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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Þorfdr 22II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 22’ 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. 255-6.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonÞorfinnsdrápa
212223

myndi ‘would have’

munu (verb): will, must

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gǫmlu ‘of the ancient’

gamall (adj.; °gamlan; compar. & superl. „ ellri adj.): old

notes

[1, 2] gǫmlu láði ‘ancient land’: Presumably Orkney and Shetland.

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gunnbráðr ‘battle-hasty’

gunnbráðr (adj.): [battle-hasty]

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láði ‘land’

2. láð (noun n.): earth, land

notes

[1, 2] gǫmlu láði ‘ancient land’: Presumably Orkney and Shetland.

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minna ‘the less’

3. minni (adj. comp.; °superl. minnstr): less, least

notes

[3-4] minna mannspjall ‘the less loss of men’: Minna is n. acc. sg., but mannspjǫll (ms. ‘mann spioll’) is n. acc. pl. Minna mannspjall is perhaps a better emendation than minni mannspjǫll, for a scribe could well have altered spjall to spjǫll in order to secure what he considered a perfect rhyme with ǫllu, although a rhyme of a : ǫ would have been acceptable.

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mann ‘of men’

maðr (noun m.): man, person < mannspjall (noun n.)

notes

[3-4] minna mannspjall ‘the less loss of men’: Minna is n. acc. sg., but mannspjǫll (ms. ‘mann spioll’) is n. acc. pl. Minna mannspjall is perhaps a better emendation than minni mannspjǫll, for a scribe could well have altered spjall to spjǫll in order to secure what he considered a perfect rhyme with ǫllu, although a rhyme of a : ǫ would have been acceptable.

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spjall ‘loss’

2. spjall (noun n.; °; -*): destruction, loss < mannspjall (noun n.)

[4] ‑spjall: spjǫll Flat

notes

[3-4] minna mannspjall ‘the less loss of men’: Minna is n. acc. sg., but mannspjǫll (ms. ‘mann spioll’) is n. acc. pl. Minna mannspjall is perhaps a better emendation than minni mannspjǫll, for a scribe could well have altered spjall to spjǫll in order to secure what he considered a perfect rhyme with ǫllu, although a rhyme of a : ǫ would have been acceptable.

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ǫllu ‘all’

allr (adj.): all

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ílendra ‘of the land-restored’

ílendr (adj.): land-restored

kennings

ílendra hjalm-Þrótta;
‘of the land-restored helmet-Þróttar; ’
   = WARRIORS

the land-restored helmet-Þróttar; → WARRIORS

notes

[5, 8] ílendra hjalm-Þrótta ‘of the land-restored helmet-Þróttar <= Óðinns> [WARRIORS]’: The identity of the ílendir warriors who treacherously failed to support Rǫgnvaldr is disputed. (a) Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34, 70 n. and xxxiv) suggests that ílendr can refer to a man who has been outlawed but has regained his right to live in the land, and cites from Egils saga ch. 56 in support of this. If ílendr does have this sense in st. 22, it describes exactly the position of Kálfr Árnason as described in Orkn chs 25-6: King Magnús promises him that he can repossess his estates in Norway, if he supports Rǫgnvaldr against his friend Þorfinnr. When the battle begins Kálfr at first holds aloof but eventually responds to the egging of Þorfinnr and enters the conflict on his side, with decisive effect. The allusions in the present st. become entirely comprehensible if it is assumed that Kálfr and his men are meant. There are, however, other possibilities. (b) The most common meaning of ílendr is ‘settled, resident in the land’ (e.g. Flat 1860-8, II 24 and 374; Fms 6, 254). Some scholars, presumably taking this as a starting-point, have interpreted ílendr as meaning ‘native’ (for which the usual term is innlendr) and hence have understood the ílendir warriors of st. 22 to be islanders who betrayed Rǫgnvaldr (so Björn Magnússon Ólsen, 1909, 298, specifying Shetlanders, and Finnur Jónsson in Skj B; Hofmann 1955, 103 also interpreted ílendr in the sense ‘native’, which he suggests may be influenced by OE inlende). But although the men of Orkney and Shetland were obliged to side either with Rǫgnvaldr or Þorfinnr at Rauðabjǫrg, there seems to be no tradition of treachery. (c) Ílendr can mean ‘arrived in the land’, as when Knútr, newly arrived in Denmark, is described thus in Sigv Knútdr 9/4I. The Norw. crews whom King Magnús sent to support Rǫgnvaldr (a separate band from Kálfr and his men) were ílendir in this sense; but although they eventually fled from the battle, they were scarcely guilty of treachery against Rǫgnvaldr.

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Endils ‘of Endill’

Endill (noun m.): Endill

kennings

ættstafr Endils
‘the kin-stave of Endill, ’
   = RULER

the kin-stave of Endill, → RULER
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ættstafr ‘the kin-stave’

ættstafr (noun m.): [kin-stave]

kennings

ættstafr Endils
‘the kin-stave of Endill, ’
   = RULER

the kin-stave of Endill, → RULER
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Hjalta ‘the Shetlanders’’

Hjaltr (noun m.; °dat. -; -ar): Shetlander

kennings

dróttin* Hjalta.
‘the Shetlanders’ lord. ’
   = Rǫgnvaldr

the Shetlanders’ lord. → Rǫgnvaldr
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hjalm ‘helmet’

