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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Magn 6II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi 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, pp. 93-4.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonStanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi

Hrindr af hróka landi
hregg af eikiveggjum
— sunnr leikr eldr of unninn
óðr — í lopt upp glóðum.
Bœr logar hǫlfu hæra
hjónum nær á Fjóni;
ræfr þola nauð ok næfrar;
Norðmenn sali brenna.

Hregg af {landi hróka} hrindr glóðum af eikiveggjum upp í lopt; óðr eldr leikr sunnr of unninn. Bœr logar hǫlfu hæra nær hjónum á Fjóni; ræfr ok næfrar þola nauð; Norðmenn brenna sali.

A storm from {the land of cormorants} [SEA] flings embers from oak walls up into the air; to the south raging fire sports, once kindled. The settlement blazes twice as high hard by the households on Fyn; roof and shingles endure distress; Norwegians burn down halls.

Mss: (516r), 39(17va), F(41ra), E(8v), J2ˣ(253v) (Hkr); H(11v), Hr(10vb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] af: á 39, F, E, J2ˣ;    hróka: ‘horda‑’ Hr    [2] hregg: ‘hreigg’ E;    ‑veggjum: eggjum H, leggjum Hr    [4] upp: af Hr    [5] Bœr: so 39, F, J2ˣ, H, Hr, ‘bǫrr’ Kˣ, ‘bǫr’ E    [7] þola: þolir Hr;    nauð: rauð 39

Editions: Skj AI, 377, Skj BI, 347, Skald I, 174, NN §§806, 866; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 61, IV, 200-1, ÍF 28, 55, Hkr 1991, 592 (Mgóð ch. 32), F 1871, 188, E 1916, 29; Fms 6, 82 (Mgóð ch. 39), Fms 12, 136.

Context: During Magnús Óláfsson’s pursuit of Sveinn Úlfsson across Denmark, Sveinn escapes to Västergötland (Gautland) and from there to the king of Sweden, while Magnús harries Fyn (Fjón). Sveinn’s supporters there flee.

Notes: [1] af landi hróka ‘from the land of cormorants [SEA]’: Hence a storm or wind (hregg, l. 1) off the sea. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 28 (followed by Hkr 1991) adopts the reading á ‘on’ and takes hróka landi as a word-play yielding sjár m. ‘sea’ and hence the p. n. Sjáland (Sjælland, Zealand; Selund in st. 4/4, ÞjóðA Sex 24/2). This has the advantages of avoiding two instances of af ‘from’ and providing a comparison between incidents on Sjælland and Fyn which makes sense of hǫlfu hæri ‘twice as high’ in l. 5. However, the interpretation rather implausibly assumes that landi counts twice, and since the prose context makes no mention of a Sjáland, this seems not to have been the way the medieval compilers read the st. — [2] af eikiveggjum ‘from oak walls’: Although seemingly a hap. leg., this is transparent. LP: eikivegg understands it as referring to the gunwale of a ship, but there is no reason to doubt that this is all about burning buildings (or perhaps palisades) along the coast. — [3] sunnr ‘to the south’: Like other adverbials in the st., this could be taken with more than one cl. It is understood here (as in Skald and ÍF 28) as belonging with the rest of l. 3 and hence with the intercalated cl., while Finnur Jónsson read it with the main, enclosing, cl. built around hrindr ‘flings’ (l. 1) (Hkr 1893-1901 and Skj B). ÍF 28 explains ‘south of the sea’ (fyr sunnan haf). — [3] of unninn ‘once kindled’: Literally ‘made’. Of is the expletive particle and unninn the m. nom. sg. p. p. of vinna ‘make, do’, qualifying eldr, hence literally ‘(the) made fire’. — [5] hǫlfu hæra ‘twice as high’: The normal sense of hǫlfu, despite its literal sense ‘higher by half’. The comp. has nothing obvious to compare with, and may be simply an intensive, unless Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson’s theory about af hróka landi is correct (see Note to l. 1 above), or Finnur Jónsson’s suggestion that hǫlfu hæra means that the flame was twice the height of the burning building itself (Hkr 1893-1901, IV, 200). — [6] hjónum nær ‘hard by the households’: Like sunnr ‘to the south’ (l. 3), this is syntactically ambiguous, since, as Finnur Jónsson noted, it goes equally well or badly with all three clauses in the second helmingr (Hkr 1893-1901, IV, 200). Following Sveinbjörn Egilsson (in Fms), he construed it with l. 7 ræfr þola nauð ok næfrar ‘roof and shingles suffer distress’, assuming that the sense was that the roof burned over the heads of the inhabitants (Hkr 1893-1901, IV and Skj B). This edn like others makes the simpler assumption that hjónum nær belongs with ll. 5-6, forming a couplet (cf. NN §§806, 866). — [7] næfrar ‘shingles’: Næfr f., here in the pl., refers to strips of bark, especially birch-bark, used to thatch roofs. Strictly it refers to the skin covering the tree’s bark (Fritzner: næfr). See also Note to Anon Nkt 4/8.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. 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.
  7. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  9. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  11. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  12. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  13. Internal references
  14. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Anonymous Poems, Nóregs konungatal 4’ 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. 764.
  15. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 24’ 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. 138.

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