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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300

1. Contents (KEG)
2. Volume Editor's Preface (KEG)
3. Acknowledgements (KEG)
4. General Abbreviations (KEG)
5. Sigla Used in Volume II (KEG)
6. Technical Terms (KEG)
7. The Contributors (KEG)
8. Introduction (KEG)
-. Poetry from the Kings' Sagas 2: The Corpus
A. Bibliography (HB)
B. Index of First Lines (TW)
C. Indices of Names and Terms (KEG)
X. - changes and corrections since printing (TW)

(subheadings only)

1. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages: A New Edition

The present volume is the second to be published of the nine planned volumes of Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages (SkP) and it is the companion volume to SkP I, Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. It is Volume II in the overall sequence (SkP VII appeared in 2007). There will be eight volumes of text, and a ninth containing indices and a general bibliography of medieval Scandinavian poetry. The aim of this new edition, which is set out in more detail in Wills et al. 2005 ( and in the General Introduction to the series, to appear in SkP I, is to provide a critical edition, with accompanying English translation and notes, of the corpus of Scandinavian poetry from the Middle Ages, excluding only the Poetic Edda and closely related poetry.

The edition is based on a thorough assessment of all known manuscript evidence and on a review of previous editions and commentaries, including Finnur Jónsson’s Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning (Skj A and B), which has been the standard edition of the corpus since the early twentieth century. The interpretation of individual stanzas and the layout of the corpus differ in many instances from those of Skj, often reflecting a more conservative approach to the manuscript sources, and Skj references (titles, dates, page numbers) are provided throughout the present edition for purposes of comparison. SkP is available in book form and as an electronic edition. The electronic edition is fully searchable and includes both images and transcriptions of the main manuscript text, and in some cases, the text from other select manuscripts.

Whereas Finnur Jónsson was able to produce his edition single-handedly, current academic conditions make it difficult for one scholar to undertake such Herculean tasks. This edition is thus the outcome of a group effort, directed by six General Editors: Margaret Clunies Ross, Kari Ellen Gade, Guðrún Nordal, Edith Marold, Diana Whaley and Tarrin Wills. Editorial work on individual poems and fragments has been carried out by a consortium of Contributing Editors from the community of Old Norse scholars, who have specialist expertise in the field of skaldic poetry. These editors’ work is individually acknowledged in this and the other seven volumes of edited poetic texts. One of the General Editors (Clunies Ross, Gade, Guðrún Nordal, Marold, Whaley) is responsible for the overall supervision of each volume as Volume Editor, while General Editor Tarrin Wills is responsible for the electronic edition (comprising all nine volumes). In the case of SkP II the Volume Editor is Kari Ellen Gade.

Several Research Associates and Research Assistants have made a major contribution to the success of the project to date: Tarrin Wills (now a General Editor), Hannah Burrows, Emily Baynham and Melanie Heyworth in Sydney, Kate Heslop in both Sydney and Newcastle upon Tyne, Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir and Soffía Guðný Gudmundsdóttir in Reykjavík, and Lauren Goetting in Bloomington, Indiana. Before becoming a General Editor responsible for the electronic edition, Tarrin Wills was employed as a Research Associate on the project from its inception until 2007, and he has made a major, original contribution to it. He has been responsible for the design of the electronic edition, and has constructed the project’s database, improving it steadily over the years. It is this database that both allows for the generation of the electronic and print editions and will make it possible for the editors to produce additional resources from the database in future years, including a new dictionary of the language of Old Norse poetry and a new analysis of kennings and kenning types.

[1] Sections 1 and 3 of this Introduction were slightly adapted from the Introductory Sections 1 and 10 in SkP VII, written by Margaret Clunies Ross, and Section 4 was co-authored by Kari Ellen Gade and Diana Whaley while the stemmata in that Section were formatted by Tarrin Wills. The remaining sections of the Introduction were written by Kari Ellen Gade.

