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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Egill Skallagrímsson (Egill)

10th century; volume 5; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Sonatorrek (St) - 25

Skj info: Egill Skallagrímsson, Islandsk skjald; o. 900-983. (AI, 34-60, BI, 30-53).

Skj poems:
[8]. Ubestemmeligt brudstykke
1. Aðalsteinsdrápa
2. Hǫfuðlausn
3. Sonatorrek
4. Arinbjarnarkviða
5. Skjaldardrápa
6. Berudrápa
7. Lausavísur

This edition is currently in preparation. The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.

Egill Skallagrímsson (Egill) was born in the west of Iceland to the Norwegian settler Skallagrímr Kveldúlfsson (see separate Biography) and his wife Bera Yngvarsdóttir, probably some time in the last years of the ninth century or the first decade of the tenth. Details of his family’s extensive settlement and his descendants are recorded in Landnámabók (ÍF 1, 68, 70-1, 95 n. 8) as well as in the anonymous saga named for him, Egils saga (Eg), usually considered one of the earliest of the sagas of Icelanders and by many the work of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241), who was descended from Egill on his mother’s side. The attribution to Snorri is plausible though by no means certain (cf. Hallberg 1962b; West 1980; Vésteinn Ólason 1968 and 1990; Torfi Tulinius 2004).

Most of the details of Egill’s life come from his saga and the poetry transmitted in it or in connection with it. According to these sources, he took after his father and paternal grandfather in being dark, ugly, aggressive and independent. These character traits caused all three men to fall foul of two generations of Norwegian kings, Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ Hálfdanarson and Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’ Haraldsson, and to seek sanctuary in Iceland. Even as a boy, Egill displayed all these qualities in large measure, as well as an outstanding ability as a poet. His brother Þórólfr, on the other hand, like his paternal uncle of the same name in the previous generation, became a king’s man. Egill travelled to Norway but became embroiled in bitter conflict with Eiríkr and his queen Gunnhildr, who was particularly hostile to Egill, and he was outlawed as a consequence. With his brother, he then travelled to England and sought service with King Aðalsteinn (OE Æþelstan); the brothers participated in the battle of Vínheiðr (thought by many scholars to be equivalent to the Old English Brunanburh, fought in 937; cf. Hollander (1933) on the literary ‘ingredients’ of this narrative). Þórólfr was killed in action and, after Egill confronted Aðalsteinn in an outrageously overbearing manner (as the saga has it), the king compensated him handsomely for his loss and promised him his friendship. Egill then returned to Norway and married his brother’s widow, Ásgerðr, went back to Iceland and took up farming. However, marrying Ásgerðr brought with it some complex legal baggage back in Norway, and after her father’s death, Egill returned to Norway to try to claim her inheritance from her half-sister’s husband, Berg-Ǫnundr. He almost succeeded but the king and queen intervened to prevent him, in the process killing some of his men, and either confiscating or destroying his property. Egill retaliated by killing his enemies, who included a number of the king’s men as well as the king’s son Rǫgnvaldr, who was only a boy. To make sure his vengeance against the king and queen worked, he raised a níðstǫng, an ‘insult-pole’, against them, calling upon the guardian deities of Norway to drive the pair from the land. He then returned to Iceland.

Eiríkr was driven from Norway by one of his own brothers, Hákon Aðalsteinsfóstri ‘Foster-son of Aðalsteinn’, after he had killed two other brothers in a struggle for the throne. With Gunnhildr, he established himself in Northumbria, and ruled this kingdom from York (Jórvík). According to the saga, Gunnhildr’s magic drew Egill from Iceland to England, where he thought to visit his friend Aðalsteinn, who, according to the saga (and quite unhistorically, as the king died in 939), was still alive. (The unhistorical notion that Eiríkr’s reign in Northumbria occurred during Aðalsteinn’s lifetime is also to be found in Ágrip (Ágr 2008, 16-17 and n. 31, pp. 90-1).

Egill travelled to England via Orkney and Scotland, but his ship was wrecked in the mouth of the River Humber, where he heard that Eiríkr was in residence at nearby York. Gunnhildr’s magic had thus drawn him irrevocably into the king’s power and it was in this desperate situation, and on the advice of his friend Arinbjǫrn, who was also one of the king’s men, that he composed his Hǫfuðlausn (Hfl) and so ransomed his head. Afterwards he visited Aðalsteinn, and, after many conflicts and lawsuits, eventually gained his wife’s inheritance in Norway. He then retired to Iceland, settled down and became a successful farmer and landowner, living until an advanced old age. In later life he suffered the loss of two of his sons, a circumstance that occasioned his elegaic poem Sonatorrek (St). He also composed poetry (notably Arinbjarnarkviða, Arkv) in honour of his friend Arinbjǫrn.

