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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Þorfdr 5II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 5’ 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. 235-6.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonÞorfinnsdrápa

Hilmir rauð í hjalma
hreggi skelkings eggjar;
fór, áðr fimmtán væri,
fetrjóðr Hugins, vetra.
Gǫrr lézk grund at verja
geðfrœkn ok til sœkja
œri Einars hlýra
engr mannr und skýranni.

Hilmir rauð eggjar skelkings í {hreggi hjalma}; {fetrjóðr Hugins} fór, áðr væri fimmtán vetra. Engr mannr und {skýranni} œri {hlýra Einars} lézk gǫrr at verja grund, geðfrœkn, ok sœkja til.

The ruler reddened the sword’s edges in {the storm of helmets} [BATTLE]; {the foot-reddener of Huginn <raven>} [WARRIOR] set forth before he was fifteen winters. No man under {the cloud-hall} [SKY/HEAVEN] younger than {Einarr’s brother} [= Þorfinnr] has declared himself ready to guard his realm, mind-bold, and to mount attacks.

Mss: 332ˣ(18), Flat(131ra), R702ˣ(37v), 48ˣ(343r marg) (Orkn); Kˣ(319r-v), 325XI 2 e(2r) (Hkr, ll. 5-8); Holm2(29r), 325V(32ra), 972ˣ(201va), 75a(21rb), 321ˣ(112), 73aˣ(74r), 68(28r), 61(96vb), Holm4(21rb), Bb(157v), Tóm(116v) (ÓH, ll. 5-8); B(6v), 744ˣ(41r) (SnE, ll. 1-2)

Readings: [2] hreggi: ‘hrægg[...]’ B, hreggi 744ˣ;    skelkings: skilfings Flat, ‘skelkiungs’ R702ˣ, ‘skelkvins’ 48ˣmarg, ‘[...]kelk[...]s’ B, skelkings 744ˣ    [4] fet‑: fjǫt‑ R702ˣ    [5] Gǫrr: ‘Geírr’ Bb;    lézk: ‘leiz’ R702ˣ, lét 75a, 61, Bb    [6] geð‑: so all others, gunn 332ˣ    [7] œri: ‘errínn’ Flat, œri 48ˣmarg, ‘o᷎r’ Bb;    Einars: annars 75a;    hlýra: hlýri Flat, 73aˣ, 61, hlýra 48ˣmarg    [8] engr: ungr Tóm;    mannr: mann Flat, R702ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, Holm4, Tóm;    und: í Flat, und 48ˣmarg, ‘vn’ 325V

Editions: Skj AI, 344, Skj BI, 316-17, Skald I, 160; Flat 1860-8, II, 404, Orkn 1913-16, 43, ÍF 34, 43 (ch. 20); Hkr 1893-1901, II, 199, ÍF 27, 160, Hkr 1991, 364 (ÓH ch. 96); ÓH 1941, I, 232 (ch. 81); SnE 1848-87, II, 540; Whaley 1998, 228-30.

Context: In the sagas, the st. follows a sketch of Þorfinnr’s appearance and character, and a statement that at the age of five he received Caithness (Katanes, and Sutherland according to a variant) and the title jarl from his grandfather Malcolm (Melkólmr), King of the Scots. In SnE, ll. 1-2 are quoted to illustrate the use of hilmir within a section on terms for rulers.

Notes: [2] skelkings ‘the sword’s’: Though rare, the term skelkingr, perhaps ‘fearsome one’ (AEW) is paralleled, as a variant, in Þul Sverða 7/1III and cf. ‘skelkuin’ as a variant in Hfr Lv 5/7V. Flat’s skilfings is the lectio facilior and hence perhaps a secondary reading since, although also rare as a sword-heiti, skilfingr is more familiar as a name of Óðinn or a term for ‘prince’ (LP). — [3] fór ‘set forth’: Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1909a, 289) suggested emending to fár ‘few’, since he found fór meaningless in the absence of a phrase indicating direction, but the absolute use of fara is attested in a military context in Sigv Berv 1/4: fer, ef þó skulum berjask ‘I shall go, if we nonetheless have to fight’. — [6] geðfrœkn ‘mind-bold’: This has the authority of all mss except 332ˣ, which has gunnfrœkn ‘battle-bold’. Both readings are well paralleled by synonymous compounds (e.g. gunnbráðr/gunndjarfr; geðrakkr/geðhraustr). — [7] hlýra Einars ‘Einarr’s brother [= Þorfinnr]’: A reference to Þorfinnr’s half-brother Einarr rangmuðr ‘Wry-mouth’, who, after long territorial wranglings between the kinsmen, finally died in 1020 at the hands of Þorfinnr’s henchman Þorkell (Storm 1888, 16, 57, 106, 316 and 468).


  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  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. Storm, Gustav, ed. 1888. Islandske annaler indtil 1578. Christiania (Oslo): Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond. Rpt. 1977. Oslo: Norsk-historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt.
  7. Whaley, Diana, ed. and trans. 1998. The Poetry of Arnórr jarlaskáld: An Edition and Study. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 8. Turnhout: Brepols.
  8. 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.
  9. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  10. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  11. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  12. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  13. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  14. Björn Magnússon Ólsen. 1909a. ‘Om nogle vers af Arnórr jarlaskáld’. ANF 25, 289-302.
  15. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  16. Internal references
  17. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  18. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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. clxxvi-clxxix.
  19. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Sverða heiti 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 802.
  20. Not published: do not cite (Hfr Lv 5V (Hallfr 8))
  21. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Bersǫglisvísur 1’ 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. 12-14.

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