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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bǫlv Hardr 3II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Bǫlverkr Arnórsson, Drápa about Haraldr harðráði 3’ 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. 289.

Bǫlverkr ArnórssonDrápa about Haraldr harðráði

Snjallr rauð í styr stillir
stôl ok gekk á mála;
háðisk hvert ár síðan
hildr, sem sjalfir vilduð.

Snjallr stillir rauð stôl í styr ok gekk á mála; hildr háðisk hvert ár síðan, sem sjalfir vilduð.

The valiant ruler reddened swords in battle and entered paid service; war was waged every year thereafter, as you yourself wanted.

Mss: H(21v), Hr(16va) (H-Hr); Flat(192vb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] Snjallr: snjall Flat;    styr: ‘stor’ Flat    [4] sjalfir vilduð: sjalfr vildi Hr, sjalfir vildu Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 385, Skj BI, 355, Skald I, 178, NN §2036; Fms 6, 135 (HSig ch. 3); Flat 1860-8, III, 292, Mork 1928-32, 62, Andersson and Gade 2000, 134, 472 (MH).

Context: Haraldr entered the service of the Byzantine emperor as a mercenary and campaigned in Greece as commander of the Varangian army.

Notes: [2] gekk á mála ‘entered paid service’: Kock (NN §2036) translates ganga á mála as bryta fredsfördraget ‘break the peace settlement’. However, both Fms (6, 134) and Flat (1860-8, III, 290) paraphrase the st. in the prose and state explicitly that Haraldr entered the service (gekk á mála) of the emperor: Geck Haralldr þegar med o᷎llu ꜳ konungs mala ‘Haraldr at once entered the paid service of the king eagerly’ (Flat 1860-8, III, 290). For máli ‘payment, remuneration’, see Fritzner: máli 2 and Jesch 2001a, 194. For Haraldr’s service in the Greek army, see Sigfús Blöndal 1978, 56-102.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  6. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  10. Sigfús Blöndal. 1978. The Varangians of Byzantium: An Aspect of Byzantine Military History. Trans. and rev. Benedikt S. Benedikz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. First published 1954 as Væringja saga. Reykjavík: Ísafoldarprentsmiðja.
  11. Internal references
  12. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ 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. clxi-clxii.
  13. Not published: do not cite (HSigII)
  14. Not published: do not cite (MHII)

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