Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 5I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 5’ 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. 408.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar

Sótti herr, þars hætti,
hundmargr drasil sunda,
en hjalmsprotum hilmir
harðfengr Dǫnum varði.
Fellu þar með þolli
þeim Skævaðar geima
— mein hlautk af því — mínir
meir hollvinir fleiri.

Hundmargr herr sótti {drasil sunda}, þars hætti, en harðfengr hilmir varði Dǫnum {hjalmsprotum}. Fleiri hollvinir mínir fellu meir þar með {þeim þolli {Skævaðar geima}}; hlautk mein af því.

An immense force attacked {the horse of sounds} [SHIP], where there was danger, but the tenacious ruler warded off the Danes {with helmet-rods} [SWORDS]. More of my true friends also fell there with {that fir {of the Skævaðr <legendary horse> of the ocean}} [SHIP > SEAFARER]; I got grief from that.

Mss: 54(64ra), Bb(99va-b), 53(64rb), Flat(64va) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] drasil: ‘dręsil‑’ Bb, drasils 53, Flat    [3] ‑sprotum: so 53, Flat, ‑spjótum 54, Bb    [5] þar: þeir 53, Flat    [6] geima: so 53, Flat, geyma 54, Bb    [7] hlautk (‘hlaut ek’): hlutu 53, Flat;    af: om. Bb;    því: so 53, Flat, þvíat 54, Bb    [8] holl‑: hold‑ Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 160, Skj BI, 151, Skald I, 82, NN §§474, 1956; SHI 2, 301, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 267 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, 482-3.

Context: Although the Danish king Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’, with his sixty ships, attacks the Norwegians the hardest, the entire fleet of the Danes and Swedes is within shooting range. But Óláfr and his troop defend themselves splendidly, even though many of his men fall.

Notes: [1] hætti ‘there was danger’: More literally, ‘[it] was risked’.  — [2] drasil sunda ‘the horse of sounds [SHIP]’: This is taken here as the object of sótti ‘attacked’. The reading drasils in 53 and Flat could be retained by assuming herr drasils sunda ‘force of the horse of sounds [SHIP]’ and taking sótti ‘attacked’ as intransitive. — [6] Skævaðar ‘of the Skævaðr <legendary horse>’: Cf. LP: Skævaðr and SnE 1998, I, 88-9 for further instances. The meaning may be ‘racer’ (AEW: skæva); LP takes it as ‘high-stepping’. See also Notes to Anon Kálfv 1/7-8III, Anon Þorgþ I 2/2III . — [6] geima ‘of the ocean’: Geyma, the reading of 54 and Bb, could be either the inf. of the verb meaning ‘to take care of’ or acc./gen. pl. of geymir ‘keeper’, but it spoils the hending and, judging by the 54 scribe’s practice elsewhere, cannot be normalised to geima. — [7] hlautk mein ‘I got grief’: Hlutu ‘they got’ in 53 and Flat may be an error influenced by the following pl. mínir ‘my’; it would only be possible if fleiri ‘more’ was taken as its subject, since the hollvinir ‘true friends’ cannot be both dead (fellu ‘fell’, l. 1) and grieving. — [8] meir ‘also’: The word is taken here as an adv. and construed with the main clause (so also Kock in NN §474, translating it as sedan ‘afterwards’, rather than ‘also’); cf. Eskál Vell 21/1. Finnur Jónsson construes it with the intercalary, either as an adv. (LP: mjǫk) or an adj. (Skj B, translating meir mein as stor sorg ‘great sorrow’).


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  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. 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.
  8. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  9. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  10. 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.
  11. Internal references
  12. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Kálfsvísa 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 664.
  13. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 21’ 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. 308.

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