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Halldórr ókristni (Hókr)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Eiríksflokkr (Eirfl) - 8

Nothing is known about Halldórr ókristni ‘the Un-Christian’ (Hókr) aside from the fact that, according to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 257, 266, 280), he was one of Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson’s poets. His nickname indicates that he must have been reluctant to convert to Christianity, and it is not surprising that he is connected with the court of the jarls of Hlaðir (Lade), given that Eiríkr’s father, Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, was the last heathen ruler of Norway. The eight stanzas below are what remain of Halldórr’s poetic oeuvre, and they show that he was well versed in myth and heroic legend and, in particular, that he was familiar with the poetry of earlier and contemporary skalds. In Skj, Finnur Jónsson gives his ethnicity as Icelandic, but that cannot be ascertained.

Eiríksflokkr (‘Flokkr about Eiríkr’) — Hókr EirflI

Kari Ellen Gade 2012, ‘ Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr’ 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. 469. <> (accessed 25 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Haldórr ókristni: Eiríksflokkr, o. 1010 (AI, 202-4, BI, 193-5)

SkP info: I, 471

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Hókr Eirfl 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 1’ 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. 471.

Út bauð jǫfra hneitir
élmóðr af Svíþjóðu
— sunnr helt gramr til gunnar —
gunnbliks liði miklu.
Hverr vildi þá haulda
hrægeitunga feitir
— môr fekk á sæ sára
sylg — Eireki fylgja.

{Hneitir jǫfra}, {{gunnbliks} él}móðr, bauð út miklu liði af Svíþjóðu; gramr helt sunnr til gunnar. {Hverr feitir {hrægeitunga}} haulda vildi þá fylgja Eireki; {môr sára} fekk sylg á sæ.

{The striker of princes} [RULER = Eiríkr], eager for {the storm {of the battle-gleam}} [(lit. ‘storm-eager of battle-gleam’) SWORD > BATTLE] summoned a large troop from Sweden; the ruler steered south to battle. {Every fattener {of carrion-birds}} [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR] among freeholders then wished to accompany Eiríkr; {the seagull of wounds} [RAVEN/EAGLE] got a drink at sea.

Mss: (206r), F(35ra), J1ˣ(127r), J2ˣ(111v) (Hkr); 61(65vb-66ra), 53(62vb), 54(61rb) (ll. 3-8), Bb(96vb) (ll. 3-8), Flat(63rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] hneitir: meitir F    [2] élmóðr: almrjóðr 53    [3] sunnr: so 61, 53, suðr Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, svinnr 54, Bb, sunds Flat;    helt: hell Flat    [5] Hverr: herja Flat;    haulda: halda 61, hauldar Flat    [6] hræ‑: ‘hra’ Flat;    feitir: feittir J1ˣ, reitir 54, Bb, feitra Flat

Editions: Skj: Haldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 1: AI, 202, BI, 193, Skald I, 101, NN §§554, 1853B; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 431, IV, 95, ÍF 26, 350 (ÓTHkr ch. 98), F 1871, 158; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 247-8 (ch. 245), Flat 1860-8, I, 473.


According to Hkr (ÓT closely similar), King Sveinn tjúguskjegg ‘Fork-beard’ of Denmark sends messengers to his son-in-law King Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson of Sweden and to Eiríkr jarl, who is staying with Óláfr. The purpose of this mission is to incite Óláfr and Eiríkr to join Sveinn in an attack on Óláfr Tryggvason, who is on his way to Vinðland (Wendland). They gather troops from all over Sweden and set out for Denmark, but when they arrive, Óláfr has already sailed east through the Baltic.

Notes: [All]: For the sea-battle at Svǫlðr c. 1000, see also Hfr ErfÓl 1-24, Skúli SvǫlðrIII, Stefnir Lv 1 (cf. OSnorr Lv), Eþsk Couplet, ÞKolb Eirdr 8, and the later treatment in HSt Rst 15-23 and Anon Óldr 17 ‑24. — [1] bauð út ‘summoned’: Bjóða út ‘summon’ is commonly used when a ruler summons his army or naval forces in preparation for a military campaign (see also Arn Magndr 2/1II). — [1] hneitir jǫfra ‘the striker of princes [RULER]’: This kenning is also found in Sturl Hryn 5/1II (see Note there). Hneitir, which was also the name of King Óláfr Haraldsson’s famous sword, is derived from the rare verb hneita ‘cut, strike’ (see Notes to ESk Geisl 43VII [All] and Þul Sverða 2/7III). — [4]: The line recalls GSúrs Lv 8/4V (Gísl 11) gunnbliks þáa miklu. — [5-8]: This helmingr has presented problems for earlier eds, and the solution adopted here attempts to make syntactical sense of it while avoiding emendation. (a) In the present version the kenning feitir hrægeitunga ‘fattener of carrion-birds [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR]’ (l. 6) is construed with hverr ‘every’ (l. 5; see Fritzner: hverr 6) and haulda ‘among freeholders’ (lit. ‘of freeholders’, l. 5) is taken as a gen. attributive to that noun phrase. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B, following Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, II, 221) emends haulda (l. 5) to hildar ‘of battle’, which he construes as the determinant to môr ‘seagull’ (l. 7), hence môr hildar ‘the seagull of battle [RAVEN/EAGLE]’, while sára ‘of wounds’ (l. 7) is taken with sylg (l. 8), hence sylg sára ‘a drink of wounds [BLOOD]’. This has the advantage of accounting for haulda, which is somewhat superfluous in interpretation (a), and for , which is somewhat underspecified if separated from sára. However, as Kock (NN §554) points out, that interpretation involves an emendation that goes against all ms. witnesses and results in a convoluted word order. (c) Kock (NN §554; Skald) emends feitir (m. nom. sg.) ‘fattener’ to feiti (dat. sg), and takes the kenning feiti hrægeitunga ‘fattener of carrion-birds’ as an apposition to Eireki (m. dat. sg.) in l. 8. (d) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson’s version (ÍF 26) is the closest to the present interpretation, but he construes the kenning as an apposition to hverr haulda: hverr haulda, feitir hrægeitunga lit. ‘each of freeholders, fattener of carrion-birds’, glossing this Hver maður, sem barðagamaður var ‘Each man who was a warrior’. But the appositional constructions assumed here and in (c) are awkward. (e) Bjarni Fidjestøl (1982, 194; citing Sveinbjörn Egilsson in Fms 12, 56, Konráð Gíslason 1892, 142 and (erroneously) ÍF 26), entertains the possibility that feitir hrægeitunga could be a form of address. While that might be an option, the only other stanza that addresses Eiríkr directly gives the verb in 2nd pers. pl. (fœrðuð ‘you brought’, st. 5/5). — [5] haulda ‘among freeholders’: For this word and the form chosen here (rather than hǫlða) because of the internal rhyme -ild- : -auld-, see Note to Anon Nkt 15/2II. — [6] hrægeitunga ‘of carrion-birds [RAVENS/EAGLES]’: Geitungr means ‘wasp’, but the word is used here and elsewhere to denote a kind of bird (see LP: geitungr and Notes to ESk Hardr II 3/1, 2II, Þul Fugla 1/5III). See also the kenning feitir folkstara ‘fattener of the war-starling [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]’ in ÞjóðA Sex 11/5II. — [7] á sæ ‘at sea’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, II, 221) assign this prepositional phrase to the first clause, which results in a tripartite line and tortuous syntax. The present edn follows NN §554 and ÍF 26. — [8]: This line recalls Hfr ErfÓl 15/8 sylg Ôleifi fylgja.

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