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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Ragnars saga loðbrókar 39 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar, 9) — Trémaðr [Vol. 8, 701]

[All]: Most commentators, e.g. Heusler and Ranisch (Edd. Min. lxxxii), Olsen (Ragn 1906-8, 222) and de Vries (1928a, 297) (cf. McTurk 1991a, 18), regard this stanza as combining with Ragn 40 to form a self-contained unit, cf. Ragn 38, second Note to [All]. Storm (1878, 83), Koht (1921b, 243), and de Vries (1928a, 297) moreover regard both stanzas as relatively old, hence dating from before the names Ragnarr and Loðbrók were applied in combination to the same person, as they were apparently for the first time in Ari Þorgilsson’s Íslb, written between 1120-33 (ÍF 1, xvi-xviii, 4). Whatever the original context of Ragn 38 may be, Ragn 39 and 40, with their references, respectively, to ‘setting up’ (settu, Ragn 39/1) and to ‘cloth, clothing’ (klæði, Ragn 40/8), may lend themselves more readily than Ragn 38 to discussion in terms of what is known from other Old Norse sources about trémenn ‘wooden men’. In Hávm 49 (NK 24; cf. Evans 1986, 49) the speaker says that he gave his clothes (váðir) in an open field (velli at) to two trémenn, who considered themselves reccar ‘warriors, champions’, once they had clothing (rift), since neiss er nøcqviðr halr ‘a naked man is despised’, i. e. (perhaps) ‘clothes make the man.’ Evans (1986, 93-4) notes that in other instances in Old Norse literature, including the present one, the trémaðr ‘always appears to have a cultic or magical connection’, and this is consistent with the trémaðr in the present instance being blótinn (l. 5), i.e. ‘worshipped (with sacrifice)’. See further North (1997b, 90-7).


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