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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Skapti Þóroddsson (Skapti)

11th century; volume 3; ed. Diana Whaley;

Fragment (Frag) - 1

Skj info: Skapti Þóroddsson, Islandsk lovsigemand, d. 1030. (AI, 314, BI, 291).

Skj poems:
Af et religiøst digt

Though credited with the fragment below and further compositions, the distinguished Icelander Skapti Þóroddson (Skapti) is better known for his legal expertise. He held the position of lǫgsǫgumaðr ‘lawspeaker’ from 1004 until his death in 1030, is credited with legal reforms (Íslendingabók ch. 8, ÍF 1, 19) and was sometimes known as Lǫg-Skapti ‘Law-Skapti’ (Landnámabók, ÍF 1, 381). He is thought to have lived about sixty years (SnE 1848-87, III, 549). Skapti features in several of the Sagas of Icelanders, including Njáls saga (where he is named in a stanza, Snorri LvV (Nj)), Flóamanna saga, Grettis saga and Gunnlaugs saga, as well as in Ǫlkofra þáttr, Landnámabók, Heimskringla and other sources. He is named in Skáldatal among the poets of Hákon jarl Sigurðarson (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266), King Óláfr Haraldsson (ibid., III, 253) and Magnús góði ‘the Good’ (ibid., III, 262). There is no further evidence for contact with Hákon, and since Skapti died in 1030 he cannot have composed for Magnús. A drápa for Óláfr by Skapti is mentioned in ÓHHkr ch. 138 (ÍF 27, 243), which relates how, during a time of friction between Óláfr and the Icelanders (in the mid 1020s), Skapti’s son Steinn represents his father at the court of Óláfr Haraldsson and, himself a poet with a sharp tongue, offers to recite a drápa which Skapti has taught him. The king, suspicious of Steinn, demands to hear his composition first, but Steinn makes an excuse and leaves, then later makes his way to Knútr inn ríki ‘Cnut the Great’ in England, where he is well received (ÍF 27, 249). He is listed among Knútr’s poets (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267), though no poetry by him is preserved. Skapti is also accused, in Ǫlkǫfra þáttr ch. 3 (ÍF 11, 91), of composing a mansǫngsdrápa ‘love poem’ for the wife of his relative Ormr.

Fragment — Skapti FragIII

Diana Whaley 2017, ‘ Skapti Þóroddsson, Fragment’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 355. <> (accessed 28 May 2022)


Skj: Skapti Þóroddsson: Af et religiøst digt (AI, 314, BI, 291); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: III, 356

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Skapti Frag 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2017, ‘Skapti Þóroddsson, Fragment 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 356.

Máttr es munka dróttins
mestr; aflar goð flestu;
Kristr skóp ríkr ok reisti
Róms hǫll verǫld alla.

Máttr {dróttins munka} es mestr; goð aflar flestu; ríkr Kristr skóp alla verǫld ok reisti hǫll Róms.

The power {of the lord of monks} [= God] is greatest; God brings everything about; the mighty Christ created the whole world and raised up the hall of Rome.

texts: LaufE 83 (364), Skm 271, SnE 273

editions: Skj Skapti Þóroddsson: Af et religiøst digt (AI, 314; BI, 291); Skald I, 148; SnE 1848-87, I, 446-9, II, 333, 445, III, 90, SnE 1931, 158, SnE 1998, I, 77.


GKS 2367 4° (R) 35v, 10 - 35v, 11 (SnE)  image  image  image  
Traj 1374x (Tx) 37r, 4 - 37r, 4 (SnE)  image  
AM 242 fol (W) 80, 27 - 80, 28 (SnE)  image  image  image  
DG 11 (U) 34r, 28 - 34v, 2 (SnE)  image  
AM 748 I b 4° (A) 12r, 28 - 12r, 30 (SnE)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 761 a 4°x (761ax) 83r, 2 - 83r, 5 (Skáldatal)  transcr.  image  
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