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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 24I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 24’ 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. 434.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar
232425

gǫrvan ‘fought’

1. gera (verb): do, make < harðgǫrr (adj.)

[1] ‑gǫrvan: ‑gǫrvar 325VIII 2 g, Bb

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hjǫrvi ‘with the sword’

hjǫrr (noun m.): sword

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holms ‘of the islet’

holmr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-; -ar): island, islet

[2] holms verða: so 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, holmsverða 53

notes

[2, 3] á víðu sundi holms ‘on the wide sound of the islet’: The vagueness of this, coupled with the fact that Svǫlðr is described both as a body of water and as an island in the other sources (Baetke 1951, 65-99), makes it impossible to know which sund ‘sound, channel’ and holmr ‘islet’ are referred to. Despite this, Finnur Jónsson in Skj B (as also Kock in Skald) capitalises Holms, and in LP: holmr 4 explains Holms sund as referring to the sound of the island of Svǫlðr.

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verða ‘become’

1. verða (verb): become, be

[2] holms verða: so 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, holmsverða 53

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Týr ‘The Týr’

Týr (noun m.): Týr

kennings

Týr sverða
‘The Týr of swords ’
   = WARRIOR

The Týr of swords → WARRIOR
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sverða ‘of swords’

sverð (noun n.; °-s; -): sword

kennings

Týr sverða
‘The Týr of swords ’
   = WARRIOR

The Týr of swords → WARRIOR
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vind ‘the wind’

1. vindr (noun m.; °-s/-ar; -ar): wind

kennings

vind meyjar Heðins,
‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn, ’
   = BATTLE

the maiden of Heðinn, → Hildr
the wind of HILDR → BATTLE

notes

[3, 4] vind meyjar Heðins ‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn <legendary hero> [= Hildr > BATTLE]’: ‘The maiden of Heðinn’ is clearly Hildr, the valkyrie taken as war-trophy and wife by Heðinn Hjarrandason, hero of the Hjaðningavíg (‘battle of Heðinn’s men’, SnE 1998, I, 72). Like other terms such as gunnr (see LP: Gunnr), Hildr has a twofold function: as a proper name for a valkyrie and as a common noun meaning ‘battle’. The present edn assumes a reference to a valkyrie here; Hildr’s ‘wind’ is then ‘battle’. The Skj B interpretation of ll. 1-4 (see Note above) prefers the common noun hildr, arrived at by ofljóst, as also in st. 17/3-4 above. See further LP: 2. Heðinn, 1. hildr; Meissner 201-2, 273.

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á ‘on’

3. á (prep.): on, at

notes

[2, 3] á víðu sundi holms ‘on the wide sound of the islet’: The vagueness of this, coupled with the fact that Svǫlðr is described both as a body of water and as an island in the other sources (Baetke 1951, 65-99), makes it impossible to know which sund ‘sound, channel’ and holmr ‘islet’ are referred to. Despite this, Finnur Jónsson in Skj B (as also Kock in Skald) capitalises Holms, and in LP: holmr 4 explains Holms sund as referring to the sound of the island of Svǫlðr.

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víðu ‘the wide’

víðr (adj.): far

notes

[2, 3] á víðu sundi holms ‘on the wide sound of the islet’: The vagueness of this, coupled with the fact that Svǫlðr is described both as a body of water and as an island in the other sources (Baetke 1951, 65-99), makes it impossible to know which sund ‘sound, channel’ and holmr ‘islet’ are referred to. Despite this, Finnur Jónsson in Skj B (as also Kock in Skald) capitalises Holms, and in LP: holmr 4 explains Holms sund as referring to the sound of the island of Svǫlðr.

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sundi ‘sound’

sund (noun n.; °-s; -): sound, strait; swimming

[3] sundi: ‘syndi’ Bb

notes

[2, 3] á víðu sundi holms ‘on the wide sound of the islet’: The vagueness of this, coupled with the fact that Svǫlðr is described both as a body of water and as an island in the other sources (Baetke 1951, 65-99), makes it impossible to know which sund ‘sound, channel’ and holmr ‘islet’ are referred to. Despite this, Finnur Jónsson in Skj B (as also Kock in Skald) capitalises Holms, and in LP: holmr 4 explains Holms sund as referring to the sound of the island of Svǫlðr.

