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Runic Dictionary

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Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Diana Whaley;

1. Magnússflokkr (Magnfl) - 19

Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA) is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262) among the poets of Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson, and virtually all his extant poetry seems to have been composed in honour of them, or in association with them; hence it dates from the period 1035-1066. The text of Skáldatal in AM 761 a 4°ˣ (SnE 1848-87, III, 259) also credits Þjóðólfr with poetry for Haraldr Þorkelsson, son of Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’ and one of the Dan. magnates present in Norway during the reign of Sveinn Álfífuson (1030-35). No identifiable fragments of this remain, but if true the tradition would suggest that Þjóðólfr was born not much later than 1010. Hemings þáttr Áslákssonar (Hem) has him die at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, and there is no record of him after that date, though Lv 11 has the air of being composed after the battle. Þjóðólfr was, according to Skáldatal and Fsk (ÍF 29, 245), the brother of another skald, Bǫlverkr Arnórsson (Bǫlv), and according to Sneglu-Halla þáttr (Snegl) in Flat (1860-8, III, 415), was from an undistinguished family in Svarfaðardalur, northern Iceland. The same þáttr (p. 421) names his father not as Arnórr but as Þorljótr, in the context of a scurrilous anecdote told against Þjóðólfr by Sneglu-Halli (SnH), who also taunts him with having composed the otherwise unknown Sorptrogsvísur ‘Dustbin Vísur’. The þáttr nevertheless describes him as accomplished (menntr vel) and courteous (kurteis maðr), highly favoured by King Haraldr and chief of his poets (haufutskꜳlld sitt, p. 415). Þjóðólfr’s poetry, rich in allusion and imagery, has continued to be widely admired, and it gains colour and vigour from the fact that he participated in many of the campaigns he depicts. It undoubtedly also reflects the fact that he was one of an exceptional circle of poets patronised by Haraldr (see Turville-Petre 1968), and much of his poetry shares topics and imagery with that of his contemporary Arnórr jarlaskáld (Arn), though there is no account of the dealings between these two. Þjóðólfr figures in several anecdotes centring on poetic composition: see Contexts to Lv 2-6, though we have no way of knowing whether he was so touchy about his reputation as the Context to Lv 4, and Snegl, would suggest; he also features as a go-between figure in Brands þáttr ǫrva, which cites no poetry. For brief biographies of Þjóðólfr see, e.g. SnE 1848-87, III, 578-9; LH 1894-1901, I, 627-32; Hollander 1945, 189-96.

In addition to the works edited here as Þjóðólfr’s, there have been further attributions to him. Þfagr Sveinn 7 is attributed to Þjóðólfr in Mork (1928-32, 165-6) and Flat (1860-8, III, 341), but to Þorleikr fagri in other sources; ÞKolb Eirdr 17I is attributed to Þjóðólfr in the U ms. alone, and Þfisk Lv 3 is attributed to him in F. Further, Flat, by citing Okík Magn 1 after ÞjóðA Magnfl 18 without announcing a change of skald implicitly assigns the latter to Þjóðólfr. We might perhaps also imagine Þjóðólfr having a hand in Anon (HSig) 2, the st. collaboratively composed by Haraldr’s men. A further set of six sts presented are anonymous in the medieval sources but are presented in this edn as Halli XI Fl (for reasons explained in Halli Biography below). These are printed among Þjóðólfr’s works in CPB II, 210-11 and listed under his name in SnE 1848-87, III, 583-4; Poole also finds ‘the ascription to Þjóðólfr Arnórsson … tempting, on stylistic grounds’ (1991, 75).

Preserved mainly in the kings’ sagas, above all in Hkr, Þjóðólfr’s oeuvre presents exceptional problems of reconstruction, which are discussed at some length in the Introductions to the individual poems or sets of sts. The chief problem is that Þjóðólfr certainly composed a major dróttkvætt poem for each of his patrons Magnús (Magnússflokkr, Magnfl) and Haraldr (Sexstefja, Sex), but that in each case there is also a set of sts that may or may not belong in the main encomium. The decision has been taken here to print them separately: fourteen sts depicting the aftermaths of Magnús’s major battles at Århus (Áróss) and Helgenæs (Helganes) are presented as ‘Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi’ (Magn), and seven describing the launch of Haraldr’s great levied fleet from Nidelven (the river Nið) as ‘Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr’ (Har). As a reference aid, the arrangement of Þjóðólfr’s oeuvre in SkP and Skj is shown here.

