This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

login: password: stay logged in: help

Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv)

13th century; volume 2; ed. Lauren Goetting;

III. 2. Fragments (Frag) - 9

prose works

Óláfr hvítaskáld ‘White Skald’ Þórðarson (Ólhv) was an accomplished Icel. scholar and a prolific poet. Details of his life are documented in Sturlunga saga (Stu), Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák), and Knýtlinga saga (Knýtl). He was born c. 1210-12 at Staður on Snæfellsness, Iceland, as the eldest son of Þórðr Sturluson and his concubine Þóra. He was the nephew of Snorri Sturluson (SnSt; d. 1241), with whom he spent long periods of time as a young man, and the older brother of Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl; d. 1284). In 1237 he left Iceland with Snorri to embark upon a career as a professional poet at the courts of Scandinavia. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256-8, 260, 378-84) Óláfr composed poetry in honour of a large number of kings and noblemen, including the following: (in Norway) Jarl Skúli Bárðarson (d. 1240), King Hákon Hákonarson (d. 1263) and his son Hákon ungi ‘the Young’ Hákonarson (d. 1257), Jarl Knútr Hákonarson (d. 1261); (in Sweden) King Eiríkr Eiríkson (d. 1250); (in Denmark) King Valdimarr Valdimarsson (d. 1241). Because of Óláfr’s close association with Valdimarr, from whom he hafði ... margar ágætligar frásagnir ‘got ... many excellent narratives’ (ÍF 35, 315), he is thought by some to have written Knýtl, which recounts the history of Dan. rulers (see LH 1894-1901, II, 275, 784-5). Around 1242 Óláfr returned to Iceland and founded a school at Stafaholt in Borgarfjörður, where he wrote the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) and devoted himself to teaching and writing until his death in 1259. In addition to these pursuits, he was ordained subdeacon at some point after his return to Iceland and also served as lawspeaker 1248-50.

Most of Óláfr’s extant poetry consists of encomia to King Hákon Hákonarson and is inserted throughout the prose in Hák. This includes part of Hrynhenda (Ólhv Hryn), one st. from a Poem about Hákon (Ólhv Hák), and two lvv. (Ólhv Lv). One lv. traditionally assigned to him, has been reassigned in the present edn to Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson (Ólsv Love 3III). Aside from the aforementioned, the remainder of Óláfr’s known poetic works includes two sts from ÁrónsdrápaDrápa about Árón’ (Ólhv ÁrdrIV), composed about his friend Árón Hjǫrleifsson, and two sts from ThómasdrápaDrápa about Thomas (ꜳ Becket)’ (Ólhv ThómdrIII), recorded in the Fourth Grammatical Treatise (FoGT). Finally, nine fragments of sts from TGT (Ólhv FragIII), treated as anonymous in previous eds, are attributed to Óláfr in this edn.

Fragments — Ólhv FragIII

Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘ Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 302. <> (accessed 18 January 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

SkP info: III, 304

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Ólhv Frag 4III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Tarrin Wills (ed.) 2017, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 304.

Flugu hrafnar tveir         af Hnikars ǫxlum;
Huginn til hanga,         en á hræ Muninn.

Tveir hrafnar flugu af ǫxlum Hnikars; Huginn til hanga, en Muninn á hræ.

Two ravens flew from Hnikarr’s <= Óðinn’s> shoulders; Huginn to the hanged one, and Muninn to the corpse.

Mss: A(6r), W(106) (TGT)

Editions: SnE 1818, 322, SnE 1848, 190, SnE 1848-87, II, 142-3, 417, TGT 1884, 23, 92, 204, TGT 1927, 66, 102, NK 321.

Context: Cited as an example of prolepsis (‘prolemsis’), which Óláfr defines as follows (TGT 1927, 66): Prolemsis er uppnumning margfalligra hluta þeira, er síðan eru einfalliga greindirProlepsis is the anticipation of multiple things which later are recorded singly’, which seems to refer to the use of a verb in plural form for singular subjects (cf. OED: prolepsis 1). In order to clarify the point, Óláfr adds a prose word order rendering of the half-stanza, including the singular form of the verb (TGT 1927, 66): tveir hrafnar flugu af ǫxlum Hnikars, Huginn flaug til hanga en Muninn til hræs ‘two ravens flew from Hnikarr’s shoulders, Huginn flew to the hanged one and Muninn to the corpse’.

Notes: [All]: Björn Magnússon Ólsen identifies a close parallel to this in a Latin commentary (the Admirantes gloss on Alexander of Villa Dei’s Doctrinale (c. 1199); cf. Introduction to Anon (FoGT)) on the figure of prolepsis (Thurot 1868, 267): Aquilae volaverunt, iste ab oriente, ille ab occidente ‘The eagles flew, one from the east, the other from the west’. The Admirantes gloss is C13th, but the example ultimately derives from Priscian’s discussion of syntax (Keil 1855-80, III, 125). The strong similarity, describing two birds associated with battle flying from different locations, suggests that Óláfr composed this on the model of the Latin example. The half-stanza nevertheless has an authentically mythological flavour: Huginn and Muninn are Óðinn’s ravens, as described in Gylf (SnE 2005, 32), and the fornyrðislag metre of this stanza is in keeping with eddic poetry on similar subjects. The source of the section in Gylf was likely Grí 20 (NK 61): Huginn oc Muninn | fliúga hverian dag | iǫrmungrund yfir; | óomc ec of Hugin, | at hann aptr né komið, | þó siámc meirr um Munin ‘Huginn and Muninn fly every day over the vast expanse; I fear for Huginn that he will not come back, but I am more afraid for Muninn’. The present helmingr is not included in Skj and Skald. — [1] flugu ‘flew’: According to Óláfr, prolepsis is exemplified here by the use of the verb flugu ‘flew’, which is in the pl. as the first subject is also pl. (hrafnar ‘ravens’), but is also understood as the verb for the later parts which have sg. subjects. This is one of the better examples Óláfr uses to illustrate a grammatical feature. — [1] Hnikars ‘Hnikarr’s <= Óðinn’s>’: This heiti for Óðinn is also found in Grí 47/3. It is used in Anon Liðs 2/6I in a raven-kenning: gjóðr Hnikars ‘Hnikarr’s <= Óðinn’s> eagle’. See also Notes to Þul Óðins 1/8, 2/6.

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