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Tindr Hallkelsson (Tindr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Russell Poole;

Hákonardrápa (Hákdr) - 11

Tindr Hallkelsson (Tindr), an Icelander, was born around the middle of the tenth century and belonged to the illustrious family of Gilsbekkingar; he bore the nickname inn frœkni ‘the Brave’ (Finnur Jónsson 1886b, 309-10). His father occupied a property called Hallkelsstaðir, according to Harðar saga Grímkelssonar (ÍF 13, 96). Ldn (ÍF 1, 82-3) mentions him as a brother of the chieftain Illugi svarti ‘the Black’ at Gilsbakki, thus paternal uncle of the poet Gunnlaugr ormstunga ‘Serpent-tongue’ (GunnlIV), as noted in Gunnlaugs saga (ÍF 3, 58; cf. ÍF 13, 138). He was also a fifth-generation descendant of the skald Bragi Boddason (BragiIII; ÍF 1, 82) and great-grandfather of Gísl Illugason (GíslII; ÍF 1, 111; cf. ÍF 3, 331). His skills as a poet within this skaldic lineage are discussed by de Vries (1964-7, I, 178). His daughters Jóreiðr and Hallveig and son Þorvaldr are mentioned in Ldn (ÍF 1, 108, 137, 111 respectively); the name of a wife, if any, is not recorded.

Little is known about Tindr’s life and career, the fullest source being the incompletely preserved and historically unreliable Heiðarvíga saga (Heið). Ldn (ÍF 1, 83) notes his part in avenging the death of his brother, perhaps early in his adult life before his time in Norway. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 280) includes him among the poets affiliated to Hákon jarl Sigurðarson. Both Fsk (‘A’ redaction only, ÍF 29, 131) and the version of Jvs in ms. 510 (Jvs 1879, 82) show him fighting on Hákon’s side at the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen, c. 985) (cf. Finnur Jónsson 1886b, 309) and as having composed Hákonardrápa, his main surviving work, as a detailed narrative on that theme, probably shortly after the action (LH I, 536). There are no reliable reports of his serving other rulers. The statement in Harðar saga (ÍF 13, 36) that places him in Norway as early as the reign of Haraldr gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’ (c. 961-c. 970) can be dismissed on chronological grounds (LH I, 536; ÍF 13, 96 n. 4). After his return to Iceland Tindr played a prominent role in the famous Heiðarvíg ‘Battle of the heath’ (c. 1015), as reported in Heið (ÍF 3, 298). The saga (ÍF 3, 307) includes two lausavísur spoken by him as he lies severely wounded in the battle (Tindr Lv 1-2V (Heið 14-15)); his death apparently followed shortly afterwards.

Hákonardrápa — Tindr HákdrI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Tindr Hallkelsson, Hákonardrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 336.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11 

Skj: Tindr Hallkelsson: 1. Drape om Hakon jarl, o. 987 (AI, 144-7, BI, 136-8)

SkP info: I, 338

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Tindr Hákdr 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Tindr Hallkelsson, Hákonardrápa 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 338.

Varða, gims sem gerði
Gerðr bjúglimum herða
— gnýr óx Fjǫlnis fúra —
farlig sæing jarli,
þás hringfôum Hanga
hrynserk Viðurr brynju
— hruðusk riðmarar Róða
rastar — varð at kasta.

Varða, sem {farlig Gerðr gims} gerði jarli sæing {bjúglimum herða} — {gnýr {fúra Fjǫlnis}} óx —, þás {Viðurr brynju} varð at kasta {hringfôum hrynserk Hanga}; {riðmarar {rastar Róða}} hruðusk.

It did not come about as if {an attractive Gerðr <goddess> of the fire} [WOMAN] made a bed for the jarl {with her curving branches of the shoulders} [ARMS] — {the din {of the fires of Fjǫlnir <= Óðinn>}} [SWORDS > BATTLE] increased —, when {the Viðurr <= Óðinn> of the mail-shirt} [WARRIOR = Hákon] had to throw off {his ring-depleted clanging shirt of Hangi <= Óðinn>} [MAIL-SHIRT]; {the riding horses {of the path of Róði <sea-king>}} [SEA > SHIPS] were cleared.

