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Þorbjǫrn hornklofi (Þhorn)

9th century; volume 1; ed. R. D. Fulk;

1. Glymdrápa (Gldr) - 10

Little is known about the Norwegian Þorbjǫrn hornklofi ‘Horn-cleaver (?)’. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273) names him as a poet of Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ (r. c. 860-c. 932). Judging from Fsk (ÍF 29, 59), he seems to have spent his whole life at the court of this king. Þorbjǫrn is the composer of two poems about Haraldr, Glymdrápa (Þhorn Gldr) and Haraldskvæði (Þhorn Harkv). Skálda saga, an anecdote about skalds preserved in Hb, and hardly likely to be historical, depicts him as one of three skalds, the other two being Auðunn illskælda ‘Bad-poet’ and Ǫlvir hnúfa ‘Snub-nose (?)’, each of whom attempts a romantic encounter with the same rich widow and then bemoans his failure in a lausavísa (see Auðunn Lv 2, Þhorn Lv, Ǫlv Lv 2). The three skalds are also named in Egils saga (ÍF 2, 19) as Haraldr’s favourites. They occupy places of honour in his hall, with Þorbjǫrn between the other two.

In the prose sources Þorbjǫrn is predominantly referred to only by his nickname Hornklofi. To date there is no satisfying explanation of this word. It is attested in the Þulur as a raven-heiti (see Þul Hrafns 1/5III and Note), but it does not occur in that sense in the surviving body of skaldic poetry. Scholars have claimed that the nickname refers to Þorbjǫrn’s device, in Þhorn Harkv, of having a raven speak in his stead (SnE 1848-87, III, 408; ÍF 26, 101 n. 1). Fidjestøl (1991, 126) is, however, justified in doubting this interpretation. An alternative possibility would be to link the nickname to Egill Hfl 16/6-7V (Eg 49): en jǫfurr heldr lǫndum hornklofi ‘and the ruler holds his lands by a hornklof’. But hornklofi here must be the dative of neuter hornklof, whereas Þorbjǫrn’s nickname is a masculine n-stem, and unfortunately the meaning of this passage is obscure, though hornklof seems to be some kind of tool.

my abbr.

Glymdrápa — Þhorn GldrI

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘ Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa’ 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. 73. <> (accessed 28 January 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

for reference only:  4x 

Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi: 1. Glymdrápa (AI, 22-4, BI, 20-1); stanzas (if different): 3, 4/1-4 | 4/5-8

SkP info: I, 85

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — Þhorn Gldr 6I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 6’ 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. 85.

Grennir þrǫng at gunni
gunnmôs fyr haf sunnan
(sá vas gramr) ok gumnum
(goðvarðr) und sik jǫrðu.
Ok hjalmtamiðr hilmir
holmreyðar lét olman
lindihjǫrt fyr landi
lundprúðr við stik bundinn.

{Grennir {gunnmôs}} þrǫng jǫrðu ok gumnum und sik at gunni fyr sunnan haf; sá gramr vas goðvarðr. Ok lundprúðr {holmreyðar} hjalmtamiðr hilmir lét {olman lindihjǫrt} bundinn við stik fyr landi.

{The feeder {of the battle-gull}} [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR] forced the land and people under himself in battle south across the sea; that ruler was god-protected. And the splendid-minded ruler, used to the helmet {of the island-salmon} [SNAKE], had {the fierce mast-hart} [SHIP] moored to a stake before the shore.

Mss: (60v), F(10va), J1ˣ(33v), J2ˣ(34v) (Hkr); 761aˣ(20r)

Readings: [2] ‑môs: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ, ‑mál Kˣ, ‑márs F    [4] goð‑: geð‑ F, ‘gǫd‑’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ;    ‑varðr: ‑vǫrðr F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ    [7] fyr: frá F    [8] ‑prúðr: ‘‑vruðr’ J1ˣ;    stik: stig J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 761aˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi, 1. Glymdrápa 6: AI, 23, BI, 21, Skald I, 13, NN §§233, 1370 Anm. 1, 3204; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 120-1, IV, 33, ÍF 26, 112-13 (HHárf ch. 16), Hkr 1991, I, 69 (HHárf ch. 17).

Context: The Gautar attempt to hinder Haraldr’s passage along the Gautelfr (Götaälv) by erecting stakes in the river. King Haraldr nonetheless enters the river, moors his ships to the stakes, and burns and pillages in the vicinity.

