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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Frag 1II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Fragments 1’ 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. 159.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonFragments


This st. concerns a vital point in the career of Magnús Óláfsson and the medieval history of Norway: the return of his father’s half-brother Haraldr Sigurðarson to Scandinavia. It is an instantiation of the favourite theme of converging fleets (see Poole 1991, 81-2), showing Magnús heading norðan ‘from the north’ and Haraldr sunnan ‘from the south’. (On the ultimately peaceful arrangement between the two monarchs, see ÞjóðA Sex 10 and Bǫlv Hardr 7.) Frag 1 is cited with the formula svá segir in Hkr (main ms. , 39, F, J2ˣ, E) and H-Hr (H, Hr), which might predispose us to think of this as an extract from a longer poem, yet it is the only extant st. by Þjóðólfr dealing with this politically critical moment, hence unlike anything in Magnfl, and it is distanced by several chs from the Hkr and H-Hr citations from Magnfl. It is therefore counted here as an unidentified fragment (Fidjestøl 1982, 172 assigns it to Magnfl). Origins not in an extended poem but as a lv. remain a possibility, since the st. has pres.-tense verbs and a sense of anticipation generated by reference to fear of a breach of peace. It is printed in Skj as Lv 9.

text and translation

Nús valmeiðum víðis
— veit drótt mikinn ótta —
— skeiðr hefr herr fyr hauðri —
hætt góðs friðar vætta.
Mildr vill Magnús halda
morðs hlunngotum norðan,
ítr en ǫnnur skreytir
unnvigg Haraldr sunnan.

Nús hætt {{víðis val}meiðum} vætta góðs friðar; drótt veit mikinn ótta; herr hefr skeiðr fyr hauðri. Magnús, mildr morðs, vill halda {hlunngotum} norðan, en ítr Haraldr skreytir {ǫnnur unnvigg} sunnan.
‘Now it’s risky for the beams of the stallion of the ocean [(lit. ‘stallion-beams of the ocean’) SHIP > SEAFARERS] to expect a secure peace; the troop knows great fear; the host takes warships along the coast. Magnús, generous with slaughter, wishes to steer roller-steeds [SHIPS] from the north, while the excellent Haraldr equips other wave-horses [SHIPS] [to sail] from the south.

notes and context

Magnús Óláfsson, learning that his formidable half-uncle Haraldr Sigurðarson has returned to Scandinavia and has allied with Sveinn Úlfsson, calls up his fleet. H-Hr adds that Magnús prepares to sail south to meet Haraldr and Sveinn.



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: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson, 4. Lausavísur 9: AI, 379, BI, 349, Skald I, 175; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 103, IV, 215, ÍF 28, 95, Hkr 1991, 618 (HSig ch. 20), F 1871, 204, E 1916, 46; Fms 6, 177 (HSig ch. 18), Fms 12, 146.


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