2. The Poetry in this Volume

The poetry edited in this volume commemorates the lives of Scandinavian rulers from c. 1035 to 1280 and events that took place during their reigns. The bulk of the poetry focuses on the kings of Norway (from Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson to Magnús lagabœtir ‘Law-mender’ Hákonarson) and on noblemen and chieftains associated with these kings, although some of the kings of Denmark, notably Sveinn Úlfsson and Eiríkr Sveinsson, as well as three of the jarls of Orkney (Þorfinnr Sigurðarson, Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason and Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson) receive their share of attention. Encomia to dignitaries ancillary to the Scandinavian dynasties, such as Earl Waltheof of Northumbria (d. 1076) and the Icelandic chieftain Jón Loptsson (d. 1197), are also included.

The poems and stanzas in SkP II, many of which were composed contemporaneously with or shortly after the events they describe took place, shed unique light on Scandinavian society from the late Viking Age to the High Middle Ages.[2] The poetry not only chronicles activities in Scandinavian territory, but also documents military campaigns in the British Isles and Ireland, in Russia, in Byzantium, in Palestine and in Africa. This poetry is thus of considerable interest to literary historians and scholars of comparative literature, historians, archaeologists and scholars of the history of religion, as well as to general readers with an interest in the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Because the poetry in SkP II is closely connected with historical persons and events, there is a strong focus on chronology in this volume, and historical dates (and cross references to the same event commemorated in different poems) are provided throughout in the Notes and Introductions to the individual editions (see also Section 5 ‘Biographies’ below). The poems and stanzas are presented in chronological order, commencing with the reign of Magnús inn góði Óláfsson and ending after the reign of Magnús lagabœtir Hákonarson (anonymous poems and stanzas are edited in chronological sequence at the end of the volume).[3] The poetry in SkP II spans the reigns of the following Scandinavian rulers:[4]

Kings of Norway (1035-1280)

Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson — 1035-47
Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson 1046-66
Magnús Haraldsson  — 1066-9
Óláfr kyrri ‘the Quiet’ Haraldsson  — 1066-93
Hákon Þórisfóstri ‘Foster-son of Þórir’ Magnússon   1093-4
Magnús berfœttr ‘Bare-legs’ Óláfsson   — 1093-1103
Óláfr Magnússon — 1103-15
Eysteinn Magnússon    — 1103-23
Sigurðr jórsalafari ‘Jerusalem-farer’ Magnússon 1103-30
Magnús blindi ‘the Blind’ Sigurðarson 1130-5; 1137-9
Haraldr gilli(-kristr) ‘Servant (of Christ)’ Magnússon 1130-6
Sigurðr slembidjákn ‘Fortuitous-deacon’ (?) Magnússon 1136-9
Sigurðr munnr ‘Mouth’ Haraldsson  — 1136-55
Eysteinn Haraldsson    — 1142-57
Ingi Haraldsson — 1136-61
Hákon herðibreiðr ‘Broad-shoulder’ Sigurðarson  1157-62
Magnús Erlingsson  — 1161-84
Sverrir Sigurðarson  — 1177-1202
Hákon Sverrisson — 1202-4
Guthormr Sigurðarson — 1204
Ingi Bárðarson — 1204-17
Hákon Hákonarson  — 1217-63
Magnús lagabœtir ‘Law-mender’ Hákonarson 1263-80

Kings of Denmark (1047-1259)

Sveinn Úlfsson — 1047-74/76
Haraldr hein ‘Hone’ Sveinsson — 1074/76-80
Knútr Sveinsson (S. Knútr) — 1080-6
Óláfr hungr ‘Hunger’ Sveinsson — 1086-95
Eiríkr inn góði ‘the Good’ Sveinsson   — 1095-1103
Nikulás Sveinsson  — 1103-34
Eiríkr eymuni ‘the Long-remembered’ Eiríksson  1134-7
Eiríkr lamb ‘Lamb’ Hákonarson — 1137-46
Sveinn svíðandi ‘the Singeing’ Eiríksson 1147-57
Knútr Magnússon — 1147-57
Valdimarr Knútsson    — 1157-82
Knútr Valdimarsson    — 1182-1202
Valdimarr Valdimarsson — 1202-41
Eiríkr plógpenningr ‘Plough-penny’ Valdimarsson  1241-50
Abel Valdimarsson  — 1250-2
Kristófórus Valdimarsson — 1252-9

Jarls of Orkney (1035-1206)

Þorfinnr Sigurðarson   — c. 1020-64/65
Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason  — c. 1036-45/46
Páll Þorfinnsson — c. 1064/65-98
Erlendr Þorfinnsson  — c. 1064/65-98
Hákon Pálsson — c. 1103-23
Magnús Erlendsson (S. Magnús) — c. 1105-17
Haraldr Hákonarson    — c. 1122-37
Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson — 1136-58
Haraldr Maddaðarson — 1138-1206

Not all of the rulers listed above are commemorated in extant poetry (for the biographies of rulers and dignitaries eulogised in poetry, see Section 5 ‘Biographies’ below).

