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Þorbjǫrn hornklofi (Þhorn)

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

2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) (Harkv) - 23

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.

Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) — Þhorn HarkvI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘ Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál)’ 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. 91. <> (accessed 24 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23 

Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi: 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál), Flere af de herhenhørende vers tillægges i forskellige håndskrifter Tjodolf hvinverske. (AI, 24-9, BI, 22-5)

SkP info: I, 97

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Þhorn Harkv 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 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. 97.

Hreyfðisk inn hǫsfjaðri,         ok of hyrnu þerrði,
arnar eiðbróðir,         ok at andsvǫrum hugði:
‘Haraldi vér fylgðum         syni Halfdanar
ungum ynglingi         síðan ór eggi kvômum.

{Inn hǫsfjaðri eiðbróðir arnar} hreyfðisk ok þerrði of hyrnu, ok hugði at andsvǫrum: ‘Vér fylgðum Haraldi syni Halfdanar, ungum ynglingi, síðan kvômum ór eggi.

{The grey-feathered sworn-brother of the eagle} [RAVEN] gloated and wiped its bill, and gave thought to an answer: ‘We have followed Haraldr son of Hálfdan, the young king, since we emerged from the egg.

Mss: 51ˣ(2r), FskBˣ(2v), 302ˣ(3r), FskAˣ(7), 52ˣ(3v), 301ˣ(3r-v) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] hǫs‑: ‘hous’ 301ˣ    [3] arnar: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, annar 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ    [6] Half‑: ‘Hælf‑’ 301ˣ;    ‑danar: so FskBˣ, 52ˣ, ‘‑ðanar’ 51ˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 301ˣ    [7] ynglingi: ‘eðlinge’ 301ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi, 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 4: AI, 25, BI, 22, Skald I, 14; Fsk 1902-3, 7-8, ÍF 29, 60 (ch. 2); Möbius 1860, 228, Jón Helgason 1946, 135-6, Jón Helgason 1968, 16.

Context: As for st. 1.

Notes: [1] hreyfðisk ‘gloated’: Although hreyfa can have the sense ‘move, stir’, the same verb describes ravens exulting over carrion in RvHbreiðm Hl 38/7III and Sturl Hrafn 10/5II, and Falk (1928a, 315-17) argues that it is better understood in the sense ‘puffed itself up, showed pride’, which he identifies as the original meaning of the verb; cf. also Harris (1985, 97). Sveinbjörn Egilsson (LP (1860): reifa) earlier read Reifðisk ‘was gladdened’, since the initial <h> is not found in any ms., but the word is consistently spelt with <y>. — [1] inn hǫsfjaðri ‘the grey-feathered’: As in OE (cf. hasu ‘grey’ and compounds), it is usually the eagle rather then the raven that is described this way. The def. art. is justified by the reference to the raven in st. 1. — [7] ynglingi ‘king’: The word originally designated a member of the Swedish royal house at Uppsala (from whom Haraldr was descended; see Introduction to Þjóð Yt and Note to Yt 27 [All]). It came to serve as a heiti for a powerful monarch of any dynasty; cf. also Note to Eyv Hák 1/4. The reading ǫðlingi ‘prince’ in the FskA transcripts is also possible, and is preferred by Möbius (1860).

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