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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Judith Jesch;

11. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga (ErfÓl) - 28

Sigvatr or Sighvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) is said (ÍF 27, 54) to have been the son of Þórðr Sigvaldaskáld ‘Poet of Sigvaldi’, an Icelander who served, in succession, Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson, leader of the Jómsvíkingar, his brother Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, who campaigned in England, and Óláfr Haraldsson, later king of Norway (r. c. 1015-30) and saint. Þórðr is listed as one of Sigvaldi’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 259, 268), but none of his poetry survives. The family tradition of poetry can also be traced in Óttarr svarti ‘the Black’, said to have been Sigvatr’s sister’s son (ÍF 27, 144; ÓH 1941, I, 203). Sigvatr was brought up by a certain Þorkell, at Apavatn in south-west Iceland. When nearly fully grown he sailed to what is now Trondheim, where he met up with his father and joined King Óláfr’s retinue. According to Snorri (ÍF 27, 54-6; ÓH 1941, I, 81-3), Sigvatr recited Lv 2-3 at this time, and he interceded with the king on behalf of Icelandic merchants forced to pay a heavy tax in Norway (cf. Sigv Lv 4). It is also likely that this is when Þórðr provided Sigvatr with the material for Víkv (see Introduction to Sigv Víkv), which may be the poem referred to in the prose introduction to Sigv Lv 2 (Fidjestøl 1982, 118). There is no evidence that Sigvatr ever returned to Iceland, and according to the anecdote in which Sigv Lv 11 is preserved, he died on the island of Selja in north-western Norway and was buried at Kristskirkja (Kristkirken) in Trondheim. His poetry records his various journeys to Sweden, England and the Continent, as well as incidents in Norway. We know nothing of Sigvatr’s private life, except that he had a daughter called Tófa, who had King Óláfr himself as her godfather (Sigv Lv 19).

Sigvatr’s surviving poetic oeuvre is both large and remarkably diverse, encompassing different kinds of encomia not only on King Óláfr (Sigv Víkv, Sigv Nesv, Sigv Óldr, Sigv ErfÓl), but also on King Knútr of Denmark (Sigv Knútdr) and the Norwegian nobleman Erlingr Skjálgsson (Sigv Erl, Sigv Erlfl). Sigvatr was godfather to King Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and composed some avuncular words of advice to the boy-king (Sigv BervII). All of these patrons are recognised in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252-4, 258, 260-2, 269), where Sigvatr is also credited with having composed for the Swedish king Ǫnundr Óláfsson (although no such poetry survives, cf. Sigv Knútdr 4/6) and the Norwegian chieftain Ívarr inn hvíti ‘the White’ (cf. Context to Sigv Lv 8). Sigvatr also composed a poem on the Norwegian pretender Tryggvi Óláfsson (Sigv Tryggfl) and is unique in having composed in dróttkvætt in praise of a woman, Óláfr Haraldsson’s widow Ástríðr Óláfsdóttir (Sigv Ást). Several of Sigvatr’s poems are more or less loosely connected sequences of stanzas rather than more formal compositions, and encompass both travelogue (Sigv Austv) and political commentary (Sigv Vestv, Sigv BervII). The latter genre is also well represented in his lausavísur, which also include some remarkably personal stanzas expressing his grief at the death of King Óláfr (Sigv Lv 22-4). Sigvatr’s status as a hǫfuðskáld ‘chief skald’ was recognised in the twelfth century (cf. Esk Geisl 12/8VII). His versatility as a poet has clearly inspired a number of anecdotes focusing on the composition of poetry, mostly of doubtful authenticity (cf. Contexts to Sigv Lv 1, 8, 11, 27; also Introduction to Ótt Hfl). Apart from two fragments preserved in SnE (Sigv Frag 1-2III), Sigvatr’s poetry is transmitted in a wide range of texts within the tradition of the kings’ sagas and is therefore edited in this volume or (in the case of the late Sigv Berv) in SkP II. For general studies of Sigvatr’s life and works, see Paasche (1917), Hollander (1940) and Petersen (1946).

