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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 17 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

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

SkP info: I, 166

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Gsind Hákdr 7I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 7’ 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. 166.

Almdrógar varð œgis
opt sinn, en þess minnumk,
barma ǫld fyr Baldri
bensíks vita ríkis.
Bǫðsœkir helt bríkar
brœðr síns ok rak — flœðu
undan — allar kindir
Eireks á haf snekkjum.

{Ǫld {barma {œgis almdrógar}}} varð opt sinn vita ríkis fyr {Baldri {bensíks}}, en minnumk þess. {{Bríkar bǫð}sœkir} helt snekkjum á haf ok rak allar kindir Eireks, brœðr síns; flœðu undan.

{The progeny {of the brother {of the intimidator of the bow-string}}} [WARRIOR = Hákon > = Eiríkr blóðøx > = Eiríkssynir] were obliged many a time to realise [his, Hákon’s] power in the face of {the Baldr <god> {of the wound-fish}} [SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon], and I commemorate this. {The attacker {of the battle-board}} [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon] steered warships out to sea and chased all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother; they fled away.

Mss: (95v-96r), 39(1vb), F(16vb), J1ˣ(58r), J2ˣ(54r) (Hkr); 61(5va), 53(4va), 325IX 1 a(2ra) (ll. 1-3, 6-8, 4, 5), Bb(7rb) (ll. 1-3, 6-8, 5, 4) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] ‑drógar: ‑draugar J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb;    varð: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, var Kˣ, 39, F, Bb    [2] sinn: sinni 325IX 1 a;    en: so 39, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, enn Kˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Bb, er F;    þess: þat 325IX 1 a, Bb;    minnumk: minnisk Bb    [3] barma: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb, harma Kˣ, 39, F;    Baldri: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb, haldi Kˣ, F, ‘halldri’ 39    [4] ben‑: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb, hein‑ Kˣ, F, ‘hen‑’ 39;    ‑síks: ‑slíks 325IX 1 a    [5] bríkar: ‘beikar’ Bb    [6] rak: om. J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [7] undan: undar Bb;    allar: allir 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb    [8] Eireks: Eirík 39, F, Eiríkr J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb;    snekkjum: skeiðum 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb

Editions: Skj: Goþþormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 7: AI, 63, BI, 56, Skald I, 35, NN §§1933, 3047; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 197-8, IV, 50-1, ÍF 26, 175, Hkr 1991, I, 111 (HákGóð ch. 19), F 1871, 76; Fms 1, 39, Fms 12, 28, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 38 (ch. 24).

Context: Hákon pursues Eiríkr’s sons to Austr-Agðir (Aust-Agder), from where they sail southwards across the sea to Jótland (Jutland).

Notes: [1, 3] ǫld barma œgis almdrógar ‘the progeny of the brother of the intimidator of the bowstring [WARRIOR = Hákon > = Eiríkr blóðøx > = Eiríkssynir]’: This refers to the sons (ǫld) of Eiríkr, who is brother (barmi) of Hákon (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; cf. ÍF 26; Hkr 1991; contrast Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1886, 191-2). The rare word dróg is thought to mean ‘streak, cord, ribbon’ (CVC, AEW: dróg; Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1886, 191; cf. ÍF 26; Hkr 1991). With œgir almdrógar compare Hfr Óldr 6/5 œgir ýdrógar ‘terrifier of the bow-string [WARRIOR]’. — [2] en minnumk þess ‘and I commemorate this’: Kock (Skald) takes enn, the reading of , J1ˣ, J2ˣ, as the adv. ‘again’, but that would violate the word order of main clauses, since the finite verb minnumk ‘commemorate’ would be in third position (cf. Gade 1995a, 213). — [5-8]: A very difficult passage, which at least on the basis of present knowledge cannot be construed without emendation or the postulation of rare forms and/or usages. There are variant readings for Eireks and snekkjum, and the readings brœðr, síns, rak and flœðu have been extensively debated. (a) In this edn, bríkar bǫðsœkir (l. 5) is construed as a warrior-kenning (cf. Meissner 167, 172, 305) and flœðu (l. 6) as ‘fled’, 3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. from flœja (later flýja) ‘to flee’. The noun brœðr (l. 6) is construed, following Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1886, 193-5), as gen. sg., qualified by síns, thus ‘of his brother’. Although generally a late and quite rare form (ANG §420, Anm. 1) and questioned by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26), gen. sg. brœðr could have arisen analogically, e.g. from the dat. sg., where bróður and brœðr both occur (LP: bróðir). It could be used here as a poetic licence. The adverbial á haf ‘out to sea’ is most readily explained as an apo koinou, going with both helt ‘held, steered’ (l. 5) and rak ‘drove, chased’ (l. 6). (b) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) reads bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum sínum á haf, ok brœðr, allar kindir Eireks, flœðu undan ‘the attacker of the battle-board [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR] held his warships out to sea and the brothers, all the sons of Eiríkr, fled away’. Rak ‘drove’ is omitted, as in J, but its absence from this ms. is clearly the outcome of simple error (cf. Reichardt 1928, 174). Also entailed is emendation of síns to sínum, qualifying snekkjum, and the resulting l. 6, brœðr sínum ok flœðu, with ok ‘and’ in fourth position, is suspect on metrical grounds. (c) Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1886, 193-5) reads bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum á haf, ok rak flœða undan allar kindir Eireks, brœðr síns ‘the attacker of the battle-board [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR] held [his] warships out to sea and drove away all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother, put to flight’. As Björn himself notes, the morphology and syntax of flœða are unclear; it should agree with kindir ‘sons’ as f. acc. pl. (cf. Reichardt 1928, 175). (d) Kock (NN §251) proposes a variation on Finnur Jónsson’s second clause, emending brœðr to bróður, síns to hans, and ok rak to auk: allar kindir Eireks, bróður hans, auk flœðu ‘all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother, also fled.’ Kock himself saw this as purely provisional and subsequently (NN §1933) modified it to read rak flœði ‘thrust over the wave’. (e) Reichardt (1928, 173-6; cf. ÍF 26; Hkr 1991), partly following Sveinbjörn Egilsson (LP (1860): flæðr f. 2. sea’), reads flœða bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum á haf, ok rak undan allar kindir Eireks, brœðr síns ‘the seeker of the battle of the board of the sea [(lit. battle-seeker of the board of the sea’) SHIP > SEA-BATTLE > SEAFARING WARRIOR] held his warships out to sea and drove away all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother’. (f) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) accepts Reichardt’s solution, modifying flœða to flœðu, still with the sense ‘sea’, a step already suggested by Reichardt (1928, 176). This entails accepting flœðu as gen. sg. of an unattested noun *flœða, corresponding to flœð(r) ‘flooding’. — [8] snekkjum ‘warships’: The type of ship referred to here is unclear. (a) Editors have favoured snekkjum, yielding a regular aðalhending with the second syllable of Eirekr. This occurrence of snekkja, if accepted, would mark the first attestation in OWN; the word may be derived from OE snacc ‘type of ship’ (Jesch 2001a, 126) or it might originate in a Gmc lingua franca used in maritime contexts. (b) The mss of ÓT have skeiðum, which is also possible since r : ð, here eir : skeiðum, is also an acceptable rhyme type, which occurs in st. 5/5 above (see Note, and cf. Jesch 2001a, 126, who similarly allows for the possibility of either snekkjum or skeiðum here). The distinction between snekkja and skeið is unclear. Prose sources indicate that the snekkja was smaller (Jesch 2001a, 126 n. 18), though see Note to ÞjóðA Magnfl 2/2, 3II.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated