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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal, 15 [Vol. 3, 1119]

[1-2] grímu gjaldseiðs grundar ‘in the helmet of the compensation-pollack of the field [SERPENT = Fáfnir]’: The kenning refers to the dragon Fáfnir and his œgishjálmr ‘helmet of terror’ (see Note to ESk Frag 2/1), but the significance of the first element of the cpd gjaldseiðr ‘compensation-pollack’ is not transparent (see LP: gjaldrseiðr; NN §3260B; SnE 2007, 52, 114). ‘Pollack of the field’ is in itself a kenning for ‘snake’ and Faulkes (SnE 2007, 114) suggests ‘fish of money of ground or fish of the ground where money is buried; fish whose ground is gold’ as possible explanations for the puzzling first element of the cpd. It is more likely that gjald ‘compensation’ refers to the fact that the gold on which Fáfnir lay was the compensation (gjald) for his brother, Otr, which Fáfnir had obtained by killing his own father (see Reg; SnE 1998, I, 45-7; Note to st. 41/2 below; see also Marold 1998).


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