The poetry of a total of fifty-nine named skalds is edited in SkP II. As the Biographies prefacing each edition show, in some instances their lives or episodes in their lives, particularly as they pertain to poetic composition, are well documented in prose sources. In many instances the identities of these poets are otherwise unknown, however, and we have no information concerning their ethnicity.[5] The names of most poets are also transmitted in Skáldatal ‘Enumeration of Skalds’, a list of Norwegian, Swedish and Danish rulers and chieftains along with the skalds who honoured them with panegyrics.[6] The itemised lists in Skáldatal also provide the names of skalds who are unknown to us and whose poetry is no longer extant, and they show that many of the poets whose poetry is edited in this volume must have composed encomia for more rulers than their extant poetic oeuvre suggests (see their Biographies). Specifically, most of the poetry composed in honour of the Norwegian kings during period c. 1160-1240 and all of the poetry composed about Danish rulers after c. 1105 is now lost. There is no extant poetry about any Swedish ruler, although Skáldatal suggests that Swedish kings and jarls were eulogised by such skalds (in this volume) as Sigvatr Þórðarson, Markús Skeggjason, Einarr Skúlason, Halldórr skvaldri, Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson and Sturla Þórðarson.

Some of the Scandinavian rulers were skalds in their own right, and this volume contains poetry by the Norwegian kings Magnús inn góði Óláfsson, Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson, Magnús berfœttr Óláfsson, Sigurðr jórsalafari Magnússon, Sigurðr slembidjákn Magnússon and Jarl Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson of Orkney. Rǫgnvaldr, who, with Icelander Hallr Þórarinsson breiðmaga (Hbreiðm), composed Háttalykill (RvHbreiðm HlIII, a long clavis metrica), was the last Scandinavian ruler-poet. Although Sverrir Sigurðarson of Norway was fond of citing poetic snippets in his speeches, no poetry is attributed to him.

With the exception of two anonymous encomia, Nóregs konungatal (Anon Nkt) and a memorial poem about King Magnús lagabœtir Hákonarson (Anon Mlag, three stanzas), all of the poetry edited in SkP II is transmitted in sagas chronicling the lives of the kings of Norway, Denmark and the jarls of Orkney, or it is preserved in the treatises on poetics and grammar (see Section 4, ‘Sources for Skaldic Poetry cited in the Kings’ Sagas’, below). In the kings’ sagas, the poetry is interspersed with the prose (prosimetrum) and, broadly speaking, it is used either to document events told in the prose or to comment on a situation as an integral part of the narrative (in the form of lausavísur ‘loose stanzas’; see below). In the former instance, the poetry cited for historical verification usually belonged to extended encomia that were divided up into single stanzas, each of which provided details in support of the content of the prose narrative. Sometimes, as is the case with Markús Skeggjason’s Eiríksdrápa (Mark Eirdr), the content of the prose was derived almost in its entirety from information gleaned from the poetry, while in later sagas, such as Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar, the poetry appears to have had a more ornamental and stylistic function (see Section 4 below). The longer panegyrics that were split up in this manner were either poems composed in honour of a ruler who was still alive at the time of composition and recitation, or they were memorial poems (erfidrápur), composed after a ruler’s death and recited before his descendants or former retinue. Authors and compilers of the kings’ sagas must have considered such poems reliable sources of historical information, as is shown by Snorri Sturluson’s comment in his preface to Heimskringla (ÍF 26, 5): ... ok tókum vér þar mest dœmi af, þat er sagt er í þeim kvæðum, er kveðin váru fyrir sjálfum hǫfðingjunum eða sonum þeira. Tǫkum vér þat allt fyrir satt, er í þeim kvæðum finnsk um ferðir þeira eða orrostur. En þat er háttr skálda at lofa þann mest, er þá eru þeir fyrir, en engi myndi þat þora at segja sjálfum honum þau verk hans, er allir þeir, er heyrði, vissi, at hégómi væri ok skrǫk, ok svá sjálfr hann. Þat væri þá háð, en eigi lof ‘... and we took most of the information from what is told in those poems which were recited before the chieftains themselves or their sons. We hold all of that to be true which is found in those poems about their journeys or battles. And it is the custom of skalds to praise that one the highest in whose presence they are at the time, but no one would dare to tell anyone about deeds in such a manner that all those who listened, as well as he himself, would know it to be falsehood and lies. That would then be mockery and not praise’.[7]

