Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1094.
Snorri Sturluson’s Háttatal ‘Enumeration of Verse-Forms’ (SnSt Ht) is a praise poem of 102 stanzas composed in honour of the young king Hákon Hákonarson of Norway and his regent and father-in-law Skúli jarl Bárðarson (see their Biographies in SkP II). It is transmitted in its entirety, with a prose commentary (on which, see below), in SnE where it forms one of the three main parts of that work along with Gylfaginning (Gylf) and Skáldskaparmál (Skm; see Introduction to this volume). It is generally believed that Snorri composed this part of his Edda first, i.e. prior to Gylf and Skm (so R 1940, 31-2; Clunies Ross 1987, 17; SnE 2007, vii; Wanner 2008, 99-100), and that Gylf and Skm were intended to complement the metrical part of SnE (Ht) by providing a mythological framework for poetic diction (Gylf) and to explicate poetic diction in terms of kennings and heiti (Skm).
Snorri’s authorship of Ht is well established. Both the title of the poem and Snorri’s name are mentioned in other works, usually in conjunction with stanzas from Ht cited in the prose, e.g. in TGT (TGT 1884, 96): sæm finnaz man ihatta tali þvi, ær snorri hæfir ort ‘As can be found in that Háttatal which Snorri has composed’ (see also the prose of Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák) in Flat(168va) and 8(42v)). The beginning of SnE in ms. U(1r) contains the rubric Siþaz hatta tal er Snorri hevir ort vm hakon konvngi ok skvla hertvga ‘At the end Háttatal which Snorri has composed about King Hákon and Duke Skúli’, and the rubric hattatal er snorri sturlo son orti vm hakon konvng ok skvla hertoga ‘Háttatal which Snorri Sturluson composed about King Hákon and Duke Skúli’ (U(47v)) introduces the third part of SnE in that ms. Ms. Tˣ(46v) provides the heading Wpp haf ha̋ttatals ‘The beginning of Háttatal’. Other attributions to Snorri, which do not give the title of the poem, are found in Orms-Eddu-brot (W(168, 169)), in TGT (A(5r), A(6r) A(6v), A(7r)), W(98), W(104), W(106), W(107), 744ˣ(5r)) and in Hák (E(150r), F(92rb), F(92va), 42ˣ(105v), Flat(168va)).
The approximate date of composition of Ht can be established with a fair amount of certainty based on historical events mentioned (or not mentioned) in the poem. Snorri returned to Iceland from Norway late in the summer of 1220 after a two-year sojourn at the Norwegian court and in Sweden (see his Biography in the Introduction to this volume), and in Ht he makes rather frequent reference to his stay there (sts 13, 27-30, 67-9, 93, 95, 101). Further, sts 32-7 and 39 refer to historical events that took place in Norway between 1213-17, while sts 63-4 and 66 are cited in Hák to corroborate the prose accounts of battles that took place during the winter of 1221-2, when Skúli subjugated the rebellious faction of the Ribbungar. The news of those skirmishes could not have reached Iceland until 1222. There is no mention in Ht of any events that occurred after 1221-2, such as when Sigurðr, the Ribbung leader, finally submitted to Skúli during the winter of 1222-3 (E 1916, 514), or when the royal assembly was arranged in Bergen the following summer (29 July-8 August; ibid. 514-21). Because Skúli played a major part on these occasions, Snorri would surely have included them in Ht if the news had reached Iceland. Hence most scholars agree that Ht must have been composed some time between the summer of 1222 and the end of the summer of 1223 (see, e.g. Konráð Gíslason 1869, 147-8; SnE 1879-81, II, 33-4; LH 1894-1901, II, 87; Fidjestøl 1982, 247; Kuhn 1983, 324; SnE 2007, x; Wanner 2008, 99).
