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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, 1. Magnússflokkr, 6 [Vol. 2, 70-2]

[1, 2, 3, 4] fyr sunnan Heiðabý; nær Skotborgarô ‘south of Hedeby (Heiðabýr)’; ‘near the Kongeå (Skotborgará)’: Arnórr also commemorates Magnús’s defeat of the Wends við skíra Skotborgar ‘by the gleaming Kongeå (Skotborgará)’ (Arn Hryn 13), but the prose sources locate this victory specifically on Lyrskovshede (Hlýrskógsheiðr), west of Hedeby, and neither of these places is near the river Kongeå (Skotborgará). (a) Bjarni Aðalbjarnason favours assuming two battles with a northwards pursuit in between (ÍF 28, 42 n. 1), but the st. seems to report a single battle, at least if the helmingar belong together, and there is no clear evidence of a second battle. (b) This leaves an uncomfortable choice between awkward geography and awkward language, and the solution adopted here has the disadvantage that it places the action both near the river and south of Hedeby, although the river lies well north of Hedeby. The compiler of H-Hr seems to have understood the st. this way, and believes that the river is south of Hedeby (see Context). (c) It is presumably for this geographical reason that some scholars construe these phrases the other way round: fyr sunnan ... Skotborgar ‘south of the river Kongeå’ and Heiðabý ... nær ‘near Hedeby’ (SHI 6, 58 and Skj B; Fms 12, 132 favours this but the punctuation in Fms 6, 64 does not match). However, this assumes an extremely complicated cl. arrangement in which an audience hearing Heiðabý mid-l. and following fyr sunnan ‘south of’ would have to realise that it belonged in an entirely different cl. (cf. NN §849 for Kock’s spirited objection to this), and this interpretation only slightly improves the geographical logic, since Hedeby and the river are still a long way apart.


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