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Eddic, Skaldic, and BeyondPoetic Variety in Medieval Iceland and Norway$
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Martin Chase

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257812

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257812.001.0001

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Creating Tradition: The Use of Skaldic Verse in Old Norse Historiography

Creating Tradition: The Use of Skaldic Verse in Old Norse Historiography

Chapter:
(p.87) Creating Tradition: The Use of Skaldic Verse in Old Norse Historiography
Source:
Eddic, Skaldic, and Beyond
Author(s):

Rolf Stavnem

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823257812.003.0007

Rolf Stavnem’s contribution investigates the relationship of verse and prose in the prosimetrical saga form, the dynamic of “new-old” skaldic poetry, and the historiographical use of poetry to express ideals of kingship. He takes up examples from the sagas of King Óláfr Tryggvason, subjecting two poets’ (Skúli Þorsteinsson’s and Hallar-Steinn’s), accounts of the Battle of Svǫlðr to the same pattern of analysis and finds that the saga authors have used the verses in different ways. Skúli’s verses seem to be included to present an alternative view. The saga author accepts this inherited material, but feels no obligation to agree with what it says. Hallar-Steinn’s verses are excerpted from a long drápa, Rekstefja, that is an unabashedly Christian and hagiographical eulogy of Óláfr. The verses chosen by the saga author, however, do not reflect this, and Hallar-Steinn’s Christian perspective would not be apparent to a reader not familiar with the drápa. Rekstefja is contemporary with the saga prose, but this is not apparent from the prosimetrical context. It is not clear whether the late-medieval saga reader was expected to advert to (or even care about) the age and original context of the poetry.

Keywords:   Óláfr Tryggvason, Skúli Þorsteinsson, Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja, Battle of Svǫlðr, prosimetrical saga form, skaldic poetry, historiographical use of poetry, ideals of kingship, hagiography, Rolf Stavnem

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