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Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl)

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

III. Fragments (Frag) - 2

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.

Fragments — Sturl FragIII

Kari Ellen Gade and Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Sturla Þórðarson, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 392.

stanzas:  1   2 

SkP info: III, 392

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Sturl Frag 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir (ed.) 2017, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Fragments 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. 392.

This fragment (Sturl Frag 1), edited by Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir, is in hrynhent metre and has therefore usually been considered a part of Sturla Þórðarson’s poem Hrynhenda (Sturl HrynII; c. 1263), composed in honour of the Norwegian king Hákon Hákonarson (Fidjestøl 1982, 163-4). Most earlier editors (Skj; Skald) have placed it at the end of that poem since it is impossible to determine where it belongs, or whether it does indeed belong there, since it is not preserved in Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar like the twenty-one stanzas one can safely attribute to Hryn. The couplet is not included in Konráð Gíslason’s edition of the poem although he believed it must have been a part of Hryn (Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 69). The fragment, which describes ships at sea, is found only in the Y redaction of LaufE. It is preserved in mss 2368ˣ (main ms.) and 743ˣ, and it is attributed to Sturla Þórðarson in both mss. The couplet was copied from a LaufE ms. in RE 1665(Hh3), which has no independent value.

Rísa tóku langir laukar
lindar álfs við gymi sjálfan.

Langir laukar {álfs lindar} tóku rísa við sjálfan gymi.

The long masts {of the shield’s elf} [WARRIOR] began to rise against the sea itself.

Mss: 2368ˣ(112), 743ˣ(86v) (LaufE)

Editions: Skj: Sturla Þórðarson, 3. Hrynhenda 22: AII, 108, BII, 118, Skald II, 63, NN §2287; SnE 1848-87, II, 628; LaufE 1979, 371.

Context: The couplet is cited among several other stanzas to illustrate kennings for ‘man’ with a mythical base-word, here, álfr lindar ‘the shield’s elf’.

Notes: [1] laukar ‘masts’: Lit. ‘leeks’. The long, thin masts have the same shape as leeks. The phrase laukar tóku rísa ‘masts began to rise’ likely describes the mast on a ship being raised, i.e. brought into vertical position (cf. SnSt Ht 77/5-6). — [2] lindar ‘of the shield’s’: Lind means ‘linden wood’ or ‘linden tree’. Jesch (2001a, 134) suggests that lind could mean ‘ship’, especially in poetry set in a nautical context, but the word usually denotes a shield or spear made of linden wood (see Note to SnSt Ht 9/2). — [2] gymi ‘the sea’: This could be taken either as the common noun gymir (m. sg.), which is a heiti for ‘sea’, or as the name Gymir, one of the names for the sea-giant Ægir (for the meaning of that name, see Note to Þul Jǫtna I 1/8). Both make perfect sense in the present context, but the former has been adopted here. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) assigns the phrase við sjálfan gymi ‘against the sea itself’ to a clause from the no longer extant two lines of the half-stanza. That cannot be ascertained, and the couplet makes syntactic and semantic sense as it stands (see NN §2287).

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