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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sturl Hákfl 5II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hákonarflokkr 5’ 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. 749-50.

Sturla ÞórðarsonHákonarflokkr

text and translation

Ríkr gaf hlenna hneykir
herþrungit Ribbungum
ógnar skýs í Ósló
eitt kveld meginsveitum.
Mildr kom heimskum hauldum
hervígs á glapstígu;
kendu langt í landi
Laufvíkingar ríkis.

{Ríkr hneykir hlenna} gaf Ribbungum eitt herþrungit kveld í Ósló meginsveitum {skýs ógnar}. Mildr hervígs kom heimskum hauldum á glapstígu; Laufvíkingar kendu ríkis langt í landi.
‘The powerful repressor of robbers [JUST RULER = Hákon] gave the Ribbungar one very oppressive evening in Oslo with the main forces of the cloud of terror [SHIELD]. The one generous with battle forced the foolish men onto pernicious paths; the Forest-vikings [= the Ribbungar] felt the power far into the land.

notes and context

During the summer of 1225, Hákon sailed from Bergen to Oslo to attack the Ribbungar. On 13 September, he and his troops entered Oslo, and the Ribbungar attempted to escape but were forced back by a contingent of Hákon’s army. Battle ensued, and more than twenty Ribbungar fell. The rest sought shelter in the churches.

The second helmingr is transmitted in 81a and Flat only (and ll. 7-8 in 42ˣ), which accounts for the change in the order of mss in the critical apparatus. — [1-4]: (a) In the present edn skýs ógnar ‘of the cloud of terror’ (i.e. ‘of the shield’) (l. 3; so E, F, 42ˣ, 81a) is taken as a qualifier for meginsveitum ‘with the main forces’ (l. 4). For comparable constructions, see herdróttum svanteigar ‘war-bands of the swan-field’ (Sturl Hrafn 11/6, 8), herskatnar vegs ‘war-men of honour’ (Hrafn 13/7, 8), sveit sverða ‘company of swords’ (Hrafn 17/2, 3), virðar hrings ‘men of the sword’ (Hrafn 18/2, 4). The Flat variant, yss gerðiz ‘tumult erupted’, is unmetrical because position 4 in an E3 l. cannot be occupied by a prep. (here: í ‘in’; see Gade 1995a, 76, 82-5). Both Skj B and Skald adopt the Flat variants yss gerðiz ‘tumult erupted’ (l. 3) and slag ‘battle’ (l. 4). Both also silently emend Ribbungum (dat. pl.) (l. 2) to Ribbunga (gen. pl.) against all mss and construe it with meginsveitum ‘the main forces of the Ribbungar’. (b) Skj B gives the following reading: Ríkr hlenna hneykir gaf meginsveitum Ribbunga eitt slag þrungit í Óslu; yss gerðiz her translated as Den mægtige røverstraffer gav Ribbungernes hovedskarer et slemt nederlag i Oslo; der opstod tummel i hæren ‘The powerful punisher of robbers gave the main forces of the Ribbungar a serious defeat in Oslo; tumult erupted in the army’. (c) Kock (NN §1365) follows Skj B but objects correctly to Finnur’s separation of her lit.‘army’ and þrungit ‘oppressive’. Instead, he takes her- as an intensifier, an interpretation which has been adopted in the present edn.



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: Sturla Þórðarson, 6. Hákonarflokkr 5: AII, 125-6, BII, 133, Skald II, 71, NN §§1365, 1366, 1936C, E, 1997; Hák 1910-86, 422, Flat 1860-8, III, 78, E 1916, 537, F 1871, 456.


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