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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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HSt Rst 9I

Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 9’ 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. 906.


Fémildr fylkir vildi
firna mǫrg ok hǫrga
blóthús brenna láta;
bað heiðin goð meiða.
Siðvandr síðan kenndi
sannhróðigr trú góða
herlundr hǫlða kindum.
Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna.

Fémildr fylkir vildi láta brenna firna mǫrg hǫrga ok blóthús; bað meiða heiðin goð. {Siðvandr, sannhróðigr herlundr} kenndi síðan góða trú kindum hǫlða. Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna …

The generous ruler wanted to have very many temples and sacrificial buildings burned; he ordered the heathen gods to be harmed. {The devout, truly famous war-tree} [WARRIOR = Óláfr] then taught the good faith to the offspring of men. He was the mightiest of royal men …

Mss: Bb(111vb); 61(32ra), 54(30vb), Bb(44vb), 62(14vb), Flat(37vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Fé‑: ‘Se‑’ Bb(44vb)    [2] hǫrga: hǫggva 62    [5] Siðvandr: so all others, sigrbands Bb(111vb)    [6] ‑hróðigr: ‑fróðum 61, 54, Bb(44vb), 62, ‑fróðr Flat    [7] her‑: so all others, ýr‑ Bb(111vb);    ‑lundr: ‘lyndr’ 62;    hǫlða: hauka 54, Bb(44vb);    kindum: so all others, om. Bb(111vb)    [8] vas (‘var’): er all others;    konung‑: konungr 61, Bb(44vb), kóngr 54

Editions: Skj AI, 545, Skj BI, 527, Skald I, 256, NN §§1795, 2316C, 2990I; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 308 (ch. 142), Flat 1860-8, I, 285; SHI 3, 248-51, CPB II, 296-7, Wisén 1886-9, I, 47, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 212-18.

Context: Óláfr Christianizes the people of Norway with a firm hand, burning down heathen temples, destroying sacrificial sites and replacing them with churches and priests.

Notes: [All]: Óláfr’s promulgation of Christianity in Norway is also the subject of Anon Óldr 9-10. — [1-4]: For Óláfr as an enemy of heathen shrines, see also Hfr Óldr 1. — [2] firna ‘very’: Intensifying gen. of firnar f. pl. ‘something remote, exceptional’ used adverbially, cf. LP: firnar. — [5] siðvandr ‘devout’: (a) Lit. ‘faith-careful’. This, the reading of the ÓT mss, is the most straightforward and credible reading. (b) Sigrbands ‘of the victory-god’ in Bb is problematic. Band n. in the sense ‘god’ is normally in the pl. (bǫnd) and refers to heathen gods (LP: band 5). The use of sg. band to refer to the Christian God, which the context would appear to require, would therefore be without precedent. (c) Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 3) suggests sigrbrands ‘victorious sword’. — [6] sannhróðigr ‘truly famous’: Sannfróðum ‘truly knowing, wise’ in most ÓT mss is unsatisfactory since it would qualify dat. pl. kindum hǫlða ‘the offspring of men’, and would imply that they are not in need of Óláfr’s teaching. The reading sannfróðr ‘truly wise’ from Flat is preferred in Skj B and Skald, who also read disyllabic trúu ‘faith’ (cf. Anon Óldr 9/8 and Note, also 12/8). — [7] herlundr ‘war-tree [WARRIOR = Óláfr]’: This, the ÓT reading, provides alliteration on hǫlða; the variant in Bb(111vb) is ýrlundr ‘bow-tree [WARRIOR]’, which does not. — [8] hann vas ríkstr konungmanna ‘he was the mightiest of royal men’: The line is identical to Anon Óldr 11/6, and is among echoes of Steinn ÓldrII in Rst; see Note to st. 12 [All] below. The stef ‘refrain’ of Rst begins in this stanza and is completed in the next two (sts 10/8, 11/8); the pattern is then repeated four times in sts 12-23. (a) The complete refrain in this edn reads: Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna | Óláfr und veg sólar | hollr ok fremstr at ǫllu, i.e. Hann, Óláfr, vas ríkstr konungmanna und veg sólar, hollr ok fremstr at ǫllu ‘He, Óláfr, was the mightiest of royal men under the path of the sun [SKY], faithful and foremost in all things’. (b) The interpretation favoured in Skj B and Skald, based on the ÓT version, is: Hann vas / Hanns ríkstr konungmanna | Óláfr und veg- sólar | hǫll ok ‑fremstr at ǫllu ‘He, Óláfr, was/is the mightiest and foremost in honour of royal men in all things under the hall of the sun [SKY]’. This solution is primarily based on the reading hǫll ‘hall’, which is preferable to hollr ‘faithful’ insofar as it forms an exact aðalhending with ǫll-. However, this argument is not strong in Rst, where the rhyme is somewhat irregular (see Introduction), while the postulated vegfremstr ‘foremost in honour’ involves an unusual tmesis across stanzas, and the prep. und ‘under’ is syntactically detached from veg, the noun that follows it (cf. Kuhn 1983, 120-2 on proclitic prepositions). (c) Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12, 54) avoids these problems by taking vegsólar as a cpd equivalent to vegligrar sólar ‘of the magnificent sun’. — [8] vas ‘was’: The ÓT version has er (normalised es) ‘is’. The pres. tense could refer to Óláfr’s enduring reputation, but seems out of place in so retrospective a poem.


  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. 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.
  7. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  8. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  9. Finnur Jónsson. 1893b. Carmina Norrœna: Rettet Tekst. Copenhagen: Nielsen & Lydiche.
  10. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  11. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1983. Das Dróttkvætt. Heidelberg: Winter.
  12. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  13. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  14. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  15. Internal references
  16. Not published: do not cite (BandV)
  17. 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.
  18. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Óláfs drápa Tryggvasonar 11’ 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. 1043.
  19. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Óláfs drápa Tryggvasonar 9’ 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. 1040.
  20. Rolf Stavnem 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja’ 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. 893.
  21. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Steinn Herdísarson, Óláfsdrápa’ 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. 367-81.
  22. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa 1’ 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. 392.

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