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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 18 September 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, 494

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — ÞKolb Eirdr 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 4’ 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. 494.

Enn í gegn at gunni
glæheims skriðu mævar
— renndi langt með landi
leiðangr — Dana skeiðar,
þær, es jarl und ôrum
œrins golls á Mœri
— barms rak vigg und vǫrmum
valkesti — hrauð flestar.

Enn mævar skeiðar Dana skriðu glæheims í gegn at gunni — leiðangr renndi langt með landi —, flestar þær, es jarl hrauð und {ôrum œrins golls} á Mœri; {vigg barms} rak und vǫrmum valkesti.

And the slim warships of the Danes glided on the glistening world [sea] in opposition, to the battle — the fleet sped a long way along the coast —, most of which the jarl cleared under {the envoys of plentiful gold} [MEN] in Møre; {the steed of the rim} [SHIP] pushed on under a warm corpse-pile.

Mss: (159r), 39(7rb-va), F(26vb), J1ˣ(95v), J2ˣ(88v-89r) (Hkr); 61(19va), 54(15vb), Bb(26rb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(27v), FskAˣ(103-104) (Fsk, ll. 1-4)

Readings: [2] glæ‑: ‘giæ‑’ 61;    ‑heims: ‑heim J1ˣ;    mævar: meyjar J2ˣ, 54, Bb, om. FskBˣ, máva FskAˣ    [3] með: frá F    [4] skeiðar: skeiðum F    [5] þær: þar 54, Bb    [6] œrins: orms 54    [7] vigg: víg J1ˣ;    vǫrmum: vǫrgum F, vǫrmu 61, 54    [8] hrauð: so J1ˣ, 61, 54, Bb, rauð Kˣ, 39, F, J2ˣ;    flestar: flesta 54, Bb

Editions: Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, 3. Eiríksdrápa 4: AI, 214, BI, 204, Skald I, 107; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 330, IV, 88-9, ÍF 26, 279-80, Hkr 1991, I, 188 (ÓTHkr ch. 40), F 1871, 122; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 187 (ch. 90); Fsk 1902-3, 93 (ch. 19), ÍF 29, 130-1 (ch. 21).

Context: In Hkr and ÓT, Hákon and Eiríkr sail north with their fleets, and encounter the Jómsvíkingar in Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen), where the two sides draw up their forces and engage in a fierce battle. In Fsk, the first helmingr immediately follows sts 2-3.

Notes: [All]: On the sources’ differing arrangement of helmingar into stanzas, see Introduction. — [1] í gegn ‘in opposition’: Cf. the same phrase in st. 16/5. This is either an adverbial use of the prep. í gegn ‘against, towards, in return’ (see Fritzner: gegn 4), or an elliptical use, with an object such as ‘him’ or ‘the ruler’ implied (cf. Skj B imod (fyrsten) ‘against (the prince)’. The dat. variant skeiðum gives ‘against/towards warships’, but, being only attested in F, it is clearly secondary. — [2] glæheims ‘on the glistening world [sea]’: (a) This hap. leg. is taken here (as in Skj B, ÍF 26 and ÍF 29) as a cpd of adj. glær ‘bright, shining, clear’ and noun heimr ‘world, region’, meaning ‘sea’. This departs from the normal noun + noun structure of kennings: contrast glójǫrð ‘gleaming earth’ (Anon Óldr 23/5), which is further qualified by a ship-kenning to give ‘sea’. However, such compounds occur elsewhere, e.g. Þloft Tøgdr 5/6 svalheimr ‘cool world [sea]’ and similar examples in Meissner 3, and attempts to produce a regular kenning structure by supplying a determinant here are not satisfactory (see Note to l. 2 mævar). (b) Simplex glær ‘sea’ seems to be attested in the phrases verpa, kasta, bera á glæ ‘throw, carry into the sea’ (CVC, LP, Fritzner: glær; see also Mberf Lv 5/2II and Note), and it is possible that the first element of the cpd should be understood thus (cf. Anon (ÓH) 1/4 unnheimr ‘wave-world [SEA]’; Meissner 93). The syntactic function of glæheims is also uncertain. The gen. form is understood adverbially here (so ÍF 26; ÍF 29). Alternatively, it is possible to construe it with gunni, hence at gunni glæheims ‘towards the battle of the glistening region [sea]’, i.e. a sea-battle, which is syntactically simple but stylistically unlikely. Skj B prefers acc. sg. glæheim, taking it as an acc. of place with skriðu ‘glided’, but this is the reading of J1ˣ alone, and there is only one further instance of skríða with acc. (HSt Rst 15/5-6). — [2] mævar ‘slim’: Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) construes mævar with glæheims ‘glistening region [sea]’ as a pl. ship-kenning, the subject of skriðu ‘glided’. He tentatively suggests emending to mávar ‘seagulls’, but this is highly dubious as a ship-kenning and fails to provide the necessary aðalhending, unless Finnur’s suggestion of reading gljá- : máv- is adopted. — [4] leiðangr ‘the fleet’: Normally a fleet together with its crews, often an expeditionary force; see Jesch (2001a, 195-8) on leiðangr in the skaldic corpus, and Notes to ÞjóðA Har 5/3, 5II and Bǫlv Hardr 8/1II. — [7] vigg barms ‘the steed of the rim [SHIP]’: Barmr refers to the upper strake(s) on the ship’s side; see Jesch (2001a, 141). — [7-8] rak und vǫrmum valkesti ‘pushed on under a warm corpse-pile’: I.e. the ship continues to move but the Danish crew lie dead. There is perhaps a contrast with conventional images, using und followed by the dat., of ships advancing under their commanders (e.g. Eskál Vell 25/3). — [8] hrauð ‘cleared’: The object of the verb is the ships, since þærflestar ‘most of which’ refers back to l. 4 skeiðar Dana ‘warships of the Danes’. Rauð ‘reddened (with blood)’, the reading of all the Hkr mss except J1ˣ, is also possible, though it normally takes a term for a weapon (usually a sword) as its object. Further, ms. ‘rauð’ for hrauð is common, and Jesch (2001a, 211) lists several other instances of hrjóða used in similar contexts, where ships are cleared of their men. The reading of the ÓT mss and J1ˣ is therefore clearly preferable.

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