Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 38. Óttarr svarti, 2. Knútsdrápa, 7 [Vol. 1, 775]

[2, 4] friðskerðir randa ‘peace-breaker of shields [WARRIOR]’: I. e. ‘destroyer of the well-being of shields’. This is also assumed by previous eds; cf. other kennings referring to a man as a destroyer or damager of shields (Meissner 311). LP: friðskerðir offers the parallel friðskerðir hjǫrva ‘peace-breaker of swords’ in Hfr Lv 12/7, 8V (Hallfr 15; see also Meissner 301), though only one ms. reads frið- there while the majority form is fúr- ‘fire’. (b) A more straightforward kenning friðskerðir ‘peace-breaker’ and a syntactic arrangement into couplets as seen elsewhere in the poem are obtained if randa ‘of shields’ is emended to an instr. dat. sg. rǫndu (cf. ANG §416.2) meaning ‘by/with the shield’ and comparable with sverði ‘by/with the sword’ in st. 9/6. The parallel und skildi ‘under the shield’ in st. 9/1 indicates that Óttarr invokes shields metonymically to indicate aggressive action, not simply defensive. Under either interpretation, the density of allusions to shields in this poem is likely to be a play on Knútr’s dynastic status as a Skjǫldungr: see further Frank (1994b, 111-12).


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