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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 17I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 17’ 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. 424.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar
161718

Ítr ‘splendidly’

ítr (adj.): glorious < ítrfermðr (adj./verb p.p.)ítr (adj.): glorious < ítrfremð (noun f.): splendid honourítr (adj.): glorious

notes

[1] ítrfermðum ‘splendidly-laden’: Perhaps a reference to Ormr inn langi’s fine crew.

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fernðum ‘’

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fermðum ‘laden’

[1] ‑fermðum: ‘‑ferndum’ Bb, ‑fremðum Flat

notes

[1] ítrfermðum ‘splendidly-laden’: Perhaps a reference to Ormr inn langi’s fine crew.

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Ormi ‘Ormr (‘Serpent’)’

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

notes

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

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sell ‘’

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sæll ‘The acclaimed’

sæll (adj.): happy, blessed < orðsæll (adj.): praise-blessed

[2] ‑sæll: ‘‑sell’ Bb

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jǫfurr ‘prince [Óláfr]’

jǫfurr (noun m.): ruler, prince

[2] jǫfurr: jǫfur Bb

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norðan ‘from the north’

norðan (adv.): from the north

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snǫrp ‘keen’

snarpr (adj.): sharp, keen

[3] snǫrp: so 53, ‘snorp’ all others

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sverða ‘of swords’

sverð (noun n.; °-s; -): sword

kennings

snót sverða
‘the lady of swords ’
   = Hildr

the lady of swords → Hildr

notes

[3, 4] snót sverða ‘the lady of swords [= Hildr (hildr ‘battle’)]’: A valkyrie, specifically Hildr, whose name is to be understood here, by ofljóst, as the common noun meaning ‘battle’. See further Note to st. 24/3, 4.

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snót ‘the lady’

snót (noun f.; °; -ir): woman

kennings

snót sverða
‘the lady of swords ’
   = Hildr

the lady of swords → Hildr

notes

[3, 4] snót sverða ‘the lady of swords [= Hildr (hildr ‘battle’)]’: A valkyrie, specifically Hildr, whose name is to be understood here, by ofljóst, as the common noun meaning ‘battle’. See further Note to st. 24/3, 4.

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móti ‘against’

móti (prep.): against

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‘very’

1. hý (noun n.): [very] < hýjafn (adj.)

[5] hý‑: hver 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, hverr Bb

kennings

þeim hýjǫfnum Gota hlýrs
‘that very straight Goti of the bow ’
   = SHIP

that very straight Goti of the bow → SHIP

notes

[5] hýjǫfnum ‘very straight’: This otherwise unattested epithet has not been satisfactorily explained, nor is it certain whether it describes the legendary horse Goti or the ship to which the whole kenning refers; the translation offered above is tentative. The problem is the hý- component, which must be different from the hý- that is attested in eddic poetry and is connected with hjú, hjón n. ‘household, married people’ (AEW: hýnótt). (a) SHI 3 suggests ‘perfectly made’, i.e. to hair’s-breadth accuracy, cf. ModIcel. hárjafn ‘not differing by a hair’; laukjafn ‘straight as a leek’ Sigv Berv 6/8II. The fine craftsmanship of Ormr inn langi was legendary (ÍF 26, 335-6), so an explanation along these lines seems most credible. AEW: 3 suggests hý- is an intensifying prefix like hund-: the cpd would thus mean ‘very even/straight’. (b) ÍO: hýjafn proposes n. ‘fine, sparse hair; down on a plant or bird’. No gloss is offered for the cpd, but perhaps the thought is the same as in (a). (c) Skj B emends to húfjǫfnum (nom. sg. húfjafn) ‘plank-equal, with even planking’ (first proposed LP (1860): hýjafn). (d) Kock (NN §1958) argues that the reading hverjafn in the minor mss is equivalent to hvarjafn ‘equal, even, everywhere’, cf. hvardyggr ‘all-doughty’, Sigv Berv 6/6II. His suggestion that ms. ‘hy’ arose from misreading of the sequence hv + er-abbreviation is plausible, but hý- is clearly the lectio difficilior.

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jǫfnum ‘straight’

jafn (adj.; °comp. -ari, superl. -astr): even, just < hýjafn (adj.)

