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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Úlfr Uggason (ÚlfrU)

10th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

Húsdrápa (Húsdr) - 12

Skj info: Ulfr Uggason, Islandsk digter, o. 1000. (AI, 136-9, BI, 128-30).

Skj poems:
1. Húsdrápa
2. Lausavísa

The skald Úlfr Uggason (ÚlfrU) lived around the year 1000 in Western Iceland. Little is known about his life. According to Ldn (S 76, H 64, ÍF 1, 111) he was married to Járngerðr, the daughter of Þórarinn Grímkelsson. Njáls saga (ch. 60, ÍF 12, 152) mentions his losing a lawsuit against Ásgrímr Elliða-Grímsson. The episode told in Njáls saga (ch. 102, ÍF 12, 261-4) about Úlfr refusing a request by Þorvaldr veili ‘the Miserable’ to use force against the missionary Þangbrandr, portrays him as a cautious man. That request and Úlfr’s dismissal of it are recounted there in two lausavísur (Þveil LvV, ÚlfrU LvV; see also Kristni saga ch. 9, ÍF 15, 2, 20-1). According to Laxdœla saga (ch. 29, ÍF 5, 79-80), he must have been on good terms with Óláfr pái ‘Peacock’ and his family, for whom he composed Húsdrápa ‘House-drápa’ (c. 980), a poem celebrating the myths depicted in images within their hall at Hjarðarholt.

my abbr

Húsdrápa — ÚlfrU HúsdrIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Úlfr Uggason, Húsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 402.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12 

Skj: Ulfr Uggason: 1. Húsdrápa, 983 (AI, 136-8, BI, 128-30); stanzas (if different): 3 | 4 | 5 | 8 | 9 | 10

SkP info: III, 422

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

11 — ÚlfrU Húsdr 11III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Úlfr Uggason, Húsdrápa 11’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 422.

Fullǫflug lét fjalla
framm haf-Sleipni þramma
Hildr, en Hropts of gildar
hjalmeldum mar felldu.

{Fullǫflug Hildr fjalla} lét {haf-Sleipni} þramma framm, en of gildar Hropts felldu mar {hjalmeldum}.

{The exceedingly strong Hildr <valkyrie> of the mountains} [GIANTESS] made {the sea-Sleipnir <horse>} [SHIP] lumber forward, and the companions of Hroptr <= Óðinn> killed the steed {with helmet-fires} [SWORDS].

Mss: R(34r), Tˣ(35v), W(78), U(33v), A(11v), C(5v) (l. 1) (SnE); 2368ˣ(130), 743ˣ(97r) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] ‑ǫflug: ‑ǫflugr U;    fjalla: falla U    [2] haf‑: ‑há A;    þramma: hramma U    [3] en: om. Tˣ;    Hropts: ‘hofz’ W, ‘hoptz’ U, ‘hofzt’ 2368ˣ, ‘hofst’ 743ˣ;    gildar: gylðir A    [4] hjalm‑: hjalms‑ U;    ‑eldum: so Tˣ, 2368ˣ, ‑ǫldum R, W, 743ˣ, eld þá er U, eldar A;    mar felldu: ‘(mar fe)lldo’ U

Editions: Skj: Ulfr Uggason, 1. Húsdrápa 11: AI, 138, BI, 129-130, Skald I, 72; SnE 1848-87, I, 428-9, II, 330, 441, 590, III, 82, SnE 1931, 152, SnE 1998, I, 70; LaufE 1979, 394.

Context: The helmingr is cited among stanzas illustrating kennings for weapons and armour in Skm (SnE), and in LaufE it is listed among stanzas exemplifying kennings for ‘ship’.

