University Studies of the University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



UNIVERSITY STUDIES, Vol. V, No.1, January 1905.


The tragedy Hakon Jarl the Mighty was completed toward the latter part of the year 1805 at Halle, Germany. The author, Adam Gottlob Oehlenschlaeger, wrote the work in Danish and later on translated it into German. It was first published in November, 1807, in Nordiske Digte, and was presented for the first time at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, January 30, 1808. Before this, Oehlenschlaeger had used the same materials in his poem, The Death of Hakon Jarl, which appeared in 1802 .. These materials were taken from the fragments of old Icelandic court poetry as given in the Elder Edda. In many cases Oehlenschlaeger departs from the historical facts, and he does not always present the incidents in their, true chronological order. The two principal characters, which alone will be considered here, are Hakon Jarl and Olaf Trygveson. The date of Hakon's birth is uncertain. When we find him in history he is the most famous of an already famous family, whose genealogy and notable deeds are celebrated by Eywind, the poet, in Haleyia-tal. His grandfather, Hakon I, foster-son of King Athelstan of England and a close friend and advisor of King Harald Fairhair, was Earl of Yriar. His father's name was Sigurd. Both were great men in their day as law-makers and famous for their power of organization. The present translation is made from the text of F. L. Liebenberg, Copenhagen, 1895. So far as ascertained no complete translation of Hakon Jarl is extant. Mention should be made of a certain Mr. Gillies .. probably Robert Percy Gillies of literary fame, who is spoken of in an unsigned article on Hakon Jarl in Blackwood's Magazine .. 1820, vol. 7, p. 73, as having made—presumably from the German version—a translation of the play. Sampson Low's English Catalogue of Books (1835-1863) mentions a translation published by Hookam in 1840, but the translator is not named. Whether either of these translations was complete can not, from present means be ascertained. For the chief sources, from which the author constructed five characters in the play, consult Vigfusson and Powell's Corpus Poeticum Boreale. which has been used, in definite citation, in references above made. The present translation is made from the text of F. L. Liebenberg, Copenhagen, 1895.