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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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RvHbreiðm Hl 54III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 54’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1061.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr ÞórarinssonHáttalykill

text and translation

Fleygði á folkstígu
forðum aurborða
tum margnýtum
malmi gollhjalmi.
Sungu svanvengis
snótir raustljótar
hátt of hafbeittum
hjalmi Serksalma.

Forðum fleygði mætum, margnýtum malmi, gollhjalmi, á {folkstígu aurborða}. {Raustljótar snótir {svanvengis}} sungu Serksalma hátt of hafbeittum hjalmi.
‘Of old, he flung the precious, highly beneficial metal, the gold helmet, onto the main paths of ship-boards [SEA]. The ugly-voiced women of the swan-meadow [SEA > WAVES] sang Saracen-psalms above the sea-bitten helmet.

notes and context

As st. 56 above.

[1-4]: Rugman misread and misconstrued the first two lines of the stanza, which has led to different interpretations of the first helmingr. Finnur Jónsson’s version (Skj B) is based on Rugman’s transcription in R683ˣ and contains a great number of conjectural emendations; it will not be discussed here. (a) The present edn follows the interpretation of Jón Helgason (Hl 1941). Rugman transcribed the end of the first line and the beginning of the second line as ‘as ole | stigo’ (papp25ˣ), which is clearly a misreading of á folkstígu (first suggested by Kock, NN §2078, and adopted by subsequent eds). Fleygði á folkstígu ‘he flung onto the main paths (of ship-boards)’ parallels sløngði á svanvengi ‘he flung onto the swan-path’ in st. 53/3. In l. 3, ‘mæiom’ (so papp25ˣ; ‘meiom’ R683ˣ) has been emended to mætum ‘precious’ (adj.), which restores the internal rhyme (-æt- : ‑ýt-). That word could also be construed as dat. pl. of mæti ‘precious thing’: ‘he flung … precious things, highly beneficial metal, a gold helmet’. Jón Helgason (Hl 1941) calls attention to the fact that the sea-king Óláfr in Gautreks saga (Gautr ch. 11) was presented with a gold helmet and a gold byrnie, both of which were thrown into the ocean by Óláfr’s counsellor, the wicked Refnefr. The byrnie was retrieved, but not the helmet. See Anon (Gautr) 1/5-8VIII (Gautr 8) Varpat sínu | á sæ féi | Gautrekr, er gaf | gullhring Refi ‘Gautrekr did not cast his wealth into the sea when he gave Refr a gold ring’. If Óláfr in sts 57-8 is identical with the sea-king in that saga, our interpretation of this and the following helmingr (ll. 5-8) fits that context (except that it was Refnefr and not Óláfr who threw the treasure into the sea). The connection with Gautreks saga is strengthened by the fact that sts 55-6 below commemorate Gautrekr. Saxo, who was aware of a connection between Gautrekr and Refr (Saxo 2005, I, 8, 16, 1-4, pp. 578-81), does not mention a sea-king named Óláfr in connection with Gautrekr, but according to him, ‘Olauus’ (Óláfr) was Gautrekr’s son and heir (Saxo 2005, I, 9, 1, 1, pp. 584-5). (b) Kock, who was the first to realise Rugman’s mistake, emends ‑stígu (m. acc. pl.) ‘paths’ (l. 1) to stígum (dat. pl.) as a locative dat. (‘while sailing on the ocean’). He also takes gollhjalmi ‘gold helmet’ as a locative dat. and reads (NN §2078) Seglande på havet delade han fordum ut ur jyllne jälmen ädel fin metall ‘Sailing on the ocean, of old he distributed from the gold helmet precious, fine metal’. (c) Holtsmark (Hl 1941) emends aurborða (gen. pl.) ‘of the ship-boards’ (l. 2) to aurborðum (dat. pl.) ‘ships’, ‘mæiom’ or ‘meiom’ (dat. pl. (l. 3)) to meitti ‘shattered, cut’ (inf. meita), and gollhjalmi (dat. sg.) ‘gold helmet’ (l. 4) to gollhjalma acc. pl. She offers the following reading: han sendte ut på herstier fordum skibene, splintret med nyttig våpen gullhjelmer ‘of old he launched the ships onto the war-paths, shattered gold helmets with useful weapons’. That reading presupposes the following prose order (not given in Hl 1941): fleygði forðum aurborðum á folkstígu, meitti gollhjalma margnýtum malmi



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl og Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 27b: AI, 523, BI, 500, Skald I, 246, NN §§983, 2078, 2264, 2836; Hl 1941, 28, 77-9.


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