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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gsind Hákdr 7I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa 7’ 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. 166.

Guthormr sindriHákonardrápa

Almdrógar varð œgis
opt sinn, en þess minnumk,
barma ǫld fyr Baldri
bensíks vita ríkis.
Bǫðsœkir helt bríkar
brœðr síns ok rak — flœðu
undan — allar kindir
Eireks á haf snekkjum.

{Ǫld {barma {œgis almdrógar}}} varð opt sinn vita ríkis fyr {Baldri {bensíks}}, en minnumk þess. {{Bríkar bǫð}sœkir} helt snekkjum á haf ok rak allar kindir Eireks, brœðr síns; flœðu undan.

{The progeny {of the brother {of the intimidator of the bow-string}}} [WARRIOR = Hákon > = Eiríkr blóðøx > = Eiríkssynir] were obliged many a time to realise [his, Hákon’s] power in the face of {the Baldr <god> {of the wound-fish}} [SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon], and I commemorate this. {The attacker {of the battle-board}} [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon] steered warships out to sea and chased all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother; they fled away.

Mss: (95v-96r), 39(1vb), F(16vb), J1ˣ(58r), J2ˣ(54r) (Hkr); 61(5va), 53(4va), 325IX 1 a(2ra) (ll. 1-3, 6-8, 4, 5), Bb(7rb) (ll. 1-3, 6-8, 5, 4) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] ‑drógar: ‑draugar J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb;    varð: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, var Kˣ, 39, F, Bb    [2] sinn: sinni 325IX 1 a;    en: so 39, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, enn Kˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Bb, er F;    þess: þat 325IX 1 a, Bb;    minnumk: minnisk Bb    [3] barma: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb, harma Kˣ, 39, F;    Baldri: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb, haldi Kˣ, F, ‘halldri’ 39    [4] ben‑: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb, hein‑ Kˣ, F, ‘hen‑’ 39;    ‑síks: ‑slíks 325IX 1 a    [5] bríkar: ‘beikar’ Bb    [6] rak: om. J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [7] undan: undar Bb;    allar: allir 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb    [8] Eireks: Eirík 39, F, Eiríkr J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb;    snekkjum: skeiðum 61, 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 63, Skj BI, 56, Skald I, 35, NN §§1933, 3047; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 197-8, IV, 50-1, ÍF 26, 175, Hkr 1991, I, 111 (HákGóð ch. 19), F 1871, 76; Fms 1, 39, Fms 12, 28, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 38 (ch. 24).

Context: Hákon pursues Eiríkr’s sons to Austr-Agðir (Aust-Agder), from where they sail southwards across the sea to Jótland (Jutland).