Mss: (159v), 39(7va), F(26vb), J1ˣ(96r), J2ˣ(89r) (Hkr); 61(19vb), 54(16ra), Bb(26va) (ÓT); 510(62r) (Jvs); R(34r), Tˣ(35r-v), W(77), U(33r), A(11r), C(5v) (SnE, ll. 5-8)

Readings: [1] Varða: ‘Varada’ J1ˣ, varði Bb, varðar 510    [2] bjúg‑: ‘hiug‑’ J1ˣ, ‘biog‑’ 510;    ‑limum: so 39, F, J1ˣ, 61, 54, Bb, limum apparently corrected from ‑lima Kˣ, ‑lima J2ˣ, ‘timum jmu’ or ‘tunum jmu’ 510    [3] Fjǫlnis: fjǫrnis J1ˣ;    fúra: fyrða 510    [4] farlig: fálig J1ˣ, mjǫk farlig Bb, fagrlig 510;    sæing: om. Bb;    jarli: af jarli 61, at jarli Bb    [5] þás (‘þa er’): þars 510;    hring‑: ‘hrin‑’ C;    ‑fôum: ‑fáin 39, F, 61, R, W, U, ‑fán J1ˣ, fǫt 54, Bb, ‘‑fioen’ 510, ‑farin C;    Hanga: om. Bb    [6] hrynserk Viðurr: hrynserks viðum 39, F, ‘hreyn særk niþum’ J1ˣ, hrynserk viðum 61, R, W, ‘hrím serkiudum’ 54, Bb, ‘hrím serkur nidur um merke’ 510, hring serk viðum Tˣ, ‘hryn serk við a(v)rr’ U, hrynserkr viðum A, ‘hrymserks vidum’ C;    brynju: ‘b[…]io’ R    [7] hruðusk: so 39, F, J1ˣ, 61, 54, Bb, R, Tˣ, W, A, C, ruðusk Kˣ, J2ˣ, ruddusk 510, hruðumsk U;    riðmarar: ‘hrimuadar’ 54, ‘hrímnís vodar’ Bb, ‘hriþ[…]’ U, hríðmarar A, ‘ridmarer’ C;    Róða: ‘haud’ 54, Bb, ‘rode’ 510, ‘roþar’ U    [8] varð at: varð Bb, varðar 510

Editions: Skj: Tindr Hallkelsson, 1. Drape om Hakon jarl 1: AI, 144-5, BI, 136, Skald I, 75, NN §§164, 2444; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 331, IV, 89-90, ÍF 26, 281-2 (ch. 40), F 1871, 122; Fms 1, 173, Fms 12, 43, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 189-90 (ch. 90); Fms 11, 137, SHI 11, 118, 120-1, Jvs 1879, 81-2; SnE 1848-87, I, 422-3, II, 328, 439, 588, SnE 1931, 150, SnE 1998, I, 68, 195. 


Hkr and ÓT describe the onset of the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen). The Jómsvíkingar attack resolutely, causing substantial Norwegian casualties. Hákon’s mail-shirt is so severely damaged that he is obliged to throw it away; sts 1 and 3/5-8 are then cited. Jvs incorporates this stanza at the point where two troll-women are seen standing on Hákon’s ship, flinging arrows at the Jómsvíkingar from their fingers. Hákon fights so energetically that the heat of combat obliges him to shed his mail-shirt; sts 1-3 are then cited virtually continuously. SnE uses st. 1/5-8 in a section exemplifying kennings for weapons and armour, in this case serkr Róða ‘shirt of Róði’ as a kenning for ‘mail-shirt’ (though see Note to ll. 7-8 below).

