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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, 2. From a poem about Þorsteinn, 3 [Vol. 3, 252]

[4] heinvandils ‘of the whetstone-Vandill [SWORD]’: All previous eds add the gen. ‑s to the second element of this cpd, which is necessary in order to supply a determinant for hermðarspjalla ‘anger-words’ (l. 3) to form a kenning for ‘battle’ in the sense ‘speech of weapons’ (Jón Þorkelsson 1890, 10), and heinvandill most likely denotes a sword or a weapon. Nobody has so far been able to find an entirely convincing explanation for this kenning. The following interpretations have been suggested, the first of which has been adopted in the present edn. (a) The first element of the cpd means ‘whetstone’ and therefore the kenning can be compared to other sword-kennings such as heinflet ‘whetstone-platform’ (Sigv Austv 6/2I), heinland ‘whetstone-land’ (Hallv Knútdr 5/3), heinsǫðull ‘whetstone-saddle’ (Egill Hfl 8/1V (Eg 41)) and einstígi heinar ‘narrow path of the hone’ (Anon (TGT) 29/1). They all belong to the kenning pattern ‘land (or path) of the whetstone [SWORD]’. It is difficult, however, to establish the meaning of the base-word ‘-vandil(l)’ (so all mss). Finnur Jónsson (LP: heinvandill) connects the word with the p. n. Vandill/Vendill that could be interpreted as a variation of ‘land’. This p. n. is always recorded as Vendill, but this vowel variation might have been caused by the variation of -vandill and -vendill in sword-names (see below). For this p. n., which can be Swedish or Danish, see Þjóð Yt 15/8I and Note there. Jón Þorkelsson (1890, 10) emends ‘vandil(l)’ to vaðils ‘ford’, taken as a variation of ‘path’ and Finnur Jónsson (LP: heinvandill) also considers this option. However, that emendation goes against all mss, and it is also doubtful whether ‘ford’ could be a variation of ‘path’. (b) The second element of the cpd ‑vandill can be compared with the sword-name Dragvendill (-vandill) known from Egils saga and Ketils saga hængs; see Egill Lv 35/2V (Eg 64) and Note there. It is also found in Þul Sverða 1/4 (see Note there). There is also another sword called Sigrvandill (-vendill) (ONP: Sigrvandill); see also the kenning rjóðvendill randa ‘the shields’ reddening rod’ (SnSt Ht 13/5). Vandill or vendill could be a diminutive of vǫndr ‘wand, stave’ (see Note to Þul Sverða 1/4) and heinvandill could be a kenning (‘whetstone-stave’). All other hein-kennings have a base-word meaning ‘land’ or ‘place’, however, and the diminutive vandill ‘stave’ is not attested. (c) Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 305) therefore also considers the possibility that ‑vandill could be the name of a giant (cf. Vandill, Þul Jǫtna II 1/6) and denote the sword as ‘destroyer’. This could be an explanation for the sword-name Dragvandill, but not for heinvandill in the sense ‘whetstone-giant’, because that would mean that the sword destroys the whetstone.


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