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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr Óldr 4I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa 4’ 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. 395.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonÓláfsdrápa
345

lét ‘caused’

láta (verb): let, have sth done

[1] lét: vann FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310

notes

[1] lét ‘caused ... to be’: Here, as in st. 3/1, the reading of Fsk and 310, vann ‘made’, is more or less synonymous, and it is equally satisfactory together with p. p. roðinn ‘reddened’.

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at ‘at’

3. at (prep.): at, to

[1] at: á 54, Bb

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Holmi ‘Hólmr’

holmr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-; -ar): island, islet

notes

[1] Holmi ‘Hólmr’: A p. n. seems likely, rather than the appellative holmr ‘island’, and Bornholm, ON Borgundarhólmr, is the main candidate, as assumed in Hkr and ÓT.

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hræ ‘corpse’

hræ (noun n.; °; -): corpse, carrion < hræskóð (noun n.)

[2] hræ‑: her‑ 53, 54, Bb, Flat, hjalm‑ FskBˣ, 310, halm‑ FskAˣ

kennings

hǫrð hræskóð
‘hard corpse-harmers ’
   = SWORDS

hard corpse-harmers → SWORDS

notes

[2] hræskóð ‘corpse-harmers [SWORDS]’: Again, the traditions branch, with hjalm- ‘helmet’ in Fsk and 310 and hræ- ‘corpse’ (apparently corrupted to her- ‘army’ in some copies) in Hkr and ÓT. Hjalmskóð ‘helmet-harm(er)’ at first sight appears the better reading, and is adopted in Skj and Skald, but hræskóð is retained here as the lectio difficilior and the reading of the chosen main ms. It seems a rather curious expression for ‘sword’, which in reality turns warriors into corpses rather than harming corpses, but the image is not unlike lét hræ tíðhǫggvit ‘had corpses cut down often’ in st. 3/1, 4. Moreover, sword- or spear-kennings in hræ- ‘corpse’ exist (e.g. Tindr Hákdr 6/6 hræbirtingr ‘corpse-trout [SWORD]’), and it may be that hræskóð is modelled on those in a rather formulaic way. There are also comparable kennings based on skóð (Meissner 155) and cf. Hfr ErfÓl 12/5, 8 láta skóð roðin blóði ‘caused harmers to become reddened with blood’.

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skóð ‘harmers’

2. skóð (noun n.): harmer, scathe < hræskóð (noun n.)2. skóð (noun n.): harmer, scathe < herskóð (noun n.)2. skóð (noun n.): harmer, scathe < hjalmskóð (noun n.)2. skóð (noun n.): harmer, scathe < halmskóð (noun n.)

kennings

hǫrð hræskóð
‘hard corpse-harmers ’
   = SWORDS

hard corpse-harmers → SWORDS

notes

[2] hræskóð ‘corpse-harmers [SWORDS]’: Again, the traditions branch, with hjalm- ‘helmet’ in Fsk and 310 and hræ- ‘corpse’ (apparently corrupted to her- ‘army’ in some copies) in Hkr and ÓT. Hjalmskóð ‘helmet-harm(er)’ at first sight appears the better reading, and is adopted in Skj and Skald, but hræskóð is retained here as the lectio difficilior and the reading of the chosen main ms. It seems a rather curious expression for ‘sword’, which in reality turns warriors into corpses rather than harming corpses, but the image is not unlike lét hræ tíðhǫggvit ‘had corpses cut down often’ in st. 3/1, 4. Moreover, sword- or spear-kennings in hræ- ‘corpse’ exist (e.g. Tindr Hákdr 6/6 hræbirtingr ‘corpse-trout [SWORD]’), and it may be that hræskóð is modelled on those in a rather formulaic way. There are also comparable kennings based on skóð (Meissner 155) and cf. Hfr ErfÓl 12/5, 8 láta skóð roðin blóði ‘caused harmers to become reddened with blood’.

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roðin ‘to be reddened’

rjóða (verb): to redden

[2] roðin: so 61, 53, 54, Bb, 62, Flat, roðinn Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310

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blóðu ‘’

Close

blóði ‘in blood’

blóð (noun n.; °-s): blood

[2] blóði: ‘bloþu’ J1ˣ

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hvat ‘why’

hvat (pron.): what

[3] hvat: hvat or hvar 53, hvatt Flat, hvar FskBˣ

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hǫlðar ‘men’

hǫlðr (noun m.; °-s; -ar): man

[3] hǫlðar: hǫlða 61, 53, Flat, hauka 54, Bb, ‘[…]lða’ 62, om. FskBˣ

Close

hǫrð ‘hard’

harðr (adj.; °comp. -ari; superl. -astr): hard, harsh

[4] hǫrð: harð J1ˣ, hǫrðr Bb

kennings

hǫrð hræskóð
‘hard corpse-harmers ’
   = SWORDS

hard corpse-harmers → SWORDS
Close

ok ‘and’