Notes: [3] Hropts ‘of Hroptr <= Óðinn>’: On this Óðinn-name, see Note to Þul Óðins 2/7. — [3] of gildar Hropts ‘the companions of Hroptr <= Óðinn>’: Gildar is the pl. of either gildi m. ‘guild-brother, companion’ or gildir m. ‘one who lets sth. have its due’ (LP: gildir). (a) The present edn adopts gildar in the sense ‘companions’. It is difficult to decide whether the companions (or warriors) of Óðinn ought to be interpreted as Óðinn’s berserks or as einherjar (see Anon Eirm 1/5I). Gildi ‘guild-brother, companion’ is admittedly a word that is attested late in written texts (see Fritzner: gildi, gildisbróðir etc.), but it does appear several times in Swedish runic inscriptions from the Viking Age (900-1050) (Ög 64, Bjälbo kyrka; Ög MÖLM 1960; 230, Törnevalla kyrka; U 379 Sigtuna). In these inscriptions the word always refers to a member of a group erecting a memorial stone for a deceased member of the same group. Gildi m. is a collective noun derived from gildi n. ‘guild’. The history of the word gildi ‘guild’, its semantic development and the social organisation called gildi are highly controversial (Rooth 1926, 74-98; Düwel 1987, 337-41; Anz 1998; Oexle 1998). It is likely that the guilds as trading organisations, along with the noun gildi m. ‘member of a gildi’ (cf. OE gegilda, gilda, OFris. gildo), were brought to Scandinavia from Germany and England at a relatively early time (C10th). Both words were likely current at Scandinavian trading centres and hence also known to Icelanders. (b) If gildar is interpreted as the pl. of gildir ‘one who lets sth. have its due’ (LP: gildir) as most previous scholars have done (Mogk 1880, 327-8; Skj B; Skald; Turville-Petre 1976, 70), the word requires a determinant; hence hjalmeldar (A) has been emended to hjalmelda ‘of helmet-fires’ (m. gen. pl.), to form the kenning of gildar hjalmelda Hropts ‘users of helmet-fires [SWORDS > WARRIORS] of Hroptr <= Óðinn>’. — [3] of: Of is an expletive particle that cannot be translated. It occurs before verbs, seldom before an adj. or adv. and even more seldom before nouns as here. Accepted opinion is that the particle of developed from earlier prefixes. It is therefore possible that it here replaces an old ga-/ge- prefix which had communal sense; cf. OE gegilda ‘member of a guild’. — [4] hjalmeldum ‘with helmet-fires [SWORDS]’: The majority of mss (except U and A) point to the dat. pl. hjalmeldum, which has been adopted here. Most previous eds emend to hjalmelda (based on the A variant hjalmeldar; see Note to l. 3 above). — [4] felldu mar ‘killed the steed’: The meaning of the verb fella is ambiguous, because it can mean ‘kill’ or ‘fell’. If the reading hjalmeldum ‘with helmet-fires [SWORDS]’ (so , 2368ˣ) is chosen, the meaning of fella must be ‘kill’, i. e. ‘felled by swords’. Hence, Óðinn’s companions killed the horse (cf. Höfler 1952c, 360). Because it is not likely that they killed the horse of the giantess, one must assume that it was another horse which was killed as a sacrificial animal in the context of the funeral. This horse could be the heilagt tafn ‘the holy sacrifice’ of st. 10 (about horse sacrifices at funerals, see Note to ll. 2, 3 there). The order of the helmingar in this stanza suggests that the launching of the ship and the killing of the horse were carried out either simultaneously or one after the other. Snorri (Gylf, SnE 2005, 46), however, appears to have understood marr ‘steed’ as the giantess’s mount and therefore he took felldu in the sense ‘knocked down, toppled’, because it would make little sense for the gods to kill the mount of the giantess whose help they needed. In Snorri’s account it is not clear whether the giantess is riding a wolf or a horse (ibid.): En er hon kom ok reið vargi ok hafði hǫggorm at taumum þá hljóp hon af hestinum, en Óðinn kallaði til berserki fjóra at gæta hestsins, ok fengu þeir eigi haldit nema þeir feldi hann ‘And when she came riding on a wolf and had a viper as reins, she jumped off the horse, and Óðinn summoned four berserks to guard the horse, and they could not hold on to it unless they knocked it down’. The vacillation between wolf and horse as the mount of the giantess could have been prompted by the well-known topos of giantesses riding on wolves (cf. the picture on the stone of Hunnestad 3 (Sk 56) and the kenning type ‘mount of the giantess’ for ‘wolf’, Meissner 124-5). Another possibility is that also in Húsdr (in a lost stanza) Hyrrokkin came riding a wolf as depicted by Snorri. In his prose account of Baldr’s funeral, Snorri needed to change ‘wolf’ to ‘horse’ to integrate st. 11/5-8, where marr can only mean ‘horse’.

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