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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Einarr Skúlason, 8. Eysteinsdrápa, 2 [Vol. 2, 560-1]

[All]: Símun was married to Eysteinn’s half-sister, Máría, and thus Eysteinn’s brother-in-law (see Genealogy II.4 in ÍF 28). He had been Eysteinn’s retainer but defected to Eysteinn’s half-brother, Ingi. When, in August of 1157, Ingi and his men set out to look for Eysteinn in the forest near Foss (on the eastern side of Oslofjorden), Símun found him hiding in some bushes. Although Eysteinn begged him to help him get away, Símun ordered his execution. Eysteinn then lay down on his stomach with his arms stretched out and told them to strike their blows in the shape of a cross on his back. The execution resembles that of Earl Waltheof of Northumbria (see Fsk, ÍF 29, 294; ‘Biographies of Other Dignitaries’ in Introduction to this vol. and ÞSkall Valfl), and, like Waltheof, Eysteinn was also rumoured to be a saint after his death: …ok kalla menn hann helgan. Þar sem hann var hǫggvinn ok blóð hans kom á jǫrð, spratt upp brunnr, en annarr þar undir brekkunni, sem lík hans var nattsætt ‘…and men call him a saint. Where he was executed and his blood fell on the ground, a well sprang up, and another one sprang up beneath the hill where his body had been laid out overnight’ (ÍF 28, 345). According to Hkr, many miracles took place at Eysteinn’s grave until his enemies poured dog broth on it (ibid.).


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