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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hákonardrápa — Tindr HákdrI

Tindr Hallkelsson

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Tindr Hallkelsson, Hákonardrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 336.


Nine complete stanzas and two helmingar survive from Tindr Hallkelsson’s HákonardrápaDrápa about Hákon’ (Tindr Hákdr). The version of Jvs in ms. 510, along with ÓTHkr, links Hákdr with the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen), and the content of the poem, praise of a military triumph by Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, is compatible with this. The poem’s composition can be placed shortly after the battle (so LH I, 536), which can be dated only broadly, between 974 and 995, the date of Hákon’s death (Jvs 1962, xiv), though c. 985 is a widely accepted traditional date. The attackers were a composite force designated as Vinðar ‘Wends’ (st. 4/1), víkingar ‘vikings’ (st. 5/8) and Danir ‘Danes’ (sts 6/5, 9/4); individual leaders are named as Sigvaldi (st. 2/2) and Búi (sts 2/4, 10/4, 10/6, though possibly requiring emendation in st. 10), and these were celebrated in later literary texts on the Jómsvíkingar. On the Norwegian side the focus is entirely on Hákon jarl, referred to either by name or as jarl, but in other sources he is supported by his sons and by fighters from Trøndelag and other communities of western Norway. The location of the battle is uncertain but is usually identified as Liavågen, Møre og Romsdal (on the battle, and other skaldic poetry associated with it, see entry for Hákon jarl in ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume). Hákdr itself makes no clear reference to locations on the western coast of Norway (unless Nauma in st. 6/2 is one; see Note), but st. 11, which apparently alludes to an earlier phase of the expedition of the Jómsvíkingar, contains a name which may be tentatively read as Goðmarr and identified with Gullmaren, a fjord in modern Bohuslän (see Note to st. 11/4). Ohlmarks (1958, 206) assumed the poem to be an erfikvæði ‘memorial poem’ on the basis of st. 8/4, which mentions Hákon’s ævi ‘life’, but that does not necessarily mean that the jarl’s life had ended, and indeed the present tense hefr ‘has, bears’ in st. 3/7 may point to composition during Hákon’s lifetime as, probably, does the perfect tense hefr kennt ‘has taught’ in st. 6/5 (Fidjestøl 1982, 197).

Fragments of a poem about Hákon are preserved and uniformly attributed to Tindr in Jvs (510 text), ÓT, Hkr and SnEFsk (ÍF 29, 131) refers to the poem without citing it and the ‘A’ redaction credits Tindr with it, though the omission of Tindr’s name in the ‘B’ redaction has the effect of attributing the poem to Vígfúss Víga-Glúmsson, the preceding name at that point. Fidjestøl (1982, 24, 29, 43) traces the stanzas preserved in 510 and Hkr, along with the information about the poem as a whole preserved in Fsk, back to ‘Jvs./*A’, the hypothetical common source of prose narratives about the Jómsvíkingar. In Fsk (ÍF 29, 131) the poem is described as a drápa: Tindr Hallkelssonr … orti drápu um Hákon jarl, ok í þeiri drápu er margt sagt frá JómsvíkingaorrostuTindr Hallkelsson … composed a drápa about Hákon jarl, and in that drápa much is said about the battle of the Jómsvíkingar’. In 510 (Jvs 1879, 82), by contrast, the term flokkr is used, and the poem is treated as principally about the Jómsvíkingar: og þat seger Tindur Hallkels-son i flocki þeim, er hann orti um Ioms-vikinga, og heyrer so þar til, at hann uar þar sjalfur ‘and Tindr Hallkelsson tells of that [the clearing of the Jómsvíkingar’s ships] in the flokkr that he composed about the Jómsvíkingar, and that implies that he was there himself’. Despite these discrepancies (on which see further Jvs 1879, xvii, n. 2; Jesch 1993c, 215), the content of the stanzas indicates that they all belong to a single poem in honour of Hákon. Whether this poem would have been a flokkr or a drápa is difficult to determine; it is not possible to identify a stef ‘refrain’ amongst the extant materials.

