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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Diana Whaley;

5. Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr (Har) - 7

Skj info: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson, Islandsk skjald, d. 1066. (AI, 361-83, BI, 332-53).

Skj poems:
1. Magnúsflokkr
2. Runhent digt om Harald hårdråde
3. Sexstefja
4. Lausavísur

Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA) is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262) among the poets of Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson, and virtually all his extant poetry seems to have been composed in honour of them, or in association with them; hence it dates from the period 1035-1066. The text of Skáldatal in AM 761 a 4°ˣ (SnE 1848-87, III, 259) also credits Þjóðólfr with poetry for Haraldr Þorkelsson, son of Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’ and one of the Dan. magnates present in Norway during the reign of Sveinn Álfífuson (1030-35). No identifiable fragments of this remain, but if true the tradition would suggest that Þjóðólfr was born not much later than 1010. Hemings þáttr Áslákssonar (Hem) has him die at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, and there is no record of him after that date, though Lv 11 has the air of being composed after the battle. Þjóðólfr was, according to Skáldatal and Fsk (ÍF 29, 245), the brother of another skald, Bǫlverkr Arnórsson (Bǫlv), and according to Sneglu-Halla þáttr (Snegl) in Flat (1860-8, III, 415), was from an undistinguished family in Svarfaðardalur, northern Iceland. The same þáttr (p. 421) names his father not as Arnórr but as Þorljótr, in the context of a scurrilous anecdote told against Þjóðólfr by Sneglu-Halli (SnH), who also taunts him with having composed the otherwise unknown Sorptrogsvísur ‘Dustbin Vísur’. The þáttr nevertheless describes him as accomplished (menntr vel) and courteous (kurteis maðr), highly favoured by King Haraldr and chief of his poets (haufutskꜳlld sitt, p. 415). Þjóðólfr’s poetry, rich in allusion and imagery, has continued to be widely admired, and it gains colour and vigour from the fact that he participated in many of the campaigns he depicts. It undoubtedly also reflects the fact that he was one of an exceptional circle of poets patronised by Haraldr (see Turville-Petre 1968), and much of his poetry shares topics and imagery with that of his contemporary Arnórr jarlaskáld (Arn), though there is no account of the dealings between these two. Þjóðólfr figures in several anecdotes centring on poetic composition: see Contexts to Lv 2-6, though we have no way of knowing whether he was so touchy about his reputation as the Context to Lv 4, and Snegl, would suggest; he also features as a go-between figure in Brands þáttr ǫrva, which cites no poetry. For brief biographies of Þjóðólfr see, e.g. SnE 1848-87, III, 578-9; LH 1894-1901, I, 627-32; Hollander 1945, 189-96.

In addition to the works edited here as Þjóðólfr’s, there have been further attributions to him. Þfagr Sveinn 7 is attributed to Þjóðólfr in Mork (1928-32, 165-6) and Flat (1860-8, III, 341), but to Þorleikr fagri in other sources; ÞKolb Eirdr 17I is attributed to Þjóðólfr in the U ms. alone, and Þfisk Lv 3 is attributed to him in F. Further, Flat, by citing Okík Magn 1 after ÞjóðA Magnfl 18 without announcing a change of skald implicitly assigns the latter to Þjóðólfr. We might perhaps also imagine Þjóðólfr having a hand in Anon (HSig) 2, the st. collaboratively composed by Haraldr’s men. A further set of six sts presented are anonymous in the medieval sources but are presented in this edn as Halli XI Fl (for reasons explained in Halli Biography below). These are printed among Þjóðólfr’s works in CPB II, 210-11 and listed under his name in SnE 1848-87, III, 583-4; Poole also finds ‘the ascription to Þjóðólfr Arnórsson … tempting, on stylistic grounds’ (1991, 75).

