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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Þorfdr 10II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 10’ 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. 241-2.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonÞorfinnsdrápa

Hátt bar Hjalta dróttinn
hjalm at geira jalmi
— ógnstœrir rauð Írum
odd — í ferðar broddi.
Minn dróttinn naut máttar
mildr und brezkum skildi;
hendi Hlǫðvis frændi
hermenn ok tók brenna.

{Dróttinn Hjalta} bar hjalm hátt í broddi ferðar at {jalmi geira}; {ógnstœrir} rauð odd Írum. Mildr dróttinn minn naut máttar und brezkum skildi; {frændi Hlǫðvis} hendi hermenn ok tók brenna.

{The lord of Shetlanders} [= Þorfinnr] bore his helmet high in the vanguard of his troop in {the tumult of spears} [BATTLE]; {the sweller of battle-dread} [WARRIOR] reddened his point on Irishmen. My bounteous lord made use of his strength beneath a British shield; {Hlǫðvir’s kinsman} [= Þorfinnr] captured warriors and began burning.

Mss: 332ˣ(28-29), Flat(131rb), R702ˣ(38r), 48ˣ(346r marg) (Orkn)

Readings: [2] jalmi: salmi Flat, jalmi 48ˣmarg    [5] naut: hlaut Flat, naut 48ˣmarg    [7] Hlǫðvis: ‘hloðvers’ Flat, R702ˣ, Hlǫðvis 48ˣmarg    [8] ‑menn: mann Flat;    ok: enn Flat, R702ˣ;    tók brenna: tóksk senna R702ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 345, Skj BI, 318, Skald I, 161; Flat 1860-8, II, 407, Orkn 1913-16, 50-1, ÍF 34, 50-1 (ch. 20); Whaley 1998, 238-40.

Context: Exactly as for st. 9, which st. 10 follows directly.

Notes: [1] dróttinn Hjalta ‘the lord of Shetlanders [= Þorfinnr]’: Here Þorfinnr, as also harri Hjaltlands ‘Shetland’s lord’ in st. 12; but in st. 22 dróttinn Hjalta ‘the lord of Shetlanders’ appears to refer to Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason. — [3] Írum ‘on Irishmen’: Orkn ch. 20, perhaps extrapolating from this st., states that Karl’s ranks included supporters from Ireland. — [6] und brezkum skildi ‘beneath a British shield’: Perhaps the shield was a war-trophy captured in a raid on the Bretar or perhaps ‘British’ shields were prized as being particularly fine. On the meaning of brezkr, see Note to st. 14/3. — [7] frændi Hlǫðvis ‘Hlǫðvir’s kinsman [= Þorfinnr]’: Hlǫðvir Þorfinnsson was paternal grandfather of Þorfinnr. There were few traditions about his career, to judge from Orkn (ÍF 34, 24). — [8] ok tók brenna ‘and began burning’: (a) The cl. follows frændi Hlǫðvis hendi hermenn ‘Hlǫðvir’s kinsman captured warriors’ so that hermenn may be the understood object of brenna inf. ‘burning’, hence ‘Þorfinnr captured [the surviving] warriors and burned [the slain]’, although burning seems usually to be reserved for evil-doers, heathens and insurrectionists (cf. the reference to the burning of the Wendish dead in Arn Magndr 8, also Fidjestøl 1982, 206). Brenna could alternatively refer to the burning of dwellings, and hence anticipate st. 11. (b) The variant enn tóksk senna (R702ˣ) could mean ‘yet again battle began’ (cf. tóksk morð af því ‘killing started up from that’ in Sigv Tryggfl 1/2I), since senna ‘verbal contest’ can stand alone to mean ‘battle’ (see LP). However, a statement that battle began would be inappropriate here.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. 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.
  4. Fidjestøl, Bjarne. 1982. Det norrøne fyrstediktet. Universitet i Bergen Nordisk institutts skriftserie 11. Øvre Ervik: Alvheim & Eide.
  5. Whaley, Diana, ed. and trans. 1998. The Poetry of Arnórr jarlaskáld: An Edition and Study. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 8. Turnhout: Brepols.
  6. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  8. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. Internal references
  10. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Orkneyinga saga (Orkn)’ 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].
  11. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 8’ 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, p. 217.
  12. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Tryggvaflokkr 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. 644.

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