Ht as it is transmitted in SnE is embedded in a prose commentary. It has been debated whether the commentary derives from Snorri himself (cf. SnE 1879-81, II, 81-5; Boer 1927), but most scholars (LH 1894-1901, II, 695-6; Kuhn 1983, 326; Marold 1995, 104; SnE 2007, ix; Wanner 2008, 115-18) agree that there is little reason to doubt Snorri’s authorship, although it is certainly possible that the commentary could have been changed somewhat in the course of transmission (for the textual variants of the commentary in mss R, Tˣ, U, W, see SnE 1931, 213-52). While it is true that no ms. explicitly attributes the commentary to Snorri, the author of the preface to the grammatical treatises in ms. W(83) does so indirectly when he warns that kennings should not be ‘extended further than Snorri permits’ (TGT 1884, 155: lengra reknar enn snorri lofar). This prohibition appears to allude to the section in the Ht commentary in which Snorri warns (SnE 2007, 8): Níunda er þat at reka til hinnar fimtu kenningar, er ór ættum er ef lengra er rekit; en þótt þat finnisk í fornskálda verka, þá látum vér þat nú ónýtt ‘The ninth [licence] is to extend as far as the fifth kenning, because it is excessive if it is extended further; and although that is found in the works of ancient skalds, we do not use that now’. Further, as Faulkes (SnE 2007, 74) notes, there are references in the poetic text of Ht (st. 100; the summary of verse-forms) that, according to him, ‘… could be taken to refer to the commentary to Háttatal, thus confirming that it is by the poet’. There is also such close correspondence between the structure of the commentary and the structure of the poem that it is difficult to believe that the two were not composed by the same person (cf. LH 1894-1901, II, 695-6; Marold 1995, 104).
The commentary opens with a dialogue between a teacher and a student in the tradition of learned Latin medieval treatises on grammar and rhetoric (cf. Marold 1995, 103-14; Tranter 1997, 92-9; SnE 2007, ix, xii-xiii, 47). Although the beginning of the commentary does not have a direct counterpart in any known treatise, the learned influence is unmistakeable, and it is clear that Snorri must have been familiar with such traditions (see the detailed discussion in Marold loc. cit. about possible ways such knowledge could have been transmitted to and disseminated in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Iceland; see also Clunies Ross 1987 and Gade 2007). The commentary begins by outlining the constitutive features of dróttkvætt metre, illustrated by sts 1-8, and the dialogue form breaks off right before st. 9, which is the first stanza to exemplify an actual variant of dróttkvætt in which ‘verse-forms are differentiated by various arrangements of words’ (SnE 2007, 9: Háttum er skipt með ýmissum orðtǫkum; see the discussion of the metrical structure below). After st. 9, the commentary that follows or precedes the individual stanzas discusses the metrical characteristics of each stanza in some detail, often giving the names of the variants in the prose. The prose commentary breaks off after st. 93, aside from a brief and somewhat confusing insert after st. 97, which comments on different variants of fornyrðislag (see st. 98, Note to [All]). It is not clear why the commentary stops at this point, but it could have been because Snorri knew that the audience would be familiar with these metres (málaháttr, fornyrðislag, ljóðaháttr, galdralag and kviðuháttr) and he believed that these stanzas needed no explanation.
In three instances the commentary cites poetry from other skalds to exemplify peculiarities of diction and metre. A couplet from Þórarinn svarti ‘the Black’ máhlíðingr Þórólfsson’s Máhlíðingavísur (Þmáhl Máv 1/1-2V (Eb 3)) and a fragment by Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson (Refr Frag 5) are inserted into the prose between sts 8-9 to illustrate various licences (leyfi) in poetic composition, and a lausavísa by Klœingr Þorsteinsson (Klœingr Lv) is given after st. 44 in conjunction with the metre alhent ‘completely rhymed’. The latter two are edited separately in the present volume (see Context and Notes there).
Thematically, Ht can be divided into four parts. It opens with an encomium to Hákon Hákonarson (sts 1-30), followed by a counterpart to Skúli Bárðarson (sts 31-67); st. 67/5-8 addresses both Hákon and Skúli. Skúli’s first poem is followed by another poem honouring him (Skúli’s second poem; sts 67-96); again the second helmingr of the last stanza, st. 96/5-8, is addressed to both rulers. The last six stanzas of Ht, sts 97-102, praise both rulers as well as Snorri’s own prowess as a poet. Each of the three longer poems follows more or less the same pattern with praise to those honoured, generic description of battles, naval expeditions, feasting and gift-giving, interspersed with personal asides by Snorri, often with references to his earlier stays at the Norwegian court (1218-20). An exception is Skúli’s first poem, which is framed by accounts of historical events in which he played a pivotal part during the years 1213-14, 1217 and 1221-2 (sts 32-7, 39, 63-4, 66).
