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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Hardr 5II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa 5’ 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. 265-7.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonHaraldsdrápa

Gengr í ætt, þats yngvi
Upplendinga brenndi
(þjóð galt ræsis reiði,)
rǫnn (þess’s fremstr vas manna).
Vildut ǫflgar aldir,
áðr vas stýrt til váða,
— grams dolgum fekksk galgi —
gagnprýðanda hlýða.

Gengr í ætt, þats yngvi brenndi rǫnn Upplendinga; þjóð galt reiði ræsis, þess’s vas fremstr manna. Ǫflgar aldir vildut hlýða gagnprýðanda, áðr vas stýrt til váða; galgi fekksk dolgum grams.

It runs in the family that the prince burned the dwellings of the Upplendingar; the people paid for the wrath of the ruler who was foremost of men. Mighty men were not willing to heed the glorious victor, before their course turned to ruin; the gallows were the lot of the foes of the fierce lord.

Mss: (357v), 325XI 2 f(2rb) (Hkr); Holm2(38v), 325V(40rb), 972ˣ(273va), J2ˣ(176v-177r), 325VI(26vb), 75a(26vb), 321ˣ(140), 73aˣ(104v), 68(37r), 61(102vb), Holm4(31va), 325VII(21v), 75b(3v), Flat(109va), Bb(168va), Tóm(126r) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] í ætt: rétt 325XI 2 f, Flat, Bb, at 61, rétt(?) 75b, í átt Tóm;    þats (‘þar er’): þar er Holm2, 325V, 75a, Flat;    yngvi: yngri 325VI    [3] ræsis: so all others, ‘r[...]sis’ Kˣ    [4] rǫnn: rann 325XI 2 f, Holm2, 325V, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 75a, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, Holm4, 325VII, 75b, Flat, Bb, Tóm;    þess: sá 325XI 2 f, Holm2, 325V, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 75a, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, Holm4, 325VII, 75b, Flat, Bb;    fremstr: fremst 73aˣ, fyrstr Bb;    vas (‘var’): so Holm2, 325V, 972ˣ, J2ˣ, 75a, 321ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, Holm4, 325VII, 75b, Flat, Bb, Tóm, er Kˣ, 325XI 2 f, 325VI, 61    [5] Vildut: vildu 75a, 73aˣ, Flat;    ǫflgar: ǫlfgar 325VI, ǫflgrar 68, ǫflgra 61, ‘ofgar’ Flat;    aldir: aldar Holm2, 68, aldri 73aˣ, alda 61    [6] stýrt: stefnt Tóm    [7] fekksk galgi: fekk galga Tóm    [8] gagn‑: gagl‑ 75a, 73aˣ;    ‑prýðanda: ‘‑pryðinda’ Holm2, ‑prýðan 325V, ‑prýðandi Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 350, Skj BI, 323, Skald I, 163; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 265, ÍF 27, 208-9, Hkr 1991, 401 (ÓH ch. 121); Flat 1860-8, II, 236, ÓH 1941, I, 316 (ch. 109); Whaley 1998, 275-8.

Context: The st. is quoted in a context totally unrelated to Haraldr Sigurðarson: an account of how Óláfr Haraldsson subdued and Christianised the farmers of Valdres. Their land is burned and plundered, and hostages are taken. Some mss, including , specify that Arnórr mentions Óláfr’s burning of Opplandene (Upplǫnd) while composing about his brother Haraldr, but the unspecific introduction in several others would not negate the impression that the st. is about Óláfr.

Notes: [All]: This campaign is also documented in st. 6 and in ÞjóðA Sex 19-22. — [1] gengr í ætt ‘it runs in the family’: The two main interpretations of the idiom, which is not precisely paralleled in ON, and of the st., were examined by Konráð Gíslason (1879b, especially 158-9), and much of the following discussion is indebted to his. (a) That gengr í ætt means ‘it runs in the family’ is suggested by the adj. ættgengr ‘characteristic of the family’ and by ModIcel. ganga í ætt ‘run in the family’. If this interpretation is correct, the subject to gengr í ætt is the cl. þats yngvi brenndi rǫnn Upplendinga ‘that the prince burned the dwellings of the Upplendingar’ and the overall sense, ‘the prince [Haraldr] takes after his half-brother Óláfr in that he burned the dwellings of the Upplendingar’. The Context above shows that at least some compilers or scribes understood the st. thus, and this is the solution favoured by Konráð Gíslason. (b) Ganga can have the figurative sense ‘it is current’ (of a report or story), as in geingr þersi saga ... mest af Suerri konungi ‘this story is much told about King Sverrir’ (Flat 1860-8, II, 533), and í ætt can mean ‘down the generations, from generation to generation’ as in SnSt Ht 89/4III þat spyrr framm í tt ‘that will be heard for generations’. Lines 1-2 could hence be rendered, ‘It is related from generation to generation, how the prince burned the dwellings of the Upplendingar’. But this would fail to explain how the st. came to be associated with Óláfr helgi, for whom Arnórr is unlikely to have composed. — [2] Upplendinga ‘Upplendingar’: These are the people of Opplandene (Upplǫnd), the provinces that stretch inland to the north of Oslofjorden: Romerike, Ringerike, Hadeland and Hedmark (respectively Raumaríki, Hringaríki, Haðaland and Heiðmǫrk). The prose sources differ in their explanation of Haraldr’s raid on the region, claiming either that the people there had given allegiance and revenues to Hákon jarl Ívarsson, or that they had insisted on retaining privileges granted them by Óláfr Haraldsson for their service at the battle of Nesjar (c. 1015). The second explanation has been thought the more credible of the two (see Bull 1927, 40-4, and following him Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, ÍF 27, xvii; also Schreiner 1928). In either case the men of Opplandene may have been expressing a more general resistance to royal domination over the region (see Andersen 1977, 151-2). — [4] þess’s ‘who’: The variant sás (mss ‘sa er’) ‘who’ would also give good sense, modifying yngvi ‘prince’, the subject of the main cl., and it has considerable support from the stemma. — [4] vas ‘was’: The pres. tense es (‘er’) in [e]s fremstr es manna ‘who is foremost of men’ (so , 325XI 2 f, 325VI, 61) can scarcely have been applied to a deceased hero and must be an error, perhaps influenced by the preceding rel. particle er or by gengr in l. 1. — [8] gagnprýðanda ‘the glorious victor’: Lit. ‘victory-glorifying (one)’, i.e. Haraldr.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Whaley, Diana, ed. and trans. 1998. The Poetry of Arnórr jarlaskáld: An Edition and Study. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 8. Turnhout: Brepols.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  7. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  9. Konráð Gíslason. 1879b. ‘Et par bemærkninger til et vers af Arnórr jarlaskáld’. ÅNOH, 154-60.
  10. Bull, Edvard. 1927. ‘Håkon Ivarssons saga’. Edda, 33-44.
  11. Schreiner, Johan. 1928. ‘Harald hardråde og Oplandene’. In Brøndum-Nielsen et al. 1928, 157-72.
  12. Andersen, Per Sveaas. 1977. Samlingen av Norge og kristningen av landet 800-1130. Handbok i Norges historie 2. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget.
  13. Internal references
  14. 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.
  15. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 89’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1199.
  16. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Sexstefja 19’ 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. 133.

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