Egill was a prolific poet but not a court poet in the conventional sense, as most of his oeuvre has been transmitted only in medieval mss and later copies of Eg, aside from the quotation of some of his poetry in the grammatical treatises. He is credited with forty-eight lausavísur across the mss of Eg, as well as with six drápur, three of which have  survived in some form or other. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273, 284, 285) names Egill as a poet of Eiríkr blóðøx, Aðalsteinn of England and the Norwegian hersar Arinbjǫrn Þórisson and Þorsteinn Þóruson.

Sonatorrek — Egill StV (Eg)

Not published: do not cite (Egill StV (Eg))

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25 

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek, 960 (AI, 40-3, BI, 34-7)

in texts: Eg, Skm, SnE

This edition is currently in preparation and will be published in a forthcoming volume of the series. The text below is from a superseded edition (Skj where relevant).

1 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 72 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 1) — Egill St 1V (Eg 72)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Mjǫk erum tregt
tungu at hrœra
með loptvætt
ljóðpundara;
esa nú vænligt
of Viðurs þýfi,
né hógdrœgt
ór hugar fylgsni.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 1 (AI, 40; BI, 34); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 458x, 461x, 462x, 463x, 560dx, M; texts: Eg 72
 
2 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 73 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 2) — Egill St 2V (Eg 73)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Esa auðþeystr,
þvít ekki veldr
hǫfugligr,
ór hyggju stað
fagna fundr
Friggjar niðja
ár borinn
ór Jǫtunheimum.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 2 (AI, 40; BI, 34); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 73
 
3 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 74 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 3) — Egill St 3V (Eg 74)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Lastalauss,
es lifnaði
á nǫkkvers
nǫkkva bragi;
jǫtuns hals
undir þjóta
náins niðr
fyr naustdurum.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 3 (AI, 40; BI, 34); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 74
 
4 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 75 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 4) — Egill St 4V (Eg 75)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Þvít ætt mín
á enda stendr,
hreggbarnir
sem hlynir marka;
esa karskr maðr,
sás kǫgla berr
frænda hrørs
af fletjum niðr.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 4 (AI, 40; BI, 34); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 75
 
5 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 76 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 5) — Egill St 5V (Eg 76)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Þó munk mitt
ok móður hrør
fǫður fall
fyrst of telja;
þat berk út
ór orðhofi
mærðar timbr
máli laufgat.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 5 (AI, 40; BI, 34); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 76
 
6 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 77 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 6) — Egill St 6V (Eg 77)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Grimt vǫrum hlið,
þat's hrǫnn of braut
fǫður míns
á frændgarði;
veitk ófult
ok opit standa
sonar skarð,
es mér sær of vann.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 6 (AI, 40; BI, 34); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 77
 
7 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 78 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 7) — Egill St 7V (Eg 78)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Mjǫk hefr Rôn
of rysktan mik;
emk ofsnauðr
at ástvinum;
sleit marr bǫnd
minnar ættar,
snaran þôtt
af sjǫlfum mér.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 7 (AI, 41; BI, 35); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 78
 
8 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 79 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 8) — Egill St 8V (Eg 79)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Veizt ef sǫk
sverði of rækak,
vas ǫlsmið
allra tíma;
hroða vábrœðr
ef viða mættak,
fórk ægis
andvígr mani.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 8 (AI, 41; BI, 35); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 79
 
9 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 80 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 9) — Egill St 9V (Eg 80)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

En ek ekki
eiga þóttumk
sakar afl
við sonar bana,
þvít alþjóð
fyr augum verðr
gamals þegns
gengileysi.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 9 (AI, 41; BI, 35); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 80
 
10 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 81 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 10) — Egill St 10V (Eg 81)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Mik hefr marr
miklu ræntan;
grimt es fall
frænda at telja,
síðan's minn
á munvega
ættar skjǫldr
af lífi hvarf.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 10 (AI, 41; BI, 35); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 81
 
11 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 82 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 11) — Egill St 11V (Eg 82)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Veitk þat sjalfr,
at í syni mínum
vasa ills þegns
efni vaxit,
ef randviðr
røskvask næði,
uns hergauts
hendr of tœki.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 11 (AI, 41; BI, 35); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 82
 