The lausavísur in the sagas and in the þættir (shorter stories and anecdotes inserted into the main narratives of the kings’ sagas), are often spoken on the spur of the moment by a skald as a comment on or in response to an unfolding situation. The subject matter of the lausavísur edited in this volume is multifaceted indeed. Such stanzas can be exhortations to fighting (e.g. Nefari Lv, Blakkr Lv 1), invectives (e.g. Mgóð Lv 1, Hharð Lv 3, Þstf Lv 3, Anon (Mberf) 4, Blakkr Lv 2, Anon (Sv) 4-5), parts of poetic banter (e.g. Hharð Lv 10-11, ÞjóðA Lv 4, Þfisk Lv 1-3, ÞjóðA Lv 7-8, SnH Lv 8-9, Mberf Lv 2, Anon (Mberf) 5, Sjórs Lv 2, Þstf Lv 1) or expressions of love (often unrequited) and desire for women (e.g. Mgóð Lv 2, Mberf Lv 3-6, Rv Lv 15-17, 19-20, Oddi Lv 2, Árm Lv 3). Sometimes a skald would express his innermost sentiments in verse, for example lamenting his lord’s death (ÞjóðA Lv 1; see also Okík Magn 2-3), whereas other lausavísur are thoroughly obscene in their content and wording (SnH Lv 10-11). There are examples of dual poetic composition, that is, one poet begins a stanza and another finishes it (Hharð Lv 4-5, ÞjóðA Lv 2-3; see also Hharð Lv 9, SnH Lv 4), and a skald is often called upon by his patron to compose a stanza on the spur of the moment about an event they are currently witnessing (ÞjóðA Lv 5-6, SnH Lv 1, 5, ESk Lv 5-6, Rv Lv 13, Oddi Lv 1).

Just like longer encomia, lausavísur were also composed in the wake of notable events, and they, too, were inserted for historical verification into the prose narratives by the saga authors and compilers. An episode in Orkneyinga saga sheds interesting light on the historical value of such lausavísur. In the Mediterranean on his crusade to the Holy Land in 1152, Jarl Rǫgnvaldr Kali and his crew encountered a large ship manned by infidels, which they attacked and captured. After the fighting was over, there was dissent among Rǫgnvaldr’s men about what exactly had taken place during the attack. In the words of the saga (ÍF 34, 227): Rœddu menn ok um, hverr fyrstr hafði upp gengit, ok urðu eigi á þat sáttir. Þá mælti sumir, at þat væri ómerkiligt, at þeir hefði eigi allir eina sǫgu frá þeim stórtíðendum. Ok þar kom, at þeir urðu á þat sáttir, at Rǫgnvaldr jarl skyldi ór skera; skyldi þeir þat síðan allir flytja. Þá kvað jarl ... ‘Men also argued about who had been the first to board the ship, and they could not agree on that. Then some said that it would be silly if they did not all tell the same story about those great events. And the upshot was that they agreed that Rǫgnvaldr jarl should decide; later they should all stick to that version. Then the jarl said ...’. What follows is a lausavísa (Rv Lv 26) in which Rǫgnvaldr settles the issue once and for all and identifies Erlingr skakki’s forecastle-man, Auðun inn rauði ‘the Red’, as the first person to board the enemy ship. Interestingly, Rǫgnvaldr’s version of this attack did indeed become authoritative, because it is reproduced in Heimskringla, which does not cite the stanza, however (ÍF 28, 325): Auðun rauði hét sá maðr, stafnbúi Erlings, er fyrst gekk upp á drómundinn ‘Auðun rauði was the name of that man, Erlingr’s forecastle-man, who first boarded the dromon’.

