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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Pétrsdrápa, 22 [Vol. 7, 814-15]

[4] spennir tvennra harma ‘the clasper of two sorrows’: Both Kahle (1898, 110) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) take the phrase as a kenning for Christ, but are at a loss to explain to what it refers. Kock (NN §1723) tentatively observes that the scriptural episode in question is preceded by a complaint concerning the iniquity of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. XVI.6-12) and is followed by Christ’s prediction of his Passion and death (Matt. XVI.21), but admits that apart from this, the l. is ‘somewhat obscure’. One might perhaps seek to see in the phrase a veiled allusion to the two scriptural references to Christ weeping (at Luke XIX.41 and John XI.35), or a variation on the epithet vir dolorum ‘man of sorrows’ (Isa. LIII.3-4; cf., e.g., OED: sorrow sb. 2b the Man of Sorrows). The kenning-like phrase may, however, merely fit the immediate context, and perhaps plays on the etymological sense of dubitas ‘doubt’: Christ is called a ‘bearer of two worries’ here because he is in two minds / has his doubts about the beliefs of some of his followers. (Cf., perhaps, Fritzner: tvídrœgr, tvískiptr ‘uncertain’.)


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