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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Mark Eirdr 28II/3 — halfa ‘half’

Hildingr þá við hæst lof aldar
hǫfgan auð í gulli rauðu
halfa lest af harra sjǫlfum
harða vitr í Miklagarði.
Áðan tók við allvalds klæðum
Eirekr; þó vas gefit fleira;
reynir veitti herskip hônum
hersa máttar sex ok átta.

Harða vitr hildingr þá við hæst lof aldar hǫfgan auð í rauðu gulli, halfa lest, af harra sjǫlfum í Miklagarði. Áðan tók Eirekr við klæðum allvalds; þó vas fleira gefit; reynir máttar hersa veitti hônum sex ok átta herskip.

The very wise ruler received along with the highest praise of men weighty wealth in red gold, half a lest, from the lord himself in Constantinople. Previously Eiríkr accepted the clothes of the mighty ruler; yet even more was given; the trier of the might of hersar [RULER = Byzantine emperor] granted him six and eight warships.


[3] halfa lest ‘half a lest’: A lest was a unit of measurement, about 1250 kg in weight. According to Knýtl (ÍF 35, 237), Alexios gave Eiríkr the choice between receiving the gift of the gold and getting the opportunity to watch the games in the hippodrome. Because Eiríkr was getting short of money, he chose the gold. When Alexios later made a similar offer to the Norw. king Sigurðr jórsalafari ‘Jerusalem-farer’ Magnússon, Sigurðr chose the games because he, in the words of Knýtl, fór þá heimleiðis ok hafði þá lokit inum mesta fékostnaði í ferð sinni ‘was then on his way back home and most of the expenses for his journey had then come to an end’. For Alexios’s offer to Sigurðr, see ÍF 28, 253 and Mork 1928-32, 349-50. It could well be that the inclusion of this episode in Knýtl, which shows verbal correspondences with Hkr and Mork, was prompted by the gold mentioned in this st. The gold is also mentioned by Saxo (2005, II, 12, 7, 5, pp. 80-3).



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