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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Anonymous Poems, Krákumál, 29 [Vol. 8, 775]

[8]: Other examples in Scandinavian tradition of heroes dying laughing are Saxo 2015, I, ii. 7. 19, pp. 134-7 and the Icelandic Bjarkarímur (Finnur Jónsson 1904b, 161), where the death of one Agnerus/Agnarr is described, as discussed in the Introduction, and, most famously, Akv 24 and Am 65, where Hǫgni Gjúkason laughs as he dies at the hands of King Atli. Mention may also be made of the manner of Hálfr Hjǫrleifsson’s death as envisaged in Innsteinn Innkv 17/5-8 (Hálf 37), and of the case in Arngrímur Jónsson’s Rerum Danicarum fragmenta ‘Fragments of Danish history’ (1596) (Jakob Benediktsson 1950-7, I, 341, cf. IV, 233), of Áli inn frœkni ‘the Bold’ who ‘breathed his last while laughing’ (ridens animam efflavit). While the laughter is unmistakably heroic in all these cases, in Akv (though not in Am) it is no doubt also motivated by Hǫgni’s knowledge that after his death and that of his brother Gunnarr the secret of the Niflung hoard’s whereabouts will never be told.


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