Notes: [1-4]: Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 195) conveys the general logic of the helmingr in his comment that it ‘contrasts the hardships of battle with the luxury of sleeping with a beautiful woman’ (cf. a similar contrast in Stefnir Lv 2 and in Vígf Lv, another stanza associated with Hjǫrungavágr). Earlier interpretations by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12; SHI 11; LP (1860): sæing) and Finnur Jónsson (1886b, 319; Hkr 1893-1901, IV) which attempted to explain sæing, normally ‘bed’, as a sewn mail-shirt or over-garment are abandoned in Skj B and convincingly refuted by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 26. — [1] varða ‘it did not come about’: Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson understands this as equivalent to vasa ‘it was not’, suggesting that varða was chosen to provide hending, but the literal meaning makes good sense. — [1, 2] Gerðr gims ‘Gerðr <goddess> of the fire [WOMAN]’: (a) The determinant gims probably refers to the fire of the hearth. Woman-kennings with ‘fire’ as determinant are not common, but see Ǫlv Lv 1/7, Mgóð Lv 2/6II and Meissner 417 for parallels. (b) Gim in the sense ‘gem, jewel’ would supply a more standard determinant for a woman-kenning, but this sense does not seem to occur in early skaldic poetry, although gimsteinn ‘jewel, gemstone’ occurs in later Christian poetry, and gim ‘jewel’ appears in fagrgim ‘fair jewel’ and ljósgim ‘light-jewel [SUN]’ in Anon Leið 2/2VII and 35/4VII, respectively. (c) For Finnur Jónsson’s interpretation of the woman-kenning, see Note to l. 2. — [2] bjúglimum herða ‘with her curving branches of the shoulders [ARMS]’: Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) compares axllimar ‘shoulder-branches [ARMS]’ in KormǪ Lv 43/5V (Korm 62). Finnur Jónsson (1886b, 319-20; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; LP: gim, Gerðr) objects that the expression ‘with arms’ is superfluous in the stanza, and that ‘fire’ is rare in woman-kennings (cf. Note to l. 1), and instead posits a kenning Gerðr gims bjúglima herða ‘Gerðr <goddess> of the fire of the curving branches of the shoulders [ARMS > GOLD > WOMAN]’. This is an attractive solution, but it requires adopting gen. pl. -lima, the reading found only in (with hesitation) and J2ˣ, whereas ‑limum has support from both branches of the Hkr stemma and from the ÓT mss. — [4] farlig ‘attractive’: Related to fara ‘travel’, this adj. is applied exclusively to ships elsewhere in poetry (LP: farligr), though its ModIcel. reflex fallegur ‘beautiful’ is widely used. Finnur Jónsson wavered in LP: farligr, sæing as to whether the noun qualified by farlig is Gerðr or sæing. The latter option would lead to the construal ‘it did not become an attractive bed that (sem) the woman prepared’, but this would depend on a use of sem as a rel. conj. attested only much later in the history of the language (ÍF 26; LP: sem 5). — [5] hringfôum ‘ring-depleted’: Lit. ‘ring-few’, implying the severe damage done to the mail-shirt in combat, as suggested by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (LP (1860): hringfár). The prose in Hkr seems to presuppose such an interpretation and it is accepted by most eds. Also possible in principle is ‘shining with rings’, which Finnur Jónsson initially adopted (1886b, 322-3, noted as an alternative in LP: hringfár), followed by Kock (NN §164), both eds citing OE analogues. For correct metre, -fôum ‘depleted, few’ must be realised as two syllables, as is common in early skaldic poetry (cf. SnE 1998, I, 185). — [5] Hanga ‘of Hangi <= Óðinn>’: Although Hangi does not appear as an Óðinn-heiti in the þulur, it was taken to be one, alluding to his status as hanged god, by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12; LP (1860): hángi) and by most subsequent eds (cf. Hkr 1893-1901, IV). The evidence includes three raven-kennings containing the name Hangi (Meissner 121), and an Óðinn-heiti is apt in the present stanza alongside Fjǫlnir (l. 3) and Viðurr (l. 6). See further Note to Bjbp Jóms 4/5-6. — [6] Viðurr brynju ‘the Viðurr <= Óðinn> of the mail-shirt [WARRIOR = Hákon]’: (a) This solution is adopted by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12; SHI 11; LP (1860): Viðurr), followed by Finnur Jónsson (1886b, 321; Skj B; LP: Viðurr) and Kock (Skald), on the basis of the reading and further partial support from U and 510. (b) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) prefers the majority reading viðum brynju ‘for/to the trees of the mail-shirt [WARRIORS]’, construed as a dat. of persons affected modifying hruðusk ‘were cleared’, thus ‘were cleared of men’ (cf. SnE 1998, I, 68). But parallels to such an idiom are not attested, as Bjarni himself notes, and it is reasonable to suppose that a heiti for a god has been garbled here, as frequently in the ms. tradition. — [7-8] riðmarar rastar Róða ‘the riding horses of the path of Róði <sea-king> [SEA > SHIPS]’: For Róði, see Þul Sea-kings 1/5III and Note, and Þul Sækonunga 3/7III. (a) This is the standard analysis (cf. LP (1860): röst; ÍF 26). (b) It is not clear how the interpretation of the helmingr in SnE, as exemplifying the kenning serkr Róða, was arrived at but, as Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 195) comments, although ‘Róða serkr could well be a kenning for coat of mail, it does not seem to be recorded as such in any extant verse, and in this verse it is difficult to see how Róða can belong with any other word than rastar’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SnE 1848-87, I, 423, III, 78), followed by Finnur Jónsson (1886b, 322; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B), nevertheless attempted a defence of serkr Róða by interpreting rastar as from rǫst ‘whirlpool, current’ (LP: 2. rǫst) instead of from rǫst ‘unit of distance, way, path’ (LP: 1. rǫst). This produces a correct ship-kenning riðmarar rastar ‘riding horses of the current’, but it leaves Hanga without a function and in Skj B and LP: rǫst 1 Finnur opted for the analysis shown as (a) above.

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