Magnússflokkr (ÞjóðA Magnfl)
SkP Skj
15Náði jarl at eyða 19
16Rǫnn lézt, ræsir Þrœnda,20
17Hizig laut, es heitir 21
18Flýði jarl af auðu, 22
19Háðisk heilli góðu25
Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi (ÞjóðA Magn)
1Hrauð leifs mǫgr áðan Magnfl 15
2Misst hafa Sveins at sýnu, Magnfl 16
3Gær sák grjóti stóru Lv 1
4Spurði einu orði Magnfl 17
5Saurstokkinn bar svíra Magnfl 18
6Hrindr af hrókalandi Lv 2
7Menn eigu þess minnask, Lv 3
8Skjǫld bark heim frá hjaldri Magnfl 23
9Bauð leifs sonr áðan Magnfl 24
10Nú taka Norðmenn knýja,Lv 4
11Brum jǫrn at œrnuLv 5
12Svíðr of seggja búðirLv 6
13Fjǫrð lét fylkir verðaLv 7
14Ek hef ekki at drekkaLv 8
Runhent poem about Haraldr (ÞjóðA Run)
Sexstefja (ÞjóðA Sex)
6Þjóð veit, at hefr háðar7
7Stólþengils lét stinga6
8Ok hertoga hneykir25
9Reist eikikjǫlr austan8
10Vatn lézt, vísi, slitna,9
11Gegn skyli herr, sem hugnar10
12Frn hefr sveit við Sveini11
13Lét vingjafa veitir12
14Fast bað fylking hrausta13
15Alm dró upplenzkr hilmir14
16Flest vas hirð, sús hraustum15
17Sogns kvðu gram gegnan16
18Sveinn át sigr at launa17
19Nús of verk, þaus vísi,18
20Létu lystir sleitu19
21Tók Holmbúa hneykir20
22Gagn brann greypra þegna; 21
23Fœrði fylkir Hǫrða,22
24Áræðis naut eyðir23
25Refsir reyndan ofsa24
26Mǫrk lét veitt fyr verka26
27Ǫrð sær Yrsu burðar27
28Lét hræteina hveiti32
29Blóðorra lætr barri30a
30Geirs oddum lætr greddir30b
31Gera vas gisting byrjuð29
32Hár skyli hirðar stjóri35
Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr (ÞjóðA Har)
1Skeið sák framm at flœði, Lv 18
2Slyngr laugardag lǫngu Lv 19
3Rétt kann rœði slíta Lv 20
4Sorgar veit, áðr slíti Lv 21
5Eigu skjól und skógi Lv 22
6Hléseyjar lemr hvan Lv 23
7Haraldr þeysti nú hraustla Lv 24
Fragments (ÞjóðA Frag )
1 Nús valmeiðum víðisLv 9
2Jarl/Ǫrr lætr, odda skúrar Sex 28
3Ganga él of Yngva Sex 31
4Snart við sæþráð kyrtat Sex 33
5Útan bindr við enda Sex 34
Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Lausavísur (ÞjóðA Lv)
1Leiða langar dauða Lv 10
2Sumar annat skal sunnar Lv 11
3[Logit hefr Baldr at Baldri]
brynþings fetilstingar
Lv 12
4Mildingr rauð í móðu Lv 13
5Varp ór þrætu þorpi Lv 14
6Sigurðr eggjaði sleggju Lv 15
7Haddan skall, en Halli Lv 16
8Út stendr undan báti Lv 17
9Ǫld es, sús jarli skyldi Lv 25
10Skalka frá, þótt fylkir Lv 26
11Ǫld hefr afráð goldit Lv 27

Reconstructions of the Þjóðólfr corpus are offered by Finnur Jónsson in SnE 1848-87, III, 579-90, which is the basis (almost unchanged) for Skj (AI, 361-83, BI, 332-53), and the Skj ordering is retained in Skald (I, 168-77); other major contributions are by Guðbrandur Vigfússon in CPB (II, 198-212) and by Fidjestøl (1982, 133-43, 172).