kennings

þeim hýjǫfnum Gota hlýrs
‘that very straight Goti of the bow ’
   = SHIP

that very straight Goti of the bow → SHIP

notes

[5] hýjǫfnum ‘very straight’: This otherwise unattested epithet has not been satisfactorily explained, nor is it certain whether it describes the legendary horse Goti or the ship to which the whole kenning refers; the translation offered above is tentative. The problem is the hý- component, which must be different from the hý- that is attested in eddic poetry and is connected with hjú, hjón n. ‘household, married people’ (AEW: hýnótt). (a) SHI 3 suggests ‘perfectly made’, i.e. to hair’s-breadth accuracy, cf. ModIcel. hárjafn ‘not differing by a hair’; laukjafn ‘straight as a leek’ Sigv Berv 6/8II. The fine craftsmanship of Ormr inn langi was legendary (ÍF 26, 335-6), so an explanation along these lines seems most credible. AEW: 3 suggests hý- is an intensifying prefix like hund-: the cpd would thus mean ‘very even/straight’. (b) ÍO: hýjafn proposes n. ‘fine, sparse hair; down on a plant or bird’. No gloss is offered for the cpd, but perhaps the thought is the same as in (a). (c) Skj B emends to húfjǫfnum (nom. sg. húfjafn) ‘plank-equal, with even planking’ (first proposed LP (1860): hýjafn). (d) Kock (NN §1958) argues that the reading hverjafn in the minor mss is equivalent to hvarjafn ‘equal, even, everywhere’, cf. hvardyggr ‘all-doughty’, Sigv Berv 6/6II. His suggestion that ms. ‘hy’ arose from misreading of the sequence hv + er-abbreviation is plausible, but hý- is clearly the lectio difficilior.

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hefnir ‘avenger’

hefnir (noun m.): avenger

kennings

hefnir Hôkonar
‘Hákon’s avenger ’
   = Eiríkr

Hákon’s avenger → Eiríkr

notes

[5, 8] hefnir Hôkonar ‘Hákon’s avenger [= Eiríkr]’: Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, Eiríkr’s father, ruled most of Norway before being driven out by a rebellion of farmers which coincided with the advent of Óláfr Tryggvason. According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 296-8) he was killed by a servant while hiding in a pigsty. His son’s defeat of Óláfr is therefore not direct revenge but some recompense for Hákon’s loss of power and honour.

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hlýrs ‘of the bow’

2. hlýr (noun n.; °-s; -): cheek, bow

[6] hlýrs: hyrs Flat

kennings

þeim hýjǫfnum Gota hlýrs
‘that very straight Goti of the bow ’
   = SHIP

that very straight Goti of the bow → SHIP
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þeim ‘that’

1. sá (pron.; °gen. þess, dat. þeim, acc. þann; f. sú, gen. þeirrar, acc. þá; n. þat, dat. því; pl. m. þeir, f. þǽ---): that (one), those

kennings

þeim hýjǫfnum Gota hlýrs
‘that very straight Goti of the bow ’
   = SHIP

that very straight Goti of the bow → SHIP
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Gota ‘Goti’

Goti (noun m.; °-a; -ar/-nar): person (or horse) from Gotland

kennings

þeim hýjǫfnum Gota hlýrs
‘that very straight Goti of the bow ’
   = SHIP

that very straight Goti of the bow → SHIP
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stýrði ‘steered’

stýra (verb): steer, control

[6] stýrði: corrected from stýrir 53, stýrir Flat

notes

[6] stýrði ‘steered’: The pres. tense variant stýrir ‘steers’ intensifies the contrast between the two helmingar (see Note to [All] above), but is not strictly necessary.

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góðan ‘the good’

góðr (adj.): good

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gunnr ‘battle’

gunnr (noun f.): battle

[8] gunnr: ‘[…]nnr’ 325VIII 2 g

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‘Há’

3. hár (adj.; °-van; compar. hǽrri, superl. hǽstr): high < Hákon (noun m.): Hákon

kennings

hefnir Hôkonar
‘Hákon’s avenger ’
   = Eiríkr

Hákon’s avenger → Eiríkr

notes

[5, 8] hefnir Hôkonar ‘Hákon’s avenger [= Eiríkr]’: Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, Eiríkr’s father, ruled most of Norway before being driven out by a rebellion of farmers which coincided with the advent of Óláfr Tryggvason. According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 296-8) he was killed by a servant while hiding in a pigsty. His son’s defeat of Óláfr is therefore not direct revenge but some recompense for Hákon’s loss of power and honour.

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konar ‘kon’s’

1. kyn (noun n.; °-s; -): kin < Hákon (noun m.): Hákon

kennings

hefnir Hôkonar
‘Hákon’s avenger ’
   = Eiríkr

Hákon’s avenger → Eiríkr

notes

[5, 8] hefnir Hôkonar ‘Hákon’s avenger [= Eiríkr]’: Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, Eiríkr’s father, ruled most of Norway before being driven out by a rebellion of farmers which coincided with the advent of Óláfr Tryggvason. According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 296-8) he was killed by a servant while hiding in a pigsty. His son’s defeat of Óláfr is therefore not direct revenge but some recompense for Hákon’s loss of power and honour.

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sunnan ‘from the south’

sunnan (adv.): (from the) south

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

Eiríkr claims Ormr inn langi after the battle, and commands it himself.

The helmingar are neatly balanced semantically and syntactically. In the first Óláfr, guiding Ormr south before the battle, is the subject; in the second a ship is steered north by Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson. The stanza could be seen as describing the adversaries sailing towards one another before the battle, as, e.g., in ÞjóðA Lv 9II and Þfagr Sveinn 3II, and may play on this tradition, but the prose context is clearly correct in taking the second helmingr as an account of the victor Eiríkr steering the same ship back north after the battle. This is indicated by þeim ‘that’ in l. 6, and by the fact that the strong stress on áðr in l. 7 (indicated by the skothending with góðan) and the word order suggest it is the adv. ‘earlier’ not the conj. ‘before’. On the placing of the stanza, see Introduction.

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