Because lausavísur and separate stanzas from longer poems were used in the sagas to lend veracity to the prose narratives, it can be difficult to determine whether a stanza is a lausavísa or part of a dissected extended poem or encomium.[8] In general, the formulas that introduce the stanzas in the prose narratives are helpful here, because lausavísur are usually preceded by such phrases as þá kvað X, ‘then X said’ whereas stanzas from extended poems tend to be introduced by svá/sem X segir ‘as X says’, svá kvað X ‘this is what X said’, þess getr X ‘X tells of this’. Sometimes the distinction is blurred, however. For example, a stanza by Þorkell hamarskáld (Þham Lv), which describes Magnús berfœttr’s execution of rebels in 1094, bears all the marks of being a lausavísa (and is treated as such in this volume; see Introduction to Þham Lv), but it is introduced with the citation tags Sva segir Þorcell hamar scalld ‘This is what Þorkell hamarskáld says’ (Mork 1928-32, 305), Svá segir skáldit ‘This is what the skald says’ (Fsk, ÍF 29, 306) and svá sem kveðit var ‘as it was said’ (Hkr, ÍF 28, 217), a circumstance that may have prompted Árni Magnússon (in AM 761 b 4°ˣ(467r)) to include the stanza in Þorkell’s encomium to Magnús berfœttr (Þham Magndr). Among the editions in this volume, the poetry of Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA) poses a special problem in this respect, which has resulted in a regrouping of his poetry and warranted detailed discussion in the Introductions and Notes, because the SkP II presentation differs radically from that of Skj.

The fact that extended poems are divided into separate stanzas that are distributed throughout the prose narratives makes it difficult to reconstruct the original sequence of stanzas within a poem.[9] The order of stanzas can be unproblematic and ascertained by the sequence of events they describe, but often these events (and the accompanying stanzas) are presented in a different order in the different redactions of a saga, and in some redactions (particularly in the compilation Hulda-Hrokkinskinna) the stanzas are frequently reordered and new prose environments are created from the content of the poetry. For example, three stanzas from Steinn Herdísarson’s Óláfsdrápa (Steinn Óldr 1-3), which describe the battle of the river Ouse between the Anglo-Saxon forces and the Norwegian army of Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson in 1066, are inserted into the prose narrative of Morkinskinna (Mork 1928-32, 268-9) and Flateyjarbók (Flat 1860-8, III, 390-1). Fagrskinna (ÍF 29, 279) and Heimskringla (ÍF 28, 180-1) retain most of the Morkinskinna prose, but cite the first stanza only, and Snorri adds the one-stanza anonymous Haraldsstikki (Anon Harst) to his narrative. Hulda-Hrokkinskinna (Fms 6, 407-8) collapses the versions of Morkinskinna and Heimskringla (including Anon Harst) and gives the stanzas from Óláfsdrápa in the order 2, 3, 1 with new prose environments. In this particular case, there can be no doubt that Morkinskinna represents the earliest and more original version, but other instances are less clear‑cut.[10]

The assignment of stanzas to specific panegyrics can be problematic as well. While the titles of extended poems may be transmitted in the prose (e.g. þess getr X í Y-drápu ‘this is what X tells of in Y-drápa’), this is by no means a given. Although attributions to specific poems can be made with some amount of certainty based on the metre in which they are composed (e.g. Arn Run and Hryn) and on the identity of the poet and of the recipient of an encomium, in many instances such attributions remain uncertain. That holds true in particular for the single stanzas cited as examples of poetic diction and rhetorical devices in the treatises on poetics and grammar.

