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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv ErfÓl 21I

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Erfidrápa Óláfs helga 21’ 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. 689.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonErfidrápa Óláfs helga

Ôleifr réð it øfra
andprútt hǫfuð landi
fulla vetr, áðr felli,
fimmtán, á því láni.
Hverr hafi hers inn nørðra
heims enda sér kenndan
— skjǫldungr helzk an skyldi
skemr — landreki inn fremri?

Ôleifr, andprútt hǫfuð, réð landi it øfra fulla fimmtán vetr, áðr felli á því láni. Hverr {landreki hers inn fremri} hafi kenndan sér inn nørðra enda heims? Skjǫldungr helzk skemr an skyldi.

Óláfr, the proud-spirited chief, ruled the land higher up for fifteen full years, before he died on that allotted land. Which {better land-ruler of the army} [KING] had claimed the more northerly end of the world? The monarch survived for a shorter time than he should have.

Mss: (488r) (Hkr); Holm2(72v), 325VI(40rb), 321ˣ(276), 73aˣ(212v), 61(129ra), 325V(87ra), 325VII(40v), Bb(204rb), Flat(127ra), Tóm(159v), 325XI 2 n(1v) (ÓH)

Readings: [2] and‑: auð‑ 325V, ǫnd‑ Tóm;    ‑prútt: ‑prúðr 73aˣ, 61, Flat, ‑framt 325V, ‘firudt’ Bb;    hǫfuð: jǫfurr 325VI, 73aˣ, fyrir því 61, Flat, fyrir Tóm;    landi: land 325VI, landa 73aˣ    [4] á: af 61;    láni: ‘lanni’ 61, láði Bb, Flat, Tóm    [5] Hverr hafi hers inn nørðra: enn hverr hans eð neðra 73aˣ;    hafi: ‘[…]’ 325VI, om. 321ˣ;    hers: hans 325VI, 325V, Bb, hann 321ˣ, ‘hęzt’ 61, ‘hælz’ 325VII, ‘fædzst’ Flat, ‘hefnzt’ Tóm;    inn: hit Flat, ins 325XI 2 n;    nørðra: ‘na(i)rdra’(?) Bb    [6] heims: heim Holm2;    enda: ‘end[…]’ 325VI;    sér: ‘[…]’ 325VI, svá Tóm    [7] skjǫldungr: so Holm2, 61, 325V, 325VII, 325XI 2 n, Bb, Flat, Tóm, skjǫldr Kˣ, skjaldar 325VI, 321ˣ, 73aˣ;    helzk: helt 73aˣ, 61, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm    [8] landreki: landrekan 325VII;    inn (‘hinn’): enn Holm2, 73aˣ, om. 61, 325VII, en Bb;    fremri: fremra 325VII

Editions: Skj AI, 262-3, Skj BI, 244, Skald I, 126, NN §§666, 1853A, 1956, 2247A, 2261, 2988C; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 522, IV, 176, ÍF 27, 409-10, Hkr 1991, II, 552 (ÓHHkr ch. 246); ÓH 1941, I, 609 (ch. 248), Flat 1860-8, II, 374; Jón Skaptason 1983, 176, 308.

Context: Óláfr is said to have been king for fifteen years at the time of his death, since the departure of Sveinn jarl Hákonarson. He had gained the title of king from the people of Upplǫnd (Opplandene) the winter before.

Notes: [1]: The line has the same unusual metrical structure as st. 2/1 (see Note to st. 2/1-4). — [1] it øfra ‘higher up’: A n. acc. sg. phrase used adverbially; it can also mean ‘by the higher or inland route’ or ‘further in’ (Fritzner: efri 1b, c). The inland district of Norway known as Upplǫnd (cf. modern Oppland(ene)) is extensively mountainous. The reference of landi it øfra could be to the fact that Óláfr’s rule of Norway began there (LP: efri 1, and see st. 2 above), but here the phrase seems to stand metonymically for the whole of Norway. — [2] andprútt ‘proud-spirited’: Lit. ‘spirit-proud’, cf. hugprúðr, lit. ‘mind-proud’. The first element of this cpd is here interpreted, with previous eds, as ǫnd ‘spirit’. It is also possible to take it as the prefix and- ‘opposite’, giving something like ‘splendid to look at’ (cf. andlit ‘face’ and LP: andprúðr). — [2] hǫfuð ‘chief’: Lit. ‘head’. LP: hǫfuð 2 gives several examples where this word means ‘person, individual’. For a similar metonymic usage of hǫfuð, see ÞjóðA Sex 19/8II, though there the allusion seems to be to the ruler’s intellect, whereas here it is taken to allude to the ruler’s role, cf. hǫfðingi ‘chieftain’. Kock (NN §2261C) is justifiably sceptical about the Skj B translation skikkelse ‘form, figure’. — [4] á því láni ‘on that allotted land’: Lit. ‘loan, gift’. As Kock points out (NN §2261), því ‘that’ would indicate a concept that has already been mentioned, and that is presumably landi ‘land’ (l. 2). Finnur Jónsson in Skj B translates ved (den ham givne) lykke ‘with the good fortune given to him’. Both Kock and Finnur choose prep. af, but it is the reading of 61 only and they interpret it differently. Sigvatr uses the word lán in Sigv Lv 29/3, where lán goðs ‘God’s gift’ refers to Magnús Óláfsson’s life and rule, and it is possible that the reference is to the Christian notion that the land ruled by an earthly monarch is only a loan from God. Although a connection with lén ‘land held in fief from the king’ is sometimes suggested (e.g. ÍF 27), the latter is a loan word from MHG (AEW: lén) and is not relevant here. — [5-6] inn nørðra enda heims ‘the more northerly end of the world’: For the idea of Norway as the northernmost land-mass, cf. SnE 2005, 6. — [5, 8] landreki hers ‘land-ruler of the army [KING]’: Landreki ‘land-ruler’ usually occurs without any qualifier in the praise poetry of the C11th (see Þul Konunga 2/6III), though later it can form the base-word of kennings, e.g. the C12th ESk Hardr II 1/6, 8II landreki Dana ‘land-ruler of the Danes [DANISH KING = Eiríkr]’. Kock (NN §§666, 2988C) argues for taking landreki hers together, which is the construal adopted here. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) takes hers ‘of the army’ with skjǫldungr ‘monarch’ in the intercalary, producing a more complex word order.


  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. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  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. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  9. 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.
  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. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  13. Jón Skaptason. 1983. ‘Material for an Edition and Translation of the Poems of Sigvat Þórðarson, skáld’. Ph.D. thesis. State University of New York at Stony Brook. DAI 44: 3681A.
  14. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  15. Internal references
  16. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  17. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Konunga heiti 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 689.
  18. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Haraldsdrápa II 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, pp. 544-5.
  19. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Lausavísur 29’ 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. 735.
  20. 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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