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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 35. Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa, 1 [Vol. 1, 489]

[2] ítrir ‘excellent’: The variants to this word in the cadence of l. 2 give rise to various possible readings of the helmingr, none of which is wholly unproblematic. (a) Ítrir in J1ˣ and the ÓT mss gives the syntax and sense shown above (similarly Skj B; ÍF 26). Another m. nom. pl. adj., ríkir ‘powerful’, in F and 325VIII 1 supports the syntax suggested by ítrir, though ríkir itself appears to be corrupt. Ítrir ‘excellent’ is a slightly unexpected epithet for fearful búendr ‘farmers’, since it usually qualifies words for warriors, rulers and deities (LP: ítr), and Kock (NN §579) signals unease. However, these farmers are the countrymen of the hero Eiríkr, and the adj. could serve to show that the attacking force was sufficient to terrify even the bold. Alternatively, the epithet could be ironic. (b) Háska ‘danger’ is the reading of the main ms. and of J2ˣ, representing both branches of the Hkr stemma. It gives good sense if it is taken in apposition with stór stríð ‘great strife’, as it is by Kock (Skald; NN §§579, 1854B), who also construes of meiðir stála ‘because of the trees of steel [WARRIORS]’ with stór stríð. However, an aðalhending sôusk: hásk- would be imperfect.


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