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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 29 June 2022)

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, 661-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Ólhv Hryn 4II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Lauren Goetting (ed.) 2009, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda 4’ 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. 661-2.

Snœfrir drógu enn meðal jǫfra
— aldir kóðu varla haldask
ǫðlings heit við allvald mætan —
árskapðan grun vinir hvárskis.
Minnigr bjoggi siklingr sunnan
sunda vigg, en jarl stǫkk undan
— ýtar brugðusk jǫfri nýtum —
austr of fjall, með drengi snjalla.

Snœfrir vinir hvárskis drógu enn árskapðan grun meðal jǫfra; aldir kóðu heit ǫðlings varla haldask við mætan allvald. Minnigr siklingr bjoggi {vigg sunda} sunnan með snjalla drengi, en jarl stǫkk undan austr of fjall; ýtar brugðusk nýtum jǫfri.

Skilful friends of neither [prince] again aroused the long-standing mistrust between the princes; people said the chieftain’s promises to the excellent mighty ruler were hardly kept. The mindful king steered {steeds of the seas} [SHIPS] from the south with brave men, and the jarl fled east across the mountains; men abandoned the able prince.

Mss: E(165v), F(104vb) (ll. 1-6), 42ˣ(143r), 81a(97vb), 304ˣ(306r-v), 325VIII 5 b(2r), Flat(175ra) (Hák)

Readings: [1] enn: einn 42ˣ    [2] kóðu: kóðusk 304ˣ, 325VIII 5 b, Flat;    varla: so F, 42ˣ, 81a, 304ˣ, Flat, ‘uallḍa’ E, valda 325VIII 5 b;    haldask: ‘halldar’ 304ˣ    [3] ǫðlings heit: ǫðling sleit 304ˣ;    heit: so F, 42ˣ, 81a, ‘hæitt’ E, ‘hǽst’ 325VIII 5 b, hest Flat;    all‑: ‘alld‑’ F    [5] bjoggi: so F, 42ˣ, bjó E, 81a, ‘biuggi’ 304ˣ, ‘bjuggi’ 325VIII 5 b, bygði Flat;    siklingr: siklings 42ˣ, 304ˣ, sikling 81a    [7] ýtar: ‘vrar’ 81a;    brugðusk: so 42ˣ, 81a, Flat, ‘rygduz’ E, ‘brugd og’ 304ˣ, ‘brygduz’ 325VIII 5 b;    nýtum: mætu 42ˣ, mætum Flat    [8] með: við 304ˣ

Editions: Skj: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld, 2. Et hrynhent digt 4: AII, 94, BII, 105-6, Skald II, 56, NN §1344; E 1916, 566, F 1871, 485, Hák 1910-86, 484, Hák 1977-82, 93, Flat 1860-8, III, 112.

Context: In 1236 Hákon sailed with his fleet from Bergen to Trondheim to meet with Skúli and reconcile their differences. Not daring to meet him there, Skúli fled south over the mountains with his men, many of whom deserted him.

Notes: [All]: See also Anon (Hák) 3. — [1, 4] snœfrir vinir hvárskis ‘skilful friends of neither [prince]’: I.e. the liegemen of Hákon and Skúli, whose backbiting frequently brought the two into conflict. — [2-4] aldir kóðu heit ǫðlings varla haldask við mætan allvald ‘people said the chieftain’s promises to the excellent mighty ruler were hardly kept’: I.e. the pledges Skúli made to Hákon at the assembly in Bergen in 1233 (see st. 3/7 above). — [8] með snjalla drengi ‘with brave men’: This phrase could be construed with either the first cl. of the second helmingr (minnigr siklingr bjoggi vigg sunda sunnan ‘the mindful king steered steeds of the seas from the south’; so Skj B) or with the second cl. (en jarl stǫkk undan austr of fjall ‘and the jarl fled east across the mountains’; so NN §1344). While the first option is syntactically simpler, the second is contextually preferable, since the prose text, l. 7 of the st. and Anon (Hák) 3 indicate that Skúli was abandoned by many of his men. — [8] drengi (m. acc. pl.) ‘men’: Used as an acc. of accompaniment with the preposition með ‘with’ (l. 8). The origin and meaning of the word drengr (m. nom. sg.) are much debated by scholars. The most basic meaning of the term in skaldic poetry, as in the present st., is ‘(youthful) man’, which often carried the connotation ‘warrior’ by hyponymy (see Goetting 2006).

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