Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 4. Þorfinnsdrápa, 22 [Vol. 2, 255-6]

[5, 8] ílendra hjalm-Þrótta ‘of the land-restored helmet-Þróttar <= Óðinns> [WARRIORS]’: The identity of the ílendir warriors who treacherously failed to support Rǫgnvaldr is disputed. (a) Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34, 70 n. and xxxiv) suggests that ílendr can refer to a man who has been outlawed but has regained his right to live in the land, and cites from Egils saga ch. 56 in support of this. If ílendr does have this sense in st. 22, it describes exactly the position of Kálfr Árnason as described in Orkn chs 25-6: King Magnús promises him that he can repossess his estates in Norway, if he supports Rǫgnvaldr against his friend Þorfinnr. When the battle begins Kálfr at first holds aloof but eventually responds to the egging of Þorfinnr and enters the conflict on his side, with decisive effect. The allusions in the present st. become entirely comprehensible if it is assumed that Kálfr and his men are meant. There are, however, other possibilities. (b) The most common meaning of ílendr is ‘settled, resident in the land’ (e.g. Flat 1860-8, II 24 and 374; Fms 6, 254). Some scholars, presumably taking this as a starting-point, have interpreted ílendr as meaning ‘native’ (for which the usual term is innlendr) and hence have understood the ílendir warriors of st. 22 to be islanders who betrayed Rǫgnvaldr (so Björn Magnússon Ólsen, 1909, 298, specifying Shetlanders, and Finnur Jónsson in Skj B; Hofmann 1955, 103 also interpreted ílendr in the sense ‘native’, which he suggests may be influenced by OE inlende). But although the men of Orkney and Shetland were obliged to side either with Rǫgnvaldr or Þorfinnr at Rauðabjǫrg, there seems to be no tradition of treachery. (c) Ílendr can mean ‘arrived in the land’, as when Knútr, newly arrived in Denmark, is described thus in Sigv Knútdr 9/4I. The Norw. crews whom King Magnús sent to support Rǫgnvaldr (a separate band from Kálfr and his men) were ílendir in this sense; but although they eventually fled from the battle, they were scarcely guilty of treachery against Rǫgnvaldr.

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