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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 29I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 29’ 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, p. 319.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

Flótta gekk til fréttar
felli-Njǫrðr á velli;
draugr gat dolga Sôgu
dagráð Heðins váða.
Ok haldboði hildar
hrægamma sá ramma;
Týr vildi þá týna
teinlautar fjǫr Gauta.

{Felli-Njǫrðr flótta} gekk til fréttar á velli; {draugr {váða Heðins}} gat dagráð {Sôgu dolga}. Ok {haldboði hildar} sá {ramma hrægamma}; {Týr {teinlautar}} vildi þá týna fjǫr Gauta.

{The slaying-Njǫrðr <god> of the fleeing ones} [WARRIOR] sought an augury on the field; {the log {of the clothes of Heðinn <legendary hero>}} [ARMOUR > WARRIOR] got advice about a favourable day {for the Sága <goddess> of enmity} [VALKYRIE = Hildr (hildr ‘battle’)]. And {the provider of battle} [WARRIOR] saw {powerful corpse-birds} [RAVENS/EAGLES]; {the Týr <god> {of the sword-dale}} [SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] wanted to destroy the life of the Gautar then.

Mss: (149r), F(24vb), J1ˣ(88r), J2ˣ(82v) (Hkr); 61(15va), 53(13vb), 54(10va), Bb(20vb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(22r), FskAˣ(85) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Flótta: flota J1ˣ;    gekk: fekk FskAˣ;    fréttar: ‘frettiar’ 53    [2] Njǫrðr: týs FskBˣ, týr FskAˣ    [3] draugr: drjúgr 53, 54, Bb, drengr FskBˣ    [4] Heðins: heiðins Bb;    váða: valla FskBˣ    [5] hald‑: hall‑ 53, 54, Bb, FskAˣ    [6] ramma: hramma F, ‘ramna’ FskBˣ    [7] vildi: vildri J1ˣ, valdi 54, Bb;    þá: so F, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, sá Kˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 54, Bb    [8] tein‑: ‘tens‑’ 53, teins‑ 54, Bb, ‘tæm‑’ FskAˣ;    ‑lautar: ‑hlautar F, ‘‑lꜹtr’ J1ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 129-30, Skj BI, 122, Skald I, 69; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 304, IV, 82-3, ÍF 26, 261, Hkr 1991, I, 175 (ÓTHkr ch. 27), F 1871, 113; Fms 1, 131-2, Fms 12, 37-8, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 146 (ch. 71); Fsk 1902-3, 76-7 (ch. 15), ÍF 29, 118 (ch. 17).

Context: On his way back to Norway, Hákon jarl harries on both sides of the Eyrarsund (Øresund) and in Skáney (Skåne). He lands near the Gautasker and performs a great sacrifice. When two ravens approach, screaming loudly, Hákon is convinced that Óðinn has accepted the sacrifice, and he deems it a favourable time to do battle. He defeats Óttarr jarl of Gautland (Götaland), harries his territory and then returns to Norway. Hkr cites sts 29-31 without interruption and ÓT cites sts 29-30 without interruption, while Fsk cites st. 29 and then sts 30 and 31 (ll. 1-4 only) after the account of events in Gautland.

Notes: [1] fréttar ‘an augury’: Because of the appearance of ravens in this context, the frétt ‘intelligence, forecast’ will have been specifically an augury, a divination based on the flight of birds (on this cf. Pesch 2003, 136-7; ARG I, 428-9; ARG II, 61-3). It is unclear whether this was also typically accompanied by a sacrifice such as Hkr describes (Düwel 1985, 25-6). — [4] dagráð ‘advice about a favourable day’: Lit. ‘day-advice', either an indication that a day will be favourable for a particular act, or the fortunate day itself (Fritzner: dagráð 1, 2). — [7, 8] Týr teinlautar ‘the Týr <god> of the sword-dale [SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl]’: The word teinlautar in this kenning has been subject to numerous interpretations. (a) Teinlautar ‘of the sword-dale [SHIELD]’ is assumed here and is one of the explanations considered in LP: teinlaut, ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991. One objection to this interpretation is that teinn ‘twig’, though it is often the base-word of a sword-kenning, is not known as a simplex denoting ‘sword’. In favour of it, however, is the similar hjǫrlaut ‘sword-dale’ in st. 30/4 below, and the fact that other solutions are still more problematic. (b) Týr teins lautar tíra ‘the Týr <god> of the twig of the dale of swords [SHIELD > SWORD > WARRIOR]’ (Fms 12; Vell 1865, 84) can be rejected since it requires emendation of týna to tíra. (c) Týr teinlautar ‘the Týr of the dale of the sacrificial twig [SACRIFICIAL BOWL > SACRIFICIAL PRIEST]’ (given as an alternative in LP: teinlaut, ÍF 26, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991): Here tein- is equated with hlautteinn ‘sacrificial twig’. However, hlautteinn probably did not occur in the sense ‘sacrificial blood twig’ until the C13th; see (d). (d) Týr teinlautar emended to Týr hlautarteins ‘the Týr of the sacrificial blood twig [SACRIFICIAL PRIEST]’: Although the prose context favours this kenning, this interpretation is not tenable, as all mss give ‘lautar’ except for F. Further, the word hlaut assumed here is otherwise always n., with gen. sg. in ‑s not ‑ar, and its original meaning was probably just ‘lot’ (Düwel 1985, 28). The sense ‘sacrificial blood’ appears to have arisen through Snorri as a Christian reinterpretation (Düwel 1985, 32-8). — [7] þá ‘then’: This reading is preferable here, because the demonstrative in and other mss would be isolated from the noun it determines and because was most likely caused by in l.6.


  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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  7. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  9. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  10. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  12. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  13. ARG = Vries, Jan de. 1956-7. Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte. 2 vols. 2nd edn. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  14. Vell 1865 = Freudenthal, Axel Olof. 1865. Einar Skålaglams Vellekla / öfversatt och förklarad af Axel Olof Freudenthal. Helsingfors: Frenckell.
  15. Düwel, Klaus. 1985. Das Opferfest von Lade: Quellenkritische Untersuchungen zur germanischen Religionsgeschichte. Wiener Arbeiten zur germanischen Altertumskunde und Philologie 27. Vienna: Karl M. Halosar.
  16. Pesch, Alexandra. 2003. ‘Orakel. §§1-5’. In RGA, 22, 134-9.
  17. Internal references
  18. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  19. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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. clix-clxi.
  20. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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. clxiii-clxvi.

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