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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 38. Óttarr svarti, 1. Hǫfuðlausn, 4 [Vol. 1, 746]

[1-2]: The general sense of the lines is clear, but subtly different construals of the syntax are possible. (a) Ǫttuð is 2nd pers. pl. pret. indic. of etja ‘goad, urge’ or possibly here ‘try, strain’. It is taken here, as normally, to be transitive, with a dat. object skreyttum ôrum ‘decorated oars’. Með (flaustum) is taken as ‘alongside (the ships)’ (cf. LP: með 8). (b) Kock (NN §725) takes ǫttuð as intransitive, with the sense ‘went’, comparing Þór Lv 1/1-2 etjum á sæ kaldan ‘we drive forward on the cold sea’. He takes ôrum skreyttum ... með flaustum to mean ‘with decorated oars [and] with ships’. (c) ÍF 27 follows Kock, but takes skreyttum to qualify flaustum, hence ‘with ships ornamented with oars’; p. p. skreyttr ‘decorated’ frequently governs the dat. (see examples in LP: skreyta). (d) Skj B suggests Ǫttuð skreyttum flaustum með ôrum austr í salt ‘you drove the ornamented ships with oars east on the salt sea/Baltic’. This gives excellent sense, but it is implausible that með ‘with’ and skreyttum are to be taken not with the adjacent words but with those at one line’s remove (cf. Kock, NN §725).


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