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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 1I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 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. 403.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar

text and translation

Þar hykk víst til mjǫk misstu
— mǫrg kom drótt á flótta —
gram, þanns gunni framði,
gengis þrœnzkra drengja.
Nœfr vá einn við jǫfra
allvaldr tváa snjalla
— frægrs til slíks at segja
siðr — ok jarl inn þriðja.

Þar hykk víst gram, þanns framði gunni, misstu til mjǫk gengis þrœnzkra drengja; mǫrg drótt kom á flótta. Nœfr allvaldr vá einn við tváa snjalla jǫfra ok jarl inn þriðja; frægr siðr [e]s at segja til slíks.
‘There, I certainly believe, the prince who promoted battle missed too much the support of warriors from Trøndelag; many a band took to flight. The adept mighty ruler fought alone against two bold princes and a jarl as the third; it is a famous custom to tell of such a thing.

notes and context

Most sources cite this stanza in support of their accounts of the disparity in size between Óláfr’s fleet and that of his enemies, just before they describe the battle of Svǫlðr; Fsk and Hkr use it in a more general way. The disparity is blamed in ÓTOdd and ÓT on the premature departure of part of Óláfr’s own fleet, and in HN and Ágr (neither of which cites the stanza), on its late arrival.

For the sea-battle at Svǫlðr c. 1000, see also Skúli SvǫlðrIII, Stefnir Lv 1, OSnorr Lv, Eþsk Couplet, Hókr Eirfl, ÞKolb Eirdr 8, and the later treatment in HSt Rst 15-23 and Anon Óldr 17-24. — [1-4]: The helmingr refers to a lack of gengis þrœnzkra drengja ‘the support of warriors from Trøndelag’ (ll. 1, 4), and to the flight of mǫrg drótt ‘many a band’ (l. 2), and it might be expected that these are the same thing, but this is unclear, as is the identity of these groups. Drótt could mean either the ruler’s personal retinue or just a troop in a battle; the epithet mǫrg ‘many’ would favour the latter, and with it the interpretation, ‘despite lacking a Trøndelag retinue, Óláfr [nevertheless] put many of the [enemy] drótt to flight’ (Ohlmarks 1958, 442). The troops from Trøndelag may be Eiríkr’s men, faithful to him as the jarl of Trøndelag rather than to the king (Ohlmarks loc. cit.; von See 1977a). Alternatively, Hallfreðr may be referring to the part of Óláfr’s own force which made itself unavailable just before the battle (see Context above), as according to HN (MHN 117-19) the missing men were from Trøndelag, but this tradition may itself be based on the present stanza rather than independent information. — [2]: Cf. Glúmr Gráf 2/2 and Hókr Eirfl 7/8 drótt kom mǫrg á flótta (325VIII 1’s defective text of l. 2 may also have had this ordering). Von See (1977a) suggests this is one of a series of polemical citations of Hókr Eirfl (composed for Óláfr’s adversary Eiríkr jarl), though this involves reversing the commonly-accepted dating of the two works. — [3]: Wisén (1886-9, I, 137) suggested that the aðalhending in this line is gram þann : framði, which involves the crossing of a word boundary (see Kristján Árnason 1991, 102-3), though only one consonant (in this case, the m) need agree to form a correct aðalhending.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 3: AI, 159-60, BI, 150-1, Skald I, 82, NN §§2449, 2451 anm. 1; ÓTOdd 1932, 206, ÍF 25, 320-1; Fsk 1902-3, 123 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 152 (ch. 24); Hkr 1893-1901, I, 443, IV, 97, ÍF 26, 358-9, Hkr 1991, I, 243 (ÓTHkr ch. 105), F 1871, 162; SHI 2, 293, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 260-1 (ch. 249), Flat 1860-8, I, 480.


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