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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eil Þdr 8III l. 7

blóð — blood


blóð (noun n.; °-s): blood < snerriblóð (noun n.)



[6-7] snerriblóð Mǫrnar ‘the rushing blood of Mǫrn <female mythical being> [RIVER]’: It is clear from the context of the stanza that snerriblóð Mǫrnar must refer to the river Þórr wades across. Because Mǫrn is attested both as a river-name and as the name of a giantess (see Note to l. 6), Clunies Ross (1978b, 302 n. 41; 1981, 373) arrives at a compromise that the present edn adopts as well. She explains the duality river/giantess by assuming that Þdr maintains ‘a delicate modulation between the attribution of anthropomorphic qualities to the river itself and clear statements that one or more giantesses had been responsible for causing the stream to become turbulent’ (Clunies Ross 1981, 373). She further attributes this to an early Scandinavian thought pattern ‘which conceived rivers as essentially female features of the landscape and thus described them in terms of human female effluvia’ (ibid.). Hence, Mǫrn could be a river as well as the blood of a mythical being. Aside from the possible explanation as menstrual blood (Kiil 1956, 118; see also st. 5/4 with an interpretation different from Kiil’s), blood can also flow within the body, however, as the kenning type ‘blood of the earth [RIVER]’ (Meissner 99-100) shows. The duality between river and the blood of a mythical being is illustrated by a stanza by Þórðr Særeksson (ÞSjár Frag 4/2, 3, 4), which alludes to stormy seas as follows: en eymylvir spýtir blóði systra ‘and the island-grinder [MAELSTROM] spits out the sisters’ blood [WATER]’. These sisters are the waves, daughters of the sea-giant Ægir, and their blood is ‘water’. Ægir’s daughters exhibit precisely the same duality between a natural phenomenon (waves) and a mythical being (see Introduction above). All Indo-European peoples had river deities, i.e. rivers they regarded as deities and worshipped as such (Maringer 1974). Ganges (Indian), Achelous (Greek), Tiberius (Roman) and Rhenos (Celtic) were among the names associated with these dual entities. The river Marne is another example; its name derives from Matrona (Pokorny 1959, 701).



case: nom.

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