Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 4. Þorfinnsdrápa, 6 [Vol. 2, 236-7]

[1] Karli (dat. sg.) ‘Karl’: (a) This is treated here as the proper name Karl, as also in Orkn ch. 20, in which a king of the Scots named Karl Hundason figures prominently. Karl has been variously identified as a Mormaer (provincial ruler) of Ross, Sutherland or both who annexed Argyll on the death of the ruler whom Orkn names Malcolm (Melkólmr), in 1029 (Taylor 1937); as MacBeth (Crawford 1987, 71-2); as Duncan (Donaldson 1988, 2); or as a Mormaer of Moray (Thomson 1987, 47-9). The Scottish credentials of the name Hundi receive some support from its appearance as the name of a freedman of Scots family in Laxdœla saga ch. 6. (b) It should, however, be noted that there is no evidence in Celtic sources for a king with such a name, and it is conceivable that the karl in Arnórr’s st. is simply the appellative ‘old man, churl’, which was misinterpreted as a pers. n., and the patronymic Hundason added (as suggested by Munch, 1852-63, I, ii 854 n.).


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