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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hókr Eirfl 1I

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 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. 471.

Halldórr ókristniEiríksflokkr

text and translation

Út bauð jǫfra hneitir
élmóðr af Svíþjóðu
— sunnr helt gramr til gunnar —
gunnbliks liði miklu.
Hverr vildi þá haulda
hrægeitunga feitir
— môr fekk á sæ sára
sylg — Eireki fylgja.

{Hneitir jǫfra}, {{gunnbliks} él}móðr, bauð út miklu liði af Svíþjóðu; gramr helt sunnr til gunnar. {Hverr feitir {hrægeitunga}} haulda vildi þá fylgja Eireki; {môr sára} fekk sylg á sæ.
‘The striker of princes [RULER = Eiríkr], eager for the storm of the battle-gleam [(lit. ‘storm-eager of battle-gleam’) SWORD > BATTLE] summoned a large troop from Sweden; the ruler steered south to battle. Every fattener of carrion-birds [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR] among freeholders then wished to accompany Eiríkr; the seagull of wounds [RAVEN/EAGLE] got a drink at sea.

notes and context

According to Hkr (ÓT closely similar), King Sveinn tjúguskjegg ‘Fork-beard’ of Denmark sends messengers to his son-in-law King Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson of Sweden and to Eiríkr jarl, who is staying with Óláfr. The purpose of this mission is to incite Óláfr and Eiríkr to join Sveinn in an attack on Óláfr Tryggvason, who is on his way to Vinðland (Wendland). They gather troops from all over Sweden and set out for Denmark, but when they arrive, Óláfr has already sailed east through the Baltic.

For the sea-battle at Svǫlðr c. 1000, see also Hfr ErfÓl 1-24, Skúli SvǫlðrIII, Stefnir Lv 1 (cf. OSnorr Lv), Eþsk Couplet, ÞKolb Eirdr 8, and the later treatment in HSt Rst 15-23 and Anon Óldr 17 ‑24. — [4]: The line recalls GSúrs Lv 8/4V (Gísl 11) gunnbliks þáa miklu. — [5-8]: This helmingr has presented problems for earlier eds, and the solution adopted here attempts to make syntactical sense of it while avoiding emendation. (a) In the present version the kenning feitir hrægeitunga ‘fattener of carrion-birds [RAVENS/EAGLES > WARRIOR]’ (l. 6) is construed with hverr ‘every’ (l. 5; see Fritzner: hverr 6) and haulda ‘among freeholders’ (lit. ‘of freeholders’, l. 5) is taken as a gen. attributive to that noun phrase. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B, following Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, II, 221) emends haulda (l. 5) to hildar ‘of battle’, which he construes as the determinant to môr ‘seagull’ (l. 7), hence môr hildar ‘the seagull of battle [RAVEN/EAGLE]’, while sára ‘of wounds’ (l. 7) is taken with sylg (l. 8), hence sylg sára ‘a drink of wounds [BLOOD]’. This has the advantage of accounting for haulda, which is somewhat superfluous in interpretation (a), and for , which is somewhat underspecified if separated from sára. However, as Kock (NN §554) points out, that interpretation involves an emendation that goes against all ms. witnesses and results in a convoluted word order. (c) Kock (NN §554; Skald) emends feitir (m. nom. sg.) ‘fattener’ to feiti (dat. sg), and takes the kenning feiti hrægeitunga ‘fattener of carrion-birds’ as an apposition to Eireki (m. dat. sg.) in l. 8. (d) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson’s version (ÍF 26) is the closest to the present interpretation, but he construes the kenning as an apposition to hverr haulda: hverr haulda, feitir hrægeitunga lit. ‘each of freeholders, fattener of carrion-birds’, glossing this Hver maður, sem barðagamaður var ‘Each man who was a warrior’. But the appositional constructions assumed here and in (c) are awkward. (e) Bjarni Fidjestøl (1982, 194; citing Sveinbjörn Egilsson in Fms 12, 56, Konráð Gíslason 1892, 142 and (erroneously) ÍF 26), entertains the possibility that feitir hrægeitunga could be a form of address. While that might be an option, the only other stanza that addresses Eiríkr directly gives the verb in 2nd pers. pl. (fœrðuð ‘you brought’, st. 5/5). — [8]: This line recalls Hfr ErfÓl 15/8 sylg Ôleifi fylgja.



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: Haldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 1: AI, 202, BI, 193, Skald I, 101, NN §§554, 1853B; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 431, IV, 95, ÍF 26, 350 (ÓTHkr ch. 98), F 1871, 158; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 247-8 (ch. 245), Flat 1860-8, I, 473.


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