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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 38. Óttarr svarti, 1. Hǫfuðlausn, 1 [Vol. 1, 741]

[3-4]: The lines seem to be saying something about Óttarr’s move from the service of the deceased Óláfr Eiríksson to that of Óláfr Haraldsson, but the most obvious rendering of them, ‘we come to you, lord, and another fallen king’, would be difficult to account for, and the sense tentatively assumed here remains contextually puzzling. (a) In the translation above, fallinn is taken primarily in the sense of ‘worthy’, which is attested in prose texts (see CVC: falla B. II. 2), although normally as part of a gen. construction fallinn til e-s or just fallinn e-s ‘worthy of (being) something’. Annan is taken in its general sense ‘another’, since Skáldatal records Óttarr’s prior service of Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ Haraldsson, and (in ms. U only) Ǫnundr Óláfsson, as well as of Óláfr Eiríksson (SnE 1848-87, III, 252, 258, 260, 267). For the audience of these lines there may have been a studied ambiguity between ‘another fallen king’ and ‘another worthy king’, hingeing on Óttarr’s movement from the one Óláfr to the other. (b) Rainford (1995, 62) also adopts the translation ‘worthy’, and takes annan as the ordinal ‘second’, hence ‘we come to you as (our) second lord, worthy sovereign’, but in construing fallinn as nom. sg. qualifying allvaldr ‘mighty ruler’ she assumes contorted syntax in l. 8. (c) Kock (NN §722) keeps the more obvious sense of fallinn as ‘fallen’, takes it as acc. sg. qualifying konung ‘king’ and suggests emending ok to fyr: ‘we find you, lord, in place of another, fallen king’. This gives excellent sense, but does require emendation. (d) Following his belief that there is a missing l. 2, Finnur declares these lines to be unintelligible as they stand, and offers no interpretation in Skj B.


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