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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 6 July 2022)

 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, 503

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — ÞKolb Eirdr 10I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 10’ 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. 503.

Allvalds nutu aldir;
una líkar vel slíku;
skyldr lézk hendi at halda
hann of Nóregs mǫnnum.
En Sveinn konungr sunnan
sagðr es dauðr, en auðir
— fátt bilar flestra ýta
fár — hans býir vôru.

Aldir nutu allvalds; vel líkar una slíku; hann lézk skyldr at halda hendi of mǫnnum Nóregs. En Sveinn konungr es sagðr dauðr sunnan, en býir hans vôru auðir; fár flestra ýta bilar fátt.

Men benefited from the mighty ruler; it is most pleasing to be content with such a situation; he declared himself obliged to hold a hand over the people of Norway. But King Sveinn is reported from the south to be dead, and his dwellings to have been desolate; misfortune scarcely spares most men.

Mss: (217v-218r), F(37ra), J1ˣ(135v), J2ˣ(118r), 325XI 2 i(1va-b) (Hkr); 61(70rb), 53(66vb), 54(68rb), 325VIII 2 g(2rb), Bb(103vb-104ra), Flat(71rb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(38r), FskAˣ(146) (Fsk, ll. 5-8)

Readings: [1] Allvalds: allvaldr J1ˣ, J2ˣ, ‘Alldr valldr’ Bb;    nutu: lutu Flat;    aldir: allir 325XI 2 i, aldri 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [2] líkar: líkar mér 53    [4] of: so F, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, yfir Kˣ, af J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325XI 2 i, 61, ok Flat;    mǫnnum: manna Flat    [5] konungr: kóngr 54    [6] es (‘er’): var 325XI 2 i;    en: so J1ˣ, 61, 53, Bb, hinn Kˣ, F, Flat, FskBˣ, enn J2ˣ, 54, 325VIII 2 g, með 325XI 2 i, hinn er FskAˣ;    auðir: so F, auði Kˣ, J2ˣ, 325XI 2 i, 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, Flat, FskAˣ, æði J1ˣ, auðgi FskBˣ    [7] fátt: ‘[…]’ FskBˣ;    flestra: flesta 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [8] fár: fáir 325XI 2 i, Flat, FskBˣ;    býir: bœir J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, Flat, ‘bœ[…]’ 325XI 2 i, bœjar FskBˣ, bœr FskAˣ;    vôru: ‘[…]’ 325XI 2 i

Editions: Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, 3. Eiríksdrápa 7: AI, 215, BI, 205, Skald I, 107, NN §§38B, 6604; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 459, IV, 104, ÍF 26, 371, Hkr 1991, I, 252 (ÓTHkr ch. 113), F 1871, 167; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 300 (ch. 260), Flat I, 533; Fsk 1902-3, 135 (ch. 23), ÍF 29, 163-4 (ch. 25).

Context: See st. 9. Fsk does not contain the first helmingr of this stanza.

Notes: [All]: On the arrangement of helmingar in the stanza, see Introduction. — [1] allvalds ‘the mighty ruler’: Probably King Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ (d. 1014), who held part of Norway after the battle of Svǫlðr (c. 1000; so also ÍF 26). This is suggested by the statement in ll. 3-4 of a perceived duty to defend Norway, by the fact that the second helmingr is concerned with King Sveinn, and perhaps by the use of the word allvaldr itself. However, this remains uncertain, especially since the sources differ as to which helmingar constitute the stanza. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) suggested a reference to Eiríkr jarl, on his departure from Norway. — [6, 8] en býir hans vôru auðir ‘and his dwellings to have been desolate’: Vôru appears to be the past inf. of vesa ‘to be’, forming an acc. with past inf. construction following a verb of reporting which is extrapolated from es sagðr ‘is reported’ (rather than depending directly on it). Vôru is less likely to be 3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. ‘were’, since this would entail a change of tense from pres. es sagðr to pret., and a switch from report to direct assertion. — [6] en … auðir ‘and … desolate’: Auðir ‘desolate’, the reading of F, is required as the complement of býir vôru ‘dwellings to be’ and is generally adopted by eds. The report that settlements are auðir ‘desolate’ is presumably meant figuratively, though a more literal sense is possible, given the traditional connection between good rule and prosperity in the land, or bad rule and desolation (e.g. Eyv Lv 12-14, Eskál Vell 17). As noted in Hkr 1893-1901, IV, the statement here recalls Hfr ErfÓl 28/1-2, where the skald laments that lǫnd eru orðin auð ‘lands have been desolated’ by the death of Óláfr Tryggvason (cf. also Eyv Hák 20/5). Ms. , and other mss across the stemmata, read hinn/enn auði ‘the wealthy’, which can be regarded as a lectio facilior. — [7-8] fár flestra ýta bilar fátt ‘misfortune scarcely spares most men’: I.e. human sorrow is all but unavoidable. Bila ‘to fail, fail to appear’, is applied here to fár ‘misfortune, harm’ and hence in this context means ‘to spare’. Fátt ‘few’ may be taken as adverbial, ‘little, scarcely’, hence ‘the misfortune of most men scarcely fails’ (as in Translation above), or as an adj. qualifying fár, hence ‘little misfortune of most men fails’.

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