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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hókr Eirfl 2I

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 2’ 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. 473.

Halldórr ókristniEiríksflokkr

text and translation

Eyna fór ok einu
(unnviggs) konungr sunnan
(sverð rauð mætr at morði
meiðr) sjau tøgum skeiða,
þás húnlagar hreina
hafði jarl of krafða
— sætt gekk seggja ættar
sundr — Skônunga fundar.

{Konungr Eyna} fór sunnan sjau tøgum skeiða ok einu — {mætr meiðr {unnviggs}} rauð sverð at morði —, þás jarl hafði of krafða {hreina {húnlagar}} fundar Skônunga; sætt ættar seggja gekk sundr.
‘The king of the Eynir [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] went from the south with seventy-one warships — the splendid tree of the wave-steed [SHIP > SEAFARER] reddened the sword at the battle —, when the jarl [Eiríkr] had summoned the reindeer of the mast-top-liquid [SEA > SHIPS] to a meeting with the Skánungar; the peace of the kin of men was sundered.

notes and context

According to Hkr (closely similar in ÓT), Óláfr Tryggvason prepares to leave the land of the Wends and sail back to Norway when news reaches him that Sveinn tjúguskegg and the entire Danish fleet are lying in wait for him. Sigvaldi jarl, feigning friendship, offers to accompany Óláfr with eleven ships and to sail in front of the Norwegian fleet because he is more familiar with the waters. When Sigvaldi reaches the island of Svǫlðr, a boat rows towards him and he is told that the Danish army is moored in a harbour on that island. The stanza is followed by a comment that it verifies the number of ships in the combined fleet of Óláfr and Sigvaldi. Fsk and ÓTOdd give a somewhat different and shorter version of these events.

Because the variant readings of the FskB transcripts may have an impact on the interpretation of the present stanza, mss 51ˣ and 302ˣ have also been considered here. — [5-8]: This helmingr has proven problematic for earlier eds because both hreina ‘reindeer’ and Skônunga ‘Skánungar’ can be either gen. pl. or acc. pl., and the verb krefja takes the gen. and the acc. (krefja e-n e-s ‘demand sth. (gen.) from sby (acc.)’ or ‘summon sby (acc.) to sth. (gen.)’). (a) The present edn follows NN §2920 (and ÍF 29), according to which hreina húnlagar ‘the reindeer of the mast-top-liquid [SEA > SHIPS]’ (l. 5) is the acc. object and fundar ‘meeting’ (l. 8) the gen. object of krefja. Skônunga (gen. pl., lit. ‘of the Skánungar’) is then construed as a gen. attributive to fundar, hence fundar Skônunga ‘(summoned) to a meeting with the Skánungar’ (for similar constructions, see NN §2920 and Heggstad et al. 2008: fundr 3). The Skánungar are the Danish troops of King Sveinn, the ally of Eiríkr jarl. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) construes the clause as follows: þás jarl Skônunga hafði of krafða lagar húnhreina fundar translated as da Skåningernes jarl havde samlet skibene til møde ‘when the jarl of the Skánungar had gathered the ships for a meeting’. This interpretation is difficult to reconcile with the sequence of events, since jarl Skônunga ‘the jarl of the Skánungar’ can only refer to Sigvaldi jarl, whereas jarl throughout the poem refers to Eiríkr. It emerges from the prose of Hkr, nevertheless, that the saga author believed that the jarl was Sigvaldi (ÍF 26, 353): Hér segir, at þeir Óláfr konungr ok Sigvaldi jarl hǫfðu sjau tigu skipa ok einu meirr, þá er þeir sigldu sunnan ‘Here it is told that King Óláfr and Sigvaldi jarl had seventy-one ships when they sailed from the south’. (c) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) takes Skônunga as acc. pl. and hreina húnlagar as gen. pl.: þás jarl hafði of krafða Skônunga húnlagar hreina fundar in the sense ‘when the jarl [= Eiríkr] had demanded ships for the battle from the Skánungar’; fundar is tentatively taken to mean ‘for the battle’. However, the prose does not mention anything about Eiríkr enlisting Skánungar, men from Skåne (then a part of Denmark); rather, he and his Swedish ally, Óláfr sœnski, gather troops in Sweden (see Context to st. 1 above). — [6]: This line recalls Ótt Hfl 8/5 Hǫfðu hart of krafðir.



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 2: AI, 202-3, BI, 193, Skald I, 102, NN §§555, 556, 2008H anm., 2920; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 434, IV, 95-6, ÍF 26, 352-3 (ÓTHkr ch. 100), F 1871, 159; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 251 (ch. 245); Fsk 1902-3, 117 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 148 (ch. 24); ÓTOdd 1932, 198, ÍF 25, 313-14.


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