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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Mark Eirdr 8II

Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2009, ‘Markús Skeggjason, Eiríksdrápa 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 439-41.

Markús SkeggjasonEiríksdrápa

Lýst skal hitt, es lofðungr fýstisk
langan veg til Róms at ganga
— fylkir sá þar friðland balkat
Fenneyjar hlið — dýrð at nenna.

Hitt skal lýst, es lofðungr fýstisk at ganga langan veg til Róms at nenna dýrð; fylkir sá þar balkat friðland, hlið Fenneyjar.

It shall be brought to light, that the leader desired to walk the long way to Rome to engage in glory; the ruler saw there the protected secured land, the gates of Venice.

Mss: (148), 873ˣ(49v), 20b I(7r), 180b(29v) (Knýtl)

Readings: [4] hlið: so 180b, lið JÓ, 873ˣ, 20b I;    nenna: venja JÓ, 873ˣ, 20b I, nema 180b

Editions: Skj AI, 446, Skj BI, 415-16,  Skald I, 205, NN §2789; 1741, 148-9, ÍF 35, 217-18 (ch. 74).

Context: Eiríkr embarked on a pilgrimage and walked all the way to Rome.

Notes: [All]: Knýtl offers no motivation for Eiríkr’s decision to travel to Rome; the text merely states that Eiríkr konungr bjó ferð sína af landi í brott…. Hann gerði mǫnnum kunnigt, at hann ætlaði suðr til Róms ‘King Eiríkr prepared his journey away from the country and abroad…. He announced to people that he intended to travel south to Rome’ (ÍF 35, 217). According to Saxo (2005, II, 12, 5, 1-2, pp. 72-3), Eiríkr had been excommunicated by the archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen on false accusations, and he went to Rome to clear his case. He was so enraged that he also decided to plead to the Pope for the establishment of an archbishopric on Dan. soil, so as to sever the ties to Hamburg-Bremen. — [1-4]: (a) The reading offered here follows 180b with one emendation: nema ‘gain, take’ (l. 4; so 180b) is unmetrical (the metre requires a long syllable in position 7, and nem- is short, and moreover, it does not provide the necessary internal rhyme with Fenn-). If we assume that nema is a scribal corruption (lectio facilior), it is likely that the original version supplied the verb nenna ‘engage in, be occupied with’ construed with a dat. object (see LP: nenna; Fritzner: nenna 1.a). (b) Skj B (so also ÍF 35) adopts the reading of the A-class mss, which can be rendered as follows:

Lýst skal hitt, es lofðungr fýstisk
langan veg til Róms at ganga
— fylkir sá þar friðland balkat
Fenneyjar — lið dýrð at venja.

Prose order: Hitt skal lýst, es lofðungr fýstisk at ganga langan veg til Róms at venja lið dýrð; fylkir sá þar balkat friðland Fenneyjar. Translation: It shall be brought to light, that the leader desired to walk the long way to Rome to prepare his troop for glory; the ruler saw there the protected secured land of Venice. This version is, however, metrically highly problematic. The first four syllables of l. 4 belong to a D4- or E-type l., and the word in position 4, in this case lið ‘troop’, otherwise always forms a syntactic unit with the words in positions 1-3. (c) Kock (Skald; NN §2789) emends lið to sik ‘himself’, suggesting that venja sik e-u ‘prepare oneself for sth.’, a common construction, gives better sense as Eiríkr is unlikely to make a pilgrimage for the good of his troop, and st. 12 states that he undertakes it ‘to redeem his soul’ (at bœta sl). However, his proposal that a scribe mistook <ſik> for <lid> seems unlikely, and in any case the resulting l. does not resolve the syntactic disjunction. — [3] balkat friðland ‘the protected secured land’: Balkat ‘protected’, a n. acc. sg. p. p. of an unattested weak verb *balka ‘surround with a fence, partition’ is a hap. leg. It is not clear why Venice is referred to as ‘the protected secured land’, but in st. 26/8 the city of Jerusalem is also described as tryggða friði ‘secured with peace’, which could imply that Markús imagined these cities as peaceful centres of commerce and worship, surrounded by fortifications. LP: balkaðr takes the p. p. as referring to the Alps (omgivet ... av fjælde, der sigtes vist til Alperne med udtrykket ‘surrounded ... by mountains, the expression appears to refer to the Alps’). According to that interpretation, balkat friðland Fenneyjar is mountainous Italy. — [4] Fenneyjar ‘of Venice’: The ON version of this p. n. is given as Feneðí or Feney. The latter appears to be a folk-etymological formation based on the Lat. name and the topography of the city: fen is ‘marsh, bog, dike, dam’ and ey is ‘island’ (see LP: Feney). In the present st., the metre requires a long syllable in position 1. Skj B and Skald supply Fenneyjar and ÍF 35 gives Feneyjar (which is unmetrical). In Hb (Hb 1892-6, 176), the p. n. is spelled with a geminate. Alternatively, we could assume that the earlier form of the word was Fenjey (fen is a n. ja-stem; for similar compounds, see Kuhn 1983, 48), which would also fulfil the metrical requirements.


  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. 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.
  6. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  7. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1983. Das Dróttkvætt. Heidelberg: Winter.
  8. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  9. Hb 1892-6 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1892-6. Hauksbók udgiven efter de Arnamagnæanske håndskrifter no. 371, 544 og 675, 4° samt forskellige papirshåndskrifter. Copenhagen: Det kongelige nordiske oldskrift-selskab.
  10. 1741 = Jón Ólafsson, ed. 1741. Æfi dana-konunga eda Knytlinga saga: Historia Cnutidarum regum Daniæ. Copenhagen: [n. p.].
  11. Internal references

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