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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, 1. Magnússflokkr, 13 [Vol. 2, 80-1]

[1] áðr ‘before’: The status of this innocuous-seeming conj. has consequences for the interpretation of the helmingr. (a) If áðr links this verse with a previous one, the main point is presumably that Magnús, previously depicted ferociously slaying his enemies, now shows magnanimity in sparing their lives, giving them safe conduct (grið). In this case l. 3, depicting their flight, is intercalated (as assumed in the punctuation above and in that of previous eds; Kock’s in Skald is the clearest). (b) Áðr could alternatively link the two clauses within this helmingr: one cl. in l. 3 and the other occupying the rest, so that ‘the jarl’s troop were on the move’ before he grants them safe conduct. Cf. the Prose Context, which enumerates the different outcomes for the Danes: flight, death, or receiving grið. ÍF 28 mentions this possibility, but prefers (a), citing Kuhn’s observation that it is rare in skaldic poetry for a subordinate cl. to be split by the main cl. that it relates to (Kuhn 1929b, 199-200).


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