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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Sex 15II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 15’ 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. 127-8.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonSexstefja

Alm dró upplenzkr hilmir
alla nôtt inn snjalli;
hremsur lét á hvítar
hlífr landreki drífa.
Brynmǫnnum smó benjar
blóðugr oddr, þars stóðu
— flugr óx †fannings† vigra —
Finna gjǫld í skjǫldum.

Inn snjalli upplenzkr hilmir dró alm alla nôtt; landreki lét hremsur drífa á hvítar hlífr. Blóðugr oddr smó benjar brynmǫnnum, þars {gjǫld Finna} stóðu í skjǫldum; flugr †fannings† vigra óx.

The valiant Oppland king drew his elm-bow all night long; the land-ruler made shafts pelt onto white shields. The bloody point pierced wounds on the byrnie-men, where {the tribute of the Saami} [ARROWS] penetrated shields; the flight of †fanning’s† spears increased.

Mss: (561r), 39(27ra), F(49ra), E(21r), J2ˣ(283v) (Hkr); FskBˣ(75r), FskAˣ(278) (Fsk, ll. 1-4); Mork(13r) (Mork, ll. 1-4); Flat(200rb) (Flat, ll. 1-4); H(56r), Hr(41ra) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] Alm: Alin Flat    [3] hremsur: ‘hræsur’ 39;    lét: læt 39    [4] landreki: landreka E, ‘oduiti’ Mork, oddviti Flat, H, Hr    [5] Brynmǫnnum: búandmǫnnum F, brynjaðra H, Hr;    benjar: brynjur H, Hr    [7] flugr: ‘flygr’ H, Hr;    óx: af H, Hr;    fannings: so 39, F, J2ˣ, Hr, ‘famnings’ Kˣ, ‘fafnis’ E, ‘fannigs’ H    [8] skjǫldum: skinnom 39, skjǫldu H, skjǫld í skjǫldu Hr

Editions: Skj AI, 372, Skj BI, 342, Skald I, 172, NN §§859, 2030, 2031, 3230; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 163, IV, 229-30, ÍF 28, 149-50, Hkr 1991, 657 (HSig ch. 63), F 1871, 229, E 1916, 75; Fsk 1902-3, 269 (ch. 47), ÍF 29, 266 (ch. 57); Mork 1928-32, 209, Andersson and Gade 2000, 229, 477 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 362 (MH); Fms 6, 316 (HSig ch. 78), Fms 12, 156.

Context: The battle at the Nissan (Niz) continues into the night, with King Haraldr shooting continuously. Fsk, Mork, Flat specify that he sits in the front rowing bench of his ship.

