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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Magnfl 8II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr 8’ 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. 73-4.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonMagnússflokkr

Lǫgðu (grœðis glóða)
gramr ok jarl fyr skǫmmu
(þar kom bitr á bǫrva
brandleikr) saman randir,
svát manþinga munðut
merkjendr Heðins serkjar
— herr náði gný gørva
geirs — orrostu meiri.

Gramr ok jarl lǫgðu saman randir fyr skǫmmu; {bitr brandleikr} kom þar á {bǫrva {glóða grœðis}}, svát {{{{Heðins man}þinga} serkjar} merkjendr} munðut meiri orrostu; herr náði gørva {gný geirs}.

The king and the jarl clashed shields a short time ago; {biting sword-sport} [BATTLE] came there upon {the trees {of the embers of the ocean}} [GOLD > MEN], so that {stainers {of the shirt {of the assembly {of Heðinn’s <legendary hero’s> maiden}}}} [(lit. ‘of Heðinn’s maiden-assembly’) = Hildr > BATTLE > ARMOUR > WARRIORS] did not remember a greater battle; the army got to carry out {tumult of the spear} [BATTLE].

Mss: (513v), papp18ˣ(219v), 39(16vb), F(40va), E(8r), J2ˣ(251v) (Hkr); H(11r), Hr(10rb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] grœðis: ‘glæðis’ F, J2ˣ, H, Hr, ‘glǫðez’ E;    glóða: ‘glǫða’ E, glóðar H, Hr    [3] bitr á: bitra 39, F, E, Hr, ‘bittra’ J2ˣ;    bǫrva: ‘biorfa’ J2ˣ    [4] ‑leikr: ‑lækr H, lækir Hr    [5] man‑: mann‑ H;    ‑þinga: ‑þingat 39, F, E, J2ˣ, ‑þunga H, Hr    [7] gørva: geira H, Hr    [8] orrostu: ‘oʀ̄’ E, orrosta J2ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 363, Skj BI, 334, Skald I, 168, NN §2265C; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 54, IV, 195-6, ÍF 28, 48, Hkr 1991, 587 (Mgóð ch. 30), F 1871, 185, E 1916, 27; Fms 6, 76 (Mgóð ch. 38), Fms 12, 133-4.

Context: Magnús engages with Sveinn Úlfsson in a fierce sea-battle off Århus (Áróss).

Notes: [1] glóða grœðis ‘embers of the ocean [GOLD]’: Grœðis is adopted here, as by most eds, despite being attested only in (supported by papp18ˣ) and 39, since the majority reading glæðis does not match the known vocabulary and may be influenced by the following glóða. The presumed gold-kenning forms the determinant of a common type of man-kenning with bǫrva ‘trees’ as its base-word, and the cl. arrangement that this entails is more or less unavoidable, unless the complex solution tentatively proposed, and then withdrawn, by Kock is adopted (NN §850, 2265). — [3] bitr á ‘biting ... upon’: Bitra, the reading of most mss, does not provide the prep. needed by the syntax. — [5, 6] Heðins manþinga serkjar merkjendr ‘stainers of the shirt of the assembly of Heðinn <legendary hero’s> maiden [(lit. ‘of Heðinn’s maiden-assembly’) = Hildr > BATTLE > ARMOUR > WARRIORS]’: (a) The legendary Heðinn, hero of the Hjaðningavíg (‘battle of Heðinn’s men’, SnE 1998, I, 72), took as battle-trophy and wife the valkyrie named Hildr, whose name is also a generic term for ‘valkyrie’ and hence frequently found in battle-kennings. As a common noun hildr is also a term for ‘battle’, and hence there are several kennings for ‘battle’ meaning ‘Heðinn’s maiden’ (LP: Heðinn; Meissner 201-2). This means that þing ‘assembly’ in the present verse is not strictly required in the postulated kenning; however, the redundancy is matched and exceeded in Sturl Þverv l. 2IV þingmót snótar Heðins ‘assembly-meet of Heðinn’s lady [= Hildr <valkyrie> > BATTLE]’. Thus in Þjóðólfr’s st. Hildr’s þing is ‘battle’, and the serkr ‘shirt’ of battle is armour, and those who ‘stain’ armour (merkjendr) are warriors, who paint it with their enemies’ blood. (b) There are no attractive alternatives to this widely-accepted reading. Serkjar Heðins ‘Heðinn’s shirts’ would itself be a well-formed armour kenning (cf. Hfr ErfÓl 10/4I, but this would leave especially mannþinga(t) unaccounted for. (c) The variant reading þingat (so 39, F, E, J2ˣ) as the adv. ‘(to) there’ cannot be explained within the helmingr.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  8. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  10. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  11. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  12. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  13. Internal references
  14. Not published: do not cite (Sturl ÞvervIV)
  15. 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.

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