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Runic Dictionary

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Þórðr Kolbeinsson (ÞKolb)

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

Eiríksdrápa (Eirdr) - 17

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.

stanzas:  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, 493

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — ÞKolb Eirdr 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 3’ 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. 493.

Setti jarl, sás atti,
ógnfróðr, á lǫg stóði
hrefnis, hôva stafna
hót Sigvalda at móti.
Margr skalf hlumr, en hvergi
huggendr bana uggðu,
þeirs gôtu sæ slíta,
sárgamms, blǫðum ára.

Ógnfróðr jarl, sás atti {stóði hrefnis} á lǫg, setti hôva stafna hót at móti Sigvalda. Margr hlumr skalf, en {huggendr {sárgamms}}, þeirs gôtu slíta sæ blǫðum ára, uggðu hvergi bana.

The battle-wise jarl, who urged {the stud-horses of the strake} [SHIPS] onto the sea, directed high stems somewhat against Sigvaldi. Many an oar-handle trembled, but {the comforters {of the wound-vulture}} [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIORS], who tore the sea with the blades of oars, feared death not at all.

Mss: (158r), 39(7ra), F(26va), 325VIII 1(4vb), J1ˣ(94v), J2ˣ(88r) (Hkr); 61(19rb), 54(15va), Bb(25vb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(27v), FskAˣ(103) (Fsk); 510(58r) (Jvs)

Readings: [1] Setti: ‘søti’ 39, sótti F, 510, sætti FskBˣ, hætti FskAˣ;    jarl: jarls FskAˣ;    atti: at J1ˣ    [2] ógn‑: al‑ FskAˣ;    ‑fróðr: so 39, F, 325VIII 1, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 54, Bb, FskBˣ, 510, ‑fróða Kˣ, ‑fræðr FskAˣ;    lǫg: lang Bb;    stóði: stœði FskAˣ    [3] hrefnis: ‘hremfnis’ FskAˣ, ‘her fínz’ 510;    hôva: hára J1ˣ, ‘harra’ 61, 54, Bb;    stafna: rafna F    [4] hót: hóts FskBˣ, ‘hatt’ 510;    Sigvalda: ‘Sigv.’ with abbreviation mark J1ˣ, 510, Sigvaldi Bb;    at: ‘ar’ 39, 61, 54, FskAˣ, á Bb, 510    [5] skalf: ‘skalfr’ J1ˣ, skap‑ FskBˣ;    hlumr: hlymr 39, F, hlunnr 54, Bb, ‘lumr’ FskBˣ, ‘hlimr’ FskAˣ, hlynr 510    [7] gôtu: gætu(?) 54, Bb;    sæ: sá J1ˣ    [8] ‑gamms: ‑garms Bb;    blǫðum: blǫðum apparently corrected from ‘blogum’ 510;    ára: ár J1ˣ, ôrum J2ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, 3. Eiríksdrápa 3: AI, 214, BI, 204, Skald I, 106-7; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 326-7, IV, 88, ÍF 26, 277-8, Hkr 1991, I, 186 (ÓTHkr ch. 38), F 1871, 121; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 184; Fsk 1902-3, 93 (ch. 19), ÍF 29, 130 (ch. 21); Jvs 1879, 70. 

Context: In Hkr and ÓT, the Jómsvíkingar continue north towards Rogaland, raiding Hákon jarl’s lands. Hákon learns of their progress and sends scouts south into the fjords and north to Eiríkr jarl; (in Hkr only) Eiríkr proceeds south with his army. For Fsk and Jvs, see st. 2. 

Notes: [1] atti ‘urged’: In prose, etja e-u ‘to incite sby, make sby fight’ is used especially of horse-fights (CVC: etja). Its use here with a ship-kenning based on stóði ‘stud-horses’ is thus particularly apposite. — [2-3] stóði hrefnis ‘the stud-horses of the strake [SHIPS]’: Stóð n. ‘stud’ is usually collective, but is also used of individual horses (CVC, LP: stóð; cf. Eyv Hál 11/11), hence the kenning may signify the entire fleet, as assumed here, or an individual ship. — [3] hrefnis ‘of the strake’: This is the only skaldic occurrence of hrefni n. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) specifies the fifth strake in the ship (and cf. Falk 1912, 52-4, who cites ModIcel. hrefna), though there is no evidence of this in ON (Jesch 2001a, 141). — [3] hôva ‘high’: J1ˣ has ‘hara’ and 61ˣ, 54ˣ and Bb have ‘harra’, which could point to the gen. pl. form hára as a variant of háva (see ANG §430 Anm. 3). The resulting phrase hót háva/hára stafna ‘the threat of high stems’ can be construed as the direct object of setti, as tentatively suggested in ÍF 26 (see Note to l. 4 hót below). — [3] stafna ‘stems’: This can refer to the raised stems at the prow and/or stern of the ship. Here, where forward motion is depicted, it presumably refers to the prows, or possibly has the extended general sense, ‘ships’ (Jesch 2001a, 145). — [4] hót ‘somewhat’: I.e., by litotes, Eiríkr launches high stems with full force against Sigvaldi (so also ÍF 26; Konráð Gíslason 1892, 67-9). All mss except FskBˣ (and 51ˣ and 302ˣ, the other two copies of NRA51) have hót ‘a bit, a (significant) something’. In ON, this word is found in the dat. or gen. case (hóti, hóts) with adverbial sense (LP: 2. hót; CVC: hót n.), but ModIcel. also retains adverbial hót (usually in the phrase ekki hót ‘not at all, not a bit’), and it is understood adverbially here, qualifying setti at móti ‘directed against’. Skj B and Skald prefer the adverbial gen. hóts (‘hoz’), the reading of FskBˣ, taking hóts hôva stafna ‘very high stems’ together. A further, remote, possibility is to read hót as the word for ‘threat’ (LP: 1. hót; see Note to l. 3 hôva above). — [4] Sigvalda: Sigvaldi Strut-Haraldsson, jarl of Jómsborg, one of the leaders of the Jómsvíkingar at Hjǫrungavágr. — [5] hlumr ‘oar-handle’: Hlunnr ‘rollers, launcher’, a common word in skaldic poetry and the reading of 54 and Bb, would be compatible with the focus on launching in the first helmingr, but less so with the second helmingr, where, reading hlumr, the trembling of the oar-handles contrasts with the fearless steadfastness of the warriors who ply them; oar-blades (blǫðum) are also mentioned in l. 8. The word hlumr also occurs in l. 7 of Þór Lv, a jocular stanza with a theme of rowing. — [7] gôtu slíta ‘tore’: Lit. ‘managed to tear’, with gôtu (inf. geta ‘get’) as a pleonastic auxiliary.

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