Preserved mainly in the kings’ sagas, above all in Hkr, Þjóðólfr’s oeuvre presents exceptional problems of reconstruction, which are discussed at some length in the Introductions to the individual poems or sets of sts. The chief problem is that Þjóðólfr certainly composed a major dróttkvætt poem for each of his patrons Magnús (Magnússflokkr, Magnfl) and Haraldr (Sexstefja, Sex), but that in each case there is also a set of sts that may or may not belong in the main encomium. The decision has been taken here to print them separately: fourteen sts depicting the aftermaths of Magnús’s major battles at Århus (Áróss) and Helgenæs (Helganes) are presented as ‘Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi’ (Magn), and seven describing the launch of Haraldr’s great levied fleet from Nidelven (the river Nið) as ‘Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr’ (Har). As a reference aid, the arrangement of Þjóðólfr’s oeuvre in SkP and Skj is shown here.

Magnússflokkr (ÞjóðA Magnfl)
SkP Skj
15Náði jarl at eyða 19
16Rǫnn lézt, ræsir Þrœnda,20
17Hizig laut, es heitir 21
18Flýði jarl af auðu, 22
19Háðisk heilli góðu25
Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi (ÞjóðA Magn)
1Hrauð leifs mǫgr áðan Magnfl 15
2Misst hafa Sveins at sýnu, Magnfl 16
3Gær sák grjóti stóru Lv 1
4Spurði einu orði Magnfl 17
5Saurstokkinn bar svíra Magnfl 18
6Hrindr af hrókalandi Lv 2
7Menn eigu þess minnask, Lv 3
8Skjǫld bark heim frá hjaldri Magnfl 23
9Bauð leifs sonr áðan Magnfl 24
10Nú taka Norðmenn knýja,Lv 4
11Brum jǫrn at œrnuLv 5
12Svíðr of seggja búðirLv 6
13Fjǫrð lét fylkir verðaLv 7
14Ek hef ekki at drekkaLv 8
Runhent poem about Haraldr (ÞjóðA Run)
Sexstefja (ÞjóðA Sex)
6Þjóð veit, at hefr háðar7
7Stólþengils lét stinga6
8Ok hertoga hneykir25
9Reist eikikjǫlr austan8
10Vatn lézt, vísi, slitna,9
11Gegn skyli herr, sem hugnar10
12Frn hefr sveit við Sveini11
13Lét vingjafa veitir12
14Fast bað fylking hrausta13
15Alm dró upplenzkr hilmir14
16Flest vas hirð, sús hraustum15
17Sogns kvðu gram gegnan16
18Sveinn át sigr at launa17
19Nús of verk, þaus vísi,18
20Létu lystir sleitu19
21Tók Holmbúa hneykir20
22Gagn brann greypra þegna; 21
23Fœrði fylkir Hǫrða,22
24Áræðis naut eyðir23
25Refsir reyndan ofsa24
26Mǫrk lét veitt fyr verka26
27Ǫrð sær Yrsu burðar27
28Lét hræteina hveiti32
29Blóðorra lætr barri30a
30Geirs oddum lætr greddir30b
31Gera vas gisting byrjuð29
32Hár skyli hirðar stjóri35
Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr (ÞjóðA Har)
1Skeið sák framm at flœði, Lv 18
2Slyngr laugardag lǫngu Lv 19
3Rétt kann rœði slíta Lv 20
4Sorgar veit, áðr slíti Lv 21
5Eigu skjól und skógi Lv 22
6Hléseyjar lemr hvan Lv 23
7Haraldr þeysti nú hraustla Lv 24
Fragments (ÞjóðA Frag )
1 Nús valmeiðum víðisLv 9
2Jarl/Ǫrr lætr, odda skúrar Sex 28
3Ganga él of Yngva Sex 31
4Snart við sæþráð kyrtat Sex 33
5Útan bindr við enda Sex 34
Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Lausavísur (ÞjóðA Lv)
1Leiða langar dauða Lv 10
2Sumar annat skal sunnar Lv 11
3[Logit hefr Baldr at Baldri]
brynþings fetilstingar
Lv 12
4Mildingr rauð í móðu Lv 13
5Varp ór þrætu þorpi Lv 14
6Sigurðr eggjaði sleggju Lv 15
7Haddan skall, en Halli Lv 16
8Út stendr undan báti Lv 17
9Ǫld es, sús jarli skyldi Lv 25
10Skalka frá, þótt fylkir Lv 26
11Ǫld hefr afráð goldit Lv 27

