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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 5. Haraldsdrápa, 12 [Vol. 2, 273-4]

[1] ofrausn ‘excess of heroism’: Or lit. ‘over-magnificence’. Like the near-synonym ofermōd, lit. ‘over-courage’ in the OE Battle of Maldon (l. 89), this word introduces the rare possibility that heroic excess is being criticised. While rausn implies magnificent deeds and hospitality (cf. Arn Magndr 19/4, Arn Þorfdr 2/3, 6/7), the ofrausn which here causes Haraldr’s death seems to have a near-pejorative sense, as also in Sigv Berv 11/3 and Sturl Hákkv 9/9 (see also Note to Halli XI Fl 4/7 and see Fritzner for prose examples). It could refer generally to his reckless zeal or more specifically to his presumption in marching from the ships without armour, his decision to tackle the superior Engl. host (as suggested by the Context to the st. in H-Hr) or his overweening ambition in invading England: cf. Þjóðólfr’s comment (ÞjóðA Lv 11/4) that it was þarflaust ‘needlessly’ that Haraldr called up troops for the expedition westwards. See also Note to Þfagr Sveinn 6/6.


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