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Runic Dictionary

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Eilífr Goðrúnarson (Eil)

10th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

1. Þórsdrápa (Þdr) - 23

Hardly anything is known about the life of Eilífr Goðrúnarson (Eil). According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266, 280), he was active as a skald at the court of Hákon jarl Sigurðarson in Norway around the end of the tenth century. Some scholars have argued that a word-play in a stanza preserved in Skm (SnE) conceals the name of Hákon jarl, thus confirming the information of Skáldatal, but the present edition, following Lie (1976, 399) is sceptical of that hypothesis (see Þdr 23, Note to [All]). Eilífr’s only surviving works are the long poem Þórsdrápa (Eil Þdr, 23 stanzas) and one fragment of a Christian poem (Eil Frag).

Þórsdrápa — Eil ÞdrIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘ Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 68. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1170> (accessed 23 September 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23 

Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson: 2. Þórsdrápa (AI, 148-52, BI, 139-44); stanzas (if different): 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21

SkP info: III, 113

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

17 — Eil Þdr 17III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 17’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 113.

Þrøngvir gein við þungum
þangs rauðbita tangar
kveldrunninna kvinna
kunnleggs alinmunni,

{Þrøngvir {kunnleggs {kveldrunninna kvinna}}} gein {alinmunni} við {þungum rauðbita þangs tangar},

{The oppressor {of the family line {of the evening-running women}}} [TROLL-WOMEN > GIANTS > = Þórr] gaped {with his forearm-mouth} [HAND] at {the heavy red mouthful of the seaweed of tongs} [PIECE OF IRON],

Mss: R(22r), Tˣ(22r), W(47), U(27v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Þrøngvir: ‘Þraungir’ Tˣ, ‘Þrongvm’ W, ‘þreyngvir’ U;    gein: ‘g(æi)r’(?) W    [4] kunn‑: ‘k[…]n‑’ U;    ‑leggs: ‑legs Tˣ, W, U

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 16: AI, 151, BI, 143, Skald I, 78, NN §2251; SnE 1848-87, I, 256-9, II, 309, SnE 1931, 96, SnE 1998, I, 16.

Context: The helmingr is cited among stanzas exemplifying kennings for Þórr in Skm (SnE), but not in the part of the continuously cited stanzas after the related myth of Geirrøðr.

Notes: [All]: Although the stanza is not part of the stanzas cited after the telling of the Geirrøðr myth, it is included here because of its content (see Introduction). — [1-2] þungum rauðbita þangs tangar ‘the heavy red mouthful of the seaweed of tongs [PIECE OF IRON]’: Here the metaphorical analogy between a glowing piece of iron and food is carried over from the previous stanza. The base-word of the kenning for ‘piece of iron’, þang, falls into the category of things edible, since seaweed (sǫl n. pl. ‘red algae’, Palmaria palmate) was a source of sustenance (cf. Foote and Wilson 1970, 149; Davidson 1983, 645). See Grg Ib, 94, where it is stated that a man has the right to eat seaweed on another’s land; or the episode in Egils saga (Eg ch. 78, ÍF 2, 244-5) in which Egill’s daughter persuades her father to chew on seaweed. Furthermore, such words as sǫlvakaup n. ‘seaweed purchase’, sǫlvaponta f. ‘seaweed container’ and þangskurðr m. ‘seaweed collecting’ show that seaweed was collected and traded (see Heizmann 1993, 59-60, 65). Þangs tangar ‘of the seaweed of tongs’ is thus modelled on the same pattern as afli soðnum sega tangar ‘a hearth-boiled morsel of tongs’ (st. 16/6, 7), and the metaphor also extends into the following stanzas with lyptisylg síu ‘raised drink of the spark’ (st. 18/3, 4) and nestum meina ‘provisions of harm’ (st. 19/7, 8). Rauðbita ‘the red bite’ cannot be integrated into the kenning þangs tangar ‘of the seaweed of tongs [PIECE OF IRON]’, but it does connect the two domains of the metaphorical comparison with ‘red’ for the glowing iron and ‘bite’ for the domain of eating. The verb gein ‘he bit at’ belongs to the latter as well (cf. gin ‘mouth’, st. 16/8). The kenning þangs tangar ‘of the seaweed of tongs [PIECE OF IRON]’ itself belongs to both, the literal and the metaphorical levels – iron (tǫng ‘tong’) and eating (þǫng ‘seaweed’). The present interpretation is preferable to previous explanations of þangs, because it allows semantic and structural parallels to be drawn to the other kennings that paraphrase this iron projectile. Reichardt (1948, 381) understands þangs ‘of the seaweed’ as a variation on reyr ‘reed’, vǫndr ‘twig’ etc. and he combines it with tangar ‘of tongs’. This results in a kenning for an iron staff allegedly cast at Þórr, which is corroborated neither by the poem nor by the prose of Skm. Finnur Jónsson offers two different explanations for þang tangar in LP: 1. ‘seaweed of the blacksmith’s tongs’, i.e. the glowing chunk of iron (LP: þang), 2. ‘stem of seaweed gripped by tongs’ (LP: tǫng). Kock (NN §2251) reconstructs a word *þvang ‘narrowing, throat’ which he uses to translate rauðbiti þvangs þangar as tångklämmans (tångkäftens, tångsvaljets) röda bit ‘red bite of the trap of tongs (of the mouth of tongs, the throat of tongs)’. — [3-4] kunnleggs kveldrunninna kvinna ‘of the family line of the evening-running women [TROLL-WOMEN > GIANTS]’: The cpd kunnleggs is not otherwise attested in Old Norse prose or poetry. It is formed from the elements kunn- (from kund-) ‘descendant’ and leggr ‘one of the extremities, hand or foot’. The meaning may be derived from a possible parallel, ættleggr (Fritzner: ættleggr) ‘genealogical lineage’. Finnur Jónsson (LP: kunnleggr) translates it as et enkelt slægtsmedlem ‘an individual member of a family’. However, ættleggr never refers to a single person (see Fritzner, ONP: ættleggr). It is therefore translated here as ‘family line’. For kveldrunninna kvinna ‘of the evening-running women [TROLL-WOMEN]’, cf. kveldriða ‘witch’ (LP, Fritzner: kveldriða). That giants are referred to as related to witches may be because both belong to groups of evil, demonic beings. — [4] alinmunni ‘with his forearm-mouth [HAND]’: An instr. dat. This kenning extends the metaphors of gein ‘gaped’ and rauðbita ‘red bite’, and it continues the mesh of metaphors between the domains of food and forge established in the previous stanza.

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