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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þhorn Harkv 15I

R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 15’ 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. 109.

Þorbjǫrn hornklofiHaraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál)

‘Hversu es fégjafall,         þeim es fold verja,
ítr* ógnflýtir         við íþróttarmenn sína?’

‘Hversu es fégjafall, þeim es verja fold, {ítr* ógnflýtir} við íþróttarmenn sína?’

‘How generous is [he] to those who guard [his] land, {the excellent war-hastener} [WARRIOR] to his men of skills?’

Mss: 51ˣ(2v), FskBˣ(3r), 302ˣ(4v), FskAˣ(8), 52ˣ(4r), 301ˣ(3v) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] es (‘er’): so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, er hann 51ˣ, 302ˣ, er þat FskBˣ;    ‑gjafall: ‑gjafa 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‑gjafal FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [2] es (‘er’): sem FskAˣ, 52ˣ    [3] ítr*: ítra all;    ‑flýtir: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, ‑flýtr 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 27, Skj BI, 24, Skald I, 15, FF §56; Fsk 1902-3, 9, ÍF 29, 61-2 (ch. 2); Möbius 1860, 230, Jón Helgason 1946, 137, Jón Helgason 1968, 19.

Context: In Fsk, this and the following five stanzas are offered in support of the observation that Haraldr was a generous king.

Notes: [All]: The valkyrie begins a new series of questions to the raven. Finnur Jónsson’s suggestion (LH I, 429 n. 1) that here the raven becomes the questioner and the valkyrie the respondent seems unlikely, given the address to the raven in st. 20/2, and the fact that it is the raven who has followed Haraldr since birth (see st. 4/5-8) and thus can provide information about his court. — [3] ítr* ‘excellent’: (a) Ms. ítra is here emended to ítr so that it may qualify ógnflýtir ‘war-hastener [WARRIOR]’, as suggested by Jón Helgason (1946, 137). (b) The syntax is decidedly strained when ms. ítra is construed as m. acc. pl. with íþróttarmenn ‘men of skills’ (l. 4; so Skj B) or as f. acc. sg. with fold ‘land’ (l. 2), especially in view of the simple syntax that characterises the rest of the stanzas. (c) Kock (FF §56) proposes analysing ítra as a substantival m. gen. pl. dependent on ógnflýtir ‘war-hastener’, together giving the sense ‘warrior of warriors’, i.e. best of warriors. Alternatively, Jón Helgason (1946, 137) mentions the possibility of interpreting ógnflýtir ítra as ‘causer of terror to chieftains’, ascribing to ógn- its fundamental sense ‘terror’ rather than the transferred sense ‘war’ that it usually has in verse. Yet these proposals face the difficulty that ítr is nowhere else used as a substantive, and both produce more than usually elliptical sense. — [4] íþróttarmenn ‘men of skills’: Lit. ‘men of skill, accomplishment’. On metrical grounds, Sueti (1884, 27) and Wisén (1886-9) emend to inndrótt ‘retinue’.


  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. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  5. LH = Finnur Jónsson. 1920-4. Den oldnorske og oldislandske litteraturs historie. 3 vols. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Gad.
  6. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  8. Möbius, Theodor. 1860. Edda Sæmundar hins fróða. Mit einem Anhang bisher ungedruckter Gedichte. Leipzig: Hinrichs.
  9. Jón Helgason, ed. 1968. Skjaldevers. 3rd edn. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  10. Jón Helgason. 1946. ‘Haraldskvæði’. Tímarit Máls og menningar, 131-46.
  11. Sueti, Friedrich. 1884. Ueber die auf den König Haraldr Hárfagri bezüglichen Gedichtfragmente in der norwegischen Königschronik Fagrskinna. Leipzig: August Press.
  12. FF = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1922. Fornjermansk forskning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 18:1. Lund: Gleerup.
  13. Internal references
  14. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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, pp. clix-clxi.

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