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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, 26 [Vol. 1, 55]

[8] of Vestmari (acc. pl.) ‘across Vestmarir’: Vestmari could in itself be either dat. sg. (nom. sg. Vestmarr) or acc. pl. (nom. pl. Vestmarir). All Hkr mss except for F have of, while the later mss of Flat, ÓH and ÓGeir have ok linking Upsa and Vestmari as the dat. sg. objects of réð ‘ruled’, hence the places ruled by Óláfr (cf. Note to l. 6). But in light of the dat. pl. Vestmǫrum in the Yng prose (ÍF 26, 78) the p. n. appears to be a pl. form (Bugge 1894, 167; LP: Vestmarr differs). In that case Vestmari could only be the acc. pl. of an i-stem (nom. pl. ‑marir, see Åkerlund 1939, 119), and as such it cannot be an object of the verb form réð. Ráða of ‘rule over’ is not attested, for which reason Åkerlund (1939, 120), followed in this edn, suggests of must be interpreted here as ‘across’, hence víðri grund of Vestmari ‘a wide area (that stretches) across Vestmarir’. That the shift from of to ok is more easily imagined than the opposite change also supports this reading. Opinion varies on the location and size of Vestmarir (Hjärne 1947, 22-5), and did so even in the Middle Ages (Storm 1899, 118; Hjärne 1947, 41-8). Yng (ÍF 26, 82) relates that Óláfr possessed the western part of Vestfold, to which Vestmarir could be a reference. Storm (1899, 118) compares the name to Grenmarr (Langesundfjorden) and deduces that Vestmarir should be understood as ‘the western coastal lands’. Although the use of marr ‘sea’ as the base-word for a regional name may seem unusual, Bugge (1894, 168) refers to the Norwegian practice of using fjord names to designate regions (e.g. Firðir). Others have interpreted Vestmarr as the Atlantic Ocean (Wadstein 1895a, 80; Wadstein 1896, 34; Hjärne 1947, 48). Wadstein (1896) concludes from this that Óláfr was identical to the viking king Óláfr hvíti ‘the White’, the great viking king who also appears in Ari Þorgilsson’s Ættartala (Íslb, ÍF 1, 28). This thesis, previously rejected by Bugge (1894, 167), is taken up again by Jón Steffensen (1951, 42-50; 1970-3, 64).


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