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Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl)

13th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

3. Hrafnsmál (Hrafn) - 20

The life of Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl) is chronicled in Sturlunga saga (Stu). He was born on 29 July 1214 as the second son of Þórðr Sturluson and his concubine Þóra, and he was the younger brother of Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv). In his early years he spent much time with his uncle, the poet, historian and lawspeaker Snorri Sturluson (SnSt, d. 1241), and later he took an active part in the events that played out before and after the collapse of the Icel. Commonwealth. Sturla was lawspeaker in Iceland 1251-2 and lawman, appointed by the Norw. king, 1272-82. In 1263 he went to Norway where he met King Magnús lagabœtir ‘Law-mender’ Hákonarson (d. 1280). After an initially very cool reception, the king commissioned him to write the saga of Magnús’s father Hákon Hákonarson (d. 1264) and also that of Magnús himself. Sturla later became the retainer (hirðmaðr, skutilsveinn) of Magnús and brought the law code Járnsíða ‘Ironside’ from Norway to Iceland in 1271. The story of Sturla’s journey to Norway in 1263 and his dealings with Magnús is recounted in Sturlu þáttr (StÞ), preserved in a version of Stu. In addition to the sagas of Hákon Hákonarson (Hák) and the no longer extant saga of his son Magnús lagabœtir (only two leaves are preserved in AM 325 X 4°), Sturla is the author of Íslendinga saga (Ísls) and of a redaction of Landnámabók (Ldn, in AM 107 folˣ = Stˣ). Some scholars believe that he may have been responsible for the extant redaction of Kristni saga (Kristni) (see LH 1894-1901, II, 98-105, 717-43), and he is also mentioned as an informant by the author of Grettis saga Ásmundarsonar (Gr; see ÍF 7, 157, 226, 289). Like his uncle, Snorri, and his brother, Óláfr, Sturla was a prolific poet. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 260, 272, 279, 384-96), he composed poems in honour of the Norw. kings Hákon Hákonarson and Magnús lagabœtir Hákonarson, and also about the Swed. jarl Birgir Magnússon (d. 1266). Nothing is preserved of Sturla’s panegyrics to the latter, but two sts from his poetry to Magnús are recorded in Hák (see Magnússdrápa (Sturl Magndr) below). The bulk of Sturla’s poetic oeuvre about Hákon Hákonarson is interspersed with the prose in Hák: Hrynhenda (Sturl Hryn), Hákonarkviða (Sturl Hákkv), Hrafnsmál (Sturl Hrafn) and Hákonarflokkr (Sturl Hákfl). In addition to these encomia, Sturla composed poetry about events and dignitaries in Iceland: namely Þverárvísur (Sturl ÞvervIV) and Þorgilsdrápa (Sturl ÞorgdrIV), both of which have been edited in SkP IV. That is also the case with his lvv. (Sturl Lv 1-4IV). One fragment which earlier eds assigned to Hryn (earlier st. 22) has been edited in SkP III as Sturl FragIII. Sturla died on 30 July 1284 and was buried in the Church of S. Peter at Staðarhóll.

Hrafnsmál — Sturl HrafnII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál’ 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. 727-45.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20 

Skj: Sturla Þórðarson: 5. Hrafnsmál (AII, 119-24, BII, 126-31)

SkP info: II, 739

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — Sturl Hrafn 14II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál 14’ 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, p. 739.

Herðu herferðir
hryggs í stórbygðir
víða vargfæðis
virðar geðstirðir.
Fekk inn fólkrakki
felli gunnspelli
öldum ósjaldan
Aleinn lífdvalar.

Geðstirðir virðar herðu herferðir víða í stórbygðir {hryggs vargfæðis}. Inn fólkrakki Aleinn fekk ósjaldan öldum {felli lífdvalar} gunnspelli.

The mind-strong men intensified military campaigns far and wide in the large settlements {of the gloomy wolf-feeder} [WARRIOR = Alexander]. The battle-brave Alan gave people not seldom {a slayer of life’s duration} [DEATH] by battle-destruction.

Mss: F(122vb), 304ˣ(362v), Flat(185vb) (Hák)

Readings: [6] felli: fellu 304ˣ, Flat;    ‑spelli: ‘‑spellur’ 304ˣ    [7] ósjaldan: so 304ˣ, Flat, ókaldan F    [8] Aleinn: alinn 304ˣ, Flat

Editions: Skj: Sturla Þórðarson, 5. Hrafnsmál 14: AII, 122-3, BII, 130, Skald II, 70, NN §§1358, 2992D; F 1871, 576Hák 1977-82, 200-1, Flat 1860-8, III, 224.

Context: One of Hákon’s allies, Alan, the brother of King Dugald of the Hebrides, marched through Scotland killing people, capturing more than a hundred head of cattle and doing the worst damage.

Notes: [5]: The l. echoes ÞTref Hrafn 2/1V. — [6] felli (m. acc. sg.) ‘a slayer’: Lit. ‘feller’. So Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 100-1) and Skj B. Kock (Skald; NN §§1358, 2992D) adopts the Flat variant fellu, which he interprets as an adj. fellu (n. dat. sg.) ‘terrible, unpleasant, bitter’ and connects with gunnspelli (‘by battle-destruction’; l. 6), translated as ‘battle-announcement’ (= hersaga, vígspjall). The problem with that interpretation is the absence of an ON adj. fellr ‘terrible, unpleasant, bitter’ (the Modern Scandinavian adj. that Kock adduces as an example, fæl, fel (‘terrible, unpleasant’, is derived from ON fæla) as well as a confusion between ON spell (n.) ‘destruction’ and spjall (n.) ‘destruction, announcement’. — [6] gunnspelli ‘by battle-destruction’: Hap. leg. — [7] ósjaldan (adv.) ‘not seldom’: So 304ˣ, Flat. Ókaldan (m. acc. sg.) ‘not a cold’ (so F) could be taken to mean that Alan and his men caused death by burning the Scottish settlements (qualifying felli (m. acc. sg.) ‘slayer’). — [8]: Note that the internal rhyme, falling on a short, penultimate syllable (-al- : -al-), is otherwise unattested in haðarlag. Also note that there is suspended resolution in the first lift, which is characteristic of málaháttr, the unrhymed prototype of haðarlag (see Sievers 1893, 73). — [8] lífdvalar (f. gen. sg.) ‘of life’s duration’: So Skj B. Hap. leg. Kock (NN §1358) takes this as an acc. pl., as an object of fekk ‘gave’ (l. 5), and he translates fekk … öldum lífdvalar as satte … stopp för männens liv ‘put … an end to men’s lives’. That translation is possible but untenable because of Kock’s misinterpretation of felli ‘slayer’ (see Note to felli ‘slayer’ (l. 6) above).

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