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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞjóðA Run 2II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Runhent poem about Haraldr 2’ 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. 105-6.

Þjóðólfr ArnórssonRunhent poem about Haraldr

Eykr Ôleifs feðr
Járnsǫxu veðr
harðræði hvert,
svát hróðrs es vert.

{Veðr Járnsǫxu} eykr hvert harðræði {feðr Ôleifs}, svát hróðrs es vert.

{His gale of Járnsaxa <giantess>} [MIND] increases every tough exploit {for Óláfr’s father} [= Haraldr], so that it is worthy of praise poetry.

Mss: R(36v), Tˣ(38r), W(82), U(35v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Eykr: so U, Vex all others    [2] ‑sǫxu: so U, ‑saxa all others    [4] svát (‘sva at’): svá U;    hróðrs: ‘hrodis’ Tˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 368, Skj BI, 338, Skald I, 171, NN §3229; SnE 1848-87, I, 462-3, II, 338, SnE 1931, 163, SnE 1998, I, 82, 205-6.

Context: The st. is cited within a discussion of kennings and terms for rulers and their men.

Notes: [All]: The introductory words in SnE specify origins in a poem about Haraldr: En Þjóðólfr kvað svá um Harald ‘And Þjóðólfr spoke thus about Haraldr’. — [1-3] veðr Járnsǫxu eykr hvert harðræði ‘his gale of Járnsaxa <giantess> [MIND] increases every tough exploit’: Járnsaxa is recorded as the name of a giantess, and specifically as the mother of Þórr’s son Magni (SnE 1998, I, 22, 30), and ‘giantess’s wind’ for ‘mind, thought’ is a well-known kenning pattern (SnE 1998, I, 108; Meissner 138-9; Note to Stúfr Stúfdr 1/3). Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s proposal in SnE 1848-87, I, 462-3 of reading járnsaxa veðr as ‘storm of iron spears [BATTLE]’ (ferreorum spiculorum tempestas), which could stand as a subject in apposition to harðræði hvert ‘every tough exploit’, can be discarded. The syntax of the cl., however, is uncertain. (a) The reading above gives priority to the U reading eykr ‘increases’, since the near-synonymous vex, being normally intransitive, does not fit the syntax of the st. It may have arisen through scribes taking ll. 1-2 in isolation from l. 3. The noun harðræði most often refers to tough-mindedness or resolution, either as an abstract quality of a warrior or ruler, or as expressed in deeds (Fritzner, LP and references there). The latter sense is assumed here, as by most eds, yielding a statement that Haraldr’s mind or spirit enhances his actions. (The mss have harðræðit, with suffixed article -(i)t but this has been omitted in the process of normalisation.) (b) The reverse is also grammatically possible, since both veðr ‘gale’ and hvert harðræði ‘every tough exploit’ are n. sg. and hence potentially nom. or acc. (c) Faulkes adopts the R, W, reading vex, suggesting that it might, unusually, be transitive (SnE 1998, I, 82, 205-6 and II, 422 = Glossary: vaxa), and assumes that harðræðit (he prints the suffixed form) means ‘difficult undertaking, trial of one’s determination’ (SnE 1998, II, 302 = Glossary: harðræði). His overall interpretation is then: ‘Every difficulty increases Iarnsaxa’s wind [courage] in Olaf’s father, so that praise is due’ (Faulkes 1987, 131). Alternatively, in order to preserve the intransitivity of vex, Faulkes suggests that harðræðit hvert may be adverbial, ‘at every trial’. (d) For Kock’s interpretation, see note on svát below. — [2] feðr Ôleifs ‘for Óláfr’s father [= Haraldr]’: This type of kenning is rarer than those designating men as the sons of famous fathers. Haraldr had two sons, Magnús and Óláfr (later nicknamed kyrri ‘the Quiet’). The dat. sg. phrase feðr leifs could be construed as above, or could be taken as poss. with the kenning for ‘mind’. — [4] svát ‘so that’: Kock argues that this is not a consecutive conj. as normally assumed but in effect a rel. attached to harðræði hvert, hence ‘every tough exploit which is worthy of praise increases the king’s courage’ (NN §3229). — [4] hróðrs ‘of praise poetry’: The primary meaning of hróðr m. is ‘praise, glory’, but in skaldic poetry the sense ‘(praise) poetry’ dominates (Kreutzer 1977, 52-4). The thought is similar to that of ÞjóðA Magnfl 19 (the provision of subject-matter for the skald).


  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  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. Kreutzer, Gert. 1977. Die Dichtungslehre der Skalden: Poetologische Terminologie und Autorenkommentare als Grundlage einer Gattungspoetik. 2nd edn. Hochschulschriften: Literaturwissenschaft 1. Meisenheim am Glan: Hain.
  8. Faulkes, Anthony, trans. 1987. Snorri Sturluson. Edda. Everyman’s Library. London and Rutland, Vermont: J. M. Dent & Sons and Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. Rpt. with new chronology and synopsis 2005.
  9. 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.
  10. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  11. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  12. Internal references
  13. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  14. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Stúfr inn blindi Þórðarson kattar, Stúfsdrápa 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, p. 351.
  15. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Magnússflokkr 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, pp. 86-7.

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