Möbius (SnE 1879-81, II, 36-42) was the first to point out that the three main poems in Ht are structured thematically in sequences of three and nine stanzas (triads and enneads). Finnur Jónsson (LH 1894-1901, II, 80-1) concurred strongly with that assessment, but later scholars (e.g. Fidjestøl 1982, 247-50; Wanner 2008, 103-15) are more sceptical. To be sure, there is a tendency towards a triadic structure, but it is by no means as clear cut as Möbius and Finnur Jónsson would like it to be. The individual poems are also to a certain extent cyclic and follow a logical structure, especially as far as the first and third poems are concerned. Naval expeditions and battles take place in the spring and summer, then the ships are beached for the winter (cf. sts 23, 83), and this is followed by sequences of stanzas devoted to indoor activities, such as feasting, drinking and gift-giving. The thematic structure of Ht can be outlined as follows (see also the discussion by Fidjestøl 1982, 248-55):
Ht culminates in increasingly lavish praise of Hákon and Skúli, their bravery and, in particular, their generosity; Snorri wishes them longevity and prosperity (st. 102/1-4; cf. sts 3/7-8, 30/5-8). The most prominent feature of this part of the poem, however, is Snorri’s references to himself (st. 101/1-3 Sóttak fremð, sóttak fund konungs, sóttak ítran jarl ‘I sought advancement, I sought a meeting with the king, I sought the noble jarl’) and his pride in the poem with its many verse-forms (st. 100); the poem about Hákon and Skúli will be remembered forever (st. 102/5-8 Falli fold, studd steini, fyrr í ægi en lof stillis ‘May the earth, studded with stone, sink into the sea sooner than the praise of the ruler’). Indeed, as Fidjestøl (1982, 255) aptly puts it, Lovkvadet over fyrstane endar med å bli eit lovkvad over lovkvadet ‘The praise poem about the rulers ends up being a praise poem about the praise poem’ (see also Wanner 2008, 114).
As far as metrical structure is concerned, Ht is divided into three distinct categories of verse-forms, inn fyrsti háttr ‘the first category of verse-forms’ (sts 9-27), the second category of verse-forms (sts 28-67) and the third category of verse-forms, called smærri hættir ‘lesser verse-forms’ (sts 68-102). For a more detailed discussion of the specific metres, see Notes to the individual stanzas, as well as Sievers (1879, 265-78; 1893, 98-118), SnE 2007, 77-91 and Section 4 of the General Introduction in SkP I, li-lxix.
The basis for the first two categories is dróttkvætt metre, which Snorri clearly considered the foundation of skaldic metres (SnE 2007, 4-5): Þetta er dróttkvæðr háttr. Með þeima hætti er flest ort þat er vandat er. Þessi er upphaf allra hátta sem málrúnar eru fyrir ǫðrum rúnum ‘This is dróttkvætt verse-form. Most of that which is carefully made is composed in that verse-form. This is the origin of all verse-forms, just as speech-runes have precedence over other runes’ (see also Kuhn 1983, 324).
The first eight stanzas of Ht (sts 1-8) serve as a preface to the three main categories of verse-forms, and they exemplify the constitutive features of dróttkvætt, i.e. the number of lines in a stanza, of syllables in a line, the nature and placement of alliteration and internal rhyme (st. 1), kennings and poetic diction (sts 2-6) and the minimum and maximum number of syllables allowed in regular dróttkvætt lines (sts 7-8). The first category of verse-forms (inn fyrsti háttr) begins with st. 9, which is introduced as follows (SnE 2007, 9): Háttum er skipt með ýmissum orðtǫkum, ok er þessi einn háttr er kallaðr er sextánmæltr ‘Verse-forms are differentiated by various arrangements of words, and this is one verse-form that is called sixteen-times spoken’. This category, which comprises sts 9-27, largely exhibits variation in clause-arrangement and syntax (sts 9-16, 25-7) as well as verbal antitheses (sts 17-23). Stanza 24 illustrates dunhent ‘echoing-rhymed’, which technically represents variation of hendingar and ought to be represented in the second háttr (cf. sts 41, 53, 58), but its inclusion here is probably owing to the fact that it involves repetition of similar word stems and directly follows the category of juxtaposed lexical antitheses (refhvǫrf ‘fox-turns’; sts 17-23). Because Hákon’s poem ends with st. 30 (see the overview of thematic structure above), there is no direct overlap between the thematic and metrical structure of Ht at this point.