3. ok (conj.): and, but; also

notes

[1-4]: Hkr and ÓT, citing this helmingr, attribute it explicitly to a drápa composed by Hallfreðr about King Óláfr; cf. Note to st. 2/5-8. The lines are problematic from a historical and geographical point of view, since if at Holmi in l. 1 refers to Bornholm (see Note), Óláfr seems to proceed from there eastwards to north-west Russia (ok austr í Gǫrðum, l. 4). The helmingr is placed in Hkr at the beginning of Óláfr’s career, when he is setting out westwards from Russia (see Introduction for Contexts), but this is counter to its internal ordering (and Finnur Jónsson inserts för ‘before’ into his translation in Skj B, to signal an earlier episode; cf. also Hkr 1893-1901, IV). The positioning of the stanza in the continuous poetic sequence in Fsk and 310, meanwhile, with the raids on Bornholm and Russia following those on the Saxar and Frísar, seems to imply a very large diversion to the east, as well, seemingly, as a return by Óláfr to harry the Russian territory he was raised in. However, the general direction in Fsk and 310 is consistent, and winds, tides and opportunity may well have been stronger imperatives to these highly mobile raiders than the logic of distance.

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austr ‘east’

3. austr (adv.; °compar. -ar, superl. -ast): east, in the east

notes

[1-4]: Hkr and ÓT, citing this helmingr, attribute it explicitly to a drápa composed by Hallfreðr about King Óláfr; cf. Note to st. 2/5-8. The lines are problematic from a historical and geographical point of view, since if at Holmi in l. 1 refers to Bornholm (see Note), Óláfr seems to proceed from there eastwards to north-west Russia (ok austr í Gǫrðum, l. 4). The helmingr is placed in Hkr at the beginning of Óláfr’s career, when he is setting out westwards from Russia (see Introduction for Contexts), but this is counter to its internal ordering (and Finnur Jónsson inserts för ‘before’ into his translation in Skj B, to signal an earlier episode; cf. also Hkr 1893-1901, IV). The positioning of the stanza in the continuous poetic sequence in Fsk and 310, meanwhile, with the raids on Bornholm and Russia following those on the Saxar and Frísar, seems to imply a very large diversion to the east, as well, seemingly, as a return by Óláfr to harry the Russian territory he was raised in. However, the general direction in Fsk and 310 is consistent, and winds, tides and opportunity may well have been stronger imperatives to these highly mobile raiders than the logic of distance.

Close

í ‘in’

í (prep.): in, into

notes

[1-4]: Hkr and ÓT, citing this helmingr, attribute it explicitly to a drápa composed by Hallfreðr about King Óláfr; cf. Note to st. 2/5-8. The lines are problematic from a historical and geographical point of view, since if at Holmi in l. 1 refers to Bornholm (see Note), Óláfr seems to proceed from there eastwards to north-west Russia (ok austr í Gǫrðum, l. 4). The helmingr is placed in Hkr at the beginning of Óláfr’s career, when he is setting out westwards from Russia (see Introduction for Contexts), but this is counter to its internal ordering (and Finnur Jónsson inserts för ‘before’ into his translation in Skj B, to signal an earlier episode; cf. also Hkr 1893-1901, IV). The positioning of the stanza in the continuous poetic sequence in Fsk and 310, meanwhile, with the raids on Bornholm and Russia following those on the Saxar and Frísar, seems to imply a very large diversion to the east, as well, seemingly, as a return by Óláfr to harry the Russian territory he was raised in. However, the general direction in Fsk and 310 is consistent, and winds, tides and opportunity may well have been stronger imperatives to these highly mobile raiders than the logic of distance.

Close

Gǫrðum ‘Russia’

Garðar (noun m.): Russia

notes

[1-4]: Hkr and ÓT, citing this helmingr, attribute it explicitly to a drápa composed by Hallfreðr about King Óláfr; cf. Note to st. 2/5-8. The lines are problematic from a historical and geographical point of view, since if at Holmi in l. 1 refers to Bornholm (see Note), Óláfr seems to proceed from there eastwards to north-west Russia (ok austr í Gǫrðum, l. 4). The helmingr is placed in Hkr at the beginning of Óláfr’s career, when he is setting out westwards from Russia (see Introduction for Contexts), but this is counter to its internal ordering (and Finnur Jónsson inserts för ‘before’ into his translation in Skj B, to signal an earlier episode; cf. also Hkr 1893-1901, IV). The positioning of the stanza in the continuous poetic sequence in Fsk and 310, meanwhile, with the raids on Bornholm and Russia following those on the Saxar and Frísar, seems to imply a very large diversion to the east, as well, seemingly, as a return by Óláfr to harry the Russian territory he was raised in. However, the general direction in Fsk and 310 is consistent, and winds, tides and opportunity may well have been stronger imperatives to these highly mobile raiders than the logic of distance.

Close

Rógs ‘of the strife’

róg (noun n.; °-s): strife, slander

kennings

Ríkr lægir rógs rekka
‘The powerful subduer of the strife of men ’
   = JUST RULER

The powerful subduer of the strife of men → JUST RULER

notes

[5] lægir rógs rekka ‘subduer of the strife of men [JUST RULER]’: Although the thought could be of Óláfr as a military leader, the kenning seems rather to belong with others depicting rulers as subduers of strife and crime (cf. Meissner 362).

