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Runic Dictionary

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Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

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

2. Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (ErfÓl) - 29

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).

file 2002-03-21 - York Hfr paper notes
file 2002-03-27 - York Hfr paper draft

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.

stanzas:  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, 405

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Hfr ErfÓl 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 3’ 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. 405.

Geta skal máls, þess’s mæla
menn at vápna sennu
dolga fangs við drengi
dáðǫflgan bǫr kvôðu:
baðat hertryggðar hyggja
hnekkir sína rekka
— þess lifa þjóðar sessa
þróttarorð — á flótta.

Geta skal máls, þess’s menn kvôðu {dáðǫflgan bǫr {fangs dolga}} mæla við drengi at {sennu vápna}: {hnekkir hertryggðar} baðat rekka sína hyggja á flótta; þróttarorð {þess sessa þjóðar} lifa.

One must mention the speech which men reported {the deed-mighty tree {of the tunic of strife}} [MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIOR] addressed to the warriors at {the flyting of weapons} [BATTLE]: {the confounder of the army’s security} [WARRIOR] did not ask his men to think of flight; the forceful words {of this bench-mate of the people} [RULER] live on.

Mss: FskBˣ(37v), FskAˣ(135) (Fsk); Holm18(52r), 310(84) (ÓTOdd); Kˣ(209v-210r), F(35vb), J1ˣ(129v), J2ˣ(113v) (Hkr); 61(67rb), 54(63ra), Bb(98vb), Flat(64ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Geta: gæta 54;    skal: om. Flat;    þess’s (‘þess er’): þess Flat    [2] vápna: orða Bb    [3] fangs: vangs F    [4] ‑ǫflgan: ‘‑aulfgan’ J1ˣ, 54;    bǫr (‘bꜹr’): so F, bur FskBˣ, burr FskAˣ, ‘by’ Holm18, gram 310, Kˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 54, Bb, Flat    [5] baðat: bað FskAˣ, báðu Flat;    hertryggðar: herr tryggvir FskAˣ, hertryggvan 310, ‘her tygðar’ Kˣ, herdyggvir F, ‘hratt ygþar’ 54, ‘hratt ygdar’ Bb    [6] sína: sinna FskAˣ    [7] lifa: lifir Holm18;    þjóðar: þjóðir Flat;    sessa: hressar 310, hnossa Flat    [8] flótta: sporði Holm18

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 2: AI, 159, BI, 150, Skald I, 82, NN §2448; Fsk 1902-3, 124 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 152-3 (ch. 24); ÓTOdd 1932, 207, ÍF 25, 322; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 439, IV, 96, ÍF 26, 356, Hkr 1991, I, 241 (ÓTHkr ch. 102), F 1871, 161; SHI 2, 292, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 259-60 (ch. 249), Flat 1860-8, I, 479.

Context: Óláfr’s captains suggest the fleet sail on from Svǫlðr rather than fight against overwhelming odds, but Óláfr declares neither he nor his men will think of fleeing.

Notes: [3-4] bǫr fangs dolga ‘tree of the tunic of strife [MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIOR]’: (a) Bǫr(r) (lit. ‘conifer’) is the base-word of this man-kenning, and dolga is gen. pl. of dolg n. ‘strife, enmity, combat’ (see HHund I 20/3, for the pl. meaning ‘battle, strife’). Gen. pl. of dolgr m. ‘enemy’ is also grammatically possible, but very unlikely since dolgr in kennings is usually the base-word. Fang, usually ‘grasp, hold’, here refers to a garment (Meissner 165; AEW: fang 2). (b) Gram ‘lord’, the alternative to bǫr, found in a single ÓTOdd ms. as well as most Hkr mss and all ÓT mss, would yield dáðǫflgan gram ‘deed-mighty lord’ and drengi fangs dolga. The latter phrase is explained by Kock (NN §2448) as ‘warriors of enemies’ tussle [BATTLE > WARRIORS]’, where dolga is gen. pl. of dolgr m. ‘enemy’ and fang is ‘tussle, grappling, wrestling’, but his battle-kenning lacks solid parallels (the C14th fundr dolga ‘meeting of enemies’, Anon (FoGT) 18/4III, does not function as a kenning in its context) and drengr ‘warrior’ is unsatisfactory as a base-word of a warrior-kenning, as it is identical to the referent (Meissner 28-9). (c) The latter objection also applies to drengi fangs dolga ‘men of the tunic of strife [MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIORS]’, tentatively suggested in Hkr 1991. Gram is probably a corruption, inserted by a scribe who did not understand the kenning as it stood (ÍF 25; see also ÍF 26). — [5, 6] hnekkir hertryggðar ‘the confounder of the army’s security [WARRIOR]’: Óláfr is here portrayed as one who crushes his enemies’ hubris (Nj 1875-8, II, 388-9). The ms. paradosis for -tryggðar suggests scribal confusion. — [7-8]: Glúmr Gráf 8/3 and BjBp Jóms 41/8 are further examples of the topos of the lasting fame of a king’s or hero’s þróttarorð ‘forceful words’ (lit. ‘words of power, endurance’); see also Jesch (2001a, 217). Þróttarorð is treated as a cpd in this edn on grounds of its recurrence in Gráf and Jóms; it could alternatively be treated as two words (as in Skj B; ÍF 25; ÍF 26).

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