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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 23II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 23’ 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. 600-2.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

Landi víkr, en leika
lǫgr tér á við fǫgrum
— síð mun seggr at hróðri
seina — norðr at einu.
Þenna rístk með þunnu
— þýtr jarðar men — barði
einum út frá Spáni
ǫfundkrók í dag hróki.

Landi víkr norðr at einu, en lǫgr tér leika á fǫgrum við; seggr mun síð seina at hróðri. Rístk þenna ǫfundkrók út frá Spáni með þunnu barði í dag einum hróki; {men jarðar} þýtr.

The land veers north continuously, and the sea plays on the beautiful wood; the man [I] is slow to delay the poem. I cut this enmity-detour [lit. enmity-hook] away from Spain with a slender prow today for a certain scoundrel; {the necklace of the earth} [SEA] resounds.

Mss: Flat(140rb), R702ˣ(48r) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] leika: so R702ˣ, lauka Flat    [3] mun: man ek R702ˣ    [6] þýtr: so R702ˣ, ‘þytt’ Flat    [7] frá: so R702ˣ, fyrir Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 510, Skj BI, 484, Skald I, 237, NN §2067; Flat 1860-8, II, 483, Orkn 1887, 169, Orkn 1913-16, 245, ÍF 34, 221-2 (ch. 87), Bibire 1988, 235.

Context: The jarl’s fleet having sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar, Eindriði ungi separates from it with six ships and heads towards Marseilles. Remarking that this reveals his guilt in allowing Guðifreyr to escape from the besieged castle, the jarl and his men sail a southerly route along the coast of Africa.

Notes: [2] á fǫgrum við ‘on the beautiful wood’: Viðr is probably here a pars pro toto for ship (Jesch 2001a, 134). — [5, 6, 8] rístk þenna ǫfundkrók með þunnu barði ‘I cut this enmity-detour [lit. enmity-hook] with a slender prow’: All are agreed that the krókr is the roundabout route taken by Rǫgnvaldr. The word ǫfundr can mean either ‘envy’ or ‘enmity’, likewise as the first element in compounds. While this particular cpd is not recorded elsewhere, ǫfundarkrókr, as defined by Fritzner, seems to have the appropriate meaning: med Kløgt udtænkt eller udført öfundarverk ‘a cunningly devised and carried out öfundarverk’, with the latter defined as a Gjerning hvortil man drives af Had eller Fiendskab ‘a deed to which one is driven by hate or enmity’. Rǫgnvaldr is forced to sail a different, and perhaps riskier, route by his enmity for Eindriði. This interpretation accords with the prose context, as Rǫgnvaldr’s ships then get into difficult weather conditions (see also Note to l. 8, below). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B and LP) and Bibire 1988 interpret ǫfund- as meaning ‘envy’, with the latter relating it to Rǫgnvaldr’s ‘increasingly tense relationship with Eindriði’. In both cases the manoeuvre is supposed to be one that arouses envy, though quite why is not clear. Kock (NN §2067) interprets ǫfund- as ‘hateful’, though it is not clear what his overall interpretation of the st. would be as a result. Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34) interprets the cpd as something done to annoy Eindriði, but relates it to an episode in ch. 85, when the fleet was leaving Bergen, rather than the more recent context. — [8] einum hróki ‘for a certain scoundrel’: Hrókr appears in a list of derogatory terms for men in SnE (W 1924, 104; SnE 1848-87, II, 496), and ‘scoundrel’ is an appropriate meaning in this context (see Note to st. 14/2 for his probable use of another term in the same list). There may however be an intended ambiguity, a subtext derived from chess (see st. 1/1). Hrókr is also the OIcel. word for ‘rook’, first recorded in Mágus saga jarls, probably composed around 1300 and clearly based on a French source. The word is of Persian origin but seems to have entered northern languages from Lat. via French (AEW). Rǫgnvaldr could have encountered the French term in France, or in the British Isles, as it is recorded in Anglo-Norman texts from the late C12th (Rothwell et al. 1991, 661). The Lat. form rocus is attested in the British Isles around 1150 (Latham 1965, 410). In this st., the rook would be Eindriði, moving in a straight line, and attacked by the knight, i.e. Rǫgnvaldr, the only chess-piece that can move diagonally (i.e. in a roundabout, or ‘hooked’, fashion). Hrókr also occurs in KormǪ Lv 13/6V.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  7. 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.
  8. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  9. 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.
  10. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  11. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  12. Bibire, Paul. 1988. ‘The Poetry of Earl Rǫgnvaldr’s Court’. In Crawford 1988, 208-40.
  13. Latham, R. E. 1965. Revised Medieval Latin Word-List from British and Irish Sources. London: British Academy and Oxford University Press. Rpt. with Supplement 1980.
  14. Orkn 1887 = Gudbrand Vigfusson 1887-94, I.
  15. W 1924 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1924. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Codex Wormianus AM 242, fol. Copenhagen and Kristiania (Oslo): Gyldendal.
  16. Internal references
  17. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  18. Not published: do not cite (KormǪ Lv 13V (Korm 14))

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