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víg ‘war’

víg (noun n.; °-s; -): battle < vígþeyr (noun m.)víg (noun n.; °-s; -): battle < víghey (noun n.): war-hay

kennings

vígþey,
‘war-breeze, ’
   = BATTLE

war-breeze, → BATTLE

notes

[4] vígþey ‘war-breeze [BATTLE]’: Although both the referent and the determinant mean ‘battle’, something usually avoided, this kenning fits known patterns (Meissner 182, 186).

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þey ‘breeze’

þeyr (noun m.; °; -jar/-ir): breeze, thawing wind < vígþeyr (noun m.)

[4] ‑þey: ‑hey Bb

kennings

vígþey,
‘war-breeze, ’
   = BATTLE

war-breeze, → BATTLE

notes

[4] vígþey ‘war-breeze [BATTLE]’: Although both the referent and the determinant mean ‘battle’, something usually avoided, this kenning fits known patterns (Meissner 182, 186).

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Heðins ‘of Heðinn’

2. Heðinn (noun m.): [Heðinn, champions]

kennings

vind meyjar Heðins,
‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn, ’
   = BATTLE

the maiden of Heðinn, → Hildr
the wind of HILDR → BATTLE

notes

[3, 4] vind meyjar Heðins ‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn <legendary hero> [= Hildr > BATTLE]’: ‘The maiden of Heðinn’ is clearly Hildr, the valkyrie taken as war-trophy and wife by Heðinn Hjarrandason, hero of the Hjaðningavíg (‘battle of Heðinn’s men’, SnE 1998, I, 72). Like other terms such as gunnr (see LP: Gunnr), Hildr has a twofold function: as a proper name for a valkyrie and as a common noun meaning ‘battle’. The present edn assumes a reference to a valkyrie here; Hildr’s ‘wind’ is then ‘battle’. The Skj B interpretation of ll. 1-4 (see Note above) prefers the common noun hildr, arrived at by ofljóst, as also in st. 17/3-4 above. See further LP: 2. Heðinn, 1. hildr; Meissner 201-2, 273.

Close

Heðins ‘of Heðinn’

2. Heðinn (noun m.): [Heðinn, champions]

kennings

vind meyjar Heðins,
‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn, ’
   = BATTLE

the maiden of Heðinn, → Hildr
the wind of HILDR → BATTLE

notes

[3, 4] vind meyjar Heðins ‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn <legendary hero> [= Hildr > BATTLE]’: ‘The maiden of Heðinn’ is clearly Hildr, the valkyrie taken as war-trophy and wife by Heðinn Hjarrandason, hero of the Hjaðningavíg (‘battle of Heðinn’s men’, SnE 1998, I, 72). Like other terms such as gunnr (see LP: Gunnr), Hildr has a twofold function: as a proper name for a valkyrie and as a common noun meaning ‘battle’. The present edn assumes a reference to a valkyrie here; Hildr’s ‘wind’ is then ‘battle’. The Skj B interpretation of ll. 1-4 (see Note above) prefers the common noun hildr, arrived at by ofljóst, as also in st. 17/3-4 above. See further LP: 2. Heðinn, 1. hildr; Meissner 201-2, 273.

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meyjar ‘of the maiden’

mær (noun f.; °meyjar, dat. meyju; meyjar): maiden

kennings

vind meyjar Heðins,
‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn, ’
   = BATTLE

the maiden of Heðinn, → Hildr
the wind of HILDR → BATTLE

notes

[3, 4] vind meyjar Heðins ‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn <legendary hero> [= Hildr > BATTLE]’: ‘The maiden of Heðinn’ is clearly Hildr, the valkyrie taken as war-trophy and wife by Heðinn Hjarrandason, hero of the Hjaðningavíg (‘battle of Heðinn’s men’, SnE 1998, I, 72). Like other terms such as gunnr (see LP: Gunnr), Hildr has a twofold function: as a proper name for a valkyrie and as a common noun meaning ‘battle’. The present edn assumes a reference to a valkyrie here; Hildr’s ‘wind’ is then ‘battle’. The Skj B interpretation of ll. 1-4 (see Note above) prefers the common noun hildr, arrived at by ofljóst, as also in st. 17/3-4 above. See further LP: 2. Heðinn, 1. hildr; Meissner 201-2, 273.

