Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 5. Haraldsdrápa, 8 [Vol. 2, 268-70]

[6] togfúsa (f. acc. sg.) ‘quick on the draw’: An adj. qualifying þjóð ‘men, people’. Togfúss is not attested elsewhere, nor is the simplex tog recorded in poetry, but in prose it usually means ‘rope, line’. Here and in related words the basic notion is of ‘pulling’ (e.g. the verb toga) or ‘drawing’ (e.g. the adjectival p. p. toginn ‘drawn’, applied to swords; see LP). The element tog also appears in the poetic compounds at eggtogi (Egill Hfl 14/8V) and at/á sverðtogi (SnSt Ht 54/6III and Útsteinn Útkv 2/6VIII) ‘at the drawing of the sword’, i.e. ‘in battle’; cf. also tognings ‘of the sword’ (Balti Sigdr 3/3 and Note). Togfúss is hence comparable with cpd adjectives in -fúss ‘eager, quick’ whose first element denotes ‘battle’, e.g. bǫðfúss, sóknfúss and vígfúss, and can fairly confidently be understood as ‘quick on the draw’ or ‘eager for battle’, perhaps with ironic intent here. Guðbrandur Vigfússon nevertheless found togfúsa unsatisfying and believed it to be a scribal substitution for a phrase meaning ‘dike by the Ouse’ (CPB II, 185). The variants taug- and tók- may well be corruptions of tog-. The abbreviated ‘t̂fusa’ in Hr is also expanded to tók- by Finnur Jónsson in Skj A, but probably represents an otherwise unknown torfúsa ‘difficult-eager (?)’, i.e. ‘not eager (?)’ (cf. abbreviated ‘n᷎dan’ for ‘nordan’). The reading torfúsa is adopted by Finnur Jónsson in Skj B (who consequently does not include togfúss in LP) but rejected by Kock in NN §2523.


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