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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 20 May 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, 504

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

11 — ÞKolb Eirdr 11I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 11’ 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. 504.

Enn hefsk leyfð, þars lofða
lofkennda frák sendu
at hjalmsǫmum hilmi
hjarls dróttna boð jarli,
at skyldligast skyldi
— skilk, hvat gramr lézk vilja —
endr at ástafundi
Eirekr koma þeira.

Enn hefsk leyfð, þars frák lofkennda lofða sendu boð at hjalmsǫmum hilmi hjarls dróttna, jarli, at Eirekr skyldi skyldligast koma endr at ástafundi þeira; skilk, hvat gramr lézk vilja.

Again praise is beginning, where I have heard that praise-renowned men sent an invitation to the helmet-adorned ruler of the land of lords, to the jarl [Eiríkr], that Eiríkr should most dutifully come again to a friendly meeting with them; I understand what the king [Knútr] declared he wanted.

Mss: (232r) (Hkr); Holm2(8r), R686ˣ(14v), 972ˣ(52va), J1ˣ(144r), J2ˣ(125r), 73aˣ(23r), 78aˣ(22v-23r), 68(7r), 61(81ra), 75c(4v), 325V(10ra), 325VII(2v) (ll. 1-6), Bb(127vb-128ra), Tóm(97v) (ÓH); 61(71vb), 53(68vb), 54(70va), Bb(106rb), Flat(75ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Enn: en R686ˣ, 972ˣ, 53, 54, ek 325V, 325VII, Tóm, Flat;    hefsk: hefk Holm2, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 75c, 325V, 61(71vb), 53, 54, Bb(106rb), ‘hefv’ R686ˣ, hefi 972ˣ, 325VII, Tóm, Flat, hefir 73aˣ, 78aˣ, ‘hefs’ Bb(127vb);    leyfð: leyfðr 61(81ra), ‘læyfs’ 325VII, ‘leyfs’ Tóm, Flat, ‘leyfk’ 54, Bb(106rb);    þars (‘þar er’): þess er 75c;    lofða: lofðar 61(81ra), leyfða Tóm, lofka 54, Bb(106rb)    [2] frák (‘frá ec’): fæk 68;    sendu: senda 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61(81ra), 325V, kenndu Bb(127vb)    [3] at: af Bb(106rb);    ‑sǫmum: ‘saunum’ J1ˣ, ‘scuínvm’ Bb(127vb), ‑sonum 53    [4] hjarls: hjaldr 61(81ra), hjarl 325VII, ‘hiartt’ Tóm, hjallr Flat;    dróttna: drýgjanda 61(81ra), dróttins 54, Bb(106rb);    boð: bǫð Bb(127vb)    [5] skyldligast: ‘scylligast’ Holm2, R686ˣ, ‘skylligast’ 972ˣ, ‘skylligazst’ J1ˣ, ‘skylligaz’ J2ˣ, ‘sko᷎gl tiallda’ 61(81ra), ‘skylligast’ 75c, ‘skyllogaz’ 325V, skyldliga 325VII, ‘skylldílígast’ Tóm, ‘skulldligaz’ 61(71vb), 53, ‘skylldugaz’ 54, ‘skulldugaz’ Bb(106rb), ‘skylldeliga’ Flat    [6] skilk (‘skil ec’): skil J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 68, skil ok Bb(106rb);    hvat: hvárt 68, hvert 325VII;    gramr: Gormr R686ˣ;    lézk: man 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 61(71vb), læzk 325V, mun Bb(127vb), 53, 54, Bb(106rb)    [7] endr: endi 972ˣ;    at: so all others, til Kˣ;    ásta‑: ‘esfta’ 73aˣ, 78aˣ, ‘esta’ Bb(106rb);    ‑fundi: so Holm2, 972ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, 61(81ra), 75c, 325V, Bb(127vb), Tóm, 61(71vb), 53, 54, Bb(106rb), Flat, fundar Kˣ, fundu R686ˣ, funda 78aˣ    [8] Eirekr: ‘eir̄’ 68, 61(81ra), 75c, 61(71vb), Eireks 54, Bb(106rb), ‘œīr’ Flat;    koma: kómu R686ˣ, ‘ko[…]’ 75c, kom 61(71vb);    þeira: þeiri J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 78aˣ, ‘þ[…]’ 75c

Editions: Skj: Þórðr Kolbeinsson, 3. Eiríksdrápa 8: AI, 215-16, BI, 205, Skald I, 107, NN §§581, 1853C, 2922; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 32, IV, 115, ÍF 27, 31, Hkr 1991, I, 270-1 (ÓHHkr ch. 24); ÓH 1941, I, 54 (ch. 28); ÓT 1958-2000, II, 316 (ch. 266), Flat 1860-8, I, 560.

