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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Breta saga 44 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II, 45) [Vol. 8, 174]

[3] léparðs ‘a leopard’s’: Geoffrey clearly specifies a lion but, in common with much medieval literature and heraldry, Gunnlaugr does not seem to distinguish lions from leopards consistently. In the Second-family Bestiary, from the later C12th, Pliny is cited as stating (Historia naturalis 8.17.42-3) that the lion mates with the female pard, or the pard with the lioness, and from each coupling degenerate young are created. It is this irregular union of lion and pard that was regarded as making the leopard a ‘bad lion’ (Clark 2006, 122-3 and n. 22).


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