Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þloft Tøgdr 2I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórarinn loftunga, Tøgdrápa 2’ 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. 854.

Þórarinn loftungaTøgdrápa

Uggðu Egðir
ǫrbeiðis fǫr
svans sigrlana
sǫkrammir mjǫk.
Allt vas golli
grams skip framit;
vǫrum sjón sǫgu
slíks ríkari.

Sǫkrammir Egðir uggðu mjǫk fǫr {ǫrbeiðis {svans {sigrlana}}}. Skip grams vas allt framit golli; sjón slíks vǫrum ríkari sǫgu.

The battle-strong Egðir greatly feared the journey {of the eager demander {of the swan {of victory-heaps}}} [CORPSES > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]. The king’s ship was all decorated with gold; the sight of such was to me more powerful than [any] telling.

Mss: (428r) (Hkr); Holm2(57r), Bæb(2va), 68(56v), Holm4(54va), 61(115va), 75c(38v), 325V(67va), 325VII(31r), 325XI 2 g(3rb), Flat(118va), Tóm(145v) (ÓH); DG8(96r) (ÓHLeg); FskAˣ(180) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Uggðu: ‘ygdu’ 61    [2] ǫr‑: auð‑ 61, 75c, Flat, Tóm;    ‑beiðis: ‘bæðes’ 325VII, ‘bæðrs’ FskAˣ;    fǫr: ‘fyr uo᷎r’ Tóm    [3] svans: seims Bæb, svangs 61, Flat, Tóm;    ‑lana: ‘lama’ Bæb, ‑vana FskAˣ    [4] sǫk‑: sak‑ DG8, FskAˣ;    ‑rammir: ‑runnur 61, manna Flat    [6] skip framit: lið búit 61, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, FskAˣ, lið framit DG8    [7] vǫrum: var Bæb, 61, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, váru FskAˣ;    sjón: ‘sen’ 75c    [8] slíks: slík 325XI 2 g;    ríkari: líkari FskAˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 322-3, Skj BI, 298, Skald I, 151, NN §1129; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 398, IV, 152, ÍF 27, 308 (ÓHHkr ch. 172); ÓH 1941, I, 475 (ch. 166), Flat 1860-8, II, 306; ÓHLeg 1922, 71, ÓHLeg 1982, 168-9; Fsk 1902-3, 172 (ch. 28), ÍF 29, 192 (ch. 33).

Context: See Context to st. 1 above.

Notes: [1] Egðir: The people of Agðir (Agder). — [2, 3] ǫrbeiðis svans sigrlana ‘of the eager demander of the swan of victory-heaps [CORPSES > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]’: The kenning is problematic, since beiðir normally means ‘demander, desirer’ and forms kennings with determinants denoting such concepts as treasure, weapons or battle (see Meissner 290), as in the recurrence of the line ǫrbeiðis fǫr at st. 4/8, with the meaning ‘journey of the arrow-demander [WARRIOR]’. Here the kenning can be analysed in at least two possible ways: (a) As above (so also ÍF 27; ÍF 29). The warrior demands or wishes for the birds of battle in that he intends to make carrion of his enemies. Kock (NN §1129B) adopts the same analysis but interprets -lana differently: see Note to l. 3. (b) Ǫrbeiðis lana sigr-svans ‘of the eager demander of the heaps of the victory-swan [RAVEN/EAGLE > CORPSES > WARRIOR]’ (so LP: 1. ǫrbeiðir, sigrlǫn; ÓHLeg 1982); this unnecessarily assumes the kenning to be inverted. Skj B’s preference is unclear. (c) Meissner 122-3, 290 proposes instead to emend beiðir to beitir, with a suggested meaning ‘one who makes bite, feeder’. — [3] sigrlana ‘of victory-heaps [CORPSES]’: Skj B and Skald both print sig- ‘battle’, but the mss read sigr- ‘victory’, and sigr- is the form given in LP: sigrlǫn. The second element, -lana (f. nom. sg. lǫn) is taken by Kock (NN §1129B) as ‘lane, path’, like its cognate OE lanu. The kenning is unusual, since corpse-kennings are normally based on the pattern ‘food of the beasts of battle’ (Meissner 203), while words for ‘heap, pile’ are not normally part of the kenning structure (e.g. Arn Magndr 11/4II hrækǫstr ‘corpse-mound, corpse-heap’, 15/8II, 17/8II valkǫstr ‘heap of slain’).  — [4] mjǫk ‘greatly’: Skj B takes this adv. as modifying sǫkrammir ‘battle-strong’ rather than uggðu ‘feared’, as here. — [5] golli ‘with gold’: On textual evidence for gold decoration on Viking Age ships see Foote (1978, 64). Traditions concerning the adornments of Danish ships, specifically those of Knútr’s father, Sveinn, are also recorded in the Encomium Emmae Reginae I. 4 (Campbell 1998, 12-15). In the reading of DG8, FskAˣ and some ÓH mss, however, it is the lið ‘troop, force’ in general that is adorned with gold, and not simply Knútr’s ship. — [7] vǫrum ‘was to me’: The variant with short vowel is required to produce neutralisation or resolution in the anacrusis; cf. SteigÞ Kv I/1II and Note.  — [7, 8] ríkari sǫgu ‘more powerful than [any] telling’: The sense seems to be that the poet is glad he saw the ship, rather than simply hearing about it. Snorri Sturluson (ÍF 27, 310) comments that Þórarinn is here boasting that he himself was present on Knútr’s expedition to Norway. The alternative possibility is that this is a rhetorical figure, declaring that the sight was greater than he could possibly tell in words.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  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. 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.
  8. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  9. ÓHLeg 1982 = Heinrichs, Anne et al., eds and trans. 1982. Olafs saga hins helga: Die ‘Legendarische Saga’ über Olaf den Heiligen (Hs. Delagard. saml. nr. 8II). Heidelberg: Winter.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  12. Campbell, Alistair, ed. 1998. Encomium Emmae Reginae. Edition of 1949 with a supplementary introduction by Simon Keynes. Camden Classic Reprints 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  13. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  14. Foote, Peter G. 1978. ‘Wrecks and Rhymes’. In Andersson et al. 1978, 57-66. Rpt in Foote 1984a, 222-35.
  15. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  16. ÓHLeg 1922 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert, ed. 1922. Olafs saga hins helga efter pergamenthåndskrift i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Delagardieske samling nr. 8II. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 47. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  17. Internal references
  18. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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. clxxvi-clxxix.
  19. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  20. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)
  21. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Steigar-Þórir Þórðarson, Kviðlingr’ 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. 391-2.
  22. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 11’ 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. 220-1.

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