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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Eystdr 2II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Eysteinsdrápa 2’ 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. 560-1.

Einarr SkúlasonEysteinsdrápa

text and translation

Mun, sás morði vanðisk,
margillr, ok sveik stilli,
síð af slíkum rôðum
Símun skalpr of hjalpask.

Margillr Símun skalpr, sás vanðisk morði ok sveik stilli, mun of hjalpask síð af slíkum rôðum.
‘The very wicked Símun skálpr (‘Sword-sheath’), who practised murder and betrayed the ruler, will be saved late by such actions.

notes and context

Eysteinn Haraldsson was killed by his one-time retainer, Símun skálpr Hallkelsson (21 August 1157).

Símun was married to Eysteinn’s half-sister, Máría, and thus Eysteinn’s brother-in-law (see Genealogy II.4 in ÍF 28). He had been Eysteinn’s retainer but defected to Eysteinn’s half-brother, Ingi. When, in August of 1157, Ingi and his men set out to look for Eysteinn in the forest near Foss (on the eastern side of Oslofjorden), Símun found him hiding in some bushes. Although Eysteinn begged him to help him get away, Símun ordered his execution. Eysteinn then lay down on his stomach with his arms stretched out and told them to strike their blows in the shape of a cross on his back. The execution resembles that of Earl Waltheof of Northumbria (see Fsk, ÍF 29, 294; ‘Biographies of Other Dignitaries’ in Introduction to this vol. and ÞSkall Valfl), and, like Waltheof, Eysteinn was also rumoured to be a saint after his death: …ok kalla menn hann helgan. Þar sem hann var hǫggvinn ok blóð hans kom á jǫrð, spratt upp brunnr, en annarr þar undir brekkunni, sem lík hans var nattsætt ‘…and men call him a saint. Where he was executed and his blood fell on the ground, a well sprang up, and another one sprang up beneath the hill where his body had been laid out overnight’ (ÍF 28, 345). According to Hkr, many miracles took place at Eysteinn’s grave until his enemies poured dog broth on it (ibid.).



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 8. Eysteinsdrápa 2: AI, 475, BI, 447, Skald I, 220; ÍF 28, 346 (Hsona ch. 32), Andersson and Gade 2000, 404 (Hsona), F 1871, 347, E 1916, 207; ÍF 29, 341 (ch. 101); Fms 7, 251 (Hsona ch. 29).


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