Notes: [1] at gunni ‘in battle’: Although most eds place at gunni in the intercalary clause, this makes the word order unnecessarily complicated, and there is no reason to remove it from the main clause (see NN §233 and Mohr 1933, 8). — [2] fyr sunnan haf ‘south across the sea’: According to the prose this phrase must refer to the conflict at the mouth of the Götaälv, and Haraldr is designated andskoti Gauta ‘opponent of the Gautar’ in st. 7/6. The reference is most likely to a military campaign conducted by Haraldr against local viking settlements, much as he did in the British Isles. HarHárf in Flat (1860-8, I, 576) mentions the Gautar among vikings against whom Haraldr hárfagri had to defend his realm, and Fsk (ÍF 29, 81) describes the Brenneyjar, near the mouth of the Götaälv, as a base for viking raids during the subsequent reign of Hákon góði ‘the Good’ (Krüger 2008, 105-6). Historians including Weibull (1921, 33-4) think it unlikely that Haraldr hárfagri would have subjugated Gautland (Götaland), as, e.g., Eggert Ó. Brím (ÓT 1892, 347) supposes. — [4] goðvarðr ‘god-protected’: (a) This edn follows the main ms. , as do Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 42-3), Kock (NN §3204 and Skald), ÍF 26, and Hkr 1991; see also Fidjestøl (1991, 117). Protection and determination of a ruler’s fate by the gods are common themes in connection with the house of the jarls of Hlaðir (Lade): see Eskál Vell 8/2, 14/7, 31/5-8, and Note to Edáð Banddr 9/1, and the same adj. occurs in Edáð Banddr 5/8, 8/8 goðvǫrðu hjarli ‘god-defended land’. The present passage is unique in ascribing a religious dimension to the rule of the Yngling dynasty to which Haraldr hárfagri belonged (Marold 1987, 70; Fidjestøl 1991, 117). (b) Finnur Jónsson (1884, 75-6; Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B) emends to geðharðr ‘harsh-minded’ here, followed by Eggert Ó. Brím (ÓT 1892, 347) and Holtsmark (1927, 37). Only the first element has any ms. support (in F’s geðvǫrðr), however, and emendation is unjustified. — [5, 6] holmreyðar hjalmtamiðr ‘used to the helmet of the island-salmon [SNAKE]’: The snake helmet here should probably be understood as an œgishjalmr ‘helmet of terror’ (on this see Eskál Vell 25/5, 6). The word hjalmtamiðr ‘used to the helmet ...’ suggests that the reference is not to a helmet being worn in the battle at hand, but is more in the nature of a symbol of dignity or rank, perhaps even a royal insignia (Marold 1998, 13), mentioned here to indicate the development of the ruler’s power. — [6, 8] lét ... bundinn við stik ‘had ... moored to a stake’: According to the prose of Hkr these stakes were erected for defence (cf. Falk 1912, 26). Modéer (1944a, 203-9) and von See (1977b, 77-8) doubt this and think they were simple moorings. However, archaeologists have found evidence of offshore barricades in Denmark as early as the year 700 (Nørgård Jørgensen 2002b, 125). Tying up unopposed in an adversary’s harbour may have had symbolic importance as a demonstration of power, much like the designation of the ruler as the wearer of the œgishjalmr (see Note to st. 5/6). The impression would be even greater if the stakes were indeed defensive. — [7] lindihjǫrt ‘mast-hart [SHIP]’: Hjǫrtr ‘hart, stag’, though not a very common base-word for a ship-kenning, is attested a few times (Meissner 219). The determinant lindi may be a collective noun based on lind ‘lime-tree’, and might mean a mast, cf. kennings such as hestr lauks ‘the horse of the mast’ (ÞSjár Frag 1/7III) or drasill vandar ‘the horse of the mast’ (Þorm Þorgdr 2/8V; Meissner 216 has further examples). Because lind and lindi are not attested in the meaning ‘mast’, while lind has the meaning ‘shield’ (LP: 1. lind 2), the lime-wood shields that hung from ships might be an alternative possibility (Marold 1998, 26 n. 19). However, ‘shield’ is not attested as a determinant of ship-kennings (Meissner 214-16). — [8] lundprúðr ‘splendid-minded’: Prúðr is a loanword from OE prūd (< MLat. prōdus < Lat. prōvidus; see AEW: prúðr). It is surprising to find such a loanword in ON in this early period, and it is conceivable that an original fróðr ‘wise’ may have been replaced by prúðr at a later time (cf. Note to st. 8/5).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated