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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Halldórr ókristni (Hókr)

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

Eiríksflokkr (Eirfl) - 8

Skj info: Haldórr ókristni, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 202-204, BI, 193-195).

Skj poems:

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 27 September 2021)

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

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

SkP info: I, 473

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Hókr Eirfl 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 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. 473.

Eyna fór ok einu
(unnviggs) konungr sunnan
(sverð rauð mætr at morði
meiðr) sjau tøgum skeiða,
þás húnlagar hreina
hafði jarl of krafða
— sætt gekk seggja ættar
sundr — Skônunga fundar.

{Konungr Eyna} fór sunnan sjau tøgum skeiða ok einu — {mætr meiðr {unnviggs}} rauð sverð at morði —, þás jarl hafði of krafða {hreina {húnlagar}} fundar Skônunga; sætt ættar seggja gekk sundr.

{The king of the Eynir} [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] went from the south with seventy-one warships — {the splendid tree {of the wave-steed}} [SHIP > SEAFARER] reddened the sword at the battle —, when the jarl [Eiríkr] had summoned {the reindeer {of the mast-top-liquid}} [SEA > SHIPS] to a meeting with the Skánungar; the peace of the kin of men was sundered.

Mss: (207v), F(35rb), J1ˣ(128r), J2ˣ(112v) (Hkr); 61(66rb), 53(63rb) (ll. 1, 5-8), 54(61vb), Bb(97rb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(35r-v), 51ˣ(32r), 302ˣ(52r), FskAˣ(128) (Fsk); 310(81) (ÓTOdd)

Readings: [1] Eyna: Óna Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, Bb, FskAˣ, 310, Svá 54, ‘Ꝍina’ FskBˣ, ‘Ꝍna’ 51ˣ, 302ˣ;    ok: om. 53, at 54, Bb;    einu: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 54, Bb, FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 310, einum Kˣ, om. 53    [2] unn‑: und‑ J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    ‑viggs: ‘‑vigs’ J1ˣ, 61, Bb, FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ;    konungr: kóngi 54;    sunnan: ‘svnnan’ or ‘svnnar’ 61    [4] meiðr: ‘medr’ Bb;    sjau tøgum (‘lxx’): ‘svo᷎ttugum’ J1ˣ, ‘siottugum’ J2ˣ, sjautigum 61, 51ˣ, 302ˣ, sjautugu 54, sjautugum Bb, FskAˣ, 310, ‘siatigum’ FskBˣ    [5] hún‑: unn‑ FskBˣ, 51ˣ;    hreina: hônum FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 310    [6] krafða: ‘skræfðan’ FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ, krafðan FskAˣ, 310    [7] sætt: sæt J1ˣ, FskAˣ    [8] fundar: grundar F, sundar Bb

Editions: Skj: Haldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 2: AI, 202-3, BI, 193, Skald I, 102, NN §§555, 556, 2008H anm., 2920; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 434, IV, 95-6, ÍF 26, 352-3 (ÓTHkr ch. 100), F 1871, 159; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 251 (ch. 245); Fsk 1902-3, 117 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 148 (ch. 24); ÓTOdd 1932, 198, ÍF 25, 313-14.

Context: According to Hkr (closely similar in ÓT), Óláfr Tryggvason prepares to leave the land of the Wends and sail back to Norway when news reaches him that Sveinn tjúguskegg and the entire Danish fleet are lying in wait for him. Sigvaldi jarl, feigning friendship, offers to accompany Óláfr with eleven ships and to sail in front of the Norwegian fleet because he is more familiar with the waters. When Sigvaldi reaches the island of Svǫlðr, a boat rows towards him and he is told that the Danish army is moored in a harbour on that island. The stanza is followed by a comment that it verifies the number of ships in the combined fleet of Óláfr and Sigvaldi. Fsk and ÓTOdd give a somewhat different and shorter version of these events.