1. hjalmr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i; -ar): helmet

kennings

ílendra hjalm-Þrótta;
‘of the land-restored helmet-Þróttar; ’
   = WARRIORS

the land-restored helmet-Þróttar; → WARRIORS

notes

[5, 8] ílendra hjalm-Þrótta ‘of the land-restored helmet-Þróttar <= Óðinns> [WARRIORS]’: The identity of the ílendir warriors who treacherously failed to support Rǫgnvaldr is disputed. (a) Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34, 70 n. and xxxiv) suggests that ílendr can refer to a man who has been outlawed but has regained his right to live in the land, and cites from Egils saga ch. 56 in support of this. If ílendr does have this sense in st. 22, it describes exactly the position of Kálfr Árnason as described in Orkn chs 25-6: King Magnús promises him that he can repossess his estates in Norway, if he supports Rǫgnvaldr against his friend Þorfinnr. When the battle begins Kálfr at first holds aloof but eventually responds to the egging of Þorfinnr and enters the conflict on his side, with decisive effect. The allusions in the present st. become entirely comprehensible if it is assumed that Kálfr and his men are meant. There are, however, other possibilities. (b) The most common meaning of ílendr is ‘settled, resident in the land’ (e.g. Flat 1860-8, II 24 and 374; Fms 6, 254). Some scholars, presumably taking this as a starting-point, have interpreted ílendr as meaning ‘native’ (for which the usual term is innlendr) and hence have understood the ílendir warriors of st. 22 to be islanders who betrayed Rǫgnvaldr (so Björn Magnússon Ólsen, 1909, 298, specifying Shetlanders, and Finnur Jónsson in Skj B; Hofmann 1955, 103 also interpreted ílendr in the sense ‘native’, which he suggests may be influenced by OE inlende). But although the men of Orkney and Shetland were obliged to side either with Rǫgnvaldr or Þorfinnr at Rauðabjǫrg, there seems to be no tradition of treachery. (c) Ílendr can mean ‘arrived in the land’, as when Knútr, newly arrived in Denmark, is described thus in Sigv Knútdr 9/4I. The Norw. crews whom King Magnús sent to support Rǫgnvaldr (a separate band from Kálfr and his men) were ílendir in this sense; but although they eventually fled from the battle, they were scarcely guilty of treachery against Rǫgnvaldr.

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Þrótta ‘Þróttar’

2. Þróttr (noun m.): Þróttr

kennings

ílendra hjalm-Þrótta;
‘of the land-restored helmet-Þróttar; ’
   = WARRIORS

the land-restored helmet-Þróttar; → WARRIORS

notes

[5, 8] ílendra hjalm-Þrótta ‘of the land-restored helmet-Þróttar <= Óðinns> [WARRIORS]’: The identity of the ílendir warriors who treacherously failed to support Rǫgnvaldr is disputed. (a) Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34, 70 n. and xxxiv) suggests that ílendr can refer to a man who has been outlawed but has regained his right to live in the land, and cites from Egils saga ch. 56 in support of this. If ílendr does have this sense in st. 22, it describes exactly the position of Kálfr Árnason as described in Orkn chs 25-6: King Magnús promises him that he can repossess his estates in Norway, if he supports Rǫgnvaldr against his friend Þorfinnr. When the battle begins Kálfr at first holds aloof but eventually responds to the egging of Þorfinnr and enters the conflict on his side, with decisive effect. The allusions in the present st. become entirely comprehensible if it is assumed that Kálfr and his men are meant. There are, however, other possibilities. (b) The most common meaning of ílendr is ‘settled, resident in the land’ (e.g. Flat 1860-8, II 24 and 374; Fms 6, 254). Some scholars, presumably taking this as a starting-point, have interpreted ílendr as meaning ‘native’ (for which the usual term is innlendr) and hence have understood the ílendir warriors of st. 22 to be islanders who betrayed Rǫgnvaldr (so Björn Magnússon Ólsen, 1909, 298, specifying Shetlanders, and Finnur Jónsson in Skj B; Hofmann 1955, 103 also interpreted ílendr in the sense ‘native’, which he suggests may be influenced by OE inlende). But although the men of Orkney and Shetland were obliged to side either with Rǫgnvaldr or Þorfinnr at Rauðabjǫrg, there seems to be no tradition of treachery. (c) Ílendr can mean ‘arrived in the land’, as when Knútr, newly arrived in Denmark, is described thus in Sigv Knútdr 9/4I. The Norw. crews whom King Magnús sent to support Rǫgnvaldr (a separate band from Kálfr and his men) were ílendir in this sense; but although they eventually fled from the battle, they were scarcely guilty of treachery against Rǫgnvaldr.

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dróttin* ‘lord’

dróttinn (noun m.; °dróttins, dat. dróttni (drottini [$1049$]); dróttnar): lord, master

[8] dróttin*: dróttins Flat

kennings

dróttin* Hjalta.
‘the Shetlanders’ lord. ’
   = Rǫgnvaldr

the Shetlanders’ lord. → Rǫgnvaldr
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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

The st. appears shortly after st. 21. Rǫgnvaldr’s ships are attacked and cleared by Kálfr Árnason and his men. Seeing that, the Norwegians sent by King Magnús to support Rǫgnvaldr flee, leaving very few craft with the jarl. This was the turning point in the battle.

The st. contains three expressions for a ruler: gramr ‘ruler’ (l. 1), ættstafr Endils ‘kin-stave of Endill <sea-king>’ (ll. 5, 6) and dróttin Hjalta ‘Shetlanders’ lord’ (ll. 7, 8): They must all refer to the same man, and this must be Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason, unless the traditions about the battle of Rauðabjǫrg in Orkn ch. 26 are completely awry. According to the saga, Rǫgnvaldr almost prevails, but is eventually defeated because of the defection of his allies and, far from tightening his hold over Orcadian territory, is obliged to take refuge in Norway. These points, apart from the flight to Norway, are all matched in the st. The necessary emendation of dróttins to dróttin was proposed by Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1909a, 297-8).

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