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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Anonymous Þulur, 14. Ásynja heiti, 2 [Vol. 3, 765]

[1] Nanna: In Old Norse sources, Nanna is Baldr’s wife and the daughter of Nepr (see Notes to Þul Ása I ll. 2, 3). She did not survive her husband and died from grief at his death (SnE 2005, 26, 46-7; SnE 1998, I, 1, 17, 30). In the other version of this myth related by Saxo (Saxo 2005, I, 3, 2, 2-9, pp. 190-7), Nanna is the wife of Hǫðr (see Note to Þul Ása I l. 10). Turville-Petre (1964, 115) argues that Nanna is the name of a valkyrie and, based on nǫnnor Herians ‘the Nǫnnur of Herjann <= Óðinn> [VALKYRIES]’ in Vsp 30/10 (NK 7), he maintains that the meaning of the name is probably ‘warlike’. However, the very structure of this poetic circumlocution in which Nanna (nǫnnur pl.) is the base-word in a kenning for ‘valkyrie’, speaks against that assumption. The origin of the name is uncertain. It is either a nursery word (cf. ModSwed. dialects nanna ‘mother’) or derived from the Germanic root *nanþ- (cf. ON nenna ‘strive’; AEW: Nanna).


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