The principal eds consulted in the course of re-editing Þjóðólfr’s poetry for SkP are listed for each st., and are of two main types: eds of the skaldic corpus (Finnur Jónsson’s in Skj AI, 361-83; BI, 332-53 and Ernst Albin Kock’s in Skald I, 168-77, supported by numerous NN) and eds of the various prose works in which the poetry is preserved. Extracts are also included in anthologies, articles and other works including (with ten or more sts): CPB II, 198-212; Kock and Meissner 1931, I, 57-60; Hollander 1945,190-6 (annotated translations only), Poole 1991, 59-63; and (with seven sts) Turville-Petre 1976, 97-102. Such works as these, together with others containing comment on the poetry, are cited as appropriate in the Notes.


Magnússflokkr — ÞjóðA MagnflII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘ Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 61-87. <> (accessed 16 October 2021)

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

Skj: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson: 1. Magnúsflokkr, omtr. 1045 (AI, 361-8, BI, 332-8); stanzas (if different): 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25

SkP info: II, 65-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — ÞjóðA Magnfl 2II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 65-6.

Út rétt, allvaldr, skjóta
— ekin dúðisk rô — snekkju,
en þrítøgt skip þrautar
þann tíð í haf skríða.
Vægðit vendi sveigðum
veðr ótt of þér, dróttinn;
hlóðu hirðmenn prúðir
húnskript í Sigtúnum.

Allvaldr, rétt skjóta snekkju út, en [rétt] þrítøgt skip skríða þrautar í haf þann tíð; ekin rô dúðisk. Ótt veðr vægðit sveigðum vendi of þér, dróttinn; prúðir hirðmenn hlóðu {húnskript} í Sigtúnum.

Mighty ruler, you launched [lit. did launch] a warship out, and [made] the thirty-benched ship glide at full stretch over the sea at that time; the driven sailyard shuddered. The raging wind did not spare the swayed mast above you, lord; splendid retainers took down {the decorated cloth} [SAIL] of the mast-top in Sigtuna (Sigtúnir).

Mss: (495v), papp18ˣ(203v), 39(12rb-va), F(37rb), E(3r), J2ˣ(239v) (Hkr)

Readings: [2] ekin: eikin F, E, ekinn J2ˣ    [3] þrítøgt: ‘þritug’ J2ˣ;    þrautar: so 39, F, E, J2ˣ, þrauta Kˣ, papp18ˣ    [5] vendi: vandi 39, vindi E, J2ˣ    [6] ótt: so F, E, J2ˣ, átt Kˣ, 39

Editions: Skj: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson, 1. Magnúsflokkr 2: AI, 361, BI, 332, Skald I, 168, NN §§848, 3228; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 7, IV, 180, ÍF 28, 7, Hkr 1991, 559-60 (Mgóð ch. 1), F 1871, 169, E 1916, 8.

Context: Making his way westwards from Novgorod (Hólmgarðr), Magnús stops in Sigtuna (Sigtúnir, Sweden), where his stepmother, Ástríðr, rallies support for him.

