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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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HSt Rst 18I

Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 18’ 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. 918.


Ǫrbragðs ærir lǫgðu
annat sinn at Linna
— grimmt varð Gǫndlar borða
gnaust — sextigum flausta.
Danskr herr dýran harra,
drótt hné mǫrg, þars sótti;
hirð fell; hrafnar gullu.
Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna.

{Ærir ǫrbragðs} lǫgðu annat sinn at Linna sextigum flausta; {gnaust {borða Gǫndlar}} varð grimmt. Mǫrg drótt hné, þars danskr herr sótti dýran harra; hirð fell; hrafnar gullu. Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna …

{The messengers of the arrow-flight} [WARRIORS] attacked Linni (‘Serpent’) a second time with sixty ships; {the noise {of the planks of Gǫndul <valkyrie>}} [SHIELDS > BATTLE] became fierce. Many a troop fell, where the Danish army attacked the precious ruler; the retinue fell; ravens shrieked. He was the mightiest of royal men …

Mss: Bb(112ra); 53(64ra), 54(63vb-64ra), 325VIII 2 b(1va-b), Bb(99va), Flat(64rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] ærir: so Flat, œrit Bb(112ra), 54, Bb(99va), ‘errir’ 53, ‘eirir’ 325VIII 2 b    [2] sinn at Linna: ‘o[…]’ 325VIII 2 b    [3] grimmt: borð 325VIII 2 b, grjót Flat;    varð: við 325VIII 2 b;    Gǫndlar: so 53, 54, 325VIII 2 b, ‘gvndlat’ Bb(112ra), Bb(99va), ‘gaunnlar’ Flat;    borða: ‘borð[…]’ 325VIII 2 b    [4] gnaust: ‘[…]aust’ 325VIII 2 b;    sextigum: lǫmðusk þar Flat    [5] herr dýran: ‘[…]rann’ 325VIII 2 b    [6] hné: ‘[…]’ 325VIII 2 b, hve Bb(99va);    mǫrg: ‘[…]g’ 325VIII 2 b;    sótti: so 53, 54, 325VIII 2 b, Flat, sóttu Bb(112ra), Bb(99va)    [7] hirð: hríð 54, Bb(99va);    fell: ‘[…]’ 325VIII 2 b;    hrafnar: ‘[…]fn(ar)’(?) 325VIII 2 b, hafnar Bb(99va);    gullu: gullri 325VIII 2 b    [8] vas (‘var’): er all others;    ríkstr: ‘rikzkzst’ 54, ‘rikzt[…]’ 325VIII 2 b;    konung‑: konungs 53, kóng 54, ‘[...]’ 325VIII 2 b;    ‑manna: ‘[...]’ 325VIII 2 b

Editions: Skj AI, 547-8, Skj BI, 529-30, Skald I, 257; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 265-6 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, I, 482; SHI 3, 256-7, CPB II, 298, Wisén 1886-9, I, 48, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 248-51.

Context: The stanza is cited as a report of King Sveinn’s attack, with sixty ships, on Óláfr Tryggvason after Óláfr sœnski has retreated.

Notes: [2] Linna ‘Linni (“Serpent”)’: Taken here as acc. sg. of linni, referring to Óláfr’s longship Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’, mentioned by name in sts 15/5, 19/4, 21/4, 22/4, 23/4 (variant to drekinn), 29/8. It is not certain whether Linni is to be thought of as a name or a common noun here. For the skalds’ use of word-play when referring to this famous vessel, see Note to Hfr ErfÓl 10/1, and for the ship, see Note to Hókr Eirfl 3/4. Linna could also be acc. pl. of weak linni or strong linnr (also meaning serpent) and would then refer to Óláfr’s two ships Ormr inn langi and Ormr inn skammi ‘the Short Serpent’. — [5-6]: Unusually and awkwardly, the subject and object of the subordinate þars-clause precede both þars ‘where’ (cf. Gade 1995a, 177) and the main clause mǫrg drótt hné ‘many a troop fell’ (cf. Kuhn 1983, 190), but there is no obvious alternative. — [8]: For this line of the refrain, see Note to st. 9/8.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Gade, Kari Ellen. 1995a. The Structure of Old Norse dróttkvætt Poetry. Islandica 49. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  4. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  5. Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1886-9. Carmina Norrœnæ: Ex reliquiis vetustioris norrœnæ poësis selecta, recognita, commentariis et glossario instructa. 2 vols. Lund: Ohlsson.
  6. Finnur Jónsson. 1893b. Carmina Norrœna: Rettet Tekst. Copenhagen: Nielsen & Lydiche.
  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. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1983. Das Dróttkvætt. Heidelberg: Winter.
  9. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  10. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  11. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  12. Internal references
  13. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Óláfr Tryggvason’ 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. 383.
  14. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 10’ 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. 415.
  15. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 3’ 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. 475.

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