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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Þorfdr 15II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 15’ 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. 246-7.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonÞorfinnsdrápa

Nemi drótt, hvé sæ sótti
snarlyndr konungr jarla;
eigi þraut við ægi
ofvægjan gram bægja.

Drótt nemi, hvé snarlyndr konungr jarla sótti sæ; eigi þraut ofvægjan gram bægja við ægi.

Let the retinue take in how the quick-mettled king among jarls made out to sea; there was no end to the over-powering lord striving against the ocean.

Mss: R(38r), R(36r), Tˣ(37v), Tˣ(39v), W(81), U(35r) (ll. 1-2), A(13r), C(7r) (ll. 1-2) (SnE)

Readings: [1] hvé sæ: vina U;    sæ: om. R(38r);    sótti: sveiti R(38r), abbrev. as ‘s.’ C    [2] snarlyndr konungr jarla: abbrev. as ‘s. s. k. j.’ C    [4] ofvægjan: óvæginn R(38r), Tˣ(39v);    gram: fram R(38r);    bægja: ‘beia’ Tˣ(37v), Tˣ(39v)

Editions: Skj AI, 346, Skj BI, 318-19, Skald I, 161; SnE 1848-87, I, 454-5, 492-5, II, 336, 449, 598, SnE 1931, 161, 174, SnE 1998, I, 79, 92-3; Whaley 1998, 249-50.

Context: The first citation is within a review of the hierarchy of poetic terms for rulers, to illustrate how the same terms are used for jarls (jarlar) and tributary kings (skattkonungar) as for kings, except that tributary kings cannot be called kings of nations (þjóðkonunga(r)). The second citation is as the first of many skaldic citations which illustrate heiti for ‘sea’, here ægir.

Notes: [All]: SnE specifies at its first citation of the ll. that they concern Þorfinnr. — [2] konungr jarla ‘king among jarls’: (a) Cf. konungr sprunda ‘king among women’, Oddi Lv 2/4, and the synonymous konungr vífa, referring to Mary, Anon Mdr 5/2VII. (b) To take drótt jarla ‘jarl’s retinue’ (ll. 1, 2) as a unit would leave konungr ‘king’ as a designation for Þorfinnr, but that would be inappropriate. It is not clear from Snorri’s first citation (Context above) whether he had gramr ‘(fierce) lord’ (l. 4) in mind, or konungr, and if konungr, whether alone or qualified by jarla. — [3] ægi ‘the ocean’: Possibly a reference to the sea-god Ægir as well as the sea, against whom Þorfinnr ‘contends, strives’ (bægja). — [4] ofvægjan ‘over-powering’: Lit. ‘out-weighing, over-powerful’. The variant óvæginn ‘unyielding’ would also give excellent sense.


  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Whaley, Diana, ed. and trans. 1998. The Poetry of Arnórr jarlaskáld: An Edition and Study. Westfield Publications in Medieval Studies 8. Turnhout: Brepols.
  5. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  6. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  7. Internal references
  8. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  9. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Máríudrápa 5’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 482-3.
  10. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Oddi inn litli Glúmsson, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 616.

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