Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 1. Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, 1. Ynglingatal, 26 [Vol. 1, 55]

[3] Þrós þróttar ‘of the Þrór <god> of strength’: Almost all interpreters view Þrór as a pers. n., and the poetic evidence clearly indicates a name for Óðinn: cf. Grí 49/6, Þul Óðins 8/4III and the kennings in LP: Þrór 1. For Yt this raises the difficulty that niðkvísl Þrós ‘the descendants of Þrór’ (lit. ‘the descent-branch of Þrór’) would be an assertion that the Norwegian Ynglingar descended from Óðinn (Skj B; Norr 1998, 86-9), contrary to assertions of descent from Freyr (afspring Freys st. 10/11, ttungr Freys st. 16/7). Various explanations have been sought to avoid this contradiction. Most claim Þrór in this case refers either to Freyr or to an undetermined divine being, or mention both Óðinn and Freyr without venturing a solution (ÍF 26; Hkr 1991). The etymologies adduced in explanation of the name indicate the fertility god Freyr rather than Óðinn (see Note to Þul Óðins 8/4III; AEW: Þrór; Falk 1924, 30-1 and cf. Jungner 1919, 82-3). The most likely explanation is that the word originally meant an unidentified divine being whose name was later transferred to Óðinn (so Schück 1905-10, 39 and others). Þróttr is attested both as a noun ‘might, strength’ and as a name for Óðinn, see LP: þróttr. However, it has not often been interpreted as an Óðinn-heiti here, because this would require taking þrór to be an adj. (see Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1902, 195; Falk 1924, 31). The word is mostly taken to be the noun þróttr ‘might, strength’, though it is unclear here what its gen. þróttar should be linked with. Attempts to link it with niðkvísl to yield ‘the mighty descendants’ (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B), or to make it an adverbial gen. belonging to þróask ‘to thrive’, hence ‘to thrive powerfully’ (Yng 1912; LP: þróttr), run contrary to the stylistic rule of Yt that lines of stanzas are unitary. Therefore the phrase Þrós þróttar ‘of the Þrór of strength’ seems the most likely interpretation.

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