Reconstructions of the Þjóðólfr corpus are offered by Finnur Jónsson in SnE 1848-87, III, 579-90, which is the basis (almost unchanged) for Skj (AI, 361-83, BI, 332-53), and the Skj ordering is retained in Skald (I, 168-77); other major contributions are by Guðbrandur Vigfússon in CPB (II, 198-212) and by Fidjestøl (1982, 133-43, 172).

The principal eds consulted in the course of re-editing Þjóðólfr’s poetry for SkP are listed for each st., and are of two main types: eds of the skaldic corpus (Finnur Jónsson’s in Skj AI, 361-83; BI, 332-53 and Ernst Albin Kock’s in Skald I, 168-77, supported by numerous NN) and eds of the various prose works in which the poetry is preserved. Extracts are also included in anthologies, articles and other works including (with ten or more sts): CPB II, 198-212; Kock and Meissner 1931, I, 57-60; Hollander 1945,190-6 (annotated translations only), Poole 1991, 59-63; and (with seven sts) Turville-Petre 1976, 97-102. Such works as these, together with others containing comment on the poetry, are cited as appropriate in the Notes.


Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr — ÞjóðA HarII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘ Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 147-58. <> (accessed 27 June 2022)

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in texts: FGT, Gramm, H-Hr, , Hkr, HSig

SkP info: II, 147-58

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


Note: The following transcriptions have been entered to aid the editing process. These may not have been fully reviewed and checked and may therefore not be reliable. You may wish to consult the manuscript images. Any corrections can be notified to the database editor.