Notes: [All]: Because the variant readings of the FskB transcripts may have an impact on the interpretation of the present stanza, mss 51ˣ and 302ˣ have also been considered here. — [1] Eyna ‘of the Eynir’: (a) This emendation was first suggested by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (LP (1860): Eynir), and it has been adopted in Skj B, Skald, ÍF 29 and, tentatively, in the present edn (ÍF 26 leaves Óna untranslated). The Eynir were the inhabitants of Eynafylki (Inderøy and Ytterøy), Trøndelag, Norway (see ÓH 1941, I, 266), or the people living in the areas surrounding the lake Øyeren in Norway (see Sverris saga in E 1916, 416). (b) Most mss have (normalised) óna, which is difficult to make sense of (‘Ꝍina’ in FskBˣ and ‘Ꝍna’ in 51ˣ, 302ˣ appear to be scribal errors). Ónn is an unidentified part of a sword (see Note to Þul Sverða 11/5III), but ‘of swords’ (óna gen. pl.) cannot be construed to make any sense in the context. Óna is also the gen. pl. of óinn, which is the name of a dwarf (see Note to Þul Dverga 3/8III) as well as a heiti for ‘serpent’ (see Note to Þul Orma 1/3III). If taken in the latter meaning (‘of serpents’), this could be an onomastic play on the names of Óláfr’s two warships, Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’ and Ormr in skammi ‘the Short Serpent’ (cf. Introduction above). Adopting the variant einum (m. dat. sg.) ‘one’ (l. 1), the first clause could then be construed as follows: Konungr fór sunnan sjau tøgum skeiða ok einum Óna ‘the king went from the south with seventy warships and one of the Serpents’. However attractive that interpretation may be, the fact remains that Óláfr travelled north with both of his reptilian warships and, other than in the þula, óinn is not attested as a heiti for ‘serpent’. — [1, 4] sjau tøgum skeiða ok einu ‘with seventy-one warships’: Lit. ‘with seventy of warships and one’: Skeið ‘warship’ is f., and hence we should have expected einni f. ‘one’ rather than the n. einu. It therefore appears that skipi (n. dat. sg.) ‘ship’ is implied here (see ÍF 26). — [2, 3, 4] mætr meiðr unnviggs ‘the splendid tree of the wave-steed [SHIP > SEAFARER]’: It is not clear whether this kenning refers to Eiríkr (as the subject of the poem) or to Óláfr (as the konungr ‘king’ of l. 2). — [3] mætr ‘splendid’: Finnur Jónsson takes this with the first clause (mætr konungr ‘the splendid king’), which creates an awkward tripartite line (see NN §555). — [5-8]: This helmingr has proven problematic for earlier eds because both hreina ‘reindeer’ and Skônunga ‘Skánungar’ can be either gen. pl. or acc. pl., and the verb krefja takes the gen. and the acc. (krefja e-n e-s ‘demand sth. (gen.) from sby (acc.)’ or ‘summon sby (acc.) to sth. (gen.)’). (a) The present edn follows NN §2920 (and ÍF 29), according to which hreina húnlagar ‘the reindeer of the mast-top-liquid [SEA > SHIPS]’ (l. 5) is the acc. object and fundar ‘meeting’ (l. 8) the gen. object of krefja. Skônunga (gen. pl., lit. ‘of the Skánungar’) is then construed as a gen. attributive to fundar, hence fundar Skônunga ‘(summoned) to a meeting with the Skánungar’ (for similar constructions, see NN §2920 and Heggstad et al. 2008: fundr 3). The Skánungar are the Danish troops of King Sveinn, the ally of Eiríkr jarl. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) construes the clause as follows: þás jarl Skônunga hafði of krafða lagar húnhreina fundar translated as da Skåningernes jarl havde samlet skibene til møde ‘when the jarl of the Skánungar had gathered the ships for a meeting’. This interpretation is difficult to reconcile with the sequence of events, since jarl Skônunga ‘the jarl of the Skánungar’ can only refer to Sigvaldi jarl, whereas jarl throughout the poem refers to Eiríkr. It emerges from the prose of Hkr, nevertheless, that the saga author believed that the jarl was Sigvaldi (ÍF 26, 353): Hér segir, at þeir Óláfr konungr ok Sigvaldi jarl hǫfðu sjau tigu skipa ok einu meirr, þá er þeir sigldu sunnan ‘Here it is told that King Óláfr and Sigvaldi jarl had seventy-one ships when they sailed from the south’. (c) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) takes Skônunga as acc. pl. and hreina húnlagar as gen. pl.: þás jarl hafði of krafða Skônunga húnlagar hreina fundar in the sense ‘when the jarl [= Eiríkr] had demanded ships for the battle from the Skánungar’; fundar is tentatively taken to mean ‘for the battle’. However, the prose does not mention anything about Eiríkr enlisting Skánungar, men from Skåne (then a part of Denmark); rather, he and his Swedish ally, Óláfr sœnski, gather troops in Sweden (see Context to st. 1 above). — [5] hreina húnlagar ‘the reindeer of the mast-top-liquid [SEA > SHIPS]’: (a) The sea-kenning húnlagar ‘of the mast-top-liquid’ is somewhat awkward, because lǫgr (gen. lagar) in itself means ‘sea’, but it can also mean ‘liquid, fluid’ (see NN §556 and Heggstad et al. 2008: lǫgr 3) and is taken in that sense here. For húnn ‘mast-top’, see Note to Þul Skipa 7/1III and Jesch (2001a, 160). (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) splits up the compound húnlagar and renders the full kenning as lagar húnhreina (i.e. húnhreina lagar ‘mast-top-reindeer of the sea [SHIPS]’). Such a tmesis is unprecedented in the corpus of Old Norse poetry. — [6]: This line recalls Ótt Hfl 8/5 Hǫfðu hart of krafðir. — [7] sætt ‘the peace’: Sætt usually means ‘reconciliation, agreement, treaty’, but Óláfr Tryggvason is not known to have had agreements or treaties with any of his three adversaries, and hence the word is taken here in the sense ‘peace’. — [7, 8] gekk sundr ‘was sundered’: Lit. ‘went asunder’. — [7] ættar ‘of the kin’: ÍF 26 and ÍF 29 emend to the variant form áttar ‘of the kin’ to avoid aðalhending in an odd line, but Eirfl is quite irregular in this respect (see sts 1/1, 1/7, 3/1, 4/1, 4/7, 5/3, 6/5, 8/5).

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