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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 12. Lausavísur, 15 [Vol. 1, 717]

[2, 4] ofvægir jarli ‘too compliant towards the jarl [Hákon]’: (a) Ofvægr is in this instance assumed to be etymologically related to vægja ‘to yield’ and væginn ‘yielding’ (so Skj B; LP: ofvægr 2). (b) Normally, ofvægr is a laudatory epithet applied to rulers (see LP: ofvægr 1) and meaning ‘invincible’, lit. ‘outweighing, over-powerful’ (cf. vega ‘to weigh, move’, vægi n. ‘weight’, vægr adj. ‘balancing’). This sense could be reconciled with the context by assuming a transferred sense ‘(morally) too heavy, bearing a weight of blame’ and taking jarli as a dat. of comparison, hence ‘more culpable than the jarl, more than the jarl's equal in treachery’ (so ÍF 27), but these assumptions are somewhat strained. 


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