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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 5. Haraldsdrápa, 8 [Vol. 2, 268-70]

[2, 3] á móða gauta ‘upon wearied men’: Móða is here taken as a m. acc. pl. adj. qualifying gauta ‘men’. The word is sometimes used specifically of battle-weariness, e.g. eggmóðr ‘edge-/blade-weary’, applied in Grí 53/1 (NK 68) and Hamð 30/3 (NK 273) to valr ‘the slain’. Gauta has been considered a point of difficulty in the st. (see, e.g., Finnur Jónsson 1934, 46-7). The recorded meanings of gautr, pl. gautar, are threefold: (a) Gautar is an ethnic name referring to the people of Väster- and Östergötland, southern Sweden. (b) Gautr is a name for Óðinn (cf. Gauti and Gautatýr), and as such it can function as a base-word in kennings for ‘man/warrior’. (c) Gautar is instead taken here as the rare heiti for ‘men’ (so also various eds, including those of Fms 12, 164, and Kock, NN §2523), which is probably an extension of the ethnic name, just as got(n)ar ‘men’ is an extension of Gotar ‘Goths’. This usage is matched in the contemporary st. Stúfr Stúfdr 4 spjalli gauta ‘confidant of men’, with the variant gumna ‘of men’. Á móða gauta ‘upon wearied men’ is construed here with sveiti fell … ofan ‘blood flowed down’ (cf. a similar image in Hást Lv 3IV), but it would also fit with ámt grjót fló ‘dark stones flew’.


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