This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

Note to stanza

8. Ragnars saga loðbrókar 24 (Ragnarr loðbrók, Lausavísur, 8) — Ragnarr [Vol. 8, 672]

[4] †svandr† ófni* mars ‘… a snake of the sea [SHIP]’:  The ms. readings here cause particular difficulty, though it seems clear that ófnir m. (cf. the 1824b reading, above) means ‘snake’, as indicated by its inclusion in Þul Orma 1/3III and by its use as a determinant in kennings for ‘gold’ (Meissner 240). Various emendations have been proposed to account for ms. ‘svandr’, but none have been convincing. (a) Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 211), taking mar- as the root of ON marr m. ‘sea’ (cf. Lat. mare, ModEngl. mere), emends to mar-sviðr ófni, seeing sviðr (= svinnr) ‘wise’ as qualifying meiðir ‘destroyer’ in the previous line (as he and others read it, see the previous Note), and interrupting the kenning marófni ‘sea-snake [(dragon-prowed) SHIP]’, a m. noun here in the dat., as the object of hafna ‘reject’, in such a way as to form an example of tmesis. In this he is followed by Eskeland (Ragn 1944) and Ebel (Ragn 2003). (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Guðni Jónsson (FSGJ), who also take svinnr/sviðr ‘wise’ as qualifying meiðir ‘destroyer’ in the previous line (cf. the second Note to l. 3, above), see the adj. rather as falling between the two elements of a two-word kenning, ófnir mars ‘snake of the sea [(dragon-prowed) SHIP]’. They thus emend to mars svinnr/sviðr ófni, with ófni in the dat. as the object of hafna ‘reject’. (c) Kock, on the other hand, takes an emended vandófni, m. dat. sg. as the object of hafna ‘reject’, and vandófnir mars as a kenning for ‘(dragon-prowed) ship’, taking ‑ófnir as meaning ‘snake’ and initially understanding the element vand- as related to vandr adj. ‘difficult, problematic’, hence ‘dangerous snake of the sea’ (NN §2370); later, however (NN §3197F), he relates this element rather to vǫndr ‘wand, stick’, hence ‘mast’, thus arriving at the literal meaning ‘a mast-snake of the sea [SHIP]’. While Kock’s reading of the text is relatively close to the ms. readings, neither of his interpretations is entirely satisfactory: parallels to the compounding of vand- meaning ‘difficult, dangerous’ with nouns of such concrete signification as ‘ship’ are hard to find, and vandófnir, if understood as ‘mast-snake’, can itself be understood as a ship-kenning, so that the apparent determinant mars ‘of the sea’ becomes redundant. Örnólfur Thorsson (Ragn 1985), adopts Kock’s text here, understanding vandófnir mars as a kenning for ‘ship’ and the second element in vandófnir as meaning ‘snake’, but leaves its first element unexplained. (d) The present ed. prefers in the circumstances to set aside the ms. reading ‘svandr’ as incomprehensible, and to take ófni* mars ‘snake of the sea’ as a kenning for ‘ship’, here in the dat. as the object of hafna ‘reject’. Cf. the kennings fjarðlinnr m. ‘fjord-serpent [SHIP]’ (Mark Lv 1/1III) and naðr sævar ‘adder of the sea [SHIP]’ (Edáð Banddr 3/3I).


© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.