Kveðskapur Egils Skallagrímssonar

  • Jónas Kristjánsson
Keywords: Skaldic Poetry, The Saga of Egill


The author first discusses the surviving texts of the poems which have been attributed to Egill Skallagrímsson, and concludes that what we have are 48 single stanzas, three full poems and fragments of three others. In this connection the author discusses the preservation of Egill’s poems in manuscripts of Egils saga and elsewhere, including the Snorra-Edda and the Third Grammatical Treatise by Ólafur Þórðarson hvítaskáld, the nephew of Snorri Sturluson. He reviews the opinions of scholars who have questioned Egill’s authorship of the works which have been attributed to him, especially those of Finnur Jónsson and Sigurður Nordal. He devotes a long passage to the essay on Höfuðlausn by Jón Helgason, which appeared in Einarsbók (1969), where Jón argued for the reading “gør” in the tenth stanza, as opposed to “giƒr / gjƒr”. Jón’s argument affects the dating of the poem, since the vowels “ø” and “ƒ” could not have formed a rhyme at the time when Egill was alive. The author concludes that Jón’s argument does not hold water and that the full rhyme in stanza 10 of Höfuðlausn was “ƒ / ƒ” [hjƒr / gjƒr], referring to Haraldur Bernharðsson’s etymological explanation of the word “göróttur,” which appears in this volume (pages 37–73). A survey is given of the views of those who have called into doubt the attribution of poems to Egill, including Bjarni Einarsson, Baldur Hafstað and Torfi Tulinius. Finally the author submits Egill’s poetry to a grammatical and prosodic analysis, showing how it accords with the so-called law of W. A. Craigie as it appeared in Arkiv för nordisk filologi 1900. The author’s conclusion is that it has not been proven conclusively that Egill’s poems are contemporary with the saga, in other words composed during the 13th century. His opinion is that the poems are ancient and can be justly attributed to Egill Skallagrímsson.