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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Anonymous Þulur, 10. Óðins nǫfn, 2 [Vol. 3, 735]

[3] Fráríðr: This cpd is not attested elsewhere in skaldic poetry, but it is attested in the rímur (Finnur Jónsson 1926-8: Fráríðr). The first element may be derived from the adj. frár ‘quick, vigorous’. That adj. never occurs in connection with riding (CVC: frár), however, and frá- is more convincingly connected with the adv. frá ‘away’. If so, Fráríðr is an antonym to Atríðr (st. 1/3 above; cf. Falk 1924, 10-11). Thus the name would translate as ‘one who rides away’. Attempts have been made to explain the pair Atríðr-Fráríðr as a reflection of archaic beliefs according to which the god of the dead is coming from and travelling back to the Other World on horseback (e.g. in Bdr 2 (NK 277) Óðinn is said to ride Sleipnir to the realm of Death, Niflheliar til ‘to Niflhel’). Cf. also the kenning for Hel, Gnô glitnis ‘the Gná <goddess> of the Glitnir <horse>’, in Þjóð Yt 7/3I (see Note there and glitnir in Þul Hesta 1/3) and the Saami god of the dead, Rota, who resembles Óðinn in many respects (see von Unwerth 1911, 79), as well as folk-tales about the helhäst ‘death-horse’ (Turville-Petre 1964, 57). According to Turville-Petre (loc. cit.), close association between horses and death is suggested by archaeological evidence (hundreds of horses have been found buried in graves throughout Scandinavia). See Note to ÚlfrU Húsdr 10/2, 3.


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