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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 8 December 2021)

 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, 497

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — ÞKolb Eirdr 6I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 6’ 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. 497.

Meinrennir, brá — manna
margs fýsa skǫp —, varga,
ljóða lítlu siðar
kunar ævi.
Enn til lands, þess’s lindar
láðstafr vegit hafði
hraustr, þás herr fór vestan,
hykk kómu son Tryggva.


{{Harm-banisher} [GLADDENER] of wolves}, [WARRIOR = Eiríkr] a little later the people’s treachery ended the life of Hákon; the fate of men urges much on. And I think {the son of Tryggvi} [= Óláfr] came to the land which {the bold staff {of the land of the linden spear}} [(lit. ‘bold land-staff of the linden spear’) SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon] had vanquished, when the army advanced from the west.

context: In Hkr and ÓT, Óláfr Tryggvason is accepted as king throughout Norway; Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson, his brother Sveinn and their followers take refuge with King Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ in Sweden. ÓT makes explicit the enmity between Óláfr Tryggvason and the sons of Hákon. This stanza is found a second time in Hkr and ÓT (with st. 7 following in Hkr). It is reproduced complete in Flat but cited by l. 1 only in the other mss. The context of the repeat is a chapter about Eiríkr jarl, and the citation follows a brief reiteration of Eiríkr’s flight and Óláfr sœnski’s generosity to him, and acts as a prelude to an account of Eiríkr’s harrying in the Baltic region. For Fsk, see st. 5.

notes: In the J transcripts and in ÓT, this stanza is attributed to Belgskakadrápa. For this, and the arrangments of helmingar in sts 5-7, see Introduction. — [1-2]: The mss diverge significantly in their l. 1 readings, the main alternatives being rennir/remmir and manna/mána, and these divergences do not group according to text or stemmata. (a) The present edn (with Skj B) adopts the readings -rennir and manna found in four of the mss, including the main ms.: the Hkr mss (172r) and J2ˣ(95v-96r), the ÓT ms. Flat(32ra), and FskAˣ. In kennings containing rennir ‘impeller, banisher’ its grammatical object is normally concrete, such as a term for ‘ship’ or ‘treasure’ (as noted in NN §576), but meinrennir varga forms a warrior-kenning belonging to a known sub-type, where the base-word amounts to ‘gladdener’ or ‘feeder’ but is unusually replaced by a kenning; cf. Note to Arn Hryn 7/1, 2II and ‘The diction of skaldic poetry’ in General Introduction. Here, as in Skj B, the kenning is taken as an apostrophe to Eiríkr jarl, though the apostrophe is itself somewhat problematic (see Introduction) and this construal results in considerable syntactic complexity (see NN §576). The reading manna is also adopted here, as by most eds, despite the eleven attestations of mána found in the listed mss, since it gives good sense and a satisfactory skothending (with -renn-). (b) ÍF 26 and ÍF 29 read -remmir ‘strengthener, increaser’ rather than -rennir (see also NN §576), and take varga as ‘of outlaws’ (cf. CVC: vargr II; LP: vargr 2) rather than ‘of wolves’, hence meinremmir varga ‘increaser of suffering of outlaws [(lit. ‘suffering-increaser of outlaws’) JUST RULER = Eiríkr jarl]’. This is read as an apostrophe and results in similarly complex syntax to (a) above. (c) Kock (NN §576) therefore proposed that meinremmir should instead be construed with manna, hence ‘injury-strengthener of men’, i.e. ‘inflictor of injuries’, as an appositive subject with læ ljóða ‘people’s treachery’, taken as a reference to Hákon’s killer Skopti karkr (see Context to st. 5). While this simplifies the syntax, this version of l. 1 is less than satisfactory in its skothending (mein- : mann-), occurs in only three mss ((199r), F(29ra), and Bb(34va)) and is less compatible with normal kenning usage. (d) There is a further, difficult alternative, favoured by Kock in Skald and NN §2465: meinremmir … mána ‘strengthener of the moon’s harm [(lit. ‘harm-strengthener of the moon’) WOLF]’. This refers to Gylf’s account (SnE 2005, 14) of Hati Hróðvitnisson, the wolf who chases and eventually swallows the moon. The ‘wolf’ of the stanza is again Skopti karkr, and again the kenning functions as an appositive subject with læ ljóða, though in this case the gen. pl. ljóða would be objective, hence ‘treachery against people’. This reflects a form of l. 1 found in six of the mss and must be counted a distinct possibility. The resulting intercalary, margs fýsa skǫp varga ‘the fate of outlaws urges much’ has the consecutive words skǫp varga forming a phrase rather than separated, and as Kock states, a reference to Hati would resonate by means of a pun (ofljóst) with varga in the sense ‘of wolves’.

texts: Flat 241, Flat 366, Fsk 99, ÓT 106, ÓT 150, ÓTC 41 (I 144), ÓTC 44 (I 147), Hkr 172 (I 144), Hkr 175 (I 147)

editions: Skj Þórðr Kolbeinsson: 1. Belgskakadrápa 2 (AI, 212; BI, 202); Skald 106, NN §§576, 1105, 2465A; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 358, 415, IV, 92, ÍF 26, 300, 337, Hkr 1991, I, 202, 228 (ÓTHkr chs 51, 89), F 1871, 132; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 244, II, 241 (chs 105, 243), Flat 1860-8, I, 242, 518; Fsk 1902-3, 107, ÍF 29, 140 (ch. 22).


AM 35 folx (Kx*) 172r, 20 - 172v, 2 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 35 folx (Kx*) 199r, 11 - 199r, 11 [1-1] (Hkr)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 45 fol (F*) 29ra, 35 - 29ra, 37 (Hkr)  image  image  image  image  
AM 45 fol (F*) 34ra, 3 - 34ra, 3 [1-1] (Hkr)  image  image  image  image  
AM 37 folx (J1x*) 103r, 22 - 103v, 1 (Hkr)  image  
AM 37 folx (J1x*) 122r, 22 - 122r, 22 [1-1] (Hkr)  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x*) 95v, 31 - 96r, 7 (Hkr)  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x*) 108v, 7 - 108r, 7 [1-1] (Hkr)  image  
AM 61 fol (61*) 25rb, 16 - 25rb, 18 (ÓT)  image  image  
AM 61 fol (61*) 65rb, 18 - 65rb, 19 [1-1] (ÓT)  image  image  
AM 53 fol (53*) 22vb, 8 - 22vb, 11 (ÓT)  image  
AM 53 fol (53*) 62ra, 17 - 62ra, 17 [1-1] (ÓT)  image  
AM 54 fol (54*) 23va, 2 - 23va, 6 (ÓT)  image  
AM 54 fol (54*) 60rb, 35 - 60rb, 35 [1-1] (ÓT)  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb*) 34va, 22 - 34va, 26 (ÓT)  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb*) 96ra, 20 - 96ra, 20 [1-1] (ÓT)  image  
GKS 1005 fol (Flat*) 32ra, 39 - 32ra, 42 (ÓT)  image  image  image  
GKS 1005 fol (Flat*) 69rb, 25 - 69rb, 28 (ÓT)  image  image  image  
OsloUB 371 folx (FskBx) 32r, 17 - 32r, 20 [1-4] (Fsk)  image  
AM 303 4°x (FskAx) 118, 1 - 118, 8 (Fsk)  image  
AM 51 folx (51x) 28v, 33 - 29r, 6 (Fsk)  image  
AM 301 4°x (301x) 43v, 12 - 43v, 16 (Fsk)  
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