This edition follows the stanza order of 510, since this ms. is by far the most complete of our witnesses and its ordering has become traditional by being adopted in Skj and Skald, though it is not unproblematic. Finnur Jónsson (1886b, 355-6) suggested the following: sts 2, 10/5-8, 6/5-8, 6/1-4, 1, 3, 10/1-4, 4, 7, 9, 11, 5, 8, but did not adopt it in Skj. Fidjestøl (1982, 102) would group st. 9 with st. 10/1-4 and st. 10/5-8 with st. 11. But, given the textual uncertainties and the generic, non-specific content of the extant stanzas, any re-sequencing would be arbitrary to a degree and is not attempted here.

Consistent with Hákon jarl’s adherence to the pagan religion (as witnessed, e.g., in Eskál Vell 14-15 and Eyv Hák), the poem is remarkable for its allusions to the ancestral system of belief, which it characterises as heiðinn dómr ‘heathendom’ (st. 7/7). The god Óðinn seems to figure as the receiver of the slain (st. 11/1-2 and possibly st. 9/1) and the poem features a plethora of Óðinn-heiti, albeit within kennings for other concepts (e.g. sts 3/1, 9/1 and 10/3).

The poem is represented in the redactions as follows: the Jvs ms. 510 (sts 1-11), the Hkr mss , 39, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ (sts 1, 3/5-8, 4), the ÓT mss 61, 54, Bb (sts 1, 3/5-8, 4) and the SnE mss R, , W, U, A, C (st. 1/5-8). Ms. is adopted as the main ms. for sts 1 and 4, which it preserves complete, but otherwise 510 is the main ms.

The majority of the stanzas, then, are preserved uniquely in 510, which dates from towards the end of the fifteenth century. The paper mss containing this redaction of the saga are all evidently copies, direct or indirect, from 510, and are therefore not used in this edition (cf. Jvs 1879, xxviii-xxx; Finnur Jónsson 1886b, 318). Numerous evident errors in 510 present insuperable difficulties in establishing a text for these stanzas, and therefore, in this edition as in others, an unusual amount of emendation and persisting uncertainty has been unavoidable. Diplomatic editions of Hákdr are offered in Jvs 1879 and Skj AI, and critical editions are found in editions of skaldic poetry and of the relevant sagas. The stanzas have not been edited separately, though Finnur Jónsson (1886b) is a quite comprehensive study. Many of the emendations adopted in this edition and elsewhere were first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12; SHI) or Finnur Jónsson (1886b).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Fidjestøl, Bjarne. 1982. Det norrøne fyrstediktet. Universitet i Bergen Nordisk institutts skriftserie 11. Øvre Ervik: Alvheim & Eide.
  6. LH = Finnur Jónsson. 1920-4. Den oldnorske og oldislandske litteraturs historie. 3 vols. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Gad.
  7. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  8. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  9. Jvs 1879 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1879. Jómsvíkinga saga (efter Cod. AM. 510, 4:to) samt Jómsvíkinga drápa. Lund: Gleerup.
  10. Jvs 1962 = Blake, N. F., ed. and trans. 1962. The Saga of the Jomsvikings. London etc.: Nelson.
  11. Ohlmarks, Åke. 1958. Tors skalder och Vite-Krists. Trosskiftestidens isländska furstelovskalder, 980-1013. Stockholm: Geber.
  12. Finnur Jónsson. 1886b. ‘Bidrag til en rigtigere forståelse af Tindr Hallkelssons vers’. ÅNOH, 309-68.
  13. Jesch, Judith. 1993c. ‘History in the “Political Sagas”’. 62, 210-20.
  14. Internal references
  15. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  16. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  17. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. clix-clxi.
  18. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. clxiii-clxvi.
  19. Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Biography of) Tindr Hallkelsson’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 335.
  20. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Vígfúss Víga-Glúmsson’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 361.
  21. R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 171.
  22. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 14’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 301.

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