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Runic Dictionary

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Þórálfr (-valdr) (Þórálfr)

11th century; volume 3; ed. Diana Whaley;

Fragment (Frag) - 1

Nothing is known of this skald (Þórálfr) and his poetry beyond the fact the helmingr below is cited in SnE (Skm) amidst citations mainly from well-known tenth-century skalds. The name of the skald is given as ‘þoralfr’ in W and B, and since these two mss are considered not closely related this makes this form marginally the best supported. Ms. has ‘þorolfr’, as does R, though a patch of damage in R obscures the final letters, ‘þorol[…]’. The form ‘þorvalldr’ in U could be influenced by a citation from Þorvaldr blǫnduskáld five lines later. The name is printed in Skj as ‘Þórálfr (-valdr)’ but in LP (p. xvi) as ‘Þórolfr (-alfr, ‑valdr)’.

Fragment — Þórálfr FragIII

Diana Whaley 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Þórálfr (-valdr), 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. 467.

stanzas:  1 

Skj: Þórálfr (-valdr): Af et ubestemmeligt digt (AI, 418, BI, 388); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: III, 467

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Þórálfr Frag 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2017, ‘Þórálfr (-valdr), 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. 467.

Sagði hitt, es hugði,
Hliðskjalfar gramr sjǫlfum
hlífar styggr, þars hǫggnir
Háreks liðar vôru.

{Gramr Hliðskjalfar}, styggr hlífar, sagði sjǫlfum hitt, es hugði, þars liðar Háreks vôru hǫggnir.

{The lord of Hliðskjálf} [= Óðinn], shy of protection, told him what he intended, where Hárekr’s troops were cut down.

Mss: R(21r), Tˣ(21v), W(46), U(26v), B(4r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Sagði: ‘suagdi’ Tˣ;    hugði: hug Tˣ, hugðit W    [2] ‑skjalfar: skjalfr B    [3] hlífar: ‘hl[…]’ U;    styggr: styggs U    [4] Háreks liðar: ‘huorir magne’ B

Editions: Skj: Þórálfr (-valdr), Af et ubestemmeligt digt: AI, 418, BI, 388, Skald I, 192; SnE 1848-87, I, 242-3, II, 305, 520, III, 9, SnE 1931, 91, SnE 1998, I, 11.

Context: The helmingr is cited in Skm (SnE) as one of several stanzas illustrating kennings for Óðinn (here gramr Hliðskjalfar ‘the lord of Hliðskjálf’).

Notes: [1-2]: The opening couplet resembles Hfr Lv 6/1-2V (Hallfr 9), which reads Fyrr vas hitt, es harra | Hliðskjalfar gatk sjalfan (… blóta) ‘In former times it was different, when I could (sacrifice) to the lord of Hliðskjálf [= Óðinn] himself’. Line 1 is also identical to Steinn Nizv 1/1II. — [1] hugði ‘intended’: In the absence of further contextual information, the sense of this verb is elusive. It could be ‘thought, intended’ or perhaps ‘knew’ (cf. vidste? in Skj B) or ‘ordained, decreed’ (cf. destinarat in SnE 1848-87, I, 243). — [2]: The a and ǫ rhyme (-skjalfar : sjǫlfum) in this even line (aðalhending) is a feature characteristic of late C10th and early C11th poetry (Hreinn Benediktsson 1963a, 1). — [2] gramr Hliðskjalfar ‘the lord of Hliðskjálf [= Óðinn]’: Compare Hallfreðr’s kenning in the couplet cited above. According to Gylf (SnE 2005, 20), Hliðskjálf (earlier Hliðskjǫlf) was Óðinn’s high-seat, located within his hall Valaskjálf; from it he could see over the whole world. — [2] sjǫlfum ‘him’: The dat. pron. is the indirect object of sagði ‘declared, told, said’, but beyond that it is difficult to interpret: its reference is unclear and it could be either sg. or pl. (a) Sjǫlfum may function as a 3rd pers. pron. In all the examples in LP: sjalfr ‘self’ the word is attached to a noun or pron., but if the use of sjalfr alone was acceptable as a poetic licence, sjǫlfum in the present instance could be sg. ‘to him’ referring to Hárekr or perhaps his antagonist in the battle, or pl. ‘to them’ referring to Hárekr’s troops. These solutions would involve assuming that a pron. is suppressed or understood: (hánum) sjǫlfum or (þeim) sjǫlfum. Since the troops have been cut down and Óðinn is more likely to communicate with one outstanding leader, the sg. ‘him’ is tentatively assumed here (cf. ‘told the man himself’, Faulkes 1987, 69). (b) The normal reflexive sense ‘himself’ is possible here, again if a suppressed pron. is assumed, i.e. sjǫlfum (sér). In this case Óðinn would be addressing himself, but especially without any context it is impossible to conjecture why this should be. (c) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B translates Odin fortalte dem (ham?) selv ‘Óðinn told them (him?) personally’, but since sjǫlfum is dat. it cannot be taken with the subject. — [3] styggr hlífar ‘shy of protection’: The majority reading, nom. sg. styggr, is adopted here, although it is curious that the god Óðinn is described as ‘shy of protection’, i.e. bravely reluctant to protect himself in battle, or specifically to use a shield. The same phrase describes Magnús berfœttr ‘Barelegs’ Óláfsson in Bkrepp Magndr 3/2II. The U reading, gen. sg. styggs, can be taken with the human protagonist Háreks, and hence is contextually more plausible; it is adopted in Skj B and Skald. However, on the evidence of the mss it is less likely to be the original reading. — [4] Háreks ‘Hárekr’s’: The most prominent Hárekr in the kings’ sagas is Hárekr Eyvindarson ór Þjóttu ‘from Tjøtta’, a Norwegian magnate, son of a skald and a composer and patron of skaldic poetry; see further skald Biography of Hárekr, SkP I, 808. Hárekr was killed c. 1035, however, which puts him well within the Christian era. An earlier and more promising candidate might be Hárekr Guthormsson, who according to Snorri Sturluson (Hákgóð ch. 4, ÍF 26, 154) fell in England with Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’ c. 954. Eiríkr was commemorated in the distinctly pagan poem Eiríksmál (Anon EirmI), which contains (in st. 7) a reproachful question to Óðinn as to why he deprived Eiríkr of victory. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26, 154 n.) suggests that Hárekr and others were named in a now lost portion of Eirm, and if correct this might in turn suggest that he is the Hárekr mentioned by Þórálfr l. 4. However, whether Anon EirmI named the fallen companions of Eiríkr is disputed (see Introduction to the poem), and this identification remains highly speculative.

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