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Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA)

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

4. Sexstefja (Sex) - 32

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.


Sexstefja — ÞjóðA SexII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja’ 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. 108-47.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32 

Skj: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson: 3. Sexstefja, o. 1065 (AI, 369-77, BI, 339-46); stanzas (if different): 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 28 | 29 | 30/1-4 | 30/5-8 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35

SkP info: II, 140-3

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

27 — ÞjóðA Sex 27II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 27’ 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. 140-3.

Ǫrð sær Yrsu burðar
inndrótt jǫfurr sinni
bjartplógaðan bauga
brattakr vǫluspakra.
Eyss landreki ljósu
lastvarr Kraka barri
á hlæmyldar holdi
hauks kǫlfur mér sjǫlfum.

Jǫfurr sær {ǫrð {burðar Yrsu}} {bjartplógaðan brattakr vǫluspakra bauga} inndrótt sinni. Lastvarr landreki eyss {ljósu barri Kraka} mér sjǫlfum á {kǫlfur hauks}, hlæmyldar holdi.

The prince sows {with the grain {of the offspring of Yrsa}} [= Hrólfr kraki > GOLD] {the bright-ploughed steep field of joint-calm rings} [ARM] of his retinue. The fault-shunning land-ruler sprinkles {bright barley of Kraki (‘Pole-ladder’) <legendary king>} [GOLD] on my own {territories of the hawk} [ARMS], warmly soil-covered with flesh.

Mss: R(32v), R(39r) (ll. 5-6), Tˣ(34r) (ll. 1-4), Tˣ(41r) (ll. 5-6), W(75), U(44r), U(31r) (ll. 5-8), B(7r) (ll. 5-6), 744ˣ(47r) (ll. 5-6), C(3v), C(8v) (ll. 5-6) (SnE); 2368ˣ(92), 743ˣ(73r) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] Ǫrð: Auð U(44r), Jǫrð 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    Yrsu (‘yrsv’): ‘vrdo’ Tˣ(34r), ‘yso’ U(44r), yrsa C(3v);    burðar: byrðar U(44r)    [3] ‑plógaðan: ‘flugv aðan’ W, ‑plogaðar U(44r);    bauga: om. W    [4] bratt‑: ‘brauk’ 2368ˣ, braut 743ˣ;    vǫlu‑: vala Tˣ(34r), W, U(44r), 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    ‑spakra: spaka U(44r)    [5] Eyss: ‘Lys’ Tˣ(41r), ‘Aus’ 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    ljósu: ‘[...]iosv’ U(31r)    [6] last‑: latr U(44r)    [7] hlæmyldar: ‘h[...]milldar’ W, ‘hlemylldar’ U(44r), ‘hlæmilldra’ U(31r), helmildrar C(3v)    [8] hauks kǫlfur mér sjǫlfum: ‘hosk[...]lfr m[...]’ U(31r);    hauks kǫlfur: hauk kalfar U(44r);    kǫlfur: kalfur 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    sjǫlfum: sjalfra 2368ˣ, 743ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson, 3. Sexstefja 27: AI, 375, BI, 345, Skald I, 174, NN §§863, 2267, 3230; SnE 1848-87, I, 398-401, 516-17, II, 321, 362, 546, 581, 605, SnE 1931, 142, 181, SnE 1998, I, 60, 101, 188, 220; LaufE 1979, 348.

Context: The kenning-type ‘Kraki’s seed’ for ‘gold’ is explained in SnE by a narrative of how the Dan. king Hrólfr kraki, generous, humble and valiant, eluded his stepfather-turned-enemy King Aðils of Sweden by strewing the plains of Fýrisvellir with gold provided by his mother Yrsa, which Aðils stooped to pick up. The st. is cited once in full to illustrate kennings referring to gold as the seed of Kraki or of Fýrisvellir (SnE 1998, I, 60). In U(44r) Ok enn ‘And further’ separates the two helmingar. Lines 5-6 are quoted a second time in SnE, with the cross-reference sem fyrr var ritat ‘as was written before’, in a section devoted to heiti for rulers (and used alike for emperors, kings and jarls). The quotation is followed by a comment that a ruler is called landreki because he drives (rekr) his army over the territory of other kings, or drives an army out of his own land. U lacks the section in question, but the second helmingr also appears in an earlier section devoted to kennings for gold. In LaufE, the two helmingar also illustrate gold-kennings and are cited separately, with the following terse words in between þad er hond. Same ‘that is, “hand”. The same [skald]’.

