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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Hál 6I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Háleygjatal 6’ 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. 204.

Eyvindr skáldaspillir FinnssonHáleygjatal

Ok sá halr
at Hôars veðri
hǫsvan serk
Hrísgrísnis bar.

Ok sá halr bar {hǫsvan serk Hrísgrísnis} at {veðri Hôars}.

And that man wore {the grey shirt of Hrísgrísnir <wolf>} [WOLF-SKIN] in {the storm of Hôarr <= Óðinn>} [BATTLE].

Mss: R(33v), Tˣ(35r), W(77), U(32v), A(11r), C(5r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] halr: hallr U    [2] Hôars (‘hars’): ‘has’ U    [4] Hrísgrísnis: ‘hrísnis’ W, Hrungnis U, Hrímgrímnis A, Hergrímnis C

Editions: Skj AI, 69, Skj BI, 61, Skald I, 38, NN §2744; SnE 1848-87, I, 418-19, II, 326, 437, 586, SnE 1931, 149, SnE 1998, I, 66; Krause 1990, 167-9.

Context: The stanza is cited in a section illustrating kennings referring to battle as the weather or storm of weapons.

Notes: [All]: The identity of the subject, sá halr ‘that man’, remains unknown, although, on the principle of paronomasia, Brynjólfr/Brynjolfus, lit. ‘mail-shirt + wolf’, would be a possible candidate; see Introduction for the genealogy of the Hlaðajarlar. — [3-4] hǫsvan serk Hrísgrísnis ‘the grey shirt of Hrísgrísnir <wolf> [WOLF-SKIN]’: This is one of the earliest references to berserkr practices. The two most familiar native terms are berserkr ‘bear/bare-shirted’ and ulfheðinn ‘wolf-skin’ (cf. Þhorn Harkv 8/5, 7 and Note); Eyvindr’s expression here, with its use of serk(r) and an allusion to a wolf, has elements of both. The correct form (-grísnir or ‑grisnir), etymology and meaning of the unique heiti Hrísgrísnir are unclear: for discussion see NN §2744; AEW: Hrísgrísnir. Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 319) suggests ‘one who gnashes his teeth in the bushes’. The phrase may be regarded as a kenning, albeit a unique one, on the basis of its structure and the figurative use of serkr ‘shirt’.


  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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  6. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  7. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  8. Krause, Arnulf, ed. 1990. Die Dichtung des Eyvindr skáldaspillir: Edition-Kommentar-Untersuchungen. Altnordische Bibliothek 10. Leverkusen: Literaturverlag Norden Mark Reinhardt.
  9. Internal references
  10. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 8’ 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. 102.

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