Close

meyjar ‘of the maiden’

mær (noun f.; °meyjar, dat. meyju; meyjar): maiden

kennings

vind meyjar Heðins,
‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn, ’
   = BATTLE

the maiden of Heðinn, → Hildr
the wind of HILDR → BATTLE

notes

[3, 4] vind meyjar Heðins ‘the wind of the maiden of Heðinn <legendary hero> [= Hildr > BATTLE]’: ‘The maiden of Heðinn’ is clearly Hildr, the valkyrie taken as war-trophy and wife by Heðinn Hjarrandason, hero of the Hjaðningavíg (‘battle of Heðinn’s men’, SnE 1998, I, 72). Like other terms such as gunnr (see LP: Gunnr), Hildr has a twofold function: as a proper name for a valkyrie and as a common noun meaning ‘battle’. The present edn assumes a reference to a valkyrie here; Hildr’s ‘wind’ is then ‘battle’. The Skj B interpretation of ll. 1-4 (see Note above) prefers the common noun hildr, arrived at by ofljóst, as also in st. 17/3-4 above. See further LP: 2. Heðinn, 1. hildr; Meissner 201-2, 273.

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áðr ‘before’

áðr (adv.; °//): before

notes

[5] áðr an ‘before’: Skj B takes this as a subordinate clause beginning a new sentence, rather than dependent on the first helmingr, and mǫrg benkneif óð ‘many a wound-hook [SWORD] waded’ as the main clause rather than intercalated. However, subordinate clauses do not normally precede main clauses (Kuhn 1983, 190; and on this stanza see Kock, NN §3057).

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an ‘’

2. an (conj.): than

notes

[5] áðr an ‘before’: Skj B takes this as a subordinate clause beginning a new sentence, rather than dependent on the first helmingr, and mǫrg benkneif óð ‘many a wound-hook [SWORD] waded’ as the main clause rather than intercalated. However, subordinate clauses do not normally precede main clauses (Kuhn 1983, 190; and on this stanza see Kock, NN §3057).

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Ormi ‘Ormr (‘Serpent’)’

ormr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i; -ar): serpent

notes

[5] Ormi ‘Ormr (“Serpent”)’: See Note to st. 10/1.

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eða ‘and’

eða (conj.): or

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hlut ‘lot’

hlutr (noun m.; °-ar, dat. -i/-; -ir, acc. -i/-u): part, thing

notes

[6] meira hlut ‘the better lot’: Hlutr m. is literally ‘lot’, a token in sortilege, as well as ‘share, part’, but in phrases such as lægri hlutr ‘worse (lit. ‘lower’) lot’ or minni hlutr ‘lesser lot’ it describes the comparative position of two competing parties. Perhaps, as Ohlmarks suggests (1958, 455), the skald’s desire to play down his hero’s defeat influenced a phrasing which attributes Eiríkr’s victory to the workings of chance.

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meira ‘the better’

meiri (adj. comp.; °meiran; superl. mestr): more, most

notes

[6] meira hlut ‘the better lot’: Hlutr m. is literally ‘lot’, a token in sortilege, as well as ‘share, part’, but in phrases such as lægri hlutr ‘worse (lit. ‘lower’) lot’ or minni hlutr ‘lesser lot’ it describes the comparative position of two competing parties. Perhaps, as Ohlmarks suggests (1958, 455), the skald’s desire to play down his hero’s defeat influenced a phrasing which attributes Eiríkr’s victory to the workings of chance.

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mǫrg ‘many’

2. margr (adj.; °-an): many

kennings

mǫrg bitr benkneif
‘many a biting wound-hook ’
   = SWORD

many a biting wound-hook → SWORD
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bitr ‘a biting’

bitr (adj.; °bitran; superl. bitrastr): sharp, biting

kennings

mǫrg bitr benkneif
‘many a biting wound-hook ’
   = SWORD

many a biting wound-hook → SWORD
Close

ben ‘wound’

1. ben (noun f.; °-jar, dat. -; -jar , gen. -a(var. EiðKrC 402¹³: AM 77 4°— “D”)): wound < benkneif (noun f.)

