This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

login: password: stay logged in: help

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 28 January 2022)

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, 85-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

18 — ÞjóðA Magnfl 18II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr 18’ 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. 85-6.

Flýði jarl af auðu
ótvínn skipi sínu
morð, þars Magnús gerði
meinfœrt þaðan Sveini.
Réð herkonungr hrjóða
hneitis egg í sveita;
sprændi blóð á brýndan
brand; vá gramr til landa.

Ótvínn jarl flýði morð af auðu skipi sínu, þars Magnús gerði Sveini meinfœrt þaðan. Herkonungr réð hrjóða egg hneitis í sveita; blóð sprændi á brýndan brand; gramr vá til landa.

The unwavering jarl fled the killing, from his empty ship, where Magnús made it perilous for Sveinn to go from there. The army-king painted [lit. did paint] the sword’s edge in gore; blood spurted onto the sharpened sword; the prince fought for lands.

Mss: (517r), papp18ˣ(222r), 39(17vb), F(41rb), E(9r), J2ˣ(254r-v) (Hkr); FskBˣ(58v), 51ˣ(53r), FskAˣ(222-223) (Fsk); H(12r), Hr(10vb) (H-Hr); Flat(191vb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] Flýði: ‘Fluðe’ FskAˣ, Hlýði Flat;    af: á 39;    auðu: ‘auð[…]’ 39, ‘oðru’ Flat    [2] ótvínn: so FskBˣ, 51ˣ, ‘otvin’ Kˣ, ‘vt vín’ 39, ‘ót vín’ F, ‘ottinn’ E, ‘otinn’ J2ˣ, ‘ut vinn’ FskAˣ, ‘otvín’ H, ‘ottvín’ Hr, ‘ættuin’ Flat    [3] morð: morðs F, ‘modr’ Flat;    þars (‘þar er’): þat er E, þar FskBˣ, Hr, ‘þer er’ FskAˣ, þeir er Flat    [4] ‑fœrt: so all others, ‑fǫr Kˣ    [5] Réð: rauð E, J2ˣ, FskBˣ, 51ˣ;    hrjóða: rjóða E, J2ˣ, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, Flat    [8] brand: brandi Flat;    landa: handa E, FskAˣ, Flat

Editions: Skj: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson, 1. Magnúsflokkr 22: AI, 366-7, BI, 337, Skald I, 170, NN §§806, 851, 1817; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 64, IV, 202, ÍF 28, 57-8, Hkr 1991, 594 (Mgóð ch. 33), F 1871, 189, E 1916, 30; Fsk 1902-3, 213 (ch. 42), ÍF 29, 223 (ch. 50); Fms 6, 84-5 (Mgóð ch. 40), Fms 12, 137; Flat 1860-8, III, 284, Andersson and Gade 2000, 125, 470 (MH).

Context: In Hkr and H-Hr this is cited in relation to the battle of Helgenæs (Helganes; see st. 17). Sveinn’s ships are all cleared, and he flees. In Fsk and Flat it is cited in relation to another encounter, south of Århus (Áróss) after the lapse of a winter; they follow the st. with a remark that it demonstrates that Magnús and his men called Sveinn ‘jarl’ while Sveinn called himself king, as did his men.

Notes: [All]: Flat cites both this st. and Okík Magn 1, implicitly crediting Þjóðólfr with both of them. — [2] ótvínn ‘unwavering’: The word is somewhat uncommon and the scribes were evidently puzzled, but -tvínn is secured by the rhyme and the sense ‘undivided, unwavering, resolute’ is compatible with the contexts (cf. Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson 1875-1889, II, 376, concluding a thorough discussion; see also Þfisk Lv 2/2 and Steinn Óldr 5/2). The nom. sg. adj. could grammatically qualify either of two subjects. (a) It is assumed here, and by most eds, to qualify jarl in l. 1. Although this may seem too complimentary an epithet for the fleeing enemy Sveinn, there is a nice irony in an enemy who is unwavering about escape. (b) Ótvínn is taken with Magnús by Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901; Fsk 1902-3; Skj B); this is firmly rejected by Kock in NN §854. — [3] morð ‘the killing’: Flýði ‘fled’ (l. 2) is normally construed with both af auðu skipi sínu ‘from his empty ship’ (ll. 1, 2) and morð ‘the killing, battle’. In order to avoid this, Kock suggested, at least as an alternative, reading morð Magnús, in which Magnús (l. 3) is a subjective gen. Magnúss qualifying morð, hence ‘where Magnús’s killing made it grievous for Sveinn to go from there’ (NN §854). Konráð Gíslason had raised the possibility of gen. but was not satisfied by it (Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson 1875-1889, II, 374). — [4] meinfœrt þaðan ‘perilous to go from there’: To take þaðan with meinfœrt ‘perilous to go’, as here and in most of the eds listed above, avoids mentally detaching the adv. from the second cl., in which it is embedded. The juxtaposition of þar ‘there’ and þaðan ‘from there’ may appear awkward, but is not so if þaðan refers specifically to escaping from the ship (so Nj 1875-8, II, 374). Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901 and Skj B (though not, to judge from the punctuation, in Fsk 1902-3) takes it with flýði ‘fled’ in the first cl. (see Kock’s objections, NN §§806, 854). Since in Finnur’s interpretation meinfœrt is not connected with þaðan, it does not necessarily refer to Sveinn’s desperate flight, but is taken to mean ‘(Magnús made it) difficult (for Sveinn) to advance’. — [5] réð hrjóða ‘painted [lit. did paint]’: There is good ms. support for both hrjóða and the variant rjóða ‘redden’ (cf. the hrauð/rauð alternation in ÞjóðA Magn 1/1), but the metre favours hrjóða, which, as the cadence of a Type C l., must alliterate, and must alliterate with h- (i.e. with her- and hneitis). That rjóða is a secondary reading is also confirmed by the fact that it is the lectio facilior, since reddening a sword is such a stock item in battle descriptions. Hrjóða evidently cannot have its normal meaning of ‘clear’ here, but perhaps something akin to ‘decorate, paint’, a sense which could be influenced by rjóða but is also ancient, on the evidence of hroðit sigli, probably ‘adorned brooch’ (Sigsk 49, NK 215), and the OE p. p. hroden applied to precious objects and found in compounds such as goldhroden ‘adorned with gold’, applied to royal brides in Beowulf (ll. 614, 640, 1948, 2025). This would imply a verb *hrēodan, cognate with hrjóða. In the light of the OE compounds, it is possible that gollroðinn ‘gold-reddened’ should be read as gollhroðinn ‘gold-adorned’ in Akv 4 and perhaps Anon Krm 21VIII (LP). — [6] hneitis ‘sword’s’: Lit. ‘wounder’s’. The etymological sense seems to be ‘striker, wounder’, cf. hníta ‘strike, wound’. The word occurs in ESk Geisl 43/1VII as the name of Óláfr helgi’s sword, and it may be used consciously here and in Arn Magndr 1 and 13 to emphasise Magnús’s status as heir of the venerated king. — [6] egg (n. acc. sg.) ‘edge’: Could alternatively be n. acc. pl. ‘edges’.

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