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Runic Dictionary

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Þjóðólfr (Þjóðólfr)

9th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

Fragment (Frag) - 1

Nothing is known about this poet.

Fragment — Þjóðólfr FragIII

Edith Marold, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr, Fragment’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 464.

stanzas:  1 

SkP info: III, 465

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Þjóðólfr Frag 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Þjóðólfr, Fragment 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 465.

þars heiðsæi,
á Fjǫrnis
fjǫllum, drýgði.

… hǫfuðbaðm á {fjǫllum Fjǫrnis}, þars drýgði heiðsæi.

… chief kinsman on {the mountains of Fjǫrnir <sea-king>} [WAVES], where he showed his reverence.

Mss: W(109) (TGT)

Readings: [1] Hǫfuð‑: ‘[…]ofuð’ W

Editions: Skj: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski, 1. Ynglingatal 38(?): AI, 15, BI, 14, NN §1014B; SnE 1848-87, II, 162-3, III, 399; TGT 1884, 28, 104, 217-19, TGT 1927, 77, 105.

Context: TGT gives this stanza as an example of reciprocal metaphor (metaphora aptrbeiðilig). Metaphors of this type are based on an analogy between two domains (in this case, land and sea). Óláfr Þórðarson illustrates this by one example each of the sea-kennings ‘land of ships’, ‘land of fish’ and ‘land of sea-kings’. After giving another example of a sea-kenning Óláfr Þórðarson states (TGT 1927, 77): en í fyrri vísu var hafit kallat fjǫll sækonungs ‘but in the former stanza the sea was called mountains of a sea-king’.

Notes: [All]: The stanza is fragmentary because the first helmingr, which must have contained the subject and the verb of the main clause, is missing (TGT 1884, 218). No definite interpretation is possible. — [1] hǫfuðbaðm ‘chief kinsman’: Lit. ‘head-tree’, acc. sg. of hǫfuðbaðmr. Þul Manna 8/8 lists the word among terms for family relations (for an explanation, see Note there). It probably refers to the closest relative on the father’s side (LP: hǫfuðbaðmr); cf. Egill Arkv 18/1, 2V (Eg 114) and Egill Aðdr 1/3-4V (Eg 21). The first letter of the cpd is now only partly legible in W, but the <H> is confirmed by 761bˣ as well as by the h-alliteration. — [2] heiðsæi ‘reverence’: Heiðsæi is an abstract f. noun derived from the adj. heiðsær, attested only once, as an epithet for Óláfr Haraldsson (Jǫk Lv 2/8I). The noun heiðsæi is otherwise found only in Christian contexts (cf. ONP: heiðsæi): Anon Hsv 5/3VII renders the Lat. verecundiam serva ‘preserve modesty’ as halt þú heiðsæi ‘preserve your reverence’. The word also occurs in prose sources as veita heiðsæi ‘show reverence’ (Lat. timor) (Benedikts saga; Unger 1877, I, 194); meþ litillǽte micklo, oc meþ frambære (h)eiþsæi ‘with great humility and proper reverence’ (HómÍsl 1872, 130). The phrases halda heiðsæi ‘preserve reverence’ and veita heiðsæi ‘show reverence’ used in these sources are comparable to drýgja heiðsæi ‘show reverence’ (lit. ‘perform reverence’) (Detter 1896, 211). The interpretations of drýgja heiðsæi in LP: heiðsæi as udføre hæderfulde handlinger ‘perform honourable actions’ and in LP: drýgja 3. as udøve gavmildhet ‘show generosity’ contradict both one another and the previously mentioned attestations. Apparently the translations in LP were prompted by the assumption that this helmingr was part of Yt. Bugge (1894, 129) interpreted heiðsæi as a Christian word and believed that the helmingr must have been composed in a Christian context. Detter (1896, 211), Storm (1899, 138) and Finnur Jónsson (LP: heiðsær) raised objections to the helmingr’s alleged Christian character, but they ignored the fact that the word heiðsæi is otherwise attested only in Christian contexts. — [3-4] á fjǫllum Fjǫrnis ‘on the mountains of Fjǫrnir <sea-king> [WAVES]’: This interpretation of the kenning is suggested by the prose context, where Óláfr Þórðarson refers to the preceding stanza where ‘… the sea was called mountains of a sea-king’. Fjǫrnir is otherwise not attested as the name of a sea-king, but it is the name of one of Gunnarr’s servants in Akv 10/1. However, there is an abundantly attested noun fjǫrnir ‘helmet’ (cf. LP: 1. fjǫrnir). If the latter were the determinant, the kenning would mean ‘mountains of the helmet [HEADS]’. This was proposed by Detter (1896, 211). He interpreted the head-kenning as an expression for princeps ‘prince’ (cf. LP: hǫfuð 2), whom he took to be the object of drýgja heiðsæi ‘show reverence’. But since fjǫllum is dat. pl., one would have to assume that there were more than one prince to whom reverence should be paid, and his solution, albeit attractive, goes against Óláfr’s interpretation of the kenning. Yet, if the referent of the kenning fjǫll Fjǫrnis ‘the mountains of Fjǫrnir’ is ‘waves’, it is difficult to envision how one could ‘show reverence’ at sea. This problem led Björn Magnússon Ólsen (TGT 1884, 219 and 1894, 8 n. 1) to translate heiðsæi as ‘glorious deed’, and it led Bugge (1894, 131) to assume that the fragment referred to a pilgrimage. The problem is solved by placing fjǫllum Fjǫrnis/fjǫrnis (interpreted as either ‘the mountains of Fjǫrnir <sea-king> [WAVES]’ or ‘the mountains of the helmet [HEADS]’) in the fragmentary main clause rather than in the subordinate clause. This solution has been adopted in the present edn.

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