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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Mark Eirdr 3II

Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2009, ‘Markús Skeggjason, Eiríksdrápa 3’ 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. 435-6.

Markús SkeggjasonEiríksdrápa

Fœðir sótti fremðarráða
foldar vǫrðu austr í Garða;
auði gœddu allvald prúðan
ítrir menn, þeirs hnøggvi slíta.
Stillir varð of austrveg allan
einkar tíðr inn mærðarblíði;
hinn vas engr, es hans nafn kunnit
heiðarmanns í lofi reiða.

{Fœðir fremðarráða} sótti {vǫrðu foldar} austr í Garða; ítrir menn, þeirs slíta hnøggvi, gœddu prúðan allvald auði. Inn mærðarblíði stillir varð einkar tíðr of allan austrveg; hinn vas engr, es kunnit reiða nafn hans, heiðarmanns, í lofi.

{The nourisher of outstanding actions} [RULER] visited {the guardians of the earth} [RULERS] east in Russia; glorious men, who destroy stinginess, endowed the magnificent mighty ruler with wealth. The praise-pleased prince came to be very popular throughout all the eastern regions; there was no person who was not able to proclaim his name, the man of honour’s, in praise.

Mss: (142), 873ˣ(48r), 20b I(6v), 180b(29r) (Knýtl)

Readings: [2] Garða: Gǫrðum 180b    [4] þeirs (‘þeir er’): er 180b;    hnøggvi: ‘hroggui’ 873ˣ, hneyki 180b    [5] Stillir: ‘stillr’ 20b I;    varð: ‘rad’ 873ˣ    [6] tíðr: tíðum 180b    [7] hinn: hnum 180b;    vas (‘var’): varð 20b I, 180b;    engr: engi 180b;    hans: so 180b, hann JÓ, 873ˣ, 20b I;    kunnit: so 20b I, kynnit JÓ, 873ˣ, ‘kunnegt’ 180b    [8] heiðar: ‘herdar‑’ 180b

Editions: Skj AI, 445, Skj BI, 414, Skald I, 204, NN §2788; 1741, 142-3, ÍF 35, 212 (ch. 70).

Context: Eiríkr’s journey to and reception in Russia (Garðaríki).

Notes: [All]: No other sources mention Eiríkr’s journey to Russia, which, according to the chronology of Knýtl, must have taken place prior to the death of his brother, Óláfr (r. 1086-95). The prose of Knýtl is clearly derived from the content of the poetry here. According to Saxo (2005, II, 12, 1, 1, pp. 62-3), Eiríkr and his wife, Bóthildr (Botilda), went into voluntary exile in Sweden in 1086 when Óláfr returned to Denmark from captivity in Flanders. — [1] fœðir fremðarráða ‘the nourisher of outstanding actions [RULER]’: This kenning is a good example of Markús’s adaptation of traditional skaldic vocabulary. Fœðir, lit. ‘feeder’, is a common base-word in early poetry, usually coupled with a beast-of-battle determinant (see LP: fœðir). Here, the base-word, qualified by the unexpected fremðarráða ‘of outstanding actions’ has a transferred sense of ‘promoter, fosterer’. In general, Markús is fond of using longer, unique compounds in his poetry. — [2] Garða ‘Russia’: The area known as Garðar or Garðaríki encompassed a different area from that of the modern Russian state. It extended south from the Arctic to the Black Sea, and east from Poland to the Ural mountains. Noonan (1997) uses the phrase ‘European Russia’ to denote the areas where Viking Age Scandinavians were active. See also Note to Hharð Gamv 1/7. — [4] þeirs slíta hnøggvi ‘who destroy stinginess’: I.e. they give lavishly. See also Steinn Óldr 13/3, 4. — [4] hnøggvi ‘stinginess’: Hneyki (m. acc. sg.) ‘oppressor’, the reading of 180b, offers a metrically acceptable but contextually unlikely alternative. — [5] austrveg ‘eastern regions’: Lit. ‘eastern way’. In ON literature, this encompassed two areas, namely, the coastal section (from Denmark along the southern and south-eastern coast of the Baltic) and the river section, i.e. the Eastern European river routes to Byzantium (see Melnikova 1996, 13, 27, 29 and Map 2; Sverrir Jakobsson 2006). In this particular case, it is likely that the term was applied in the first and narrow sense (but including north-western Russia). — [6] mærðarblíði ‘praise-pleased’:  Skj B translates this as veltalende ‘eloquent’ and LP: mærð gives blid, venlig i (folks) omtale, berömmet for sin venlighed ‘mild, kind in (people’s) opinion, praised for his friendliness’. NN §2788, pointing out that blíði is the ‘base’ adj. qualifying stillir, offers som kan glädja sig åt berömmelse ‘who can be made happy by praise’, therefore berömd ‘renowned’. ‘Praise-pleased’ conveys this sense, and also the structure of the ON cpd. See also Note to l. 1 above. — [7] vas ‘was’: Varð ‘was’ (lit. ‘became’, so 20b I, 180b) is also possible (adopted by Skj B, Skald and ÍF 35).


  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. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  7. 1741 = Jón Ólafsson, ed. 1741. Æfi dana-konunga eda Knytlinga saga: Historia Cnutidarum regum Daniæ. Copenhagen: [n. p.].
  8. Melnikova, Elena A. 1996. The Eastern World of the Vikings: Eight Essays about Scandinavia and Eastern Europe in the Early Middle Ages. Gothenburg Old Norse Studies 1. Gothenburg: Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen, Göteborgs universitet.
  9. Noonan, Thomas. 1997. ‘Scandinavians in European Russia’. In Sawyer 1997, 134-55.
  10. Sverrir Jakobsson. 2006. ‘On the Road to Paradise: ‘Austrvegr’ in the Icelandic Imagination’. In McKinnell et al. 2006, II, 935-43.
  11. Internal references
  12. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)
  13. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson, Gamanvísur 1’ 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, p. 36.
  14. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Steinn Herdísarson, Óláfsdrápa 13’ 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. 378-9.

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