After st. 27, which is the last stanza of the first category of dróttkvætt (sts 9-27) with variants in clause-arrangement, syntax and lexicon (e.g. antitheses), the commentary states (SnE 2007, 16): Þessi er hinn fyrsti háttr er ritaðr sé þeira er breytt er af dróttkvæðum hætti með fullu háttaskipti, ok heðan frá skal nú rita þær greinir er skipt er dróttkvæðum hætti ok breytt með hljóðum ok hendingaskipti eða orðalengð, stundum við lagt en stundum af tekit ‘This is the first category which can be recorded of those in which there is variation of dróttkvætt metre with full change of verse-forms, and from now on I shall exemplify those categories in which dróttkvætt metre is changed in terms of sounds [alliteration] and variations of hendingar or length of lines – sometimes with additions and sometimes with subtractions’.
The end of the second category of verse-forms, which is exemplified in sts 28-67, coincides with the end of Skúli’s first poem (see above). This category consists of stanzas in dróttkvætt with variation of hendingar (sts 28-9, 31-2, 35-8, 41-8, 52-3, [59-61], 66-7), trochaic dróttkvætt (st. 30), dróttkvætt with additional syllables, including veggjat ‘wedged, inserted’ (st. 33), flagðaháttr ‘ogresses’ form’ (st. 34), kimblaband ‘bundle-bond’ (sts 59-61), hrynhent ‘flowing-rhymed’ (sts 62-4) and draughent ‘ghost-’ or ‘trunk-rhymed’ (st. 65), as well as dróttkvætt with omission of syllables (stúfar ‘apocopated’; sts 49-51). Stanzas 39 (tiltekit ‘linked’) and 40 (greppaminni ‘poets’ reminder’) are characterised by features that appear to be of a syntactic nature (see Notes there), but could have been included in this category because they show lexical repetition, i.e. repetition of hendingar. Stanzas 54-8, the so-called fornskalda hættir ‘metres of ancient skalds’, also involve irregularities (háttafǫll) in the placement of alliteration and internal rhymes. Stanza 67 marks the end of the second category of verse-forms and the end of Skúli’s first poem (SnE 2007, 29): Nú eru saman settir í tveim kvæðum sex tigir hátta ok um fram þær átta greinir er fyrst er skipat <í> dróttkvæðum hætti með málsgreinum þeim er fylgja hættinum, ok eru þessir hættir allir vel fallnir til at yrkja kvæði eptir ef vill ‘Now sixty verse-forms have been composed in two poems, and, in addition, those eight variants into which the dróttkvætt metre was arranged at the beginning according to the distinction of language which characterises the verse-form, and all these verse-forms are suitable for poetic composition if one wishes to do that’.
The third main category of verse-forms, which begins at st. 68 with Skúli’s second poem and ends with st. 102, the last stanza of Ht, illustrates smærri hættir ‘lesser verse-forms (SnE 2007, 29): Nú skal upp hefja it þriðja kvæði þat er ort er eptir inum smærum háttum, ok eru þeir hættir þó margir áðr í lofkvæðum ‘Now I shall begin the third poem [i.e. Skúli’s second poem], which is composed in the lesser verse-forms, and nonetheless many of these verse-forms are already found in praise poems’. The metres illustrated in this category are the following (see also Sievers 1879, 273-8; 1893, 112-18; LH 1894-1901, II, 84-7; SnE 2007, 86-91): tøgdrápulag ‘journey-poem metre’ (st. 68), tøglag ‘journey-metre’ (st. 69), hagmælt ‘skilfully spoken’ (st. 70), inn grœnlenzki háttr ‘the verse-form from Greenland’ (st. 71), inn skammi háttr ‘the short verse-form’ (st. 72), inn nýi háttr ‘the new verse-form’ (st. 73), stúfhent ‘stump-rhymed’ (st. 74), náhent ‘close-rhymed’ (st. 75), hnugghent ‘deprive-rhymed’ (st. 76), hálfhnept ‘half-curtailed’ (st. 77), alhnept ‘completely curtailed’ (st. 78), Haðarlag ‘Hǫðr’s metre’ (st. 79), málaháttr ‘speeches’ form’ (st. 95), fornyrðislag ‘old story metre’ (st. 96), bálkarlag ‘section’s metre’ (st. 97), Starkaðar lag ‘Starkaðr’s metre’ (st. 98), fornyrðislag ‘old story metre’ [no heading] (st. 99), ljóðaháttr ‘songs’ form’ (st. 100), galdralag ‘incantations’ metre’ (st. 101) and kviðuháttr ‘poem’s form’ (st. 102).
