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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Ǫrvar-Odds saga 132 (Ǫrvar-Oddr, Ævidrápa, 62) — Oddr [Vol. 8, 938]

[8] Kvillánus blesi ‘Kvillánus blesi (“Blaze”)’: Lines 7-8 allude to the last encounter between Oddr and Ǫgmundr Eyþjófsbani, which takes place, according to the younger mss, after Oddr has returned from Bjálkaland and married King Herrauðr’s daughter Silkisif (Ǫrv 1888, 186-90). A mysterious masked king named Kvillánus has appeared in Novgorod (Hólmgarðr), whose origin nobody knows. He has mustered an enormous army and Oddr decides to challenge him to a tournament. When they meet, Kvillánus unmasks himself and Oddr recognises him as Ǫgmundr. His face had healed but Ǫgmundr had lost all hair on it, signifying how he had lost personal power. The nickname Ǫgmundr/Kvillánus is said to have acquired, blesi ‘Blaze’, indicates his hairless status, and contrasts with the nickname he used to have, flóki ‘Matted Hair’, which referred to a tuft of black hair that hung down right over his face so nothing could be seen of it except the teeth and eyes (Ǫrv 1888, 126). The cognomen blesi is attested in Ldn (see ONP: blesi). The name Kvillánus is otherwise unattested, but may possibly be connected with the noun kvilla ‘sickness’ that appears in Anon Run 3/1VI and in Anon RunIVI.


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