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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Erlfl 6I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson 6’ 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. 637.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonFlokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson

text and translation

Erlingr fell, en olli
allríkr skapat slíku
— bíðrat betri dauða —
bragna konr með gagni.
Mann veitk engi annan,
allbrátt þótt fjǫr láti,
enn sás allan kunni
aldr fullara at halda.

Erlingr fell, en {allríkr konr bragna} olli slíku skapat með gagni; betri bíðrat dauða. Veitk engi annan mann, sás kunni at halda enn fullara allan aldr, þótt láti fjǫr allbrátt.
‘Erlingr fell, and the most powerful son of kings [RULER = Óláfr] caused such a thing to be brought about by [his] victory; no better man will experience death. I know of no other man who could maintain his standing all his life, even though he lost his life very early.

notes and context

The defeated Erlingr is killed by Áslákr Fitjaskalli ‘Fitjar-Baldhead’, apparently against the wishes of King Óláfr. His death is greatly mourned by the inhabitants of the region.

[1-4]: Sigvatr here portrays the king as causing (olli) Erlingr’s death through his victory (með gagni), but the extent to which blame is apportioned is unclear. Kock (NN §641) suggests taking með gagni to mean ‘to his advantage’ and construing it with Erlingr fell ‘Erlingr fell’, the advantage to Erlingr in his death being the glory he had won. This would have the effect of deflecting the focus from the king, but seems less plausible in the context. In Snorri’s prose account (ÍF 27, 317-18) Óláfr gives Erlingr a token wound for his treason, but when Áslákr Fitjaskalli intervenes to deal Erlingr his death-blow Óláfr cries out that he has struck Norway out of his hands (see also Note to st. 7/7-8).



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: Sigvatr Þórðarson, 7. Flokkr om Erlingr Skjalgsson 6: AI, 245-6, BI, 230, Skald I, 119, NN §§641, 642Hkr 1893-1901, II, 407-8, IV, 156-7, ÍF 27, 318, Hkr 1991, II, 485 (ÓHHkr ch. 176); ÓH 1941, I, 486 (ch. 172), Flat 1860-8, II, 311; Jón Skaptason 1983, 118, 265.


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