Erfidrápa Óláfs helga (‘Memorial drápa for Óláfr inn helgi (S. Óláfr)’) — Sigv ErfÓlI

Judith Jesch 2012, ‘ Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga’ 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. 663. <> (accessed 28 June 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28 

Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga, o. 1040 (AI, 257-65, BI, 239-45)

SkP info: I, 677

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — Sigv ErfÓl 10I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 10’ 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. 677.

Vítt vas fold und fótum
— friðbann vas þar — mǫnnum;
þá réð í bǫð bráða
brynjat folk at dynja,
þás árliga ærir
alms með bjarta hjalma
— mikill varð á stað Stiklar
stálgustr — ofan þustu.

Vítt vas fold und fótum mǫnnum; friðbann vas þar; þá réð brynjat folk at dynja í bráða bǫð, þás {ærir alms} þustu ofan árliga með bjarta hjalma; varð {mikill stálgustr} á Stiklarstað.

Far and wide the ground was under the feet of men; there was a ban on peace there; then the mail-shirted army roared into violent battle, when {the envoys of the elm-bow} [WARRIORS] rushed down quickly with bright helmets; {a great steel-gust} [BATTLE] came about at Stiklestad.

Mss: (468v) (Hkr); Holm2(67v), J2ˣ(225v), 321ˣ(254), 73aˣ(200v), Holm4(63ra), 61(125ra), 325V(80rb), 325VII(38r), Flat(124va), Tóm(155v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Vítt: ‘vętt’ 73aˣ, víð Tóm;    vas (‘var’): varð 321ˣ, er 61, Flat, Tóm    [2] frið‑: fjǫr‑ 321ˣ, Holm4;    þar: þat J2ˣ, 321ˣ, Holm4, 61, 325V, 325VII;    mǫnnum: manna J2ˣ    [3] réð: reið 325V;    bráða: breiða J2ˣ, 321ˣ, brakka Tóm    [5] þás (‘þa er’): þar er J2ˣ;    árliga: ǫrliga 321ˣ, árlæga with olm, a blank space and ir above line 325VII;    ærir: ǫrvar 61, ærit Flat    [6] alms: almr 61    [7] mikill: mikit 61, Tóm;    varð: var Holm2;    ‑stað: ‘stat’ Holm2;    Stiklar‑: so J2ˣ, 325VII, Stikla Kˣ, Holm2, 73aˣ, Holm4, 61, 325V, Flat, Tóm    [8] stálgustr: stálgustr er Flat

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 10: AI, 259-60, BI, 241, Skald I, 125; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 488, IV, 167, ÍF 27, 379, Hkr 1991, II, 529 (ÓHHkr ch. 226); ÓH 1941, I, 569 (ch. 224), Flat 1860-8, II, 354; Jón Skaptason 1983, 165, 304.

Context: At the time of the solar eclipse (see st. 15), King Óláfr’s troop attack their opponents so fiercely that they nearly break their formation and many are ready to flee, but the lendir menn ‘landed men’ and their followers stand fast.

Notes: [1] vítt ‘far and wide’: I.e. the field was crowded with warriors. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) interprets this as referring to the broad valley of Værdal in which Stiklestad lies, as seen by those coming across the mountains, and makes a link to the prose of ÓHHkr chs 202-3 (ÍF 27, 351-3). — [5] árliga ‘quickly’: The adv. could alternatively mean ‘early’ or ‘in the morning’ (so Skj B). — [5-6] ærir alms ‘the envoys of the elm-bow [WARRIORS]’: The only complete surviving Viking Age bow is made of yew (Graham-Campbell 1980, 74, 251; see also st. 23/2 below), but elm and ash may also have been used (Solberg 1993, 719). — [7] Stiklarstað ‘Stiklestad’: Rygh et al. (1897-1936, XV, 122) suggest that this is the original form of the name, though forms without <r> appear from an early stage; see also Note to Þorm Lv 23/3-4. The p. n. is fitted into the metrical lines by mild tmesis, involving reversal of the elements, as also in BjHall Kálffl 5/5; see also Kuhn (1983, 112) and Note to ESk Geisl 17/1, 2VII . — [8] ofan ‘down’: According to Hkr (ÍF 27, 378), Óláfr’s forces were positioned on a certain small hill (hæð nǫkkur).

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