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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 5 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, 508

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — ÞKolb Eirdr 14I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 14’ 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. 508.

Gollkennir lét gunni
(grœðis hests) fyr vestan
(Þundr vá leyfðr til landa)
Lundún saman bundit.
Fekk, — regn Þorins rekka
rann — of þingamǫnnum,
ýglig hǫgg, þars eggjar,
Ulfkell, bláar skulfu.

{Gollkennir} lét bundit saman gunni fyr vestan Lundún; {leyfðr Þundr {hests grœðis}} vá til landa. Ulfkell fekk ýglig hǫgg, þars bláar eggjar skulfu of þingamǫnnum; {regn {rekka Þorins}} rann.

{The gold-master} [GENEROUS MAN = Eiríkr] joined battle west of London; {the celebrated Þundr <= Óðinn> {of the horse of the sea}} [SHIP > SEAFARER = Eiríkr] won lands by fighting. Ulfcytel received terrible blows, where dark blades shook over the þingamenn; {the rain {of the men of Þorinn <dwarf>}} [DWARFS > POETRY] streamed.

Mss: (232v) (Hkr); Holm2(8r), R686ˣ(14v), 972ˣ(52va), J1ˣ(144r), J2ˣ(125r), 73aˣ(23r), 78aˣ(23r), 68(7r), 61(81ra), 75c(4v), 325V(10rb), Bb(128ra), Tóm(97v) (ÓH); 61(71vb), 53(68vb), 54(70va), Bb(106rb), Flat(75ra) (ÓT); JÓ(26), 20dˣ(10r), 873ˣ(11v-12r), 20i 23ˣ(14v-15v), 41ˣ(9v) (Knýtl)

Readings: [1] Gollkennir: ‘Gullkennr’ J1ˣ, golls kennir 325V, Tóm;    lét: lézk R686ˣ, lézk þú 61(81ra);    gunni: ‘gúni’ R686ˣ, golli 61(81ra)    [2] grœðis: ‘grvdiz’ J1ˣ;    hests: hest Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 75c, Bb(128ra), Tóm, 54, Bb(106rb), Flat, 41ˣ    [3] Þundr: þýðr J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, om. Flat;    vá: ‘va(nn)’(?) R686ˣ, var 78aˣ, vá apparently corrected from ‘na’ 41ˣ;    leyfðr: lýðr R686ˣ, ‘ly[…]’ R686ˣ, lýðs J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, ‘leyfr’ JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 20i 23ˣ, ‘leyfur’ 41ˣ;    landa: láða J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 78aˣ    [4] Lundún: ‘lundv’ Holm2    [5] Fekk: gekk 68;    regn‑: ‘reg‑’ Bb(128ra), hregg Tóm;    ‑Þorins: ‑þorin 972ˣ, 61(81ra), 61(71vb), 53, 41ˣ, ‘‑þoris’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ, ‑þorinn 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 54, Bb(106rb), JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 20i 23ˣ, ‘þornis’ Tóm;    rekka: rekja R686ˣ, reka J1ˣ, rekkum 325V    [6] rann: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, rǫnn Kˣ, Holm2, R686ˣ, 972ˣ, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61(81ra), 75c, Bb(128ra), Tóm, 61(71vb), 53, 54, Bb(106rb), Flat, JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 20i 23ˣ, 41ˣ, runn 325V;    of: af R686ˣ, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 61(81ra), Bb(128ra), Tóm, 61(71vb), 54, Bb(106rb), Flat, JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 20i 23ˣ, 41ˣ;    ‑mǫnnum: ‘‑monno’ Holm2, ‘mennum’ R686ˣ    [7] ýglig: œgligt R686ˣ, 78aˣ, ‘Ogligt’ 972ˣ, ‘æygligt’ J1ˣ, ‘œygligt’ J2ˣ, œglig 73aˣ, JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 20i 23ˣ, ‘yglis’ 68, ‘o᷎glis’ 61(81ra), ‘vgligt’ 325V, ‘yggug’ Bb(128ra), ok 41ˣ;    hǫgg: ‘hog’ J1ˣ, Bb(128ra), hǫggs 61(81ra);    eggjar: eggja Holm2, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Bb(128ra), ‘eggar’ R686ˣ    [8] Ulfkell: Ulfkels 78aˣ, 325V, Tóm, 54, Bb(106rb), Flat, JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 20i 23ˣ, Ulfkel Bb(128ra);    bláar: blá Holm2, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Bb(128ra), JÓ, 20dˣ, 873ˣ, 20i 23ˣ, ‘vid lar’ Tóm

Editions: Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, 3. Eiríksdrápa 11: AI, 216, BI, 206, Skald I, 107-8, NN §§585, 964, 2466A; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 33, IV, 115-16, ÍF 27, 31-2, Hkr 1991, I, 271 (ÓHHkr ch. 25); ÓH 1941, I, 55 (ch. 28); ÓT 1958-2000, II, 316 (ch. 266), Flat 1860-8, I, 561; 1741, 26-7, Knýtl 1919-25, 47, ÍF 35, 117-18 (ch. 15).

