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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Anonymous Poems, Krákumál, 28 [Vol. 8, 774]

[2-4]: The speaker of the poem claims here to have been involved in fifty-one battles (‘five times ten ... and one more’) during his lifetime. In none of the surviving accounts of Ragnarr loðbrók can as many battles as this in which he takes part be counted. In popular narrative, as Olrik (1921, 75; 1992, 52) has indicated, the number five tends to signify ‘many’. It seems likely that the number fifty, as it occurs here and in Ragn 26, was originally chosen to suggest a large number, and that ok eina ‘and one more’ has been added in each case to fill out an even-numbered line with a rhyming cadence. The addition of ok eina ‘and one more (battle)’ is syntactically awkward here, since fimm tigum sinna, lit. ‘five tens of times’, is an adverbial phrase of time of the kind illustrated in NS §118, with tigum dat. pl. of tigr ‘(unit of) ten’, here governing the gen. pl. sinna of sinn ‘time, occasion’ (see NS §118, and cf. §§128-30 and 127). The sentence thus means lit. ‘I have conducted battles between peoples five tens of times, and one more (battle)’.


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