[8] ben‑: bein‑ 54, Bb, ‘b[…]n’ 325VIII 2 g

kennings

mǫrg bitr benkneif
‘many a biting wound-hook ’
   = SWORD

many a biting wound-hook → SWORD

notes

[8] benkneif ‘wound-hook [SWORD]’: Kneif f. ‘hook, claw, pincer’ (?), probably related to knífr ‘knife’ (ÍOkneif), is well-attested in the modern language but rare in OIcel. It occurs as a byname in Ldn (ÍF 1, 51, 340-3), where it is spelt variously kneif and (the younger form) hneif, and as a variant reading in GSúrs Lv 27/5V (Gísl 30). Sword-kennings based on words for tools are fairly common, e.g. bengrefill ‘wound-hoe’ Egill Hfl 8/3V (Eg 41), and see Meissner 156. LP: benkneif suggests sårkniv(?), spyd ‘wound-knife(?), spear’.

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kneif ‘hook’

kneif (noun f.; °-ar): [hook] < benkneif (noun f.)kneif (noun f.; °-ar): [hook] < beinkneif (noun f.): bone-hook

kennings

mǫrg bitr benkneif
‘many a biting wound-hook ’
   = SWORD

many a biting wound-hook → SWORD

notes

[8] benkneif ‘wound-hook [SWORD]’: Kneif f. ‘hook, claw, pincer’ (?), probably related to knífr ‘knife’ (ÍOkneif), is well-attested in the modern language but rare in OIcel. It occurs as a byname in Ldn (ÍF 1, 51, 340-3), where it is spelt variously kneif and (the younger form) hneif, and as a variant reading in GSúrs Lv 27/5V (Gísl 30). Sword-kennings based on words for tools are fairly common, e.g. bengrefill ‘wound-hoe’ Egill Hfl 8/3V (Eg 41), and see Meissner 156. LP: benkneif suggests sårkniv(?), spyd ‘wound-knife(?), spear’.

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fyr ‘before’

fyr (prep.): for, over, because of, etc.

notes

[8] fyr Ôleifi ‘before Óláfr’: The usual sense of fyr(ir), ‘before, in the presence of’, is assumed here (so also Skj B); battle similarly rages fyr skylja (‘before the king’) in st. 12/6-7. Alternatively, fyr(ir) + dat. can express disadvantage (e.g. taka fé fyrir öðrum ‘to take property from another/others’, CVC: fyrir C. III; NN §3057), and fyr Ôleifi could be taken with ll. 5-6, referring to the seizure of Ormr despite Óláfr’s defence (so Skald).

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Ôleifi ‘Óláfr’

Óláfr (noun m.): Óláfr

notes

[8] fyr Ôleifi ‘before Óláfr’: The usual sense of fyr(ir), ‘before, in the presence of’, is assumed here (so also Skj B); battle similarly rages fyr skylja (‘before the king’) in st. 12/6-7. Alternatively, fyr(ir) + dat. can express disadvantage (e.g. taka fé fyrir öðrum ‘to take property from another/others’, CVC: fyrir C. III; NN §3057), and fyr Ôleifi could be taken with ll. 5-6, referring to the seizure of Ormr despite Óláfr’s defence (so Skald).

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

The battle of Svǫlðr is famous both for the defence of Óláfr and his men and for Eiríkr’s mighty attack.

[1-4]: There seems to be an excess of kenning elements, and the solution adopted here, as in other eds, is to assume that vígþey ‘war-breeze’ or ‘thawing wind of war’ stands in apposition to a battle-kenning, either as in the Text above (and NN §479), or as in Skj B: Týr meyjar Heðins lét sverða vind, vígþey, verða ... ‘the Týr of the maiden of Heðinn [= Hildr (hildr ‘battle’) > WARRIOR] made the wind of swords, war-breeze, become ...’. Skj B’s interpretation is more distant from the word order of the stanza than is Kock’s in NN.

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