In Skj, Finnur Jónsson was rather subjective in his assignment of stanzas to extended poems and in his arrangement of stanzas within these poems (Kock, in his Skald, adopted the arrangement and numbering of poetry as laid out in Skj). In Finnur’s rendition of Steinn’s Óláfsdrápa, for example, the order of the stanzas narrating the battle of the Ouse (see above) follows that of Hulda-Hrokkinskinna rather than Morkinskinna and he also includes a helmingr from Snorra Edda as the first stanza of that panegyric. Although the helmingr is attributed to Steinn Herdísarson in Snorra Edda and the content makes it clear that it belongs to the beginning of an encomium, it is by no means certain that this was the first stanza of Óláfsdrápa (it could equally well have formed the opening of Steinn’s Nizarvísur (Steinn Nizv), his panegyric in honour of Óláfr’s father, Haraldr harðráði). In SkP, that helmingr is edited separately in SkP III as Steinn FragIII.[11] Finnur was also fond of inventing titles (often Old Icelandic) for poems whose titles are not documented in the prose sources. For the sake of convenience, most of these titles are retained in the present volume (Finnur’s Danish captions are given in English translation), but it is always stated explicitly in the Introduction to a poem whether its title is medieval or a modern construct.

In general, the SkP edition is much more conservative than Skj (and Skald) in terms of the attribution of poetry to specific skalds, the ordering of stanzas within extended poems and the assignment of stanzas from the treatises on poetry and grammar to specific poets and poems. It follows that the poetry edited in the present volume often deviates from Skj (and Skald) in so far as the numbering of stanzas in extended poems is concerned, and sometimes stanzas whose provenance cannot be determined have been edited in a different SkP volume. Such deviations from Skj are always carefully documented and justified in the skald Biographies and in the Introductions to the poems or stanzas, and cross references to Skj are included in the editions throughout this volume.

[2] On the problems involved in the dating of the poetry, see Section 6 below.

[3] The chronological presentation in SkP II roughly corresponds to that of Skj (and Skald), with some modifications to rectify certain inconsistencies and errors in Finnur’s presentation of the material.

[4] King Kristófórus Valdimarsson and Jarl Haraldr Maddaðarson are the last rulers of Denmark and Orkney to be mentioned in the poetry in SkP II. The kings of Sweden relevant to the poetry in this volume are Ǫnundr Jákob Óláfsson (r. c. 1022-50), Steinkell Rǫgnvaldsson (r. c. 1060-6), Ingi Steinkelsson (1079-84; 1087-1105) and Eiríkr Eiríksson (r. 1222-9; 1234-50).

[5] In Skj Finnur Jónsson more often than not gives their ethnicity as Icelandic, even in instances where there is no evidence to warrant such an assumption.

[6] Skáldatal survives in two slightly different redactions in manuscripts AM 761 a 4°ˣ (761aˣ, copied from Kringla (from c. 1260) by Árni Magnússon) and Codex Upsaliensis, DG 11 (U, c. 1300-25), the latter of which has been augmented by the addition of rulers down to Eiríkr Magnússon (d. 1299). See SnE 1848-87, III, 205-51 and LH 1894-1901, II, 789.

[7] For a similar view, see Eldjárn Lv 1-2.

[8] For a detailed discussion of this issue, see General Introduction in SkP I. See also Whaley 2006 and Whaley 2007.

[9] This problem is addressed in the General Introduction in SkP I; see also Fidjestøl 1982, Whaley 2006 and Whaley 2007.

[10] On the relations between these compilations, see Section 4 below.

[11] In the SkP editions, the volume in which a poem or stanza appears is indicated by a superscript roman numeral following the siglum.

3. How to use this Edition

SkP is intended for a variety of users: for students and scholars of Old Norse and other medieval European languages and literatures, for scholars in cognate disciplines such as history, archaeology, the history of religion, and comparative literature, and for users whose primary interest is in skaldic poetry. In view of its likely augmented readership, SkP contains a greater proportion of introductory and explanatory material than is to be found in most previous editions, certainly in comparison with Skj, where it is minimal. Most of the explanatory material in SkP is to be found in the skald Biographies, which appear at the head of the oeuvre of named skalds whose authorship of poetry is known;[12] in the Introductions to poems; in the Context sections, which indicate the wider prose context(s) in which a stanza or set of stanzas has been preserved; and in the Notes to each stanza.

Each poem, single stanza (lausavísa) or fragment has a distinct designation and siglum in SkP, which in many cases is different from that used in Skj and in the list at the beginning of Lexicon Poeticum 1931 (LP). The new sigla are designed to be more consistent and transparent and to reflect reconstructions of poems that differ at some points from those in Skj. A comparative table of sigla used in SkP, Skj and LP is included in the introductory part of each volume of SkP.

