively the ‑ormr variant may derive from ‑þormr (AEW: Guðþormr). The name is mentioned in Jór Send 5/3 (see below) but the internal rhyming there provides no means of determining whether the first syllable terminated in ‑t or ‑ð. The standard spelling for the name when used in reference to this individual in the kings’ sagas was apparently Guthormr (Finnur Jónsson, LH I, 442), and that has been adopted in this edition. His nickname is vouched for in Jór Send 4/8. It may mean ‘Spark’ but its exact significance remains unclear. The name Sindri appears in SnE ms. R (added in a later hand) in reference to a dwarf craftsman (SnE 1998, I, 141) and is etymologically related to sindr n. ‘slag, dross’ (CVC: sindr; cf. LH I, 442 n. 4) and sindra ‘to sparkle’ (Lind 1920-1, 308). The nickname may therefore relate to smithing and crafts, perhaps meaning ‘metal-worker’, though the sense ‘shining’ is also possible, given that a mythical hall made of gold is said to be either owned by Sindri’s kin (Vsp 37/3-4) or named Sindri (SnE 2005, 53).

Hákonardrápa (‘Drápa about Hákon’) — Gsind HákdrI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa’ 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. 156.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Goþþormr sindri: Hákonardrápa (AI, 61-3, BI, 55-6)

SkP info: I, 164

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — Gsind Hákdr 6I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 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. 164.

Valþagnar lét vegnum
vígnestr saman bresta
handar vafs of hǫfðum
hlymmildingum gildir.
Þar gekk Njǫrðr af Nirði
nadds hámána raddar
valbrands víðra landa
vápnunduðum sunda.


{The payer {of the coil of the arm}} [ARM-RING > GENEROUS MAN = Hákon] let {war-needles} [SPEARS] clash together over the heads {of the slain bestowers {of the tumult of Valþǫgn}}. [(lit. ‘tumult-bestowers of Valþǫgn’) BATTLE > WARRIORS] There {the Njǫrðr {of the voice {of the high moon of the spear}}} [SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon] went from {the weapon-wounded Njǫrðr {of the wide lands {of the inlets {of the slaughter-fire}}}}. [SWORD > BLOOD > SHIELDS > WARRIOR = Guthormr Eiríksson]

context: Hákon learns that the Eiríkssynir (or Gunnhildarsynir) have entered Vík (Viken), putting Tryggvi Óláfsson to flight and raiding extensively. He defeats them at Ǫgvaldsnes (Avaldsnes, Rogaland) and they flee, weakened by the death of their leader Guthormr Eiríksson in the battle.

notes: [5-8]: Remarkable is the construction of two kennings upon the base-word Njǫrðr (nom. sg.) and Nirði (dat. sg.) ‘Njǫrðr <god>’, though cf. a similar use of Baldr in Hharð Lv 5II, continued in ÞjóðA Lv 3II. The first kenning refers to Hákon, the second to his slain opponent, Guthormr Eiríksson. The detailed analysis of the helmingr, and particularly of l. 8 sunda ‘of the inlets’, however, presents difficulties. (a) It is assumed here, with most previous eds (including ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991, with differences of detail) that gen. pl. sunda forms a blood-kenning with one or other of the two kennings in the helmingr. In the construal shown above, the sword-kenning is the determinant of the blood-kenning. A variation on this is to read Njǫrðr raddar sunda hámána nadds ‘Njǫrðr of the voice of the inlets of the high moon of the spear [SHIELD > BLOOD > BATTLE > WARRIOR]’ where the shield-kenning is the determinant of the blood-kenning, but this is not a known pattern (cf. the blood-kennings in Meissner 204-5). Neither solution is unproblematic, since the battle-kenning in l. 6 and the shields-kenning in l. 7 are both logically complete without the addition of sunda ‘of the inlets’. (b) Finnur Jónsson’s analysis (1884, 90; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; tacit in Skj B; LP: hômáni, valbrandr; cf. Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1886, 192) involves two cases of tmesis: há-raddar ‘loud voice’ and val-sunda ‘corpse-inlets’, but this is unnecessary (Sahlgren 1927-8, I, 129). (c) Kock (NN §1932, modifying a solution proposed in NN §1079A) reads sunda víðra landa valbrands vápnunduðum ‘wounded by the weapon of the inlets of the wide lands of the slaughter-fire [SWORD > SHIELDS > BLOOD]’, i.e. ‘wounded by a bloody weapon’, but the syntax implicit in this postulated use of the kenning to qualify vápn ‘weapon’ is dubious (cf. Sahlgren 1927-8, I, 129).

texts: Flat 195 (13), HákGóð 10 (I 69), ÓT 12, Hkr 79 (I 69)

editions: Skj Goþþormr sindri: Hákonardrápa 6 (AI, 63; BI, 56);

Skald I, 34-5, NN §§146, 1079, 1932; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 197, IV, 50, ÍF 26, 174, Hkr 1991, I, 110-1 (HákGóð ch. 19), F 1871, 76; Fms 1, 38, Fms 12, 27-8, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 37-8 (ch. 24), Flat 1860-8, I, 58



AM 35 folx (Kx) 95v, 11 - 95v, 18 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 39 fol (39) 1va, 32 - 1vb, 1 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  
AM 45 fol (F) 16vb, 20 - 16vb, 24 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  image  image  image  
AM 37 folx (J1x) 57v, 18 - 57v, 22 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 54r, 9 - 54r, 16 (Hkr)  image  
AM 61 fol (61) 5va, 15 - 5va, 18 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 53 fol (53) 4va, 20 - 4va, 25 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  
AM 325 IX 1 a 4° (325IX 1 a) 2ra, 16 - 2ra, 20 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb) 7rb, 5 - 7rb, 8 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  
GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 8ra, 11 - 8ra, 13 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  image  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 148r - 148r (Hákdr)  image  
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