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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Erlfl 9I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Flokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson 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. 640.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonFlokkr about Erlingr Skjálgsson
8910

text and translation

Erlingr vas svá at jarla
ôtt, es skjǫldungr máttit,
Ôleifs mágr, svát œgði,
aldyggs sonar Tryggva.
Næst gaf sína systur
snarr búþegna harri
(Ulfs feðr vas þat) aðra
(aldrgipta) Rǫgnvaldi.

Erlingr, mágr Ôleifs, aldyggs sonar Tryggva, vas svá at ôtt jarla, svát œgði, es skjǫldungr máttit. Næst gaf {snarr harri búþegna} aðra systur sína Rǫgnvaldi; þat vas aldrgipta {feðr Ulfs}.
 
‘Erlingr, brother-in-law of Óláfr, the very worthy son of Tryggvi, behaved in such a way against the kin of the jarls, that he terrified [them], which the king [Óláfr Tryggvason] could not. Next the keen chief of landowners [RULER = Óláfr] gave his other sister to Rǫgn valdr; that was the luck of his life for Úlfr’s father [= Rǫgnvaldr].

notes and context

Erlingr Skjálgsson continues to exact land-tax from the territory in Rogaland awarded him by King Óláfr Tryggvason, despite competition from Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson.

The stanza stands apart from the preceding ones, which narrate Erlingr’s last stand and death; see Introduction. Jón Helgason (1936) made a compelling argument for regarding this stanza as containing two helmingar from two originally different stanzas. He suggested that ll. 1-4 originally belonged to a stanza about Erlingr, in which the (now lost) second helmingr recorded that Sveinn jarl married his daughter to Erlingr’s son Áslákr, while ll. 5-8 belonged to a stanza about Óláfr Tryggvason and were preceded by a helmingr about Óláfr marrying his sister to Erlingr Skjálgsson. However, they have been kept here as a single stanza since they are considered as such in the sagas of both Óláfr Tryggvason and Óláfr helgi, across a wide range of mss. Arguably, too, the two helmingar are sufficiently connected by the theme of marriage alliances made by Óláfr Tryggvason, which has the effect of assigning the same prestige to Erlingr as to Rǫgnvaldr Úlfsson (on whom, see Note to ll. 7, 8 below). The stanza summarises two of the salient reasons for Erlingr’s enormous power and influence, his political alliances and the force of his personality, and was interpreted as such by Snorri (ÍF 27, 28-9), who notes that Eiríkr jarl made no effort to fight Erlingr because he had many important relatives and was powerful and popular. — [1]: The line is metrically unusual: a Type A-line with ‑lingr unstressed and neutralisation of svá at in the dip, but there is no reason to suspect corruption. — [1-4]: This rather convoluted statement is interpreted, following Jón Helgason (1936, 317) and Kock (NN §643), to mean that Erlingr was able to intimidate the jarls of Hlaðir (Lade), here Eiríkr in particular, even though they had been sufficiently powerful to overcome Óláfr Tryggvason. The verb máttit ‘could not’ (l. 2, inf. mega) could be used absolutely (LP: mega) in the sense ‘to have power or capacity’, but it is more likely to refer to vas svá ‘behaved in such a way’ (l. 1) or œgði ‘terrified’ (l. 3), or indeed both, giving the sense that Óláfr Tryggvason could not deal with the jarls in the way that Erlingr did. The main alternative construal (Skj B) involves a highly artificial word order that is heavily criticised by Kock (NN §643).

readings

sources

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 9: AI, 246, BI, 230, Skald I, 119-20, NN §§643, 644, 1853D, 1854B; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 29, IV, 114, ÍF 27, 28, Hkr 1991, I, 268-9 (ÓHHkr ch. 22); ÓH 1941, I, 60 (ch. 30), Flat 1860-8, I, 537; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 302 (ch. 261); Jón Skaptason 1983, 121, 266-7.

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