The text of each poem, single stanza or fragment has been established by its editor on the foundation of a main or base manuscript, judged by the editor to be the best or (in some cases) the only witness to the probable original. The orthography of the text will have been normalised to the standard appropriate to its probable date of origin.[13] Any emended text, that is letters or words that have no manuscript attestation, is given in italics. Where editors have omitted letters or words that are present in the manuscript, the symbol * appears in the text and prose order. On the matter of emendation, this edition is more conservative than most of its predecessors. Purely conjectural emendation, where the editor conjectures what might have existed in a defective text in the absence of evidence in support, is usually avoided, though previous editors’ conjectures may be mentioned in the Notes. However, if there are metrical or other forms of evidence within the text that support a proposed emendation, this may be adopted and justified by the editor.

Below the stanza is the same text rendered in a prose order, and underneath that is an English translation. The translation provides a version as close as reasonably possible to the sense of the Icelandic text. Unlike most other translations of skaldic poetry, those in SkP give kennings their full sense values, that is, both base-word and determinant are translated and the referent, not being part of the actual text but implicit in it, is given within square brackets, and normally in small capitals (e.g. ‘the stallion of the wave [ship]’). Referents of one category of kennings, the so-called sannkenningar, however, are given in lower case preceded by an = sign, in order to indicate that these referents are literally equivalent to the periphrasis of base-word and determinant within the text. For example, ‘the son of Óðinn’ is designated [= Þórr] and ‘the daughter’s son of King Magnús’ is [= Jón]. Angle brackets within the English translation are used to provide the generic sense value of Old Norse mythological and legendary names, such as Hildr <valkyrie> and Hálfr <legendary king>, or alternative poetic names for mythological beings, such as Viðurr <= Óðinn>. In the latter case, an = sign appears to the left of the ‘normal’ name.

The editorial apparatus allows the reader to compare the edited version of the main manuscript with the text in other manuscript witnesses. The Mss listing gives the main manuscript first in bold type, followed by the other manuscript witnesses ordered primarily on the basis of the assumed stemma, each with folio or page number in round brackets immediately following. Paper manuscripts are distinguished from those of parchment or vellum by having a superscript ˣ after the manuscript siglum. Abbreviated reference to the prose source represented by each group of manuscripts is given in italics within round brackets immediately after the group, and where the stanza is found in more than one prose source the groups of manuscripts are separated by semicolons.

All significant manuscript variants, but not simple orthographical variants, are given in the Readings line. They are given in normalised orthography unless the non-normalised manuscript reading is ambiguous, difficult to interpret or of particular interest or significance, in which case it is placed within inverted commas. Where variants are given, the lemma (the reading of the text and normally that of the main manuscript) is given first, followed by the readings of the other manuscripts, separated from the lemma by a colon. The lemma is shown in the same normalised form as in the text, and if this differs significantly from the manuscript form, the manuscript spelling is added in round brackets and within inverted commas (e.g. þars (‘þar er’):). In cases where the editor has not followed the base manuscript, the variant reading selected for the text is in first place as the lemma, followed by a colon and the formula ‘so X’, to indicate that the lemma is not the reading of the main manuscript.

The Editions line lists all significant previous editions of the text, beginning with Skj, Skald and NN; the text’s designation in Skj B is specified, comprising the poet’s name (if any) as given there, the title of the poem, stanza or fragment and equivalent stanza number. Editions of prose sources containing the stanza are then listed, with date of publication and relevant page number. The editions are followed, in round brackets, by abbreviated references to the relevant saga within a compilation (if applicable), and by the chapter in which the stanza occurs. Chapter numbers apply to all editions of the same source, unless otherwise specified; they are omitted if chapter divisions are too unstable in the source in question. If a stanza is found in more than one prose source, the editions of the individual prose sources are grouped together and separated by semicolons. Where there are separate editions of the poem in question, these are listed last.

The Notes are intended to address significant linguistic, metrical, lexicographical and above all interpretative issues as well as questions of a broader contextual nature. Although the editors do not aim to give a comprehensive history of scholarship and previous editorial practice, significant editorial interpretations and emendations are discussed and evaluated in the Notes.