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brá ‘spoiled’

bregða (verb; °bregðr/brigðr; brá, brugðu; brugðinn/brogðinn): pull, jerk, break; change

notes

[5] brá ‘spoiled’: The translation is based on the frequent use of bregða with dat. to mean ‘to change or alter sth.’ (especially appearance, Fritzner: bregða 5) or ‘to move sth. quickly, snatch’ (Fritzner: bregða 1). It is not clear whether injury to bodies before or after death is meant, or plundering of corpses.

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rekra ‘’

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rekka ‘of men’

rekkr (noun m.; °; -ar): man, champion

[5] rekka: ‘rekra’ J1ˣ

kennings

Ríkr lægir rógs rekka
‘The powerful subduer of the strife of men ’
   = JUST RULER

The powerful subduer of the strife of men → JUST RULER

notes

[5] lægir rógs rekka ‘subduer of the strife of men [JUST RULER]’: Although the thought could be of Óláfr as a military leader, the kenning seems rather to belong with others depicting rulers as subduers of strife and crime (cf. Meissner 362).

Close

lægir ‘subduer’

lægir (noun m.): oppressor

kennings

Ríkr lægir rógs rekka
‘The powerful subduer of the strife of men ’
   = JUST RULER

The powerful subduer of the strife of men → JUST RULER

notes

[5] lægir rógs rekka ‘subduer of the strife of men [JUST RULER]’: Although the thought could be of Óláfr as a military leader, the kenning seems rather to belong with others depicting rulers as subduers of strife and crime (cf. Meissner 362).

Close

ríkr ‘The powerful’

ríkr (adj.): mighty, powerful, rich

[6] ríkr: reik 39, ríkir J1ˣ

kennings

Ríkr lægir rógs rekka
‘The powerful subduer of the strife of men ’
   = JUST RULER

The powerful subduer of the strife of men → JUST RULER
Close

Val ‘of the Val’

1. valr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ir): corpse, the slain < valkeri (noun m.)1. valr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ir): corpse, the slain1. valr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ir): corpse, the slain

notes

[6] Valkera ‘of the Valkerar’: This appears to be a gen. pl. referring to the owners of the líki ‘body/bodies’ spoiled by the victorious Óláfr, and the most promising suggestion is that of Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 53-4), generally accepted by eds, that it is an otherwise unattested ON term for the people of Walcheren, the Netherlands, which would fit well with the Flemings in l. 8. Alternatively, val- might be interpreted as ‘battle, slaughter, the slain’ and ‑kera as gen. pl. of ker ‘(drinking) vessel, chest’, which seems to appear in an unusual sword-kenning in Hfr Lv 5/6V (Hallfr 8); but there is no clear way for this to fit the sense or syntax of the couplet. Valkeri ‘the prober of the slain [SWORD]’, is suggested in LP (1860): valkeri 2.

Close

kera ‘kerar’

[6] ‑kera: so 39, F, J1ˣ, 61, 54, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310, ‘‑køra’ Kˣ, ‑skera 62, ‑skerjar Flat

notes

[6] Valkera ‘of the Valkerar’: This appears to be a gen. pl. referring to the owners of the líki ‘body/bodies’ spoiled by the victorious Óláfr, and the most promising suggestion is that of Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 53-4), generally accepted by eds, that it is an otherwise unattested ON term for the people of Walcheren, the Netherlands, which would fit well with the Flemings in l. 8. Alternatively, val- might be interpreted as ‘battle, slaughter, the slain’ and ‑kera as gen. pl. of ker ‘(drinking) vessel, chest’, which seems to appear in an unusual sword-kenning in Hfr Lv 5/6V (Hallfr 8); but there is no clear way for this to fit the sense or syntax of the couplet. Valkeri ‘the prober of the slain [SWORD]’, is suggested in LP (1860): valkeri 2.

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líki ‘the bodies’

1. lík (noun n.; °-s; -): body, shape

[6] líki: ríki 62, Flat

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stofnir ‘’

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stefnir ‘commander’

stefnir (noun m.): commander < herstefnir (noun m.): army-leader

[7] ‑stefnir: ‑stofnir Bb

kennings

herstefnir
‘the army-commander ’
   = RULER

the army-commander → RULER
Close

lét ‘caused’

láta (verb): let, have sth done

[7] lét: om. 39

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hrǫfnum ‘to ravens’

hrafn (noun m.; °hrafns; dat. hrafni; hrafnar): raven

[7] hrǫfnum: jǫfnum FskBˣ

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Flæmingja ‘of the Flemings’

flæmingi (noun m.): [Flemings]

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goldit ‘to be doled out’

1. gjalda (verb): pay, repay

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See Introduction.

The pairing of helmingar follows Fsk and 310 (see Introduction); in Hkr and ÓT, the two helmingar stand alone and widely separated in the narrative.

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