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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Anonymous Lausavísur, 2. Stanzas from the Fourth Grammatical Treatise, 17 [Vol. 3, 590]

[2] hímleiðir ‘universally loathed’: The meaning of this otherwise unattested cpd adj. is uncertain. Ms. W reads hímleiða, which SnE 1848-87, LP (1860) and Björn Magnússon Ólsen (FoGT 1884) adopt unemended as an indeclinable cpd adj. with the sense ‘tired of waiting [to be strung up on the gallows]’. It is questionable whether such an adj. could be seen as appropriate to the description of criminals waiting to be hanged, unless it is used ironically. The same sense is assumed by Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), though he emends the adj. to the m. pl. form hímleiðir. These eds, implicitly or explicitly, have connected the first element of the adj., hím-, with the Old Icelandic verb híma ‘loiter, hang around’ and the noun hímaldi ‘laggard, dreamer, good-for-nothing’. Björn Magnússon Ólsen (FoGT 1884, 261 n. 2) tentatively suggested the first element could perhaps be written hvim-, and this spelling was adopted by Kock (Skald), though without explanation. The second element of the adj. seems to be formed from the adj. leiðr ‘loathed, disliked, hateful’. An alternative sense of hímleiðir was proposed by Finnur Jónsson in LP. He interprets the cpd (LP: hveimleiðr, hímleiðr) as = hveimleiðr, understood as composed of the elements hveim ‘by each’ and leiðr ‘loathed’, to give the sense ‘loathed by each, universally loathed’, and this interpretation has been adopted here.


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