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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Gautreks saga 36 (Starkaðr gamli Stórvirksson, Víkarsbálkr, 28) — Starkaðr [Vol. 8, 279]

[All]: Starkaðr again refers to external forces, though without specifying which they are, as the causes of his action in sacrificing Víkarr to the gods. The use of the verb signa ‘dedicate, consecrate’ (l. 4) indicates as much, as does the manner of the sacrifice, which follows the pattern that Óðinn is said to have established both for himself (cf. Hávm 138-41) and for those heroes that he took for himself; on this subject see Turville-Petre (1964, 43-8; ARG I, 409-12, II, 49-50; Simek 1993, 242, 249). Characteristic of Odinic sacrifices are the use of a spear to pierce the victim and the mode of sacrifice, hanging on a tree, which is attested both from medieval ethnographic literature, such as Adam of Bremen’s account of the sacrifices at the temple at Uppsala (Schmeidler 1917, 259-60), and from texts like Hávm.


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