1. Kx - 558r/9-558r/16 (VEÞ)
Sceið sa ec fram at floðe | fagrt sprvnd or a rundit | kendu hvar liɢr fyrir landi | lꜹng suð drekans pruða | orms glóar fax um farmi | fránz sizt ytt var hanom | báro bunir svírar | bruɴit gull af luɴæ |
F - 48rb/37-48va/1 (VEÞ)
Skeið sa ek fram at | flæði fagrt sprvnd or a hrvɴdit kendo hvar líɢr fyrir landi | lꜹng svð drekans prvða · orms gloar fax vm farmi | fran sítz ytt var hanom baro bvnir svírar brvɴit gvll af || hlvɴí·
570a - 24r/14-24r/16 (VEÞ)
Skeíd sa fram at flędí. fagurt sprund ur ꜳ hrundit | kendu huar líggr firir landí. logn svd drecka hínn pruda. orms gloa fargur ꜳ farmí. fram | sízt ytt var honum. barv bvna svira brun vedur at sígtvnum.
2. Kx - 558r/21-558r/28 (VEÞ)
Slyngr lꜹgar dag lꜹngo | liðbaldr af ser tialdi | ut þar er eckior lita | orms suð or bæ pruðar | vestr reð or nið næsta | nýri sceið at styra | ungr eɴ árar drengia | allvaldr i sia falla |
F - 48va/2-48va/5 (VEÞ)
Slyngr lꜹgardag | longo liðballdr af ser tialldi v́t þar er eckíor líta orms svð | i bæ prvðar · vestr reð or nið næsta nyri skeið at styra | vngr eɴ arar drengía allvalldr i sía falla·
570a - 24r/18-24r/21 (VEÞ)
Slyngur lavgardag lo | gdu. líd balldur af sier tíalldí. vtt þar er eckívr líta. orms svd j bę prudar. vestr ríe | d vr níd nę[...]ta. nyrri skeíd at styra. ungur enn arar dreíngia. all vallz j sío fall | a.
3. Kx - 558r/-1-558v/7 (VEÞ)
Rett caɴ rø̨þi slita || ræsis herr or verri | eckian stendr ok undraz | áraburð sem furðo | ꜹrt mvn snót aðr svǫrto | siáfang i tvꜹ gangi | þꜹll leɢr v frið fullan | fer kleyfa þat leyfi |
F - 48va/5-48va/8 (VEÞ)
Rétt kaɴ | ræði slíta ræsís herr or veʀí eckian stendr ok vndraz ára | bvrð sem fvrðo · ert man snót aðr sortað sia fꜹng i tvꜹ | ganga þꜹll leɢr v friþ fvllan ferkleyf a þat leyfi·
570a - 24r/21-24r/23 (VEÞ)
Rett kann rędí slíta. ręsís hver vr verrí· eckian stendur ok vndrazt ara | bvrd sem furdi ertt mun snot ef sortud sęfong j tvav ganga. þavll leggur uit | þrif fullan. fer kleyf ꜳ þat leyfí.
4. Kx - 558v/8-558v/15 (VEÞ)
Sorgar veit aðr sliti | siafang or mar strꜹngom | herr þar er heldr til varra | hár lxxx⸌gom⸍ ára | norð meðr roa naðri | negldum strꜹm hiɴ heglda | ut er sem iɴan liti | arnar væng með earni |
F - 48va/8-48va/11 (VEÞ)
Sorgar veít | aðr sliti sía fꜹng or már strꜹngom herr þar er helldr til vaʀa | hár siꜹtigom ára · norð meðr roa naðri negldom strꜹm hiɴ he | glda vt sem iɴan liti arnar væng or iarní·
570a - 24r/23-24r/25 (VEÞ)
Sorgar veít adur slítízt sía favng. vr | mar stravngum herr þar er helldur til uarar har· ví tígir ara. nord medr roa nadri. negldum | straum hinn hellda. vt sem ínnan lítit. arnarngs vr iarne
5. Kx - 558v/23-558v/30 (VEÞ)
Eigo sciol und scogi | scafnir sneckio stafnar | læsir leiðangrs visi | lꜹnd herscipa brꜹndom | almenningr liɢr iɴan | eíð lata ser sceiðar | habryniaðar hlyra | hveria vic i sceriom ||
F - 48va/15-48va/17 (VEÞ)
Eigvt skiol vnd skógi skafnir sneckío stafnar lǽsir leiðangr vi | sa lond herskípa brꜹndom · almenningr líɢr iɴan eið lata sér | skeiðar hábryniaðar hlyia hveria vik vnd skeriom·
6. Kx - 559r/4-559r/11 (VEÞ)
Hleseyiar lemr havan | hryngarð konungr barði | neytir þa til þrꜹtar | þengill sneckio strengia | eigi er jarni biugo | iɴdǫll scaði lindis | gnegr af gaddi fꜹgrom | griot ok veðr hin lioto |
F - 48va/17-48va/20 (VEÞ)
Hles eyiar | skerr hafan hraɴ garþ konungr barði neytir þa til þrꜹtar þengill sne | kkío strengía · eigi er iarní bívgo íɴ dæll skaði lindís gnø̨ | gr af gaddi digrom gríot of viðri hín líoto ·
7. Kx - 559r/15-559r/22 (VEÞ)
Haraldr þeysti nu hrꜹstla | helming siɴ at elfi | nattar noregs drottinn | nær at landa mo᷎ri | gramr a þing v þumla | þar er eindagaðr Sveini | hrafni scyldr nema haldi | hans fundr danir undan |
F - 48va/23-48va/25 (VEÞ)
Haralldr þeysti nv hrꜹstla helming síɴ at elfi nattar noregs | drottíɴ nær at landa mæri · gramr a þíng v þvmla þar er eínda | gat sveíní hrꜹfnom skylld eɴ hallda hans fvnd danir vndan· |
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