This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

2. Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (ErfÓl) - 29

Skj info: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, Islandsk skjald, død ved 1007. (AI, 155-73, BI, 147-63).

Skj poems:
1. Hákonardrápa
2. Óláfsdrápa
3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa
4. Eiríksdrápa
5. Lausavísur

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ‘Troublesome-poet’ Óttarsson (Hfr) was brought up in Vatnsdalur, northern Iceland, probably in the 960s. He is the subject of Hallfreðar saga (Hallfr), which survives both as a continuous text (ÍF 8, 133-200) and interpolated into ÓT. The main strands of the saga are Hallfreðr’s unhappy relationship with Kolfinna Ávaldadóttir, his travels as trader, fighter and poet, his conversion to Christianity and his devotion to Óláfr Tryggvason, and all these aspects of his life occasioned poetry which partially survives.

Fragments of an early drápa for Hákon jarl Sigurðarson (r. c. 970-c. 995) are extant (Hfr HákdrIII; ÍF 8, 151), but the greater part of Hallfreðr’s court poetry, and the poetry edited in this volume, concerns King Óláfr Tryggvason (c. 995-c. 1000): Óláfsdrápa (Hfr Óldr) and Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (Hfr ErfÓl). Like other Icelanders, Hallfreðr accepted Christian baptism under the influence of Óláfr. The difficulty, for a poet and pagan, of this switch of religious allegiance is the theme of Hfr Lv 6-10V, and is, according to the sagas, alluded to in his nickname vandræðaskáld, lit. ‘Poet of difficulties’. The sagas agree that the name was bestowed by the king, though they differ about the precise reason (ÓTOdd 1932, 125-6; Hkr, ÍF 26, 331-2; Hallfr, ÍF 8, 155; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 387). Hallfreðr is attributed with a lost Uppreistardrápa ‘Restoration drápa’ (?), supposedly composed to atone for his journey into pagan Gautland (Västergötland, ÍF 8, 178). He is also credited in Hallfr (ÍF 8, 194-5) with an encounter with Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson (r. c. 1000-c. 1014) and in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 257, 266, 280) with poetry for him; this is vestigially preserved in Eiríksdrápa (Hfr EirdrV). The saga also shows Hallfreðr presenting a flokkr to the Danish jarl Sigvaldi (ÍF 8, 168) and a poem to the Swedish king Óláfr Eiríksson (ÍF 8, 177-8), but no traces of these survive.

The marriage of Kolfinna, the love of Hallfreðr’s youth, to Gríss Sæmingsson provoked Hallfreðr both early and later in life to compose strikingly inventive stanzas which intertwine themes of yearning love and rivalry (Hfr Lv 1-3, 15-24V), and his níð against Gríss led to legal proceedings and indirectly to the killing of Hallfreðr’s brother Galti (Ldn, ÍF 1, 224; ÍF 8, 189-90). In the course of an adventure in Västergötland (Hfr Lv 12-14V), Hallfreðr met and married Ingibjǫrg Þórisdóttir, who died young, but not before bearing two sons, Auðgísl and Hallfreðr. According to Hallfr (ÍF 8, 196-9), Hallfreðr himself died at the age of nearly forty, from a combination of illness and injury as he sailed through the Hebrides; he was buried on Iona (cf. Hfr Lv 26-7V).

Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (‘Memorial drápa for Óláfr Tryggvason’) — Hfr ErfÓlI

Kate Heslop 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar’ 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. 400.

 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   26a   26b   27   28 

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld: 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa, 1001 (AI, 159-66, BI, 150-7); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 27 | 28 | 29

SkP info: I, 404

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Hfr ErfÓl 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 2’ 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. 404.

Flugþverrir nam fyrri
frægr aldrigi vægja;
heldr lét hauka skyldir
hugrekki sér þekkja.

{Frægr flugþverrir} nam aldrigi vægja fyrri; heldr lét {skyldir hauka} hugrekki þekkja sér.

{The famous flight-diminisher} [WARRIOR] never yielded first; rather {the commander of hawks} [RULER] made courage dear to him.

Mss: 61(67ra), 54(63ra), Bb(98va), Flat(64ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Flugþverrir: ‘Flygþverrir’ 54, Bb, ‘Fylg þyrrir’ Flat    [3] hauka: hǫlða 54, Bb;    skyldir: ‘bæítir’ Flat

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 1: AI, 159, BI, 150, Skald I, 82; SHI 2, 291, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 259 (ch. 249), Flat 1860-8, I, 479.

Context: This helmingr is the first quotation from ErfÓl in ÓT, at the beginning of the saga’s account of the battle of Svǫlðr. Óláfr, urged by his wavering troops to retreat, has just made a rousing speech affirming his intention to stand and fight and never to flee.

Notes: [All]: Mss 54 and Bb attribute this and st. 7 (see Note to st. 7 [All]) to the C12th skald Hallar-Steinn, from whose Rekstefja (HSt Rst), in honour of Óláfr, ÓT frequently quotes; but the agreement of 61 and Flat is probably decisive in favour of Hallfreðr. Further, Rst is in tvískelft metre, while the present stanza is in conventional dróttkvætt. — [1, 2] nam vægja ‘yielded’: Nam, lit. ‘took’, is a pleonastic auxiliary here. — [1] flugþverrir ‘flight-diminisher [WARRIOR]’: As Jesch (2001a, 243-7) observes, this topos is often a litotes in skaldic verse, as here: not only does Óláfr not flee, he fights valiantly to the bitter end. — [3] skyldir hauka ‘the commander of hawks [RULER]’: Hauka, the reading of the main ms., is both the lectio difficilior and supported by the stemmatically distant Flat, although it is unparalleled as a determinant in a ruler- or man-kenning. If skyldir hauka is a ruler-kenning, the reference must be to the king as director of his warriors; cf. Arn Magndr 18/8II herskyldir ‘troop-commander’, and for haukr meaning ‘man’, see Arn Hryn 3/5II and Note; also ÞjóðA Lv 10/7II. Alternatively, this could be a man-kenning referring to hunting with hawks. — [4] þekkja ‘dear’: As a ja-/jō-stem adj. þekkr has the normalised f. acc. sg. form þekkja, which is the form found in Flat, but 61, 54 and Bb have þekka, an alternative declensional form which occurs by analogy with a-stem adjectives (ANG §431). The word is taken here as an adj. agreeing with hugrekki ‘courage’ (so LP: þekkr). The form þekkja could alternatively be an inf. verb, hence lét þekkja sér hugrekki ‘allowed himself to be pleased with courage’ though the m. v. þekkjask would be more usual in this sense.

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.