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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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

 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, 489

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — ÞKolb Eirdr 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 1’ 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. 489.

Ok sannliga sunnan
(sôusk vítt búendr ítrir)
(stríð) of stála meiða
(stór) hersǫgur fóru.
Súðlǫngum frá Sveiða
sunnr af dregnum hlunni
vangs á vatn of þrungit
viggmeiðr Dana skeiðum.

Ok sannliga fóru hersǫgur of {meiða stála} sunnan; ítrir búendr sôusk vítt stór stríð. {{{Sveiða vangs} vigg}meiðr} frá súðlǫngum skeiðum Dana of þrungit á vatn af dregnum hlunni sunnr.

And in truth war-stories about {trees of steel} [WARRIORS] travelled from the south; excellent farmers widely feared great strife. {The tree {of the steed {of the field of Sveiði <sea-king>}}} [(lit. ‘steed-tree of the field of Sveiði’) SEA > SHIP > SEAFARER] heard that the long-planked warships of the Danes had been thrust onto the water from the worn launching-roller in the south.

Mss: (157r), F(26rb), J1ˣ(94r), J2ˣ(87r-v), 325VIII 1(4va) (Hkr); 61(19ra), 54(15ra), Bb(25va) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] sôusk: ‘satz’ 54, Bb;    vítt: vík F, om. J1ˣ, vit 325VIII 1;    ítrir: so J1ˣ, 61, 54, Bb, háska Kˣ, J2ˣ, ríkir F, 325VIII 1    [3] of (‘um’): apparently corrected from ‘v(ið)(?)’ 325VIII 1;    stála: stalla 325VIII 1;    meiða: ‘smeiiða’ 325VIII 1    [5] Súð‑: sverð‑ J1ˣ, suðr 325VIII 1;    ‑lǫngum: lǫndum 325VIII 1, ‘‑lungum’ 54, Bb;    frá: frá ek F, Bb;    Sveiða: senda Bb    [6] dregnum: drǫgnum J1ˣ, 61, 54    [7] vangs: vagns corrected from ‘aagns’ F, ‘vatngs’ J1ˣ;    á: af F;    of (‘vm’): om. J1ˣ    [8] vigg‑: víg‑ F, J1ˣ, 325VIII 1, 61, 54, Bb;    ‑meiðr: so F, J1ˣ, 325VIII 1, 61, 54, Bb, om. Kˣ, J2ˣ;    skeiðum: skeiða Bb

Editions: Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, 3. Eiríksdrápa 1: AI, 213, BI, 203, Skald I, 106, NN §§579, 1106, 1854B, 1914D; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 323-4, IV, 86-7, ÍF 26, 275-6, Hkr 1991, I, 185 (ÓTHkr ch. 36), F 1871, 120; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 181 (ch. 87).

Context: In Raumaríki (Romerike), Eiríkr jarl hears that the Jómsvíkingar are preparing for war. He gathers a force and sets off for Upplǫnd (Opplandene) and thence to Þrándheimr (Trøndelag) to join his father, Hákon jarl.

Notes: [All]: Stanzas 1-5 describe the attack on Norway which culminated in the battle at Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen, c. 985); on the battle and other skaldic poetry associated with it, see the entry on Hákon jarl Sigurðarson in ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume. — [2] vítt ‘widely’: This could alternatively be taken as the adj. ‘widespread’ qualifying stríð (n. acc. sg.) ‘strife’ (so Skj B; ÍF 26). In this case stríð, being sg., would not be qualified by stór ‘great’ (see Note to l. 4). — [2] ítrir ‘excellent’: The variants to this word in the cadence of l. 2 give rise to various possible readings of the helmingr, none of which is wholly unproblematic. (a) Ítrir in J1ˣ and the ÓT mss gives the syntax and sense shown above (similarly Skj B; ÍF 26). Another m. nom. pl. adj., ríkir ‘powerful’, in F and 325VIII 1 supports the syntax suggested by ítrir, though ríkir itself appears to be corrupt. Ítrir ‘excellent’ is a slightly unexpected epithet for fearful búendr ‘farmers’, since it usually qualifies words for warriors, rulers and deities (LP: ítr), and Kock (NN §579) signals unease. However, these farmers are the countrymen of the hero Eiríkr, and the adj. could serve to show that the attacking force was sufficient to terrify even the bold. Alternatively, the epithet could be ironic. (b) Háska ‘danger’ is the reading of the main ms. and of J2ˣ, representing both branches of the Hkr stemma. It gives good sense if it is taken in apposition with stór stríð ‘great strife’, as it is by Kock (Skald; NN §§579, 1854B), who also construes of meiðir stála ‘because of the trees of steel [WARRIORS]’ with stór stríð. However, an aðalhending sôusk: hásk- would be imperfect. — [4] stór ‘great’: This is interpreted here as a n. acc. pl. adj. qualifying stríð ‘strife, afflictions’ (so also Skald; NN §579). It could alternatively be stór- as an uninflected first element in an otherwise unattested cpd stórhersǫgur ‘great war-stories’ (so Skj B; ÍF 26). This produces a somewhat simpler word order, with l. 4 as a syntactic unit. However, stór- commonly compounds with simplex nominals but only rarely with cpd ones, and in all mss stór is very clearly written, and presumably understood, as a separate word. — [5]: Cf. Hallv Knútdr 1/1III Súðlǫngum komt Sveiða, lit. ‘long-planked you came/brought of Sveiði’. — [6] dregnum hlunni ‘the worn launching-roller’: So Konráð Gíslason (1892, 146-7) and most eds. The reference is to the wear and tear on the rollers through launching ships or pulling them ashore. See further Note to Sturl Hryn 12/4II, where the same phrase occurs. Kock (NN §1106) takes dregnum with skeiðum ‘warships’ (l. 8), but the resulting word order is awkward. — [8] Dana ‘of the Danes’: The forces led by the Jómsvíkingar at the battle of Hjǫrungavágr are said to have comprised Danes and Wends (see also sts 4/4 and 5/2; cf. Tindr Hákdr 4/1, 6/4, 9/4; Þskúm Lv 1/10; Vígf Hák 1/7). 

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