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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Ketils saga hœngs 14 (Ketill hœngr, Lausavísur, 9) — Ketill [Vol. 8, 564]

[1] Hjálmr … Stafnglámr: The names of the two vikings. Hjálmr means ‘Helmet’; Stafnglámr is attested only in Ket and as a cognomen in Ǫrv (see Lind 1905-15, 943; Lind 1920-1, 354). The first part of the cpd Stafnglámr means ‘stem’ (stafn) in the prow (or stern) of a ship; the second part (-glámr) may be etymologically related to words designating various luminous or shining objects (such as the moon, an eye, horse with a white spot) or meaning ‘stare’ (AEW: glámr; ÍO: gláma). The cpd could be understood as a kenning for ‘shield’, viz. ‘the shining object of the prow’; both names then designate defensive weapons, helmet and shield, and point to the protective role these vikings are supposed to be playing by backing Ketill up. LP: Stafnglámr understands the name to designate someone who keeps a sharp look-out in the prow of a ship. Kahle (1910, 197) regards Stafnglamr (with short a in glamr) as the correct form and considers glamr etymologically related to glam n. ‘noise’; he translates the name Stafnglamr as ‘Stem-noise’, a reference to the noise of waves through which a ship moves.


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