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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þórðr Kolbeinsson (ÞKolb)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Jayne Carroll;

Eiríksdrápa (Eirdr) - 17

Skj info: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 212-19, BI, 202-9).

Skj poems:
1. Belgskakadrápa
2. Gunnlaugsdrápa ormstungu
3. Eiríksdrápa
4. Lausavísur

Þórðr Kolbeinsson (ÞKolb) was born c. 974 in Iceland (ÍF 3, lxxxviii). The Hauksbók version of Ldn names his father as Kolbeinn klakkhǫfði ‘Lump-head’ (?) Atlason, from Atley (Atløy) in Norway, while the Sturlubók version names him as Kolbeinn Þórðarson (ÍF 1, 99, 144, lxiv-vi). Þórðr’s mother is said in Bjarnar saga Hítdœlakappa (BjH, ÍF 3, 168) to be called Arnóra; in Ldn (ÍF 1, 142) she is also identified as the daughter of Gunnbjǫrn. Þórðr’s home was at Hítarnes in western Iceland; the poet Arnórr jarlaskáld (ArnII), one of Þórðr’s five sons, was born there. Two other sons, Kolbeinn and Kolli, are named in BjH, and three unnamed daughters are also mentioned (ÍF 3, 125, 171-2, 174, 179, 208). Nothing is known about Þórðr’s death.

Þórðr is famous as the villain of BjH, in which he marries Oddný eykyndill ‘Island-candle’ Þorkelsdóttir, having deceived her into believing that Bjǫrn Arngeirsson (BjhítV), to whom she is betrothed, is dead. This intensifies a life-long feud between Þórðr and Bjǫrn which ends with Bjǫrn’s death at Þórðr’s hands.

Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 257, 258, 261, 262, 266, 274, 280, 283) names Þórðr as poet to four rulers: Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson of Hlaðir (Lade; d. c. 1023); the Norwegian kings Óláfr Haraldsson (d. 1030) and, in the U redaction, Magnús góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson (d. 1047); and, in the 761aˣ redaction, the Danish king Sveinn Úlfsson (d. 1076). Of these, only Eiríkr is named in source texts as the recipient of surviving stanzas, although BjH (ÍF 3, 126-7) has Þórðr compose and recite a drápa for Óláfr. It is doubtful on chronological grounds that Þórðr composed for Sveinn Úlfsson, and it has been suggested (Fidjestøl 1982, 117) that confusion with Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ (d. 1014) might lie behind the erroneous listing. Seventeen stanzas about Eiríkr jarl survive, and in this edition all are attributed to Eiríksdrápa (ÞKolb Eirdr) with varying degrees of confidence. BjH places Þórðr in Eiríkr’s retinue in Norway, c. 1007, delivering a poem entitled Belgskakadrápa ‘Bag-shaking drápa’ (ÍF 3, 115-9), but this may be the same poem as Eirdr, whose content suggests that Þórðr paid court to Eiríkr in England after the conquest of Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great) in 1016 and before Eiríkr’s death c. 1023 (see Introduction to Eirdr). In addition to Eirdr, twelve lausavísur (ÞKolb Lv 1-12V) are preserved in BjH, mostly directed against the saga’s hero, Bjǫrn, and a single stanza said to be by Þórðr (ÞKolb GunndrV) survives in praise of the poet Gunnlaugr ormstungu ‘Serpent-tongue’ Illugason (GunnlIV, d. c. 1008; ÍF 3, 101-2). These are edited in SkP V.

Eiríksdrápa — ÞKolb EirdrI

Jayne Carroll 2012, ‘ Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa’ 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. 487. <> (accessed 4 July 2022)

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17 

Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson: 3. Eiríksdrápa, 1014 (AI, 213-217, BI, 203-206); stanzas (if different): 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

SkP info: I, 496

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — ÞKolb Eirdr 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 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. 496.

Jǫfrum varð, en urðu
allhvasst Danir falla,
blóðhelsingja bræðir,
brœðr Sigvarðar, œðri.

{Bræðir {blóðhelsingja}} varð œðri jǫfrum, en Danir urðu falla allhvasst {brœðr Sigvarðar}.

{The feeder {of blood-geese}} [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR] overcame princes, and the Danes had to fall most rapidly {before the brother of Sigurðr} [= Eiríkr].

Mss: FskBˣ(32r), FskAˣ(117) (Fsk)

Readings: [3] ‑helsingja: ‘hesingia’ FskAˣ;    bræðir: bráðir FskBˣ, FskAˣ    [4] brœðr: ‘broðr’ FskAˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, 1. Belgskakadrápa 1: AI, 212, BI, 202, Skald I, 106, NN §§1113C, 2463E; Fsk 1902-3, 106 (ch. 20), ÍF 29, 139-40 (ch. 22).

Context: After Hákon jarl’s success against the Jómsvíkingar, his harsh rule and immoral conduct provoke an uprising. Staying at a farmstead in Gaulardalr (Gauldalen), Hákon is killed by his servant Skopti karkr. Eiríkr, who has been at odds with his father, flees from Norway to the court of the Swedish king, Óláfr.

Notes: [All]: This helmingr’s sole source, Fsk, presents it as a stanza with st. 6/1-4. However, it is likely to refer to the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen), which is the subject of sts 1-4, but not of sts 6-7; see Introduction. — [1, 4] varð œðri ‘overcame’: Lit. ‘became superior’. For this usage, see Fritzner: œðri 2; LP: œðri 3. — [1] en ‘and’: The sense of the helmingr suggests that this unstressed word is the conj. ‘but, and’ rather than the adv. enn ‘still, further’. The mss have enn (and so Skald), but spellings of en and enn are often interchangeable; en is also printed in Skj B and ÍF 29. — [3] blóðhelsingja ‘of blood-geese [RAVENS/EAGLES]’: Cf. Þórðr’s synonymous kenning blóðgǫgl ‘blood-geese’ (ÞKolb Lv 11/6V (BjH 38)). Helsingr ‘(long-)neck’ is a sword-heiti (see Þul Sverða 8/7III and Note) and a bird-heiti (Þul Fugla 1/4III), seemingly referring to the barnacle goose. If helsingja is gen. sg. it would imply a nom. sg. *helsingi, and this is assumed in Meissner 120 and LP: blóðhelsingi, but there appears to be no ON attestation of this form, and gen. pl. is probable here. — [3] bræðir ‘the feeder’: A sg. base-word meaning ‘feeder, gladdener’ is clearly required here (for parallels, see Meissner 291). Therefore although the pl. adj. bráðir ‘sudden, hasty’ in the mss could qualify Danir ‘Danes’, a minor emendation is necessary. The warrior-kenning of which bræðir is the base-word presumably refers to Eiríkr jarl, subject of the poem and referent of the second kenning in the helmingr. Hákon jarl is also possible, however, and this would not be incompatible with the Context. — [4] brœðr (dat. sg.) ‘before the brother’: The form brœðr usually denotes nom. or acc. pl., but is commonly found as dat. sg. in skaldic poetry (Finnur Jónsson 1901, 65; LP: bróðir). The nom. pl. brœðr (Sigvarðar) ‘brothers (of Sigurðr)’ could function grammatically in apposition with Danir ‘the Danes’, but not with good sense. On the use of the dat. with falla to mean ‘fall before’, see NN §§1113C, 2463E.  — [4] Sigvarðar ‘of Sigurðr’: Sigurðr Hákonarson, one of Eiríkr’s three half-brothers, who is said to have accompanied him and his father into battle at Hjǫrungavágr (and see Context to Eyv Hál 9).

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