Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hrynhenda — Ólhv HrynII

Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson

Lauren Goetting 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda’ 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, pp. 658-70.


The title of the poem Hrynhenda ‘falling, flowing metre’ (Ólhv Hryn) is derived from the metre in which it was composed (hrynhenda or hrynhent), named for the flowing effect produced by its tendency to alternate stressed and unstressed syllables (see RGA 15: Hrynhent; SnE 1999, 27-8), and is not attested in medieval mss. Óláfr Þórðarson composed Hryn sometime after the death of Skúli Bárðarson in 1240. The length of the original poem is uncertain. Ten sts and two half-sts are preserved in Hák, all of which are transmitted in E, F (except ll. 7-8 of st. 4), 42ˣ, 81a, and Flat. Stanzas 1, 3-4 are contained in 325VIII 5 a, sts 2-5 in 304ˣ, sts 6-12 in 8, and sts 9 and 12 in 55 A. E has been chosen as the main ms.

Hryn documents the life of King Hákon Hákonarson of Norway and includes the following events: Hákon’s election as king in 1217 (st. 1), his disputes and reconciliation with Skúli Bárðarson (1233-7; sts 2-5), Skúli’s claim to the throne of Norway in 1239 (sts 6-7), the battle of Låke in 1240 (st. 8), and the battle of Oslo in 1240 (sts 9-12).


  1. Bibliography
  2. RGA = Beck, Heinrich and Holger Arbmann, eds. 1973-2008. Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde. 37 vols. Berlin: de Gruyter. 2nd rev. edn of Hoops 1911-19.
  3. SnE 1999 = Snorri Sturluson. 1999. Edda: Háttatal. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. Rpt. with addenda and corrigenda. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  4. Internal references
  5. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák)’ 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].

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