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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Yt 15I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 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. 34.

Þjóðólfr ór HviniYnglingatal

text and translation

Fell Óttarr
und ara greipar
fyr Dana vôpnum.
Þann hergammr
hrægum fœti
ðs borinn
á Vendli sparn.
Þau frák verk
Vǫtts ok Fasta
sœnskri þjóð
at sǫgum verða,
at eylands
jarlar Fróða
of veginn hǫfðu.

Dugandligr Óttarr fell und greipar ara fyr vôpnum Dana. {Hergammr} víðs borinn sparn þann hrægum fœti á Vendli. Frák þau verk Vǫtts ok Fasta verða sœnskri þjóð at sǫgum, at jarlar Fróða eylands hǫfðu of veginn {vígfrǫmuð}.
‘The valiant Óttarr fell beneath the talons of the eagle before the weapons of the Danes. The battle-vulture [RAVEN/EAGLE], come from afar, trod him with flesh-hung foot at Vendill. I have learned that these deeds of Vǫttr and Fasti became legends for the Swedish people, that the jarls of Fróði from the island had killed the inciter of war [WARRIOR].

notes and context

Strife arises between Egill’s son and successor Óttarr and the Danish king Fróði over some tribute that Egill had promised in return for Fróði’s support but never paid. Fróði invades Sweden with his troops, doing great damage. The following summer, when Fróði has gone raiding in the Baltic, Óttarr retaliates and invades, devastating Limafjǫrðr (the Limfjorden area). Fróði’s jarls Vǫttr and Fasti stage a defence in the king’s absence, and Óttarr dies in a battle in Vendill. The Danes lay his body on a hill, leaving it to birds and wild animals. They send a wooden crow to Sweden as a taunt about the king, for which reason he is afterwards called vendilkráka ‘Vendel-crow’.

This stanza sets the death of Óttarr in Denmark, at a place called Vendill which Þjóðólfr may have associated with Vendsyssel, north of Limfjorden in Jutland. However, this is generally assumed to stem from a misinterpretation of Swedish tradition on Þjóðólfr’s part, which was then taken up by HN and by Snorri in Hkr. According to numerous scholars (e.g. Vikstrand 2004, 379-83), the p. n. Vendill originally designated the region Vendel, north of Uppsala. This identification has been made partly because of the exceptionally large burial mound there, known as Ottarshögen since the second half of the C17th. Although it cannot be proven that the ruler buried there was the Óttarr of Yt, the dating of the Vendel finds corresponds roughly to that of the stanza’s historical background inasmuch as it may be inferred from Beowulf. A further indication that Vendill is the Vendel district in Sweden has been seen in Vendilkráka, the king’s nickname, which appears in Hkr. However, this nickname applies to Egill in HN and Íslb, not to Óttarr. Vendelkråkor is said to have been a comical designation for people from Vendel over a long period (Vikstrand 2004, 380-3). The assumption has been that Snorri transferred Egill’s nickname to his son Óttarr (Bugge 1894, 141; Storm 1899, 109; Krag 1991, 121). If this is correct, the association with the region in Sweden would also apply to Egill.



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: Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, enn hvinverski, 1. Ynglingatal 19-20: AI, 11, BI, 10-11, Skald I, 7, NN §76; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 53-4, IV, 16-17, ÍF 26, 54-5, Hkr 1991, I, 31-2 (Yng ch. 27), F 1871, 20-1; Yng 1912, 35, 64 , Yng 2000, 42; Yt 1914, 9, Yt 1925, 204, 237-8.


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