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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, 732-3

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — Sturl Hrafn 6II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál 6’ 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. 732-3.

Fyst tók fjörleystum
fróðr af Nesþjóðum
gjöld inn griðmildi
gætir norðsætra.
Öll var ógnfallin
öld af stórvöldum
hrædd við herklæddan
herði böðgerðar.

Fyst tók {fróðr gætir norðsætra}, inn griðmildi, gjöld af fjörleystum Nesþjóðum. Öll öld var ógnfallin af stórvöldum, hrædd við {herklæddan herði böðgerðar}.

First {the wise protector of the northern settlements} [NORWEGIAN KING = Hákon], the one generous with peace, took payments from the Ness-people who ransomed their lives. All men were terror-struck by the supreme power, afraid of {the war-clad strengthener of battle} [WARRIOR].

Mss: F(122rb), Flat(185rb) (Hák)

Readings: [1] ‑leystum: ‑lestir Flat    [3] gjöld: gjald Flat    [4] norð‑: vegs Flat    [6] af: so Flat, á F;    ‑völdum: so Flat, veldum F

Editions: Skj: Sturla Þórðarson, 5. Hrafnsmál 6: AII, 120-1, BII, 128, Skald II, 69, NN §§108, 2291; F 1871, 572, Flat 1860-8, III, 220.

Context: Hákon sailed from Shetland to Ronaldsay in Orkney, and in early August he sent men to Caithness in Scotland to exact payments from the people there. In return he promised them peace and protection.

Notes: [1] fyst ‘first’: Earlier fyrst. An early example of assimilation rs > ss (see ANG §272.3). See also Sturl Hákfl 8/3 below. — [1] fjörleystum ‘who ransomed their lives’: Lit. ‘life-ransomed’. Hap. leg. — [2] Nesþjóðum ‘the Ness-people’: I.e. the people of Caithness, Scotland. — [3] gjöld (pl.) ‘payments’: So F. Skj B and Skald adopt gjald (sg.) ‘payment’ (so Flat). — [4] norðsætra ‘of the northern settlements’: Hap. leg. (but see Sveinn NorðdrIII). Cf. hafsætrum ‘in the sea-settlements’ in st. 11/3 below. The northern settlements refer to Hákon’s dominions (Norway, Iceland, Greenland). See also Sturl Hryn 20. — [5-8]: The w. o. of the second helmingr follows that of NN §2291. Skj B construes ǫll ǫld var, hrædd af stórvǫldum, ógnfallin við herklæddan… ‘all people were, frightened by the supreme power, terror-struck by the war-clad…’ . — [5] ógnfallin ‘terror-struck’: Hap. leg. — [6] stórvöldum ‘by the supreme power’: Lit. ‘by the great powers’. Hap. leg. The translation is conjectural. Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 95) suggests den store magt ‘the great power’ and Skj B gives for den store magt (el. ved den store skyld, de selv havde begåt?) ‘by the great power (or by the great offence they themselves had committed?)’. LP: stórvald has megen magt, overmagt ‘much power, superior force’ with the option megen skyld ‘much guilt, blame’, and Kock (NN §108) provides the translation brott ‘crime’. According to the prose texts Hákon gave the people of Caithness the choice between friðr ‘peace’ or afarkostir ‘harsh conditions, retributions’. — [8] böðgerðar ‘of battle’: See LP: bǫðgǫrð. Kock’s attempt (NN §108) to construe the cpd as ‘sword’ is not persuasive.

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