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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 9I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 9’ 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. 676.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonErfidrápa Óláfs helga

Olmr erumk harmr, sás hilmir
hafði; golli vafðan
jǫfurr kreisti sá austan
aflfátt meðalkafla.
Gagn fengu því þegnar,
þeir at hôlfu fleiri
— hvǫtuð tælði þat hildar —
— hvôrungi frýk — vôru.

Harmr, sás hilmir hafði, erumk olmr; sá jǫfurr kreisti meðalkafla, vafðan golli, aflfátt austan. Þegnar fengu gagn því, at þeir vôru hôlfu fleiri; þat tælði {hvǫtuð hildar}; frýk hvôrungi.

The grief that the ruler had rages at me; that prince clenched the sword-grip, wound about with gold, with scant support from the east. The subjects won victory because they were twice as many; that ensnared {the inciter of battle} [WARRIOR = Óláfr]; I fault neither side.

Mss: (467v) (Hkr); Holm2(67r), J2ˣ(224v-225r), 321ˣ(252), Holm4(62vb), 61(124vb), 325VII(37v), Bb(198vb) (l. 1), Flat(124rb), Tóm(155r) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] Olmr: ‘O[…]r’ 325VII;    erumk: erumsk Holm4, 61, Tóm, er um Flat;    harmr: ‘[…]’ Bb;    sás hilmir (‘sa er hilmir’): ‘[…]’ Bb    [2] vafðan: ‘vafða[…]’ 325VII    [3] jǫfurr: ‘[…]fur’ 325VII;    kreisti: kærsti 61, ‘ræ[…]’ with ‘kre[…]’ above the line 325VII;    sá: sá er 61, 325VII, Flat, Tóm    [4] aflfátt: aflat J2ˣ, 61, Tóm, afl sitt 321ˣ    [5] Gagn: ‘g[…]n’ 325VII;    því: þar 321ˣ, 61    [6] at: eru 61, er 325VII, Flat, Tóm;    fleiri: fleiri vôru Tóm    [7] hvǫtuð: hvata J2ˣ, 321ˣ, hvǫtuðr 61;    tælði: talði 61, tælðu Tóm;    þat: þar 61;    hildar: haulda 321ˣ    [8] hvôrungi: hvártveggi 61;    frýk (‘fry ec’): frá ek Holm2, J2ˣ, 321ˣ, Holm4, 325VII, frýju 61

Editions: Skj AI, 259, Skj BI, 241, Skald I, 125; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 485, IV, 166, ÍF 27, 377, Hkr 1991, II, 528 (ÓHHkr ch. 224); ÓH 1941, I, 567 (ch. 222), Flat 1860-8, II, 352; Jón Skaptason 1983, 164, 303.

Context: King Óláfr’s army and that of the farmers and magnates approach each other at Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad). Óláfr and his troop, awaiting the support of Dagr Hringsson (a kinsman of Óláfr, ÍF 27, 348-9) and his troop, finally catch sight of their approach. It is said that the opposing farmers’ army had ‘a hundred hundreds’ of men.

Notes: [1] erumk olmr ‘rages at me’: Lit. ‘is furious to me’. — [1] sás ‘that’: (a) This is a demonstrative pron. + rel. particle es, referring back to harmr ‘grief’. (b) Skj B, Skald and ÍF 27 take sás as a conj. introducing the following clause, and take hafði aflfátt together, hence ‘that he had little support’. However, although (e)s can in some cases be a conj. equivalent to at ‘that’ (LP: es 7), would then be taken with the previous clause, and since it is unstressed that is not possible. — [2, 4] meðalkafla, vafðan golli ‘the sword-grip, wound about with gold’: For an example of a late Viking Age sword with gold wire wound around its grip, see Graham-Campbell (1980, 70-1, 246). Vafðan golli is also found in st. 27/3, 4 and Þfisk Lv 1/6II. — [3] kreisti ‘clenched’: The form seems to be a slight licence, since the 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of kreista is normally kreistaði. — [3-4] aflfátt austan ‘with scant support from the east’: Aflfátt is only otherwise attested in the form aflafátt (see Fritzner: aflafár). It is taken here as an adverbial n. adj. (cf. verða e-m aflafátt ‘sby has little support’). As an alternative to the present construal, aflfátt austan could be taken with the rel. clause: sás hilmir hafði, aflfátt austan ‘that the ruler had with scant support from the east’. Either way the reference is to poor support from the east, i.e. from the Swedes: see Note to st. 8/5. — [5] þegnar ‘the subjects’: These are the landowners who should have been loyal to the king. For the suggestion that this term implies internal opposition in the late Viking Age, see Jesch (1993a, 167-9; Jesch 2001a, 225). In the prose sources, Óláfr’s opponents are normally called bœndr ‘farmers’ (cf. st. 11/4, with the earlier form búendr). — [8] frýk hvôrungi ‘I fault neither side’: Jón Skaptason (1983) suggests that this is ‘for not showing prowess in battle’, and indeed the verb frýja ‘reproach, fault’ most frequently involves questioning of courage (cf. LP: frýja and see st. 17/4 below).


  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. 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.
  5. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  12. Jesch, Judith. 1993a. ‘Skaldic Verse and Viking Semantics’. In Faulkes et al. 1993, 160-71.
  13. Jón Skaptason. 1983. ‘Material for an Edition and Translation of the Poems of Sigvat Þórðarson, skáld’. Ph.D. thesis. State University of New York at Stony Brook. DAI 44: 3681A.
  14. Graham-Campbell, James. 1980. Viking Artefacts: A Select Catalogue. London: British Museum Publications.
  15. Internal references
  16. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  17. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)
  18. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þorgils fiskimaðr, Lausavísur 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, pp. 333-4.

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