Context: Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great), having heard of his brother-in-law Eiríkr’s successes in battle, asks him to accompany him on a campaign in England.

Notes: [1-4]: All interpretations share the acc. with inf. construction (frák) lofkennda lofða sendu ... ‘(I have heard) that praise-renowned men sent ...’, where sendu is a past inf., lit. ‘to have sent’ (cf. Note to st. 6/8). However, they vary as to the allocation and construal of the objects and adjunct phrases. (a) The interpretation followed here, which is similar to that of Kock in NN §2922, is syntactically the simplest. Lofkennda lofða (m. acc. pl.) ‘glorious men’ functions as the object of frák ‘I have heard’, and hjarls dróttna ‘of the land of lords’ qualifies hjalmsǫmum hilmi ‘helmet-adorned ruler’, which stands in apposition with jarli ‘jarl’ (cf. NN §§581, 1853C). Possible instances of apposition are rare but not unknown in early skaldic poetry (see, e.g., st. 13/2 below, Eyv Hál 7/1-4 and Notes to these). It could be avoided by taking leyfð jarli together as ‘praise(-poem) for the jarl’. (b) Kock, in NN §581, proposed lofða lofken(n)da hjarls dróttna, translated männens prisade landsherre ‘men’s praised lords of the land’ (with sg. referent, Knútr) as the object of frák ‘I have heard’, but he retracted this in NN §2922. (c) ÍF 27 takes dróttna hjarls ‘lords of the land’ in apposition with lofða lofkennda ‘glorious men’ as the object of frák, in addition to the apposition of hilmi and jarli. (d) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) offers a syntactically counter-intuitive solution with hilmi ‘ruler’ (l. 3) qualified by lofða (m. gen. pl.) ‘of men’ (l. 1), as an adjunct of leyfð ‘praise(-poem)’, hence ‘praise-poem for the ruler of men’. Lofken(n)da ‘praise-renowned’ (l. 2) qualifies dróttna hjarls ‘lords of the land’ (l. 4) as the object of frák ‘I have heard’ and subject of sendu ‘sent’. This is rejected in NN §581 . — [1] hefsk ‘is beginning’: Hefk ‘I begin’, the reading of a number of mss across the stemmata, is an acceptable alternative, and is adopted by Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901 (but not Skj B). — [1-2] lofkennda lofða (m. acc. pl.) ‘praise-renowned men’: It is possible that this has sg. reference, denoting Knútr. In Hkr 1893-1901, IV, Skj B and NN §581, dróttna ‘lords’, the pl. object of frák in the interpretations offered there, is understood thus (see Note to ll. 1-4, NN §266 and cf. Arn Hryn 19/1II, Arn Hardr 16/6II and Notes). However, given the uncertainty surrounding the circumstances of the English campaign, a literal translation is preferable. ÍF 27 suggests that Knútr and possibly his brother Haraldr are meant (see also A. Campbell 1971, 14). — [3-4] hilmi hjarls dróttna ‘ruler of the land of lords’: Alternatively, ‘ruler of the lords of the land’. The former is preferred here as an appropriate description for Eiríkr, who acted as regent of Norway after the battle of Svǫlðr under King Sveinn tjúguskegg of Denmark and, for a time, King Óláfr sœnski. — [7] endr ‘again’: The sense is uncertain. Endr could alternatively mean ‘formerly, in the past’ (from the poet’s perspective), cf. Hkr 1893-1901, IV. — [7] at ástafundi ‘to a friendly meeting’: This is the reading of all mss except , albeit occasionally in garbled form. Ásta fundr is written as two separate words in the mss, but is printed as a cpd here, as in LP: ástafundr, and see LP for other compounds in ástar-. The reading til ásta fundar gives the same meaning and is adopted by Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B) and Kock (Skald).

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