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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Kormákr Ǫgmundarson (biog. vol. 5), 1. Sigurðardrápa, 5 [Vol. 3, 281]

[3-4] galtk hônum heið haptsœnis ‘I paid him the honour of the gods’ reconciliation [POEM]’: The kenning haptsœni is a hap. leg. whose first element is a word for ‘gods’ (hǫpt n. pl.; see Marold 1992, 707 and 716). The second element, ‑sœni, on the other hand, can only be explained through comparison with cognates from other Germanic languages: OHG suona, OS sōna ‘reconciliation’, OS gisōnian ‘reconcile’ point to Gmc *sōnō/*sōnian (NN §262). Finnur Jónsson (LP: haptsœnir; 1931, 113) and Kreutzer (1977, 111) have discussed haptsœnis in connection with heið. According to them, haptsœnir ‘the reconciler of the gods’ is a name for Óðinn (cf. Þjóð Haustl 3/3 snytrir hapta ‘instructor of the divine powers’), which reflects his role in the reconciliation of the Æsir and Vanir after their war. Heið haptsœnis is then interpreted as ‘gift of Óðinn [POEM]’. There are two objections to this explanation. First of all, Óðinn playing a conciliatory role after the war between the Æsir and the Vanir is unheard of and would be out of character for this god, a leader of the warlike Æsir (cf. Vsp 24) and generally an instigator of strife and war. Second, heið is not otherwise attested in the meaning ‘gift’. The present edn offers the following interpretation of this cpd: haptsœni (n. ja-stem) ‘reconciliation of the gods’ (as in LP (1860): haptsǫni; Meissner 427; Wood 1959a, 311) is understood as an expression for the spittle commingled at the reconciliation of the Æsir and the Vanir (cf. Skm, SnE 1998, I, 3). From this spittle Kvasir was created, from whose blood the mead of poetry was brewed. According to this interpretation, ‘the reconciliation of the gods’ is a periphrastic expression for ‘mead of poetry’ and ‘poem’. Heið is then taken as the acc. sg. of m. heiðr ‘honour’.


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