Notes: [1, 2] inn snjalli upplenzkr hilmir ‘the valiant Oppland king’: Upplenzkr hilmir may be deliberately chosen to counter the claim of Hákon Ívarsson to power in Opplandene (the provinces of Upplǫnd, Norway). See Note to Hharð Gamv 6/2. As a m. nom. sg., inn snjalli ‘the valiant’ could qualify hilmir ‘king’ in l. 2, hence forming two couplets, as assumed here and by most eds, but it could also qualify landreki ‘land-ruler’ in l. 4 (also referring to Haraldr), as assumed in Fms 12 (reading oddviti ‘leader’) and by Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901, Fsk 1902-3 and Skj B. This avoids assuming that both a strong (upplenzkr) and a weak adj. (snjalli) qualify the same noun, but that is within the bounds of skaldic practice (cf. ÞjóðA Run 3/3, 4 and Note). — [3] hremsur ‘shafts’: I.e. arrows; see Note to l. 8 below. — [4] hlífr ‘shields’: This monosyllabic pl. of hlíf f. is required by the metre, but the normal form is hlífar (ANG §375). — [4] landreki ‘the land-ruler’: The variant oddviti ‘leader, the one who fights in the point or van (oddr)’ provides equally good sense and metre to the main reading. — [5] brynmǫnnum ‘on the byrnie-men’: Although this cpd does not, judging by LP, occur elsewhere, whereas búand-, the reading of F, does, there seems no strong reason to choose the minority reading here, as Finnur does in Hkr 1893-1901 and Skj B. He evidently concurred with Konráð Gíslason’s sense that brynmǫnnum does not give the impression of being authentic; Konráð suggested brynnjörðum smó benjar, without explaining further (he cites SHI 6, 292, which has Mucro cruentus penetravit colonorum loricas ‘Bloodied point pierced the mailcoats of the inhabitants’) or búandmǫnnum ‘farmers’ (Nj 1875-8, II, 311). Brynmǫnnum, however, seems a reasonable expression for warriors (cf. other compounds in bryn(j)-, brynju- ‘byrnie, mailcoat’ in LP) and provides a better skothending than búand-. It is retained in most eds. — [5] smó ‘pierced’: This is an alternative form to smaug, the 3rd pers. sg. pret. of smjúga ‘creep, pierce’ (cf. ANG §486 Anm.). — [7] †fannings†: This is a major difficulty, though probably a localised one, and the word is left untranslated above. The ms. evidence, the metre and the context point to a m. or n. gen. sg. word or phrase of this form, perhaps with the sense ‘prince’; but no such word is recorded. (a) The root fann- could point to a derivative of fǫnn f. ‘snow(drift)’, but this scarcely helps in this context. (b) Kock adopted the E reading fáfnis, at first taking this as a term for ‘spear’, though without fully accounting for its function in l. 7 (§2031), then as a term for ‘(dragon-)ship’, hence vigra fáfnis ‘the ship’s spears’ (NN §3230, comparing dreki in st. 13/2 and naðr in st. 14/8). This latter solution is adopted in ÍF 28 and Hkr 1991. (c) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901 and Skj B) emends to fylkis ‘prince’s’, as well as unnecessarily splitting l. 7 by taking fylkis with gjǫld Finna ‘the tribute of the Saami’s prince [ARROWS]’ rather than with vigra ‘spears’. — [8] gjǫld Finna ‘the tribute of the Saami [ARROWS]’: This kenning recalls gjǫld Finns in Hskv Útdr 10/3, and the sg. Finns may be more original, since the allusion seems to be to Gusi(r), legendary king of the Saami, who had three magic arrows, the Gusisnautar, whose names were Flaug ‘Flight’, Fífa and Hremsa ‘Shaft’ (Ket ch. 3 and Forað Lv 6VIII; also Ǫrv ch. 4). Hence hremsur ‘shafts’ in l. 3 alludes to the same motif, and flugr ‘flight’ in l. 7 may play on Flaug. (And hence it is tempting to wonder whether the problematic fannings, fáfnir etc. in l. 7 could conceal a version of Fífa.) The legend was well enough known to generate other skaldic vocabulary, e.g. nautar Gusis ‘Gusir’s gifts’ in Refr Ferðv 5/4III and see LP: Gusi.


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Nj 1875-89 = Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson. 1875-89. Njála: Udgivet efter gamle håndskrifter. Íslendingasögur udgivne efter gamle haandskrifter af Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskrift-selskab 4. Copenhagen: Thiele.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Andersson, Theodore M. and Kari Ellen Gade, trans. 2000. Morkinskinna: The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030-1157). Islandica 51. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  9. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  10. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  11. Mork 1928-32 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1928-32. Morkinskinna. SUGNL 53. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  12. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  13. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  14. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  15. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  16. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  17. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  18. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  19. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  20. Internal references
  21. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Ǫrvar-Odds saga’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 804.
  22. 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.
  23. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Ketils saga hœngs’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 548.
  24. Not published: do not cite (HSigII)
  25. Not published: do not cite (MHII)
  26. Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, Ferðavísur 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 248.
  27. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson, Gamanvísur 6’ 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, p. 41.
  28. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Halldórr skvaldri, Útfarardrápa 10’ 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, p. 491.
  29. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Runhent poem about Haraldr 3’ 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, p. 106.
  30. Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2017, ‘Ketils saga hœngs 27 (Forað, Lausavísur 6)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 579.

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