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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, 6 [Vol. 3, 283]

[6] kind vægja ‘the descendant of swords [SWORD]’: This interpretation follows Reichardt (1928, 34-5), whose suggested solution has the advantage of producing a clear, simple word order. Kind ‘descendant’ here has the same pleonastic function as in a number of other kennings (LP: kind). Usually, however, the word appears in combination with terms for humans or human groupings, not objects. Though unusual, this sword-kenning does have at least one parallel (Þmáhl Máv 13/7V (Eb 15) kindir lǫgðis ‘descendants of the sword’). The repeated use of the kenning pattern ‘descendant of x’, in which the referent is not a person but an object (cf. afspringr fats eskis ‘offspring of the ash vat’, ll. 1-2), is striking. Finnur Jónsson’s (1931, 114-15) emendation of vægja to vægi-, which he then combines with valdi vés into vés vægi-valdi ‘the sparing owner of the sanctuary’, is justly criticised by Kock (NN §263) not only for its tmesis, but also for its improbable content. Kock (loc. cit.) suggests instead that vægja be combined with vés to form a shield-kenning: vægja ‘sanctuary of the swords’, for which he offers the parallels Mark Eirdr 30/1II borg hjǫrva ‘stronghold of swords’ and Þmáhl Máv 13/8V (Eb 15) Hǫgna ‘sanctuary of Hǫgni’ (cf. Meissner 171). Kock’s suggestion is not persuasive, however, because shield-kennings with a base-word denoting a building are combined primarily with names of heroes or for Óðinn, or with battle terms. Kennings of the type ‘fortress of the sword’ are not attested until the C12th. Moreover, the word order resulting from the combination of vés valdi and vægja is problematic. For other, unconvincing interpretations, see Düwel (1985, 16) and Grønvik (1989, 83-4). For the sword-heiti vægir, see Note to Þul Sverða 4/1.


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