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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 1. Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, 1. Ynglingatal, 7 [Vol. 1, 19]

[4] hefr ... at gamni ‘has ... for [her] pleasure’: Most interpreters justifiably view this phrase as a reference to an erotic relationship between the dead and the goddess of death. However, it does not follow that Hel is depicted as an erotic, appealing woman (as suggested by Bergsveinn Birgisson 2008, 352); nor is it necessary to suppose that the motif as it appears here is humorous (so Krag 1991, 108). While the image of a death goddess having an erotic relationship with the dead is found only in Yt, the dead are often claimed by goddesses. The sea-goddess Rán receives the drowned (cf. prose introduction to Reg, HHj 18/5, Egill St 7/1V (Eg 78)), and Freyja receives half of the fallen (Grí 14/4-5).


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