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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 1. Þórsdrápa, 14 [Vol. 3, 105]

[1, 4] í hringbalka* ‘into the circular rooms’: Beginning with Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 392), all eds have emended the mss’ ‘hrin-’ (R, , W) to hring-, which results in a better aðalhending (hring : ging). There have been several proposed interpretations of the cpd hringbalka: (a) This edn takes hringbalka as acc. pl. of hringbalkr ‘circular room’. For balkr as an a-stem, see Fritzner: balkr. The emendation to hringbalka is justifiable because this is the only word that can designate a place with the prep. í ‘in, into’ (l. 1). Hringbalka is not following the prep. directly, but the gap is partially filled by the genitives qualifying hringbalka. If one accepts that genitives can also precede the word they qualify, an almost natural syntax arises: í þróttarhersa Þornranns hringbalka which is only interrupted by the subject of the sentence hugumbornir ‘the courageous ones’. Hringbalka ‘circular room’ could be combined with the giant-kenning þróttarhersa Þornranns ‘of the strength-hersar of the house of Þorn <giant> [CAVE > GIANTS]’ to form a kenning for ‘cave’, but that kenning would contain the referent ‘cave’ twice, once in Þornranns ‘of the house of Þorn [CAVE]’ and again as the referent of the whole kenning itself. Snorri apparently interpreted hringbalkr as a stall for goats (geitahús; Skm, SnE 1998, I, 25). Other eds have retained the nom. hringbalkar. (b) Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 393) interprets the cpd as ‘round enclosure, fence’ and combines it with hellis ‘of the cave’ in a kenning for ‘mountains’ (the rocks enclosing the cave), which again functions as the determinant in the giant-kenning ‘Cumbrians of the round enclosure of the cave’ (so also Kock, NN §§460, 2514). Reichardt (1948, 372) does not explain the expression but translates it simply as ‘Cumbrians of the cave’. (c) Lindquist (1929, 99, followed by Mohr 1933, 5) interprets hringbalkar as a man-kenning, ringförsedda balkar ‘ringed beams’, and takes it as the subject of the clause. Reichardt’s (1948, 371) objections to this interpretation are justified. ONP: bǫlkr records 33 tokens of the word but only two have the (uncertain) meaning ‘beam’.


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