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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. 1. Þjóðólfr ór Hvini (biog. vol. 1), 1. Haustlǫng, 9 [Vol. 3, 444]

[3] ellilyf ása ‘the old-age medicine of the gods’: It has often been assumed that this phrase refers to some magical apples that Iðunn guarded and was in the habit of distributing to the gods to keep them young, which is evidently what Snorri understands in Skm (cf. SnE 1998, I, 1-2), where he refers to Iðunn’s epli ‘apples’ and later states (ibid., 30) that the apples (eplin) can be called ellilyf Ásanna ‘the old-age medicine of the Æsir’, after which he cites Haustl 1-13. The cpd ellilyf (elli ‘old age’ plus lyf ‘medicine, elixir’) is a hap. leg., though its two components are not. Earlier scholars (e.g. Bugge 1889b) considered the motif of Iðunn’s old age-preventing apples was borrowed from Classical or possibly Irish sources, but this view has not been followed in later scholarship (cf. Maier 2000).


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