Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Gamli kanóki, 1. Harmsól, 52 [Vol. 7, 119-20]

[1] Máría ‘Mary [Magdalene]’: Bugge (1889a, 22) wrongly interprets this as a reference to the Virgin Mary. The identification of the repentant sinner who annoints Christ’s feet in Luke VII.36-9 with the woman who does the same thing, but is not described as a sinner, in Mark XIV.3-9 and Matt. XXVI.6-13 is a logical one. The identification of this conflated character with Mary Magdalene, which seems to date at least from C6th (Warner 2000, 226-8), is presumably due to a literal interpretation of Christ’s words mittens enim haec unguentum hoc in corpus meum ad sepeliendum me fecit ‘for she in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial’ (Matt. XXVI.12). Mary Magdalene’s repentance is also the subject of Anon Mey 11-13. Her cult is generally held to have begun after 1200 in Iceland; there was reportedly an image of her at Þykkvabær monastery, though its age cannot be determined, and may well have dated from after Gamli’s time (Cormack 1994, 130).

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