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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv)

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

7. Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson (Erlfl) - 10

Skj info: Sigvatr Þórðarson, Islandsk skjald, o. 995-o. 1045 (AI, 223-75, BI, 213-54).

Skj poems:
1. Víkingarvísur
2. Nesjavísur
3. Austrfararvísur
4. En drape om kong Olaf
5. Vestrfararvísur
6. Et kvad om Erlingr Skjalgsson
7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson
8. Tryggvaflokkr
9. Et digt om dronning Astrid
10. Knútsdrápa
11. Bersǫglisvísur
12. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga
13. Lausavísur
14. Et par halvvers af ubestemmelige digte

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).

Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson — Sigv ErlflI

Judith Jesch 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson’ 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. 629.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 

Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson: 7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson, 1028-29 (AI, 244-7, BI, 228-31)

SkP info: I, 636

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Sigv Erlfl 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson 5’ 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. 636.

Ǫndurða bað, jarðar,
Erlingr, sás vel lengi
geymði lystr, — né lamðisk
landvǫrn — klóask ǫrnu,
þás hann at sig sǫnnum
— sá vas áðr búinn ráða
ats — við Útstein hizi
Ôleif of tók môlum.

Erlingr, sás lystr geymði lengi jarðar vel — né lamðisk landvǫrn —, bað ǫrnu klóask ǫndurða, þás hann of tók Ôleif sǫnnum môlum at sig hizi við Útstein; sá vas áðr búinn ráða ats.

Erlingr, who, joyful, ruled the land well for a long time — his defence of territory did not fail — said eagles should fight face to face, when he addressed Óláfr with true words after the battle there by Utstein; he was previously ready to carry out the attack.

Mss: (432r) (Hkr); Holm2(57v-58r), J2ˣ(208v), 321ˣ(217), 73aˣ(178v), 68(57v), Holm4(55va), 61(116va), 325V(68vb), 325VII(31v), Bb(189ra), Flat(119ra), Tóm(146v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Ǫndurða: ǫndverða 73aˣ, Holm4, 61, 325V, Flat, Tóm, ‘Anverþa’ 325VII    [2] sás (‘sa er’): sá 325V    [3] lystr: halr 61;    né: né hér Bb;    lamðisk: ek lasta J2ˣ, hamðisk 61    [4] land‑: hand 61;    ‑vǫrn: ‑vǫrðr Bb;    klóask: klóar 321ˣ    [5] hann: snjallr corrected from ‘þniallr’ Bb;    at: und 321ˣ, 73aˣ, á Bb;    sig: sik Holm2, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, Holm4, svik 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm;    sǫnnum: sǫnnu 61, Bb, Flat, Tóm    [6, 7] áðr búinn ráða ats: ‘[…]’ Holm4    [6] búinn: munuð 61, numinn Bb, Flat, unninn Tóm    [7] ats: snjallr 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm;    hizi: hizig 321ˣ, illra 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Tóm, illa Flat    [8] Ôleif: Óláfr J2ˣ, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, 325V, 325VII, ‘O.’ Tóm;    of tók (‘um toc’): ok tók J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, Tóm, ‘vm […]’ Holm4, tekit Flat;    môlum: ‘malo’ Holm2, ‘[…]’ Holm4

Editions: Skj: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson 5: AI, 245, BI, 229, Skald I, 119, NN §2475Hkr 1893-1901, II, 406, IV, 156, ÍF 27, 316-17, Hkr 1991, II, 484 (ÓHHkr ch. 176); ÓH 1941, I, 484 (ch. 172), Flat 1860-8, II, 310; Jón Skaptason 1983, 117, 264.

Context: King Óláfr comes face to face with Erlingr and speaks to him.

Notes: [1, 4] bað ǫrnu klóask ǫndurða ‘said eagles should fight face to face’: Eagles, with ravens and wolves, are ‘beasts of battle’ traditionally alluded to in skaldic verse as consumers of carrion rather than fighters (cf. st. 1/2, 4), but here the image is rather of two opponents of equally high status. For a comparable use of haukr ‘hawk’, see Note to Arn Hryn 3/5II. — [2] Erlingr: Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, II; Skj B) prints Erlengr, presumably to improve the aðalhending with lengi. This form is not found in any mss, though some of them abbreviate the name, making the vowel uncertain. — [5-8]: (a) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) proposed that this helmingr contained the phrase ráðasǫnnum môlum, separated by tmesis, translating indholdssande ord ‘words with true content’, though ráðasannr does not appear in LP and it is not clear what the first element adds to the meaning. (b) Kock (NN §2475) proposed the interpretation followed here, on the grounds of the common occurrence in skaldic verse of a clause contained within one line and the first, monosyllabic, word of the following line. Sigvatr uses a similar construction in Víkv 6/2-3, 11/3-4, Vestv 6/3-4 and (with a disyllable in the following line) in st. 7/7-8 below. — [6-7] búinn ráða ats ‘ready to carry out the attack’: More literally, ‘ready for the actions of attack’. Ráða here is not the verb ‘decide, rule etc.’, which does not normally take a gen. object, but rather the gen. pl. of ráð n. which, in the sense ‘plan, action’ (LP: ráð 2), often appears in the pl. Búinn takes the gen. in this type of phrase. — [7] við Útstein ‘by Utstein’: Útsteinn is also named in BjHall Kálffl 2/4. It is on the island now called Klosterøy, just east of a line between Bokn and Tunge (see Note to st. 3/2-4), and approximately halfway between them. It appears to have been one of the royal farms of Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ (see Þhorn Harkv 9/4 and ÍF 26, 143) and was later the site of an Augustinian monastery. — [7] hizi ‘there’: The adv., or its variant hizig, occurs in three further contexts where the site of a sea-battle is named (LP: hizig). — [8] of tók ... môlum ‘addressed ... with ... words’: Cf., e.g., Þfagr Sveinn 9/6II es tókusk orðum ‘when they began to exchange words’. Of here is the expletive particle.

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