The bulk of stanzas in this third and last category, sts 80-94, is made up of variants of runhent ‘end-rhymed’ (SnE 2007, 33): Nú eru þeir hættir er runhendur eru kallaðar. Þeir eru með einu móti: hverr háttr runhendr skal vera með aðalhendingum tveim ok í sínu vísuorði hvár hending ‘Now there are those verse-forms that are called end-rhymed. They are structured in the same way: each end-rhymed verse-form must have two aðalhendingar and each rhyme must be in a separate line’. Again we see an overlap between the metrical and the thematic structure of Ht. Stanza 79, in Haðarlag, concludes the section on Skúli’s naval expeditions, and the first runhent stanza (st. 80) begins the second part of his poem (see thematic overview above), with renewed praise of Skúli. Stanza 94, the last stanza in runhent metre, compares Skúli to legendary heroes (Hrólfr kraki ‘Pole-ladder’, King Haki, Sigurðr Fáfnisbani ‘Slayer of Fáfnir’ and Ragnarr lóðbrók ‘Shaggy-breeches’) and ends in resounding praise of Skúli, Skúli jarl es miklu dýrstr ‘Skúli jarl is by far the most glorious’, a line that echoes st. 82/8 in the manner of a stef ‘refrain’ (cf. SnE 1879-81, II, 37; Fidjestøl 1982, 248). This is also where the prose commentary ends, aside from the brief insert between sts 97 and 98.
It is clear, then, that the structure of Ht, both on the thematic and on the metrical level, is logical and well thought out, and there can be no doubt that, although Ht contains three praise poems, Snorri conceived of the entire encomium as a unit (cf. Fidjestøl 1982, 247).
Many of the metres found in Ht are attested with the same names in Háttalykill (RvHbreiðm Hl; see also the list in Introduction to Hl). The two poems show the following correspondences in terminology:
Ht 9: sextánmælt ‘sixteen-times spoken’ (Hl 41-2)
Ht 10: áttmælt ‘eight-times spoken’ (Hl 75-6)
Ht 14: langlokur ‘late closings’ (Hl 59-60 langlokum ‘with late closings’)
Ht 24: dunhent ‘echoing-rhymed’ (Hl 65-6)
Ht 25: tilsagt ‘annotated’ (Hl 67-8 tilsegjandi ‘annotating’)
Ht 27: álagsháttr ‘extension’s form’ (Hl 79-80)
Ht 29: detthent ‘falling-rhymed’; ‘stumbling-rhymed’ (Hl 35-6)
Ht 34: flagðaháttr ‘ogresses’ form’; flagðalag ‘ogresses’ metre’ (Hl 63-4)
Ht 35: in forna skjálfhenda ‘the ancient tremble-rhyme’ (Hl 81-2 skjálfhent)
Ht 37: inn dýri háttr ‘the ornate verse-form’ (Hl 17-18)
Ht 40: greppaminni ‘poets’ reminder’ (Hl 45-6)
Ht 47: iðurmælt ‘repeatedly spoken’ (Hl 57-8)
Ht 59-61: kimblaband ‘bundle-bond’ (Hl 27-8 kimblabǫnd)
Ht 62, 64: hrynhent ‘flowing-rhymed’ (Hl 31-2)
Ht 65: draughent ‘ghost-/trunk-rhymed’ (Hl 7-8)
Ht 66: munnvǫrp ‘mouth-throwings’ (Hl 15-16)
Ht 67: háttlausa ‘formless’ (Hl 51-2)
Ht 68: tøgdrápulag ‘journey-poem metre’ (Hl 25-6 tøgdrápuháttr ‘journey-poem form’)
Ht 71: inn grœnlenzki háttr ‘the verse-form from Greenland’ (Hl 19-20)
Ht 75: náhent ‘close-rhymed’ (cf. Hl 29-30 háhent ‘high-rhymed’)
Ht 77 hálfhnept ‘half-curtailed’ (Hl 49-50)
Ht 78 alhnept ‘completely curtailed’ (cf. Hl 77-8 hálfhnept ‘half-curtailed’)
Ht 79: Haðarlag ‘Hǫðr’s metre’ (Hl 53-4)
Ht 97: bálkarlag ‘section’s metre’ (Hl 37-8)
Ht 100: ljóðaháttr ‘songs’ form’ (Hl 1-2 ljóðsháttr).
