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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Þorfdr 11II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 11’ 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. 242-3.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonÞorfinnsdrápa

Týndusk ból, þás brenndi
— bráskat þat dœgr háski —
— stǫkk í reyr in roknu
rauðr eldr — Skotaveldi.
Morðkennir galt mǫnnum
mein; á sumri einu
fengu þeir við þengil
þrimr sinnum hlut minna.

Ból týndusk, þás brenndi Skotaveldi; rauðr eldr stǫkk í in roknu reyr; þat dœgr bráskat háski. {Morðkennir} galt mǫnnum mein; á einu sumri fengu þeir þrimr sinnum minna hlut við þengil.

Dwellings perished, as he burned the Scots’ realm; red fire leapt in the smoking thatch; that day peril did not cease. {The battle-master} [WARRIOR] paid men for their injuries; in a single summer they got three times over the poorer deal from the ruler.

Mss: 332ˣ(31), Flat(131rb), R702ˣ(38r), 325III β(1r), SLR(19) (ll. 1-4), 48ˣ(346v marg) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] þás (‘þa er’): þa(r) er(?) R702ˣ, þar er SLR;    brenndi: brenndu 325III β    [2] bráskat: ‘braðskat’ 325III β    [3] reyr: reyk R702ˣ;    roknu: ‘ro᷎kna’ R702ˣ    [4] rauðr: rauð 325III β, ‘Brädur’ SLR    [7] við: um Flat, við 48ˣmarg    [8] þrimr: so Flat, þrim all others;    minna: mína 325III β

Editions: Skj AI, 345-6, Skj BI, 318, Skald I, 161; Flat 1860-8, II, 408, Orkn 1913-16, 52, ÍF 34, 51-2 (ch. 20); Whaley 1998, 240-2.

Context: Þorfinnr pursues the fleeing Scots and subdues the populace as far south as Fife (Fífi). He then releases part of his troops, upon which the Scots plan to rise against him. Þorfinnr, furious, marches against them but they flee before battle is joined. The jarl’s order to burn the entire district is carried out ruthlessly. Men are slain, while the women and old folk escape to the woods, and others are captured.

Notes: [1] brenndi ‘he burned’: The sg. reading (so all mss but one) is supported by the focus on Þorfinnr in this and the preceding st. The pl. reading brenndu ‘they burned’ in 325III ß is, on the other hand, supported by the prose context, in which it is the jarl’s men who carry out the burning of the district. — [8] þrimr sinnum ‘three times over’: The first two defeats of the Scots were at Deerness (Dýrnes) and Tarbatness (Torfnes). If the prose Context above is authoritative, the third presumably consisted in Þorfinnr’s punitive attack on the Scots after the battle of Torfnes. The normalised þrimr is the form of the dat. of the numeral recorded in the oldest Icel. mss and appropriate to Arnórr’s time. The later þrim developed by analogy with other datives in -m and the variant þremr is due to lowering of original [i] before a nasal (Seip 1955, 153).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Whaley, Diana, ed. and trans. 1998. The Poetry of Arnórr jarlaskáld: An Edition and Study. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 8. Turnhout: Brepols.
  4. 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.
  5. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  6. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Seip, Didrik Arup. 1955. Norsk språkhistorie til omkring 1370. 2nd edn. Oslo: Aschehoug.

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