This interface will no longer be publicly available from 1 September 2020. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

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, 511

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

16 — ÞKolb Eirdr 16I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 16’ 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. 511.

Gengu upp, þeirs Englum,
ár hrafngefendr, vôru
langa stund á landi
leiðir, grund af skeiðum.
Eðr í gǫgn, þeirs gôðu
(glaum skers) bœi verja,
(galt hilmis lið hjalta)
herferð búendr gerðu.

{Hrafngefendr}, þeirs vôru langa stund leiðir Englum á landi, gengu ár upp grund af skeiðum. Eðr búendr, þeirs gôðu verja bœi, gerðu herferð í gǫgn; lið hilmis galt {glaum {skers hjalta}}.

{The raven-benefactors} [WARRIORS], who had been for a long time hateful to the English in the land, went up early onto land from the ships. But the farmers, who intended to defend the settlements, made a military expedition in return; the troop of the ruler dealt out {the merriment {of the skerry of the hilt}} [SWORD > BATTLE].

Mss: (12-14), JÓ(26), 20dˣ(5v), 20dˣ(11v), 873ˣ(6v), 873ˣ(12r), 20i 23ˣ(15v), 41ˣ(5r), 41ˣ(10r) (Knýtl)

Readings: [4] grund: upp JÓ(26), 20dˣ(11v), 873ˣ(12r), 20i 23ˣ, 41ˣ(10r);    af: frá JÓ(26), 20dˣ(11v), 873ˣ(12r), 20i 23ˣ, 41ˣ(10r)    [5] Eðr (‘enn’): en 20dˣ(5v), 873ˣ(6v), 873ˣ(12r)    [7] hilmis: hjalmað JÓ(26), 20dˣ(11v), 873ˣ(12r), 20i 23ˣ, 41ˣ(10r)    [8] búendr: bœndr JÓ(26), 20dˣ(11v), 873ˣ(12r), 20i 23ˣ, 41ˣ(10r)

Editions: Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, 3. Eiríksdrápa 13: AI, 217, BI, 206, Skald I, 108, NN §§707, 1953B, 2466B, 2771; 1741, 12-15, 26, Knýtl 1919-25, 37, 48, ÍF 35, 105-6, 119 (chs 8, 15).

Context: This stanza is cited for the first time in Knýtl ch. 8, within an account of Knútr’s arrival in England. The English muster a defensive force and resist Knútr’s advance. In ch. 15, it is cited after a note of Eiríkr’s victory at the battle of Hringmaraheiðr (see Context to st. 15).

Notes: [2] ár; hrafngefendr ‘early; raven-benefactors [WARRIORS]’: (a) Ár is taken as an adv. of time here (as in NN §1953B, Skald and ÍF 35). Hrafngefandi (pl. ‑gefendr) is a warrior-kenning of a somewhat unusual sort since hrafn ‘raven’ in such kennings usually functions as the direct object of a base-word denoting ‘feeder’ or ‘gladdener’, whereas here it is the indirect object of one meaning ‘givers, benefactors’. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; LP: ár(h)rafngefandi) interprets ár to mean ‘food, produce’, and construes hrafn-ár-gefendr ‘givers of food to the raven [WARRIORS]’, assuming tmesis and a rare structure (cf. árhrafngefendr, Meissner 337). — [3] á landi ‘in the land’: (a) Here, the phrase is construed with the dependent clause beginning þeirs ‘who’, which makes for straightforward word order. (b) Skj B and Skald construe gengu upp á landi ‘advanced into the land’ (although see LP: 2. ganga 4, where this phrase is categorised with ganga upp á land ‘go ashore’). See further Note to l. 4. — [4] grund af skeiðum ‘onto land from the ships’: The mss read grund af skeiðum in their first citation of the stanza, and upp frá skeiðum ‘up from the ships’ in their second. Neither reading is straightforward. (a) This edn follows Bjarni Guðnason (ÍF 35) in reading grund af skeiðum. Grund ‘land’ is understood as the acc. object of gengu upp ‘went up’ (l. 1), the site of movement (cf. Note to st. 13, 5-6, interpretation (a), and references there; see also E. Olsen 1934, 262-3), although ganga upp ‘go ashore’ is normally followed by a prepositional phrase. (b) Upp frá skeiðum ‘up from the ships’ is preferred by Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald). This, however, gives somewhat awkward syntax with its repetition of upp ‘up’, and it assumes convoluted word order in construing á landi (l. 3) with gengu upp, hence gengu upp á landi upp frá skeiðum ‘advanced into the land, up from the ships’ (E. Olsen 1934, 262, notes the difficulty, but see NN §2771 for a defence). (c) A further possibility is to adopt grund from the first citation and frá (skeiðum) from the second, hence gengu grund upp frá skeiðum ‘went across the ground up from the ships’. As in interpretation (a), grund is understood as an acc. of place, now following gengu ‘went’ (l. 1) rather than gengu upp . — [5] eðr ‘but’: The mss have en(n), but its older form eðr is required by the skothending (so Skald; NN §2466B). The word order here shows eðr to be a conj. ‘and, but’, although it is more usually an adv. ‘still, further’. Skj B prints en ‘and, but’. — [6, 7] glaum skers hjalta ‘the merriment of the skerry of the hilt [SWORD > BATTLE]’: The n. pl. hjǫlt (gen. hjalta) refers to the constituent parts of a hilt, hence a single hilt (see Note to Anon Ól 1/5). Sker hjalta ‘skerry of the hilt [SWORD]’ is an unusual sword-kenning, the closest parallels being three others which mean ‘land of the whetstone’ (Meissner 155). Sker ‘skerry’ and other terms for ‘land’ are common base-words in shield-kennings (Meissner 169), but if sker hjalta were a shield-kenning the determinant hjalta would signify ‘of the sword’, and evidence of that is lacking. — [7] hilmis ‘of the ruler’: The context of Knýtl ch. 8 suggests that Knútr is referred to here; that of ch. 15 would suggest Eiríkr.

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.