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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Úlfr Uggason, Húsdrápa, 2 [Vol. 3, 407]

[1] bregðr ‘takes away’: This verb’s meaning is critical for the interpretation of the first helmingr. Its basic sense is ‘change the position or path of sth., remove sth.’, always with a dat. object (see examples in Fritzner: bregða 1, ONP: bregða). Finnur Jónsson (LP: bregða 1) suggests an intransitive usage with the meaning ‘go somewhere’ for this stanza, but adds that the verb is not attested elsewhere with this meaning. Others interpret bregða við as ‘quarrel against’, clearly inspired by Snorri’s account that Heimdallr quarrelled with Loki over Brísingamen (NN §1952; Faulkes 1987, 77; SnE 1998, II, 250; Schier 1976a, 580-1; Heizmann 2009, 510), yet there is no evidence for this meaning (Fritzner: bregða). Any interpretation of this helmingr must account both for bregða needing a dat. object and for the two prepositional phrases with at and við. There are two possible dat. objects, namely, Singasteini and rein f. ‘strip, plot of land’ (despite Cöllen’s 2007, 65 assumption that the dat. of rein must have ended in ‑u, rein could be an endingless ō-stem; see ANG §376). Barring emendation (see Note to l. 2 rein), rein ‘strip, plot of land’ is the verb’s only possible object, since Singasteini is part of the prepositional phrase at Singasteini (see Note to l. 2 at Singasteini). The second prepositional phrase, við combined with a Loki-kenning (see Note to ll. 3-4), is more difficult to explain. In this context it is important that Snorri presents Loki as the opponent of Heimdallr. Shortly after stating that Heimdallr quarrelled with Loki, Skm (SnE 1998, I, 20) refers to Loki as þrætudolgr Heimdalar ‘quarrel-opponent of Heimdallr’. In light of this and the original meaning of bregða ‘remove sth., take sth. away’ (see Fritzner: bregða 6.), this edn assumes the verbal construction bregða e-u við e-n ‘to take sth. away from sby’. Another possible meaning of bregða e-u við e-n is ‘quarrel over sth. with sby’. Lindquist (1937b, 83) shows that bregða was used idiomatically in this sense in two passages in Grágás. The first helmingr would then describe how Heimdallr takes away land from Loki or quarrels with him over land (see also Schier 1976a, 580).

references

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