A sample stanza with graphic explanations of the main features of the edition appears in the endpapers to all SkP volumes. All abbreviated references to editions are expanded in the Bibliography at the end of the volume. Abbreviated references to manuscripts are explained in the list of manuscript sigla in the prefatory material to this volume (see also the section ‘Sources for Skaldic Poetry Cited in the Kings’ Sagas: Manuscripts, Facsimiles and Editions’ in the Introduction to this volume). Abbreviated references to prose sources that do not appear in the Bibliography are given in the ‘Sigla for þættir, Sagas and Compendia’, again in the prefatory material to this volume. General abbreviations used in this volume, aside from those that are very common, such as e.g and cf., are listed separately, while technical terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader are also listed and glossed.

[12] Note that biographies of some skalds whose oeuvre is edited in SkP II are included in the section ‘Biographies’ in the Introduction to this volume, while the Biographies of two skalds, Sigvatr Þórðarson, composer of Bersǫglisvísur, and Gizurr Þorvaldsson, composer of Hákonardrápa, appear in SkP I and IV respectively.

[13] A full discussion of normalisation in the edition as a whole is in the General Introduction to SkP printed in SkP I. Section 9 in the Introduction to SkP VII covers the fourteenth century. The actual orthography of most main manuscripts for each poem or stanza can be seen in the transcripts available in the electronic edition, where images of the manuscripts are also available.

4. Sources for Skaldic Poetry Cited in the Kings' Sagas

The present section gives an overview of the manuscripts which are the basis for the editions in SkP II, grouped according to the prose sources they represent, together with relevant facsimiles and editions. The prose (or strictly prosimetrum) sources concerned are mainly sagas of the kings, whether single sagas or compilations, and these are ordered under the subheadings 4.1. Compilations and sagas of the kings of Norway after 1035, 4.2. Sagas related to Denmark and Orkney after 1035 and 4.3. Other sources. The sigla for the prose sources correspond to those of the Registre to Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog (ONP 1989; see also Sigla above and Bibliography at the end of the volume). The manuscripts for each of the prose sources are listed with brief descriptions and stemmata where possible (for more complete discussions of some of these items, see Introductions to SkP I and III). The full, standard manuscript sigla in the SkP editions follow those of the Registre to ONP wherever possible; the sigla for the manuscript collections and the manuscripts used in SkP II are listed under ‘General Abbreviations’ above. The abbreviated sigla given below and used in the manuscript sections in the individual editions were developed by Tarrin Wills for the SkP project. In keeping with the practice established by the Registre to ONP, a superscript ˣ is added to the sigla of all paper manuscripts. The approximate dates of the manuscripts also follow those of the Registre; for manuscripts not cited in ONP, the standard editions have been consulted (see also Kålund 1888-94). Facsimiles and earlier editions are listed for each prose source (for full details of which, see Bibliography). Some editors considered a few of these editions not to be of value for the poetry in question, and such works therefore appear selectively throughout SkP II. Stemmata are drawn mainly from standard editions of the prose sources concerned, though the possibility that the transmission history of the poetry differs from that of the prose has been borne in mind in the editorial process. Asterisks in the stemmata indicate lost manuscripts (in some cases hypothetical), and in many cases there may be further lost stages of transmission.

1. Sagas of the kings of Norway after 1035
2. Sagas relating to Denmark and Orkney after 1035
3. Other sources

5. Biographies

The purpose of this section is to give a brief overview of the lives of the kings of Norway and Denmark and other Scandinavian rulers and dignitaries who are commemorated in the poetry edited in SkP II (c. 1035-1280). The focus is primarily on events documented in the poetry, and the biographies are not exhaustive, but attempt to contextualise the poetic editions within their historical settings and to provide easy access to information about specific people and events. Because information about the lives of these persons is readily available in modern histories in a variety of languages, references are to primary prose sources in the vernacular and to English translations of these works. The poetry chronicling specific events is listed at the end of each biography, and additional information (historical and cultural) is provided in the Introductions, Contexts, and Notes to the respective stanzas. See also the Indices at the end of this volume. For the sigla of the individual sagas and compendia, see ‘General Abbreviations’ above.

1. Royal Biographies
2. Biographies of Other Dignitaries

6. Metres, Poetic Diction and Normalisation

1. Metres
2. Poetic Diction
3. Normalisation

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