Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Óláfs saga helga (Legendary) (ÓHLeg) - 63

Óláfs saga helga (Legendary) (ÓHLeg)

Skaldic vol. 1; ed. Diana Whaley

verse introduction manuscripts contents

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 4. Sources for Skaldic Poetry Cited in the Kings' Sagas > 1. Sagas of the kings of Norway after 1035 > 10. The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg)


DG8:      DG 8 (Norwegian, c. 1225-50).

Facsimile and editions: DG 8 1956; ÓHLeg 1922, ÓHLeg 1982.


ÓHLeg contains one stanza of the poetry edited in SkP II, namely Hharð Lv 1.

[19] For a full discussion of ÓHLeg, see Introduction to SkP I.

Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035 > 8. Volume Introduction > 3. Sources for skaldic poetry cited in the kings’ sagas: manuscripts, facsimiles and editions > 3.1. Sagas of the kings of Norway to c. 1035 > 9. The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr / Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg)


DG8:    DG 8 (Norwegian; c. 1225-50).

Facsimile and editions: DG8 1956; ÓHLeg 1922, ÓHLeg 1982.

This saga, known as ‘legendary’ because of its hagiographic character, is a revision, incorporating much additional material, of ÓHÆ (see below). The sole extant ms., DG 8, was written in northern Norway c. 1225-50, but opinion is divided as to whether the compiler of the saga was a Norwegian or an Icelander. ÓHLeg presents Óláfr’s entire life history, followed by a collection of his posthumous miracles (probably from the Gamal norsk homiliebok), and sets out to demonstrate how the king combines the attributes of secular military leader and Christian saint. The saga’s sometimes chaotic structure may be attributed to its inclusion of material from a wide variety of now-lost sources. Identifiable interpolated passages include Kristni þáttr, about Óláfr’s missionary activities, and some short sections from Ágr which may already have been interpolated into ÓHÆ.


ÓHLeg cites sixty-three skaldic stanzas, including eighteen by Sigvatr Þórðarson and twelve by Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld. About half of the stanzas appear in anecdotes about skalds, with the other half cited as evidence in support of the narrator’s assertions about historical events. Three poems, Anon Liðs, Sigv Knútdr and Þloft Tøgdr, are cited in extenso. Most of the poetry is also preserved elsewhere, but Sigv Nesv 6 is unique to ÓHLeg, and Anon Liðs 1, 3-7, 8/1-4, 9/5-8, 10 and Sigv Erlfl 8 are shared only with Flat. A single stanza from ÓHLeg, Hharð Lv 1, is edited in SkP II.

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