Gerðisk hilmis Hǫrða
húskarlar þá jarli,
er við Ôleifs fjǫrvi,
ofvægir, fé þægi.
Hirð esa hans at verða
hôligt fyr því máli;
dælla es oss, ef allir
erum vír of svik skírir.
Þá gerðisk húskarlar hilmis Hǫrða, er þægi fé við fjǫrvi Ôleifs, ofvægir jarli. Hirð hans esa hôligt at verða fyr því máli; oss es dælla, ef vír erum allir skírir of svik.
Then the housecarls of the ruler of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] who would accept payment for Óláfr’s life would turn out too compliant towards the jarl [Hákon]. For his retinue it is not noble to be the subject of this talk; for us it is easier if we are all cleared of treason.
[2, 4] ofvægir jarli ‘too compliant towards the jarl [Hákon]’: (a) Ofvægr is in this instance assumed to be etymologically related to vægja ‘to yield’ and væginn ‘yielding’ (so Skj B; LP: ofvægr 2). (b) Normally, ofvægr is a laudatory epithet applied to rulers (see LP: ofvægr 1) and meaning ‘invincible’, lit. ‘outweighing, over-powerful’ (cf. vega ‘to weigh, move’, vægi n. ‘weight’, vægr adj. ‘balancing’). This sense could be reconciled with the context by assuming a transferred sense ‘(morally) too heavy, bearing a weight of blame’ and taking jarli as a dat. of comparison, hence ‘more culpable than the jarl, more than the jarl's equal in treachery’ (so ÍF 27), but these assumptions are somewhat strained.
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