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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 5. Haraldsdrápa, 13 [Vol. 2, 274-5]

[2] auðligr ‘unadorned’: The statement that the king’s death was not auðligr is capable of some four interpretations, of which (a) has been chosen since it rests on the only other occurrence of the word. (a) Auðligr is recorded in Sturl Hákkv 12/7-8 varat auðligr | allvalds floti ‘the prince’s fleet was not paltry/bare’ i.e. ‘not lacking in fine trappings’. The adj. here may well be a doublet of the i-mutated eyðiligr which appears in Þloft Tøgdr 4/7-8I vasa eyðilig | ǫrbeiðis fǫr ‘not empty/fruitless was the arrow-bidder’s [WARRIOR] expedition’. Auðligr thus seems to derive from the adj. auðr ‘empty, void, desolate’, cf. auðn f. and eyði, n. ‘waste, desert’, and in st. 13 would imply that the king’s death was not without splendour, i.e. that it was dignified by the presence of gilded weapons and by the loyalty of Haraldr’s war-band, both mentioned in the st. Alternatively, the meaning could be ironic: the king’s death was not void, unproductive, for many died with him (so Flo 1902, 131). (b) An alternative interpretation of ll. 1-2, that Haraldr’s death was ‘not fated’, is adopted in Skj B. It is based on the possibility that auðligr is related to the adj. auðinn ‘determined by fate’, auðr m. and auðna f. ‘destiny, fate, fortune’ (cf. skapligr ‘suitable, fit’, related to skap ‘condition’ and skǫp ‘fate’). The skald could perhaps be hinting that the king’s death was due not to an inexorable destiny but to his own stubborn thirst for glory. Compare Note to st. 12/1 ofrausn, including the citation from Þjóðólfr. (c) Auð- could be connected with auðr m. ‘riches, prosperity’ as in auðigr ‘wealthy’ and many compounds, including Arn Þorfdr 21/4 auðgjafi ‘wealth-giver’. Eigi auðligr, hence, could mean ‘not profitable’ (so Fms 12, 166), perhaps referring to death curtailing a relationship of patronage (cf. Glúmr Gráf 11I). (d) Auð- could mean ‘easy/easily’ as in auðkenndr ‘easily recognised’ or auðfenginn ‘easily obtained’. Eigi auðligr would mean in this case ‘not easy’, implying by understatement that Haraldr’s death came about in a bitter or painful way (so Kock, NN §1136). Compare Beowulf 2586, where the OE cognate ēaðe is used in an ironic understatement about the hero’s death, beginning, Ne wæs þæt ēðe [ēaðe] sīð ‘It was no easy journey’ (Beowulf 2008, 88).


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