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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur, 6 [Vol. 2, 581-2]

[8] tagli merar ‘a mare’s tail’: It is not clear who is insulting whom here. Rǫgnvaldr accuses Ragna of wearing a mare’s tail around her neck and the association of women and mares (particularly their hindquarters) implies a strong sexuality (cf. ÍF 28, 155 and ÍF 29, 269). At the same time, it is conceivable that Rǫgnvaldr thinks Ragna is impugning his masculinity by presenting him with a token from a female animal. The saga-author may have seen it this way, as Ragna goes on to claim that the horsehair is in fact from a stallion, as if she were asserting her own ability to behave like a man. And indeed she gets what she wants, though only after she has covered herself in a more conventional silk headdress. See also Clunies Ross 1992a.


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