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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 99 (Gizurr Grýtingaliði, Lausavísur, 1) — Gizurr [Vol. 8, 471]

[5-6]: As shepherds are associated with the practice of sitting on mounds (e.g. Vsp 42/1-4, Skí 11/1-2), some have interpreted Gizurr’s remark as insulting to Hlǫðr (e.g. Jón Helgason 1967, 231; ÍF Edd.; cf. Heiðr 1960, 51 n. 3). However, the concept most likely relates to inheritance or succession; by implication, the mound would be that of Hlǫðr’s (and Angantýr’s) father, Heiðrekr. In the Flat redaction of ÓH, for example, a certain Bjǫrn, son of a deceased king Óláfr, sits on his father’s mound when he reaches the age of twelve before claiming the kingdom from his uncle, acting as regent (Flat 1860-8, II, 70). The practice of sitting on royal burial mounds may also have been a more abstract symbol of kingship: in HHárf in Hkr (ch. 8, ÍF 26, 99-100), King Hrollaugr of Namdalen goes upp á haug þann, er konungar váru vanir at sitja á ‘up onto that mound which kings were accustomed to sit on’, and rolls down from the kings’ seat to the jarls’, as a sign of his subjection to Haraldr hárfagri. Ellis (1943, 105-11) provides examples and discussion of these and other incidents, including further connections to kingship and inheritance of other kinds. The implication seems to be that Hlǫðr’s actions were an attempt at symbolic validation of his claim.


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