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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 52VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 52’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 49-50.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

text and translation

Háðisk hjaldr á víðum
— hungr sløkði vel þungan
gunnar môr í geira
gǫll — Pézínavǫllum.
Þar, svát þjóð fyr hjǫrvi
þúsundum laut, undan
— hríð óx Hamðis klæða
hjalmskœð — Grikir flœðu.

Hjaldr háðisk á víðum Pézínavǫllum; {môr gunnar} sløkði vel þungan hungr í {gǫll geira}. Þar flœðu Grikir undan, svát þjóð laut þúsundum fyr hjǫrvi; {hjalmskœð hríð {Hamðis klæða}} óx.
‘A battle was held on the wide Pezina plains; the gull of battle [RAVEN] slaked well [its] heavy hunger in the noise of spears [BATTLE]. There the Greeks fled away, so that people sank by the thousands before the sword; the helmet-harming storm of Hamðir’s <warrior> clothing [ARMOUR > BATTLE] increased.

notes and context

Sts 52-6 cover another miracle attributed to Óláfr affecting the Varangians in the service of the Byzantine emperor. It is mentioned in numerous ON versions of the Óláfr legend (see Chase 2005, 42 and nn. 127-30 for references). The Varangians were losing a fight against a group of Petchenegs (a Turkic people who occupied a large area of the lower Danube, Ukraine, Moldavia and Wallachia) at a place called Pézínavellir in ON sources. (This is the only use of the name in skaldic verse; it was probably coined by the Varangians who fought in the battle. Vellir [m. pl.] means ‘plains’, and Pézína is an adaptation of Πετζινάκοι, the Greek name for the Petchenegs.) The army prayed to Óláfr for victory and vowed to build a church in his honour if they were victorious, which they were. The battle may be the same as the one described by the Byzantine chronicler John Kinnamos (c. 1180) as taking place between the Byzantine emperor John II Komnenos and the Petchenegs in the winter of 1121-2 near Beroe (Stara Zagora) in Bulgaria. — Sts 52 and 53 are written in a different hand from the main hand of Flat. — [5-8]: Bb’s readings þar (l. 5) and laut (l. 6) have been adopted here in order to avoid the difficulty caused by Flat’s þars svát ... (l. 5), which requires understanding svát ... Grikir flœðu ... undan ‘so that the Greeks fled away’ (ll. 5, 6, 8), a very strained w.o., with þars introducing a further cl. þars þjóð fell þúsundum fyr hjǫrvi ‘where people fell by thousands before the sword’.



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, 6. Geisli 52: AI, 468-9, BI, 440, Skald I, 217, NN §1161B; Flat 1860-8, I, 5, Cederschiöld 1873, 8, Chase 2005, 102, 158.


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