Óttarr svarti (Ótt)
11th century; volume 1; ed. Matthew Townend;
1. Hǫfuðlausn (Hfl) - 20
2. Knútsdrápa (Knútdr) - 11
3. Lausavísur (Lv) - 3
III. Óláfsdrápa sœnska (Óldr) - 6
The Icelandic poet Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’ (Ótt) was remembered in the twelfth century (ESk Geisl 12) as one of the hǫfuðskǫld ‘chief skalds’ of the late Viking Age. His nickname would seem to locate him within the tradition of poets being ‘dark’ in either appearance or temperament (see Clunies Ross 1978b; Finlay 2000). According to Styrmir Kárason (ÓH 1941, II, 688), the poet Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) was a mikill vinr ‘great friend’ of Óttarr, and indeed Óttarr’s Hǫfuðlausn (Ótt Hfl) is greatly indebted to Sigvatr’s Víkingarvísur (Sigv Víkv, see Introduction to Hfl). Snorri Sturluson (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203) further describes Óttarr as Sigvatr’s maternal nephew, and if this is correct he would have been the grandson of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’ (see Biography of Sigvatr Þórðarson). Óttarr features in the various sagas of Óláfr Haraldsson, but the only major anecdote about him is the story surrounding his Hfl (see Introduction).
Skáldatal, in one or both of its recensions (SnE 1848-87, III, 252, 253, 258, 260, 261, 267, 269), lists Óttarr as having composed for six patrons: the Danes Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ Haraldsson and his son Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great); Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson and his son Ǫnundr Óláfsson; and the Norwegian King Óláfr inn helgi Haraldsson (S. Óláfr), and the Norwegian magnate Dala-Guðbrandr (‘Guðbrandr of the Dales’, on whom, see ÍF 27, 183-90; ÓH 1941, I, 271-82). For Sveinn and Dala-Guðbrandr, Óttarr is the only poet listed in Skáldatal. Panegyric poetry by Óttarr is certainly extant for three of these patrons: Óláfsdrápa (ÓldrIII) for Óláfr Eiríksson (preserved only in SnE and therefore edited in SkP III), Hfl for Óláfr Haraldsson, and Knútsdrápa (Knútdr) and Lv 2 for Knútr. It has, moreover, been suggested that one stanza in Knútdr may have been misplaced from an earlier poem for Sveinn (see Note to st. 9 [All]). No poetry survives for Ǫnundr or Dala-Guðbrandr. From all the evidence, it is likely that Óttarr visited, and composed, for, his patrons in this order: Sveinn until his death in 1014; Óláfr Eiríksson until his death c. 1021 (though ÓHLeg 1982, 130-1, has Óttarr, a young man fresh from Iceland, approaching him as his first patron), then his son Ǫnundr; Óláfr Haraldsson in the early 1020s, and Dala-Guðbrandr in the same period; Knútr by c. 1027 for an unknown period (Knútr died in 1035). For previous discussions of Óttarr’s career, see SnE 1848-87, III, 326-33, LH I, 574-7 and Poole (1993b).
Knútsdrápa (‘Drápa about Knútr’)
Matthew Townend 2012, ‘ Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa’ 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. 767. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1341> (accessed 19 September 2021)
Skj: Óttarr svarti: 3. Knútsdrápa, 1026 (AI, 296-8, BI, 272-5); stanzas (if different): 8 |
SkP info: I, 774
6 — Ótt Knútdr 6I
Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa 6’ 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. 774.
context: The stanza follows a prose account
of the battle of Skorsteinn (Sherston).
notes: [1-2]: Steinn Óldr 2/1-2II, lines about a battle in 1066 by a different river, the Yorkshire Ouse (Úsa), are closely similar. — [5-8]: The question as to whether or not Óttarr alternates in this poem between 2nd and 3rd pers. narration is especially pressing here. (a) In the mss both verbs in the second helmingr are in the 3rd pers. (braut ‘broke’, olli ‘made’), and so are retained here, as also by Kock (NN §737 and Skald, followed by ÍF 35), this being the only point in the poem where he retains the 3rd pers. (b) Skj B and Knýtl 1919-25 emend to 2nd pers. forms. Although the use of the def. art. in inn snjalli mǫgr Sveins ‘the bold son of Sveinn’ may suggest that this phrase is a 3rd pers. subject rather than an apostrophe, Óttarr does use the def. art. in a 2nd pers. context in st. 10/1-2.
texts: ‹Knýtl 9›
editions: Skj Óttarr svarti: 3. Knútsdrápa 6 (AI, 297; BI, 273-274); Skald I, 140, NN §620, 736, 737; Fms 11, 191, Fms 12, 248, SHI 11, 180, Knýtl 1919-25, 40, ÍF 35, 109 (ch. 10).