There can be no doubt that Snorri was familiar with a version of Hl and the terminology used in the headings there, but his treatment of the verse-forms is much more systematic, and he conventionalises metrical peculiarites that are found in the stanzas of Hl. He also expands greatly by adding metrical variants displaying the same feature, often by decreasing or increasing the frequency with which a metrical feature occurs (inn meiri ‘the greater’, inn mesti ‘the greatest’, inn minni ‘the lesser’, inn minnsti ‘the least’). Whereas Hl has four stanzaic pairs with end rhyme (runhent; Hl 13-14, 21-2, 33-4, 47-8), for example, Snorri devotes a total of fifteen stanzas (sts 80-94) to variants of runhent in which end rhyme has been added to metres exemplified elsewhere in the poem. Some of these variants are characterised by the frequency with which identical rhymes occur, i.e. whether the same rhyme extends throughout a full stanza, a half-stanza or a couplet. The term runhent is also given as the heading of Hl 47-8, and some of the variants given in Ht occur in that poem as well, though with different names (e.g. st. 82 in minnsta runhenda ‘the least end-rhymed’ = Hl 13-14 belgdrǫgur ‘bellows-drawings’; st. 90 minni runhenda ‘lesser end-rhymed’ = Hl 33-4 rekit ‘extended, driven’). The terms inn minni ‘the lesser’ and inn meiri ‘the greater’ are used in names for verse-forms in Hl as well (see Hl 39-40, 55-6), and it could well be that the impetus for introducing these terms for variants in Ht ultimately stemmed from Snorri’s knowledge of the terminology of Hl. We cannot know, of course, at what point in the transmission of that poem the names of the metres in Hl were added, but if the present transcriptions of that poem in mss papp25ˣ and R683ˣ were made from an exemplar of Norwegian or Orcadian provenance from around 1180-90 (see Introduction to Hl), this must have happened at a fairly early stage.
In a few instances the same metrical variants are exemplified in the two poems, but the terminology is slightly different. Stanzas 17-22 of Ht illustrate forms of antithesis, refhvǫrf ‘fox-turns’, a rhetorical peculiarity also found in Hl 39-40, 55-6 under the heading refrún ‘fox-secret’. The heptasyllabic verse-form alstýfðr ‘completely apocopated’ or inn mesti stúfr ‘the greatest apocopated’ (st. 51) corresponds to Hl 9-10, which has no title in Hl (titulus deest ‘the heading is missing’), but alstýft is the heading of Hl 61-2, which is similar to Ht 50 (inn meiri stúfr ‘the greater apocopated’). In a couple of other cases, the terminology shows no similarity. The Ht metre trollsháttr ‘troll’s verse-form’ (st. 63), a trochaic form of hrynhent ‘flowing-rhymed’, appears in Hl 73-4 under the heading konungslag ‘king’s metre’, and in Ht, the term rekit ‘extended, driven’ is used in the prose commentary (SnE 2007, 5, 8) to refer to an extended kenning with more than two determinants, but in Hl rekit is the name of a metre, an octosyllabic variant of runhent (cf. Hl 33-4, which is similar to Ht 90). When headings are missing in Hl, the metres are usually attested in Ht (see the list in Introduction to Hl) but much more systematically, and, conversely, in one instance a metre is named in Hl and not in Ht, namely kviðuháttr ‘poem’s form’ (Ht 102, Hl 3-4), a term that is also used for this metre in TGT (TGT 1927, 42). The only metre illustrated in Hl that is not found in Ht is hnúfu háttr (Hl 43-4; the meaning of the name is obscure), but that verse-form is attested in the later medieval claves metricae with the name álagsháttr ‘extension’s form’ (see Hl 43 Note to [All]).
