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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. 1. Þjóðólfr ór Hvini (biog. vol. 1), 1. Haustlǫng, 4 [Vol. 3, 437]

[5] ving-Rǫgnir vagna ‘swinging Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> of killer whales [GIANT = Þjazi]’: There are three points of uncertainty in the interpretation of this kenning: the meaning of the element ving- in ving-Rǫgnir, the meaning of vagna and the meaning of the kenning as a whole. The element ving- is likely to have a similar meaning to its usage in a name for the god Þórr, Vingþórr, found in Þry 1/1, Alv 6/1 and Þul Þórs 1/7 (and Note), where it most likely means ‘swinging’ (cf. the cpd vingameiðr ‘swaying tree’ in Eyv Hál 5/3I and Note), alluding to the god’s habit of swinging his hammer, Mjǫllnir. See further the discussion of Holtsmark (1949, 19-20). The simplex Vingnir appears as a giant-heiti in st. 19/2 of this poem, as well as in Þul Jǫtna I 5/8. The determinant of this kenning, vagna, is understood here as the gen. pl. of vǫgn ‘killer whale, orca’, and the whole kenning, which refers to the giant Þjazi, may allude to the ability of giants to pull up whales from the ocean as though they were fish. Cf. SnE 1998, I, 63: Hér er kallat hvalir Viðblinda geltir. Hann var jǫtunn ok dró hvali í hafi út sem fiska ‘Here whales are called Viðblindi’s boars. He was a giant and pulled whales from the sea as if they were fish’; see also Hym 21/1-4. It is also possible to construe vagna as gen. pl. of vagn ‘carriage, chariot’, but such a determinant in a giant-kenning, as this must be, does not conform to normal kenning patterns.


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