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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Breta saga 45 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II, 44) [Vol. 8, 173]

[All]: Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 155.202-4; cf. Wright 1988, 110, prophecy 44): Exin transuertet sese in aprum et quasi sine membris expectabit germanos. Sed et ipsos postquam aduenerint subito dente interficiet ‘Next it will disguise itself as the boar and as if without its members await its brothers. But when they arrive, it will swiftly bite them also to death’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 154). In other words, the fox, now de facto a king, takes on the semblance of the deposed and assassinated boar-king in order to dispose of its brothers, the bear and the wolf. This stanza and II 45 appear in reverse order in Hb, followed by Bret 1848-9, Skj B and Skald, but the announcement of the end of the saga þengils ‘story of the king’ in II 45/5-8 should logically come at the point when indeed nothing remains to be added to his story. The reversal of stanza-order can be explained on the basis of eye-skip from one helmingr-initial ok to another, followed by retrospective insertion of the missing stanza (Poole 2009, 316-17; cf. Merl 2012).


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