Notes: [All]: The B text (ll. 5-6 only) is badly damaged here, so the 744ˣ transcription has been used to establish that it has no significant variant readings. — [All]: The two helmingar of this colourful and witty st. are parallel in many ways, as explained by Kock (NN §2267) and Fidjestøl (1982, 137-8); and they appear in reverse order in ms. W. Whether the parallels can be assumed to be so exact as to determine the solution to the textual crux in l. 4 (vǫluspakra), as argued by Fidjestøl, is an interesting problem. — [1] ǫrð burðar Yrsu ‘with the grain of the offspring of Yrsa [= Hrólfr kraki > GOLD]’: On the legend behind this, see Context. Ǫrð f. must be dat. sg., which is the normal case for terms for ‘seed’ as the object of the verb ‘sow’, while bjartplógaðan brattakr bauga ‘bright-ploughed steep field of rings [ARM]’ (ll. 3-4) supplies an acc. object specifying the area that is sown, as is also normal for the verb (Fritzner: 3). The translation ‘with grain’ is used above to distinguish the dat. object (cf. med ... sæd in Skj B) and does not seem problematic, so that Kock’s objection and his suggestion that bjartplógaðan brattakr bauga is an adverbial acc., hence ‘over the ...’ are not persuasive (NN §2267, cf. §1373). — [3-4] bjartplógaðan brattakr bauga ‘the bright-ploughed steep field of rings [ARM]’: On the syntax of the phrase, see the previous Note. Kennings referring to the arm as the ground of rings are quite common, and gen. pl. bauga or gen. sg. baugs are especially frequent as determinant (Meissner 140). The epithet bjartplógaðan enhances the image of the arms of Haraldr’s followers shining with precious gifts. Kock ridicules the LP explanation ‘field worked with a bright plough’ (NN §863), but misrepresents it since LP goes on to give the contextual, transferred interpretation. What the debate calls attention to is the creative ambivalence of the cpd epithet, in which bjart ‘bright’ describes the kenning referent ‘arm’, while plógaðan ‘ploughed’ describes the base-word akr ‘field’, as noted by Fidjestøl (1982, 139). On a possible, but unwarranted, emendation to bauga, see Note on vǫluspakra. — [4] vǫluspakra ‘of joint-calm’: The syntax and meaning of the helmingr are complete without these syllables, which constitute a localised, but difficult crux. The mss are divided between vǫlu and vala, each of which is grammatically and lexically ambiguous, and it is not obvious whether vǫlu/vala and spakra form a cpd or not. The gen. pl. spakra, assuming it is not used substantivally, ‘of the wise ones’, must qualify bauga ‘rings’, which is striking in itself since spakr is usually applied in skaldic poetry to human beings, especially in contexts where the theme is wisdom or native wit; ‘peaceable’ is another possible sense. (a) Finnur Jónsson takes vǫlu as gen. sg. of vala f. ‘joint-bone’ in a cpd vǫluspakr, describing the rings as resting peaceably on the arm-bone (SnE 1848-87, I, 399, Skj B and LP: vǫluspakr, though see also LP: vala where Finnur takes the word as referring to leg-bones; so also Faulkes in SnE 1998, II, 431). This seems the best solution available without recourse to emendation, but it cannot be regarded as at all certain. (b) A solution involving instead valr ‘falcon, hawk’ as the determinant of the arm-kenning is attractive, given that ‘falcon’s ground’ is the most common pattern of arm-kenning (Meissner 141) and that one such kenning is found in the second helmingr; but bauga would be left without function, unless it joined ǫrð burðar Yrsu to mean ‘gold of/in rings’. Fidjestøl (1982, 137-9) argued for brattakr vala ‘steep field of falcons [ARM]’ and suggested emendation of bauga to bjúgri ‘curved’ qualifying dat. sg. ǫrð ‘grain, corn, produce’ and describing simultaneously the metaphorical grain or corn (bending in the wind) and the actual gold (rings), the referent of the kenning of which ǫrð is the base-word. However, this seems a little forced, and a solution which avoids emendation is in principle preferable. (c) Collocations, especially in eddic poetry, of Valir ‘Franks, the French’ or valr ‘Frankish, French’ with terms for treasure, e.g. valamalmr StarkSt Vík 25/2VIII, Hyndl 9/2, or valbaugr Akv 27/10 offer tantalising possibilities, such as brattakr bauga spakra Vala ‘steep field of rings of clever Franks’. As a further element of complexity, Fidjestøl (1982, 140) notes the possibility of word-play on valr: ‘falcon’ and ‘the slain’. — [5] landreki ‘land-ruler’: Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 220) points out that Snorri’s etymological linkage with reka ‘drive’ (see Context above) is probably in error. — [6] barri Kraka ‘barley of Kraki (‘Pole-ladder’) <legendary king> [GOLD]’: See Context. The kenning is dat. following eyss ‘sprinkles’ (inf. ausa) (l. 5). — [7] hlæmyldar holdi ‘warmly soil-covered with flesh’: This adjectival phrase evidently qualifies the arm-kenning kǫlfur hauks ‘territories of the hawk’. Although only U(31r) has hlæ- and only U(44r) has -myld-, both readings constitute the lectio difficilior, and provide an unusual but acceptable image. Myldr could be a derivative of mold ‘soil’, hence myldar holdi ‘soil-covered with flesh’ (myldar f. acc. pl. agreeing with kǫlfur ‘territories’). Hlær ‘warm’ describes the flesh, reinforcing the referent ‘arm’ rather than the metaphorical ‘territories’, but it is here translated adverbially, as ‘warmly’, as an analogue to the fact that it is compounded with myldr. (b) The majority, and more obvious, reading hlémildr ‘shelter-generous’ is difficult to account for, unless by Faulkes’ suggestion hlémildrar holdi ‘shelter-generous ... (of arms), providing a place for flesh to sit’ (SnE 1998, II, 312); but surely flesh shelters the arms rather than the reverse. — [8] kǫlfur hauks ‘territories of the hawk [ARMS]’: Kalfa f. is a rare word occurring, it seems, only here and possibly in Árngr Gd 15/6IV kálfur munar ‘mind’s territories [BREAST]’.

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