Notes: [1, 3] ǫld barma œgis almdrógar ‘the progeny of the brother of the intimidator of the bowstring [WARRIOR = Hákon > = Eiríkr blóðøx > = Eiríkssynir]’: This refers to the sons (ǫld) of Eiríkr, who is brother (barmi) of Hákon (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; cf. ÍF 26; Hkr 1991; contrast Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1886, 191-2). The rare word dróg is thought to mean ‘streak, cord, ribbon’ (CVC, AEW: dróg; Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1886, 191; cf. ÍF 26; Hkr 1991). With œgir almdrógar compare Hfr Óldr 6/5 œgir ýdrógar ‘terrifier of the bow-string [WARRIOR]’. — [2] en minnumk þess ‘and I commemorate this’: Kock (Skald) takes enn, the reading of , J1ˣ, J2ˣ, as the adv. ‘again’, but that would violate the word order of main clauses, since the finite verb minnumk ‘commemorate’ would be in third position (cf. Gade 1995a, 213). — [5-8]: A very difficult passage, which at least on the basis of present knowledge cannot be construed without emendation or the postulation of rare forms and/or usages. There are variant readings for Eireks and snekkjum, and the readings brœðr, síns, rak and flœðu have been extensively debated. (a) In this edn, bríkar bǫðsœkir (l. 5) is construed as a warrior-kenning (cf. Meissner 167, 172, 305) and flœðu (l. 6) as ‘fled’, 3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. from flœja (later flýja) ‘to flee’. The noun brœðr (l. 6) is construed, following Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1886, 193-5), as gen. sg., qualified by síns, thus ‘of his brother’. Although generally a late and quite rare form (ANG §420, Anm. 1) and questioned by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26), gen. sg. brœðr could have arisen analogically, e.g. from the dat. sg., where bróður and brœðr both occur (LP: bróðir). It could be used here as a poetic licence. The adverbial á haf ‘out to sea’ is most readily explained as an apo koinou, going with both helt ‘held, steered’ (l. 5) and rak ‘drove, chased’ (l. 6). (b) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) reads bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum sínum á haf, ok brœðr, allar kindir Eireks, flœðu undan ‘the attacker of the battle-board [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR] held his warships out to sea and the brothers, all the sons of Eiríkr, fled away’. Rak ‘drove’ is omitted, as in J, but its absence from this ms. is clearly the outcome of simple error (cf. Reichardt 1928, 174). Also entailed is emendation of síns to sínum, qualifying snekkjum, and the resulting l. 6, brœðr sínum ok flœðu, with ok ‘and’ in fourth position, is suspect on metrical grounds. (c) Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1886, 193-5) reads bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum á haf, ok rak flœða undan allar kindir Eireks, brœðr síns ‘the attacker of the battle-board [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR] held [his] warships out to sea and drove away all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother, put to flight’. As Björn himself notes, the morphology and syntax of flœða are unclear; it should agree with kindir ‘sons’ as f. acc. pl. (cf. Reichardt 1928, 175). (d) Kock (NN §251) proposes a variation on Finnur Jónsson’s second clause, emending brœðr to bróður, síns to hans, and ok rak to auk: allar kindir Eireks, bróður hans, auk flœðu ‘all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother, also fled.’ Kock himself saw this as purely provisional and subsequently (NN §1933) modified it to read rak flœði ‘thrust over the wave’. (e) Reichardt (1928, 173-6; cf. ÍF 26; Hkr 1991), partly following Sveinbjörn Egilsson (LP (1860): flæðr f. 2. sea’), reads flœða bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum á haf, ok rak undan allar kindir Eireks, brœðr síns ‘the seeker of the battle of the board of the sea [(lit. battle-seeker of the board of the sea’) SHIP > SEA-BATTLE > SEAFARING WARRIOR] held his warships out to sea and drove away all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother’. (f) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) accepts Reichardt’s solution, modifying flœða to flœðu, still with the sense ‘sea’, a step already suggested by Reichardt (1928, 176). This entails accepting flœðu as gen. sg. of an unattested noun *flœða, corresponding to flœð(r) ‘flooding’. — [8] snekkjum ‘warships’: The type of ship referred to here is unclear. (a) Editors have favoured snekkjum, yielding a regular aðalhending with the second syllable of Eirekr. This occurrence of snekkja, if accepted, would mark the first attestation in OWN; the word may be derived from OE snacc ‘type of ship’ (Jesch 2001a, 126) or it might originate in a Gmc lingua franca used in maritime contexts. (b) The mss of ÓT have skeiðum, which is also possible since r : ð, here eir : skeiðum, is also an acceptable rhyme type, which occurs in st. 5/5 above (see Note, and cf. Jesch 2001a, 126, who similarly allows for the possibility of either snekkjum or skeiðum here). The distinction between snekkja and skeið is unclear. Prose sources indicate that the snekkja was smaller (Jesch 2001a, 126 n. 18), though see Note to ÞjóðA Magnfl 2/2, 3II.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  7. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  8. 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.
  9. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  10. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  11. Gade, Kari Ellen. 1995a. The Structure of Old Norse dróttkvætt Poetry. Islandica 49. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  12. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  13. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  14. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  15. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  16. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  17. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  18. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  19. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1928. Studien zu den Skalden des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Palaestra 159. Leipzig: Mayer & Müller.
  20. Björn Magnússon Ólsen. 1886. ‘Bemærkninger til to vers af Guthormr Sindre’. ÅNOH, 190-203.
  21. Internal references
  22. 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.
  23. Not published: do not cite (HákGóðII)
  24. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr 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. 65-6.
  25. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa 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. 398.

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