Context: In Hkr, ÓH, and ÓT, Eiríkr joins Knútr in England and is with him at the conquest of London. Eiríkr slays Úlfkell snillingr in battle, west of London. In Knýtl’s account (the more historically accurate), Eiríkr leaves his ships, engages Úlfkell in battle, and puts him to flight.

Notes: [1-4]: That the two warrior-kennings in this helmingr refer to Eiríkr is suggested by the context of a poem about Eiríkr and by the prose Context (above), but historically the reference could be to Knútr. — [4] Lundún ‘London’: Out of five instances of the p. n. in skaldic poetry, this is the only one in the sg. form as opposed to f. pl. Lundúnir. This supports the argument that Þórðr’s poem is not derivative of Sigv Víkv and Ótt Hfl, and therefore constitutes valid evidence for Eiríkr’s actions in England (see Note to st. 15/7). See further Townend (1998, 52-7). The Encomium Emmae (Campbell 1998, 22-3) also places Eiríkr at the siege of London.  — [5] regn rekka Þorins ‘the rain of the men of Þorinn <dwarf> [DWARFS > POETRY]’: (a) Þorinn is a dwarf-name meaning ‘bold’ (see Note to Þul Dverga 4/6III), and this phrase appears to be a straightforward poetry-kenning alluding to the myth of the mead of poetry (cf. Meissner 428 and Note to Eskál Vell 1 [All]), though its pret. tense predicate rann ‘streamed, ran’ is curious. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B) emends rekka ‘men’ to Rǫkkva (gen. sg. of Rǫkkvi, a sea-king), combining this with rann ‘house’ to give ‘house of Rǫkkvi [SHIELD]’, and then with regn- ‘rain’ to give ‘shield-rain [BATTLE]’. Finnur combines this with the adj. þorinn ‘brave’, the reading of the Knýtl mss, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 54 and Bb(106rb), to produce a phrasal adj. Rǫkkva rann-regnþorinn ‘battle-brave’, which qualifies Ulfkell (l. 8). Such a reading involves emendation, tmesis, and awkward word order. (c) Skald further emends rann to gen. sg. ranns, thus avoiding tmesis, but essentially retains Skj B’s adjectival interpretation. — [6] of þingamǫnnum ‘over the þingamenn’: (a) This phrase is taken here with skulfu ‘shook’ (so Skj B; ÍF 27; ÍF 35). Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 27) notes that this most likely refers to Knútr’s men, and medieval Icelandic prose writers use this term for the band of Scandinavian retainers established by Knútr in England c. 1018 (see Note to Úlfr Lv 1/8II; ÍF 35, 100 n. 1). Such a sense is not certain here or in other C11th sources (Jesch 2001a, 192): Þórðr could be referring to the Scandinavian or English warriors, or both. (b) Poole (1987, 269-71), understanding þingamenn to refer to Knútr’s ‘elite corps’, construes the phrase with regn Þorins rekka rann, producing the reading, ‘the rain of Þorinn’s men ran over the þingamenn’, i.e. poetry was recited to them. Poole takes this as evidence of the poem’s delivery in England (see also Frank 1994b, 108). (c) Further possibilities are offered by af þingamǫnnum ‘from the þingamenn’, the reading of the Knýtl mss and several of the ÓH and ÓT mss. This phrase could be construed with Ulfkell fekk ýglig hǫgg, giving ‘Ulfkell received terrible blows from the þingamenn’ (so Skald). (d) Af þingamǫnnum could alternatively be construed with regn Þorins rekka rann, giving ‘the rain of Þorinn’s men ran from the þingamenn’, i.e. the þingamenn themselves recited poetry, for which see Anon Liðs. — [7] ýglig hǫgg ‘terrible blows’: The variant œglig ‘terrible’ is an acceptable alternative. In a number of mss, the n. acc. sg. forms ýgligt/œgligt indicate that hǫgg is interpreted as sg. ‘blow’. — [8] Ulfkell ‘Ulfcytel’: Ealdorman of East Anglia, nicknamed snillingr ‘man of valour/eloquence’ in ON prose sources. He features in Anon Liðs 6/2 and Sigv Víkv 7/3: see Notes to these. Kock (NN §585), as part of his move towards simplified word order (see Note to ll. 5-6, interpretation (c) above), adopts the gen. form Ulfkels which is found in several mss, and reads þars bláar eggjar Ulfkels skulfu ‘where Ulfcytel’s dark edges shook’.

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