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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, 8 [Vol. 1, 21]

[8] at hefna Spǫrs ‘to avenge Spǫrr’: (a) Spǫrr is tentatively taken in this edn as a pers. n., rather than the common noun spǫrr ‘sparrow’. A corresponding name, sbauṛ, is found on an C11th Danish rune stone (Randers 1, DR 115) and appears in Denmark later as Sporgh (Beckman 1960, 5; cf. also Peterson 2007, 203). Müller (1970, 88) also points to an OWN name Spǫrr (Lind 1905-15, 943), and to OE Sperflinc and Sperlinc, names of royal moneyers on C10th Anglo-Saxon coins. These names are thought to be based on Nordic models, as no corresponding names exist elsewhere in Gmc. (b) According to Snorri’s Yng (see Context), Dagr had a soothsaying sparrow which was killed in the east, and for this Dagr undertook a campaign of vengeance during which he too was killed. But although tales in which birds can prophesy do exist, e.g. the crows in Anon (Ólkyrr) 2II or the titmice in Fáfn 32-44, it is more likely that the story was modelled on Óðinn’s ravens Huginn and Muninn (cf. Schück 1904, II, 146-7). Even if the stanza tells of avenging a spǫrr ‘sparrow’, it gives no indication that this bird could tell the future, so the detail in Yng likely came from Snorri himself.


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