Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr Óldr 6I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa 6’ 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. 398.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonÓláfsdrápa

Gerði seims (með sverði)
sverðleik í Mǫn skerðir
(eyddi ulfa greddir
ógnblíðr Skotum víða).
Ýdrógar lét œgir
eyverskan her deyja
— Týr vas tjǫrva dýrra
tírargjarn — ok Íra.

{Skerðir seims} gerði {sverðleik} í Mǫn; {ógnblíðr greddir ulfa} eyddi Skotum víða með sverði. {Œgir ýdrógar} lét eyverskan her ok Íra deyja; {Týr dýrra tjǫrva} vas tírargjarn.

{The diminisher of gold} [GENEROUS MAN] made {sword-sport} [BATTLE] in Man; {the battle-glad feeder of wolves} [WARRIOR] destroyed the Scots widely with the sword. {The terrifier of the bow-string} [WARRIOR] caused the army from the Isles and the Irish to die; {the Týr <god> of precious spears} [WARRIOR] was eager for glory.

Mss: (150v), 39(6ra-b), F(25ra), J1ˣ(89r) (Hkr, ll. 3-4, 1-2, 5-8); 61(17ra), 53(15rb), 54(12rb), Bb(22va), 62(9va) (ll. 1-4), Flat(16ra) (ll. 1-4) (ÓT, ll. 3-4, 1-2, 5-8); FskBˣ(33v), FskAˣ(121) (Fsk); 310(98) (ÓTOdd)

Readings: [1] Gerði: gerðisk J1ˣ, 310;    seims: sveims 53    [2] sverð‑: sund‑ 62, Flat;    ‑leik: leiks 53, 54, Bb;    Mǫn: muna Flat;    skerðir: skerði 53, 62, skerðisk 54, Bb, grundar Flat    [3] greddir: græddir 39, 54, Bb, 62, 310, græddi 53, bræddir Flat, grœðir FskBˣ    [4] ógn‑: ‘og‑’ 39;    ‑blíðr: ‘blyð’ FskBˣ;    Skotum: liði 62, skipum Flat;    víða: víði Bb    [5] Ý‑: ver‑ J1ˣ, ‘V‑’ 54, Bb;    ‑drógar: ‑draugar J1ˣ, ‑drauga 61, 53, 54, Bb, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310;    lét: læt 39    [6] eyverskan: ‘ꝍverkann’ FskAˣ    [7] vas (‘var’): batt Bb, vann FskBˣ;    tjǫrva: tjǫrvar FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    dýrra: so 53, dýra Kˣ, 39, F, 61, 54, Bb, 62, FskAˣ, 310, bura J1ˣ, ‘dýran’ FskBˣ    [8] tírar‑: so F, J1ˣ, 61, 53, 54, 310, ‘týar’ Kˣ, ‘tiran’ 39, tígnar FskBˣ, ‘tinar’ FskAˣ;    ‑gjarn: ‑garm Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 158-9, Skj BI, 150, Skald I, 81-2; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 308 (ÓT ch. 30), IV, 85-6, ÍF 26, 265, Hkr 1991, 177-8 (ÓTHkr ch. 30), F 1871, 114; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 160-1 (ch. 77); ÓTOdd 1932, 248; Fsk 1902-3, 111 (ch. 21), ÍF 29, 144 (ch. 23).

Context: see Introduction.

Notes: [All]: The pairing of helmingar here follows Fsk and 310. In Hkr and ÓT, st. 5/1-4 (beginning Gerðisk) + st. 6/7-8 (Eyddi), 5-6 (Gerði) form a stanza, and st. 6/1-4 (Ýdrógar) + st. 5/5-8 (Barði) form a stanza. Thus the two couplets of ll. 1-4 (Gerði; Eyddi) are in reverse order in Hkr and ÓT. Although it remains uncertain which arrangement of the poem is the more original, the evidence tends to favour Fsk and 310 (see Introduction). — [1] með sverði ‘with the sword’: This may well qualify both clauses in ll. 1-4. It could be taken specifically with the rest of ll. 1-2, but the effect would be slightly banal. — [3] greddir ‘feeder’: There are discrepant readings here, and the etymology is somewhat uncertain. However, a base-word with the sense ‘feeder’ is clearly needed, and greddir co-occurs elsewhere with terms for beasts of battle (see LP: greddir). It may be related to OE gereordian ‘feed’ (AEW: greddir; ÍF 26, 259 n.). — [5] œgir ýdrógar ‘the terrifier of the bow-string [WARRIOR]’: Either of the readings -drógar or -drauga(r) could form a warrior-kenning with ýr ‘yew’, hence ‘bow’, and œgir ‘terrifier’; cf. Gsind Hákdr 7/1 œgir almdrógar ‘terrifier of the bow-string [WARRIOR]’, where the majority of mss have -draug. (a) Dróg f. is recorded in prose with the sense ‘stripe’ but with the sense ‘string’ only in poetry; drógar is the reading of the main ms. and is adopted by most eds in this stanza. (b) Draugr elsewhere, probably in the sense ‘log’, combines with determinants referring to weapons, treasure or battle to form warrior-kennings (Meissner 264-5, and cf. Note to ÞHjalt Lv 1/5). This reading in the present stanza would yield ýdrauga œgir ‘terrifier of bow-logs [WARRIORS > RULER/WARRIOR]’. — [6] eyverskan ‘from the Isles’: Generally, and in the context of the stanza, this adj. is most likely to refer to the Northern Isles off Scotland, especially Orkney (cf. Fritzner: eyverskr) or else the Hebrides. The latter would be encouraged by their proximity to Ireland (Íra ‘the Irish’, l. 8) and is suggested in ÍF 26 and ÍF 29. — [7] tjǫrva dýrra ‘of precious spears’: Tjǫr ‘spear’ is rare and not entirely secure (see LP: 2. tjǫr), and it is puzzling that the reading dýrra appears only in 53, against a significant consensus in favour of dýra. Storm (MHN 113, n. 19) assumed Tjǫrvi to be an unrecorded sea-king heiti which would produce dýr Tjǫrva ‘Tjǫrvi’s animals [SHIPS]’ here.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  4. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  7. ÓTOdd 1932 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1932. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar af Oddr Snorrason munk. Copenhagen: Gad.
  8. MHN = Storm, Gustav, ed. 1880. Monumenta historica Norvegiæ: Latinske kildeskrifter til Norges historie i middelalderen. Kristiania (Oslo): Brøgger. Rpt. 1973. Oslo: Aas & Wahl.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  12. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  13. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  14. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  15. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  16. Internal references
  17. 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].
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 7’ 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. 166.
  21. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorvaldr Hjaltason, Lausavísur 1’ 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. 271.

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