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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Magn 14II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi 14’ 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. 102-3.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonStanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi

Ek hef ekki at drekka
annars nema sjá þenna,
— sýgk ór sǫltum ægi
sylg — es jǫfri fylgik.
Liggr fyr oss, en uggum
alllítt Svía, kǫllum,
— drýgt hǫfum vás fyr vísa —
víð Skáneyrar síða.

Ek hef ekki annars at drekka nema þenna sjá, es fylgik jǫfri; sýgk sylg ór sǫltum ægi. Víð síða Skáneyrar liggr fyr oss, en uggum alllítt Svía, kǫllum; hǫfum drýgt vás fyr vísa.

I have nothing other to drink than this sea, as I follow the king; I suck a slurp from the salt ocean. The broad coast of Skanör lies before us, but we fear the Swedes very little, I [lit. we] declare; we have gone through hardship for the prince’s sake.

Mss: (518r-v), 39(18ra), F(41rb-va), E(9r), J2ˣ(255v) (Hkr); H(12v), Hr(11ra-b) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] Ek hef ekki (‘Ec hefi ecki’): Ekki hefik H, Hr;    hef (‘hefi’): ‘hofr’ 39, F    [2] annars nema: so 39, F, E, J2ˣ, ‘anners nema’ Kˣ, ‘annat en’ H, ‘annat enn’ Hr    [3] sýgk (‘syg ec’): ‘sykr’ Hr    [5] uggum: yggum J2ˣ    [6] kǫllum: kǫrlum H, Hr    [7] drýgt: drjúgt 39, F, ‘drygz’ J2ˣ, ‘drykt’ H, Hr;    vás: om. J2ˣ    [8] ‑eyrar: ‑unga F, ‑eyjar E, J2ˣ, H, Hr

Editions: Skj AI, 379, Skj BI, 348-9, Skald I, 175; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 67-8, IV, 205-6, ÍF 28, 61-2, Hkr 1991, 597 (Mgóð ch. 33), F 1871, 190, E 1916, 31; Fms 6, 88-9 (Mgóð ch. 40), Fms 12, 139.

Context: As Sveinn Úlfsson flees east across Skåne (Skáney), Magnús and his troops return to their ships and hastily set off east round the coast.

Notes: [All]: The introductory words are Þá kvað Þjóðólfr (þetta) ‘Then Þjóðólfr recited (this)’ in H-Hr and all Hkr mss (except F, which has svá segir Þjóðólfr ‘so says Þjóðólfr’), a formula normally associated with lvv. extemporised in the midst of the action, though Þjóðólfr is not depicted as doing this here. On issues of reconstruction, see Introduction to ÞjóðA Magnfl. — [5-6] en uggum alllítt Svía, kǫllum ‘but we fear the Swedes very little, I [lit. we] declare’: (a) The sense of the first four words is clearly that the speaker has little (or rather, by typical litotes, no) fear of the Swedes, but kǫllum is problematic. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28), followed by Hkr 1991, 597, takes kǫllum as a separate asseveration, ‘as we declare’ (at því er vér köllum). Though attractively simple, the assumption of a verb kǫllum without a stated object is slightly problematic, and is adopted here with some reservation. As to the understood subject of kǫllum, the 1st pers. expressions in the first helmingr encourage the supposition that, as often, the pl. has sg. meaning here, hence ‘I declare’, and other plurals in the helmingr (oss ‘us’, uggum ‘we fear’ in l. 5, hǫfum ‘we have’ in l. 7) could refer to the skald either alone or with his companions. (b) The mss’ text could also be retained if kǫllum was taken as dat. pl. of kall n. ‘call, shout’, hence ‘I fear the shouting of the Swedes very little’, but ugga takes an acc. object, not a dat. one. (c) A more drastic solution is to emend uggum to ugga and kǫllum to kǫllumk, giving ‘I declare that I/we fear the Swedes very little (Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901 and Skj B, also Kock in Skald). This assumes a mistaken scribal ‘correction’ of inf. ugga to finite uggum, which would not be unlikely. (d) The H-Hr reading kǫrlum, dat. pl. of karl ‘man, (old) fellow’ is clearly secondary to kǫllum: a back-spelling that must have arisen at a time (after c. 1300) when [rl] had assimilated to [ll], and the stemma shows it to be secondary. — [7] vás ‘hardship’: Cf. Note to st. 11/7-8. — [8] Skáneyrar (gen. sg.) ‘of Skanör’: A triangular eyrr ‘isthmus, peninsula’ in the south-west of Skåne.


  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. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  6. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  8. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  9. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  10. Internal references
  11. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  12. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Hulda and Hrokkinskinna (H-Hr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  13. Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr’ 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. 61-87.

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