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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, 13 [Vol. 1, 29]

[14] rjóðr ôttunga ‘the reddener of kinsmen [= Aunn]’: All mss show rjóðr ‘reddener’ here, and this is retained in the present edn (so also Skald; Yt 1925; ÍF 26; Hkr 1991). Konráð Gíslason (1881, 226-9, followed by Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901; Yng 1912; Skj B) suggests emending to hrjóðr ‘destroyer’ for semantic reasons, but while neither rjóðr nor the verb rjóða ‘to redden’ occurs elsewhere with a human object, the same is true of hrjóðr and hrjóða ‘to destroy’ (LP, Fritzner: hrjóða, rjóða), and hence emendation to hrjóðr is not justified (ÍF 26). ‘Reddener’ could be interpreted either as ‘he who reddens them in blood’, i.e. who kills (his kinsmen), or as ‘he who sacrifices them’ (so Schück 1905-10, 92-3), and colouring in blood may have been an important aspect of the cult (cf. Ranke 1978). If ‘sacrificer’ were the correct interpretation of rjóðr, the stanza would correspond to the narrative in Hkr (see Context above), and it is further supported by the adj. þrálífr ‘tenacious of life’ (Beyschlag 1950, 30; Krag 1991, 118). HN (2003, 76), by contrast, makes no mention of sacrifice, referring only to the advanced age of the king, here called Auchun, and to his decrepitude, which forces him to drink milk for the last nine years of his life. The similarity to the Greek myth of Kronos has been noted: Guðbrandur Vigfússon (CPB I, 523) and Eitrem (1927) assume an ancient commonality between the myths, while Noreen (Yt 1925) believes the sacrifice legend to be an educated fabrication by Snorri, perhaps a reformation of the Kronos myth. On possible religious-historical contexts of the Aunn legend, which religious historians locate in a periodic ritual king’s sacrifice, see ARG II, 421-2, 456.


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