12 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 83 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 12) — Egill St 12V (Eg 83)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Æ lét flest
þat's faðir mælti,
þótt ǫll þjóð
annat segði,
mér upp helt
of herbergi
ok mitt afl
mest of studdi.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 12 (AI, 41; BI, 35); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 83
 
13 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 84 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 13) — Egill St 13V (Eg 84)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Opt kømr mér
mána brúðar
í byrvind
brœðraleysi;
hyggjumk umb,
es hildr þróask,
nýsumk hins
ok hygg at því,

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 13 (AI, 41; BI, 35-6); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 84
 
14 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 85 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 14) — Egill St 14V (Eg 85)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

hverr mér hugaðr
á hlið standi
annarr þegn
við óðræði;
þarfk þess opt
við þrágǫrum;
verðk varfleygr,
es vinir þverra.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 14 (AI, 41-2; BI, 36); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 85
 
15 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 86 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 15) — Egill St 15V (Eg 86)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Mjǫk's torfyndr,
sás trúa knegum,
of alþjóð
elgjar galga,
þvít niflgóðr
niðja steypir
bróður hrør
við baugum selr.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 15 (AI, 42; BI, 36); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 86
 
16 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 87 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 16) — Egill St 16V (Eg 87)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Finnk þat opt
es féar beiðir - - -

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 16 (AI, 42; BI, 36); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 87
 
17 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 88 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 17) — Egill St 17V (Eg 88)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Þat's ok mælt
at mangi getr
sonar iðgjǫld
nema sjalfr ali,
né þann enn
es ǫðrum sé
borinn maðr
í bróður stað.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 17 (AI, 42; BI, 36); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 88
 
18 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 89 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 18) — Egill St 18V (Eg 89)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Erumka þekt
þjóða sinni,
þótt sér hverr
sôtt of haldi;
burr's býskeiðs
í bœ kominn,
kvánar sonr,
kynnis leita.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 18 (AI, 42; BI, 36); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 89
 
19 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 90 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 19) — Egill St 19V (Eg 90)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

En mér fens
í fǫstum þokk
hrosta hǫfundr
á hendi stendr;
máka upp
í aroar grímu
rýnnis reið
réttri halda.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 19 (AI, 42; BI, 36); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 90
 
20 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 91 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 20) — Egill St 20V (Eg 91)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Síz son minn
sóttar brími
heiptugligr
ór heimi nam,
þanns ek veit
at varnaði
vamma vanr
við námæli.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 20 (AI, 42; BI, 36-7); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 91
 
21 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 92 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 21) — Egill St 21V (Eg 92)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Þat mank enn,
es upp of hóf
í Goðheim
Gauta spjalli
ættar ask,
þanns óx af mér,
ok kynvið
kvánar minnar.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 21 (AI, 42; BI, 37); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 92
 
22 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 93 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 22) — Egill St 22V (Eg 93)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Áttak gótt
við geirs dróttin,
gerðumk tryggr
at trúa hônum,
áðr vinan
vagna rúni
sigrhǫfundr
of sleit við mik.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 22 (AI, 43; BI, 37); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 93
 
23 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 94 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 23) — Egill St 23V (Eg 94)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Blœtka því
bróður Vílis,
goðjaðar,
at gjarn séak;
þó hefr Míms vinr
mér of fengnar
bǫlva bœtr,
es et betra telk.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 23 (AI, 43; BI, 37); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x, 744x, B, R, Tx, U, W; texts: Eg 94, Skm 15
 
24 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 95 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 24) — Egill St 24V (Eg 95)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Gǫfumk íþrótt
ulfs of bági
vígi vanr
vammi firða
ok þat geð,
es gerðak mér
vísa fjandr
af vélǫndum.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 24 (AI, 43; BI, 37); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x, 744x, B, R, Tx, U, W; texts: Eg 95, Skm 16
 
25 Vol. 5. Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 96 (Egill Skallagrímsson, Sonatorrek, 25) — Egill St 25V (Eg 96)

The following text is from a superseded edition and is not the work of the editor(s) named on this page. It is included for reference only. Do not refer to this site when using this text but rather consult the original edition (Skj where relevant).

Nú erum torvelt,
Tveggja bága
njǫrva nipt
á nesi stendr,
skalk þó glaðr
góðum vilja
ok ó-hryggr
heljar bíða.

Skj: Egill Skallagrímsson: 3. Sonatorrek 25 (AI, 43; BI, 37); kviðuháttr; ed. MCR; group: D; mss: 169x, 453x, 462x; texts: Eg 96
 
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