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Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv)

13th century; volume 2; ed. Lauren Goetting;

2. Hrynhenda (Hryn) - 12

prose works

Óláfr hvítaskáld ‘White Skald’ Þórðarson (Ólhv) was an accomplished Icel. scholar and a prolific poet. Details of his life are documented in Sturlunga saga (Stu), Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák), and Knýtlinga saga (Knýtl). He was born c. 1210-12 at Staður on Snæfellsness, Iceland, as the eldest son of Þórðr Sturluson and his concubine Þóra. He was the nephew of Snorri Sturluson (SnSt; d. 1241), with whom he spent long periods of time as a young man, and the older brother of Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl; d. 1284). In 1237 he left Iceland with Snorri to embark upon a career as a professional poet at the courts of Scandinavia. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256-8, 260, 378-84) Óláfr composed poetry in honour of a large number of kings and noblemen, including the following: (in Norway) Jarl Skúli Bárðarson (d. 1240), King Hákon Hákonarson (d. 1263) and his son Hákon ungi ‘the Young’ Hákonarson (d. 1257), Jarl Knútr Hákonarson (d. 1261); (in Sweden) King Eiríkr Eiríkson (d. 1250); (in Denmark) King Valdimarr Valdimarsson (d. 1241). Because of Óláfr’s close association with Valdimarr, from whom he hafði ... margar ágætligar frásagnir ‘got ... many excellent narratives’ (ÍF 35, 315), he is thought by some to have written Knýtl, which recounts the history of Dan. rulers (see LH 1894-1901, II, 275, 784-5). Around 1242 Óláfr returned to Iceland and founded a school at Stafaholt in Borgarfjörður, where he wrote the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) and devoted himself to teaching and writing until his death in 1259. In addition to these pursuits, he was ordained subdeacon at some point after his return to Iceland and also served as lawspeaker 1248-50.

Most of Óláfr’s extant poetry consists of encomia to King Hákon Hákonarson and is inserted throughout the prose in Hák. This includes part of Hrynhenda (Ólhv Hryn), one st. from a Poem about Hákon (Ólhv Hák), and two lvv. (Ólhv Lv). One lv. traditionally assigned to him, has been reassigned in the present edn to Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson (Ólsv Love 3III). Aside from the aforementioned, the remainder of Óláfr’s known poetic works includes two sts from ÁrónsdrápaDrápa about Árón’ (Ólhv ÁrdrIV), composed about his friend Árón Hjǫrleifsson, and two sts from ThómasdrápaDrápa about Thomas (ꜳ Becket)’ (Ólhv ThómdrIII), recorded in the Fourth Grammatical Treatise (FoGT). Finally, nine fragments of sts from TGT (Ólhv FragIII), treated as anonymous in previous eds, are attributed to Óláfr in this edn.

Hrynhenda (‘Falling, flowing metre’) — Ólhv HrynII

Lauren Goetting 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda’ 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. 658-70.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12 

Skj: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld: 2. Et hrynhent digt, 1240 (AII, 93-7, BII, 105-8)

SkP info: II, 669-70

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — Ólhv Hryn 12II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Lauren Goetting (ed.) 2009, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda 12’ 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. 669-70.

Aldri bǫrðusk afli stœrðir
(ógnsveipanda) blóðgum greipum
(hirð sótti þar hvǫss at garði)
harrar tveir af drengskap meira.
Undan reið, sás fremstr vas fundinn,
fyrða gramr, at jǫfnum byrðum;
Sverris ætt fekk sigr at réttu;
svá vildi guð framiðr mildi.

Aldri bǫrðusk tveir harrar, blóðgum greipum, stœrðir afli, af meira drengskap; hvǫss hirð {ógnsveipanda} sótti þar at garði. {Gramr fyrða}, sás vas fundinn fremstr at jǫfnum byrðum, reið undan; {ætt Sverris} fekk sigr at réttu; guð, framiðr mildi, vildi svá.

Never have two lords, with bloody hands, empowered with strength, fought with more bravery; the fierce retinue of the {terror-spreader} [WARRIOR = Hákon] attacked there at the churchyard. {The leader of the people} [RULER = Skúli], who was found to be foremost among those of equal birth, rode away; {Sverrir’s descendant} [= Hákon] rightly won victory; God, excellent in mercy, willed it so.

Mss: E(177v), 55 A(1vb), F(111rb), 42ˣ(164v), 81a(109va), 8(57r), Flat(178vb) (Hák)

Readings: [1, 2] stœrðir ógnsveipanda: ‘stǽr[...]’ 55 A    [1] stœrðir: stœrðar F    [2] ‑sveipanda: so 8, ‑sveipinna E, F, 81a, 8, Flat, ‑svipanna 42ˣ;    greipum: sverðum 55 A    [3] hvǫss: horsk 55 A, hraust F, ‘huerss’ 81a, ‘huo᷎rs’ 8, hress Flat    [3, 4] garði harrar tveir: ‘ga[...]’ 55 A    [4] harrar: herrar E, F, 42ˣ, 81a, 8, Flat    [5] sás (‘sá er’): sá 81a;    fremstr vas fundinn: ‘f[...]’ 55 A    [6] byrðum: burðum all    [7] Sverris: ‘sueriss’ 81a;    ætt fekk sigr at: ‘[...]’ 55 A    [8] framiðr: framdr 42ˣ

Editions: Skj: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld, 2. Et hrynhent digt 12: AII, 96-7, BII, 108, Skald II, 57; E 1916, 605, F 1871, 517, Hák 1910-86, 564, Hák 1977-82, 129, Flat 1860-8, III, 154.

Context: Skúli spurred his horse on toward Hákon’s standard, but one of his men caught the reins and held the horse back. The Birkibeinar threw spears at Skúli and nearly hit him.

Notes: [All]: For these events, see also Sturl Hákkv 18. — [2] blóðgum greipum ‘with bloody hands’: It is preferable with regard to syntax to construe this with the first cl., though it could also be construed with the the second cl. (so Skj B) (see Kuhn 1983, 202-4). — [4] drengskap ‘bravery’: It is difficult to capture the full sense of drengskapr in translation. The word connotes uprightness, nobility, and bravery, and was central to the expression of courtly behaviour in the C13-14th. Its use in poetry, however, is restricted to the present st. and Anon Heil 20/2VII. Here and throughout the poem, Óláfr is careful not to impugn the actions of either of the rivals for the throne. Rather, he praises both contenders and emphasises the courage and uprightness of both with the word drengskapr. — [6] byrðum (f. dat. pl.) ‘birth’: The f. i-stem byrð ‘birth’ is much rarer in ON than its m. counterpart burðr ‘birth’ (all other cognates in Gmc are f.). However, in keeping with previous eds, burðum (so all mss) has been emended to byrðum in order to supply the full internal rhyme in l. 6 (fyrða : byrðum). — [7] ætt Sverris ‘Sverrir’s descendant [= Hákon]’: The word ætt in skaldic poetry may signify ‘family member’ or more specifically ‘descendant’ (see LP: ætt), whereas in prose it generally denotes ‘family’. The Sverrir mentioned in the circumlocution ætt Sverris ‘Sverrir’s descendant [= Hákon]’ is Hákon’s paternal grandfather, King Sverrir Sigurðarson (d. 1202).

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