We will never know how and in what form Hl was brought to Iceland, but it seems likely that a ms. containing the poem and some sort of headings must have been available to Snorri when he lived at Oddi and was educated there, and there are known to have been close connections between Orkney and the family of Jón Loptsson (cf. Einar Ólafur Sveinsson 1937, 39; Marold 1995, 106; Introduction to RvHbreiðm Hl in the present volume). As far as Ht itself is concerned, we do not know whether that poem ever reached its intended recipients at the Norwegian court. There are indications in the poetic text of Ht that Snorri had indeed planned to recite the poem before the Norwegian magnates. In st. 81/5-6, 8, for example, he declares Skal stœra stef stilli Mœra ok fœra honum ‘I shall augment the poem about the lord of the Mœrir [RULER = Skúli] and bring [it] to him’, and in st. 85/5-6 he asks for silence during his recitation: Dýrð skal segja … drótt má þegja ‘I shall recount the glory … the court must be silent’. If the poem reached Norway, it is highly unlikely that Snorri would have brought it himself, because he did not travel to Norway again until 1237, when he was forced to flee Iceland and took refuge with Skúli (1237-8). At that time, Ht’s praise to ‘Skúli jarl’ would have been sorely outdated; not only did it not contain references to any historical event taking place after 1221, but Skúli himself was no longer jarl, having been given the title of hertogi ‘duke’ by Hákon in the spring of 1237 (see Ólhv Hryn 5II and Skúli’s Biography in SkP II, xcv). Neither Hák nor Stu makes any mention of Ht, aside from attributions introducing the three stanzas cited by Sturla in Hák. If Ht ever arrived in Norway, it would have been sent by Snorri in written form (with or without commentary), and if so, we can only speculate about its reception there.
All stanzas of Ht are transmitted in ms. R of SnE, which is the main ms. for this edition. Stanzas 1-37, 39-61 are found in Tˣ, W has sts 7-86/5 and U sts 1-56. Ms. U(47r) contains an index (labelled U* in Skj A) of first lines (or the first lines and parts of the second) of Ht sts 1-34, 36, including thirty-three names of the verse-forms, on the recto leaf prior to the beginning of Ht and the prose commentary on U(47v). Mårtensson (2010) gives a detailed discussion of the readings of the index and the main text of Ht in U. He concludes that the index was copied from a different exemplar from that of the main text, and that it most likely served a didactic purpose, i.e. to complement the main text by providing the names of the metres that in many cases were lacking in the U version of Ht (Mårtensson 2010, 140-1). Peculiar to ms. R is a series of corrections to the poetic text of Ht made in a different ink in a hand roughly contemporary with the main hand (see Finnur Jónsson 1892). In some instances, names of metres have been added in this hand, especially in the last part of Ht, and other alterations have been made throughout the poetic text (but not in the prose commentary). Finnur Jónsson (1892) made a careful survey of these changes, and he concluded (ibid. 319) that the scribe who made them worked from a different ms. than the exemplar of ms. R and that this ms. must have been closely related to W. That observation is not entirely correct, however, because Finnur did not include ms. Tˣ in his textual comparisons with the other mss, and a closer examination shows that the corrections appear to have been made from a ms. closer to Tˣ than to W. In some cases, the alterations have no correspondences with the readings of the other mss, and they seem to have been made independently and to have resulted from an attempt to achieve syntactic simplification. In Skj A, SnE 2007 and in the Notes of the present edition the corrections are designated R*. Unlike in Skj A, the R* readings have not been included in the critical apparatus (Readings) in the present edition. The following fourteen stanzas from Ht are cited in other sources: sts 2/5-8 (Orms-Eddu-brot); 5/3-6 (TGT); 12, 14 (FoGT); 15/7-8, 16/1, 28/3-4, 40/1-4 (TGT); 40/7-8 (Orms-Eddu-brot); 63-4, 66 (Hák); 73/1-4, 83/5-6 (TGT). For the mss and works in which these stanzas are transmitted, see the mss listed for the individual stanzas as well as their Context.
There are a number of earlier editions of Ht, including those in the standard editions of SnE (SnE 1818; SnE 1848; SnE 1848-87, I, III; SnE 1931). The poem and the prose commentary have been edited separately by Möbius in SnE 1879-81, by Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I), by Martin (1974) and by Faulkes in SnE 2007. The present editor is indebted to Faulkes (SnE 2007, 98-165), especially as far as the English translations of Old Norse metrical terminology are concerned. Faulkes’s (1987) English translation of SnE has not been consulted for the present edition.
This page is used for different resources. For groups of stanzas such as poems, you will see the verse text and, where published, the translation of each stanza. These are also links to information about the individual stanzas.
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The final section, ‘sources’ is a list of the manuscripts that contain the prose work, as well as manuscripts and prose works linked to stanzas and sections of a text.