Notes: [All]: The st. is introduced, Svá segir Þjóðólfr í Magnúsflokki ‘As Þjóðólfr says in Magnússflokkr’—the only direct reference to the poem’s title. — [1, 2, 3, 4] rétt skjóta snekkju út, en [rétt] ... skip skríða ‘you launched [lit. did launch] a warship out, and [made] the ... ship glide’: Rétt (2nd pers. sg. pret. indic. of ráða) in l. 1 forms a periphrastic pret. tense with the inf. skjóta ‘launch’, hence strictly ‘you did launch’. There is, however, no such verb to accompany skríða in l. 4, which also appears to be an inf. (a) The interpretation adopted with some reluctance here assumes that the infinitives skjóta and skríða are parallel, and both dependent on rétt. The resulting construction is awkward because the relationship of rétt and the inf. is different in the two instances. In rétt skjóta, lit. ‘did launch’ rétt is little more than an auxiliary and Magnús is the subject of the whole verb phrase, whereas in (rétt) skríða ‘made glide’ rétt again has Magnús as its subject, but it means ‘caused’, and the ship is the subject of skríða. It seems as though rétt is functioning rather like lét ‘caused’ here. Kock favoured this interpretation, comparing seggi vil ek í sal ganga ‘I want the men to go into the hall’ (Sigsk 44; NN §3228), but the behaviour of the verb vilja is not evidence for that of ráða. (b) The same meaning would be gained simply by assuming that, like skjóta, skríða can be causative, hence rétt skríða skip ‘you did make the ship glide’, but evidence for this is lacking. (c) Finnur Jónsson’s solution in Hkr 1893-1901, IV and Skj B was to assume that the second, understood, occurrence of rétt is in effect 3rd sg. réð, hence rétt skjóta, en [réð] skríða, lit. ‘you did launch, and it did glide’ rather than ‘you made it glide’, but this displaces the problem rather than solving it. (d) A neater option altogether is to adopt the reading þrauta ‘did not fail’ in l. 3, i.e. 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of þrjóta with negative suffix -a, hence en skip þrauta skríða ‘and the ship did not fail to glide’. However, this makes the assumption that K alone (represented by and papp18ˣ) preserves the correct, straightforward, reading, and although this assumption seems almost unavoidable in st. 3/1 spornuðu(ð) ‘they/you trod’, it is in principle better avoided, and attractive K readings have not been adopted in sts 10/1 bru(t) and 14/2 elds / éls. (e) The J2ˣ reading þrítug implies a pl. skip ‘thirty-benched ships’ which could be subject to skríða ‘glide’, but a pres. tense verb seems unlikely here. — [2] ekin rô dúðisk ‘the driven sailyard shuddered’: Jesch explains, ‘as it [was] turned to catch the wind’ (2001, 162). Ekin provides a regular resolution of two short syllables, while the variant eikin is metrically inappropriate, and seems to be influenced by the adj. eikinn ‘savage, hostile’, or by the noun eik(i) ‘oak tree(s)’. Finds from the Gokstad ship identified as sailyards are of birch and fir (Jesch 2001a, 162). — [2, 3] snekkju; þrítøgt skip ‘warship; thirty-benched ship’: This constitutes a useful piece of evidence that the snekkja, whose size and type are somewhat elusive, was not necessarily smaller than a skeið, as has been assumed (Falk specified twenty rowing stations, 1912, 102-4, but see Jesch 2001a, 126-7). — [3-4] þrautar ... þann tíð ‘at full stretch ... at that time’: Þrautar seems to be an adverbial gen. sg., with a sense comparable to til þrautar ‘to the utmost, at full stretch’ (cf. ÞjóðA Har 6, also in a context involving a snekkja). Both it and þann tíð ‘at that time’ are best taken, as by most eds, with the cl. in ll. 3-4 in which they are embedded. Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901 and Skj B construed þrautar with the cl. ekin r dúðisk ‘the driven sailyard shuddered’, and þann tíð ‘at that time’ with the cl. rétt skjóta ‘you launched’, but this creates an extremely disjointed cl. arrangement which is decried by Kock (NN §848). — [7] hlóðu ‘took down’: In what seems an abrupt end to the journey, the warriors take down the sail. Whether the normal sense of hlaða, ‘pile’, means here that the sail was taken off the yard and folded on the deck or merely that it was furled around the yard is not clear (cf. Falk 1912, 62; Jesch 2001a, 178). That the sail is not taken down but reefed is suggested by Finnur’s translation rebede (Hkr 1893-1901, IV and Skj B), but this is rejected as a land-lubberly (landkrabbebetonade) explanation by Kock (NN §3228, Anm). — [8] húnskript ‘the decorated cloth of the mast-top [SAIL]’: Jesch (2001a, 161) points out that the skript ‘decoration, picture’ on the sail could be embroidered, painted or simply the effect of stitching in sections; cf. Seglit var sett með fögrum skriptum ‘The sail was laid out with beautiful decorations’ (Fms 10, 77, cited in CVC: skript). Sail-kennings are rare (Meissner 222), but this one reappears in SnSt Ht 78/8III and Sturl Hákkv 11/5 (see LP: húnskript).

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