Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Gyðingsvísur, 3 [Vol. 7, 519-20]

[2] þingnárungum (dat. pl.) ‘assembly-beings [WARRIORS]’: The significance of the second element in this cpd is not clear. Nárungar is usually, as here, a bound morpheme occurring as part of a straightforward man-heiti (such as beitnrungar ‘ship-beings’ in Ník Kristdr 1/2III) or as the base-word of man-kennings (like élnrungar hlífar gims ‘storm-beings of the shelter of the gem’ in Anon (Stu) 21/6-7IV). The free-standing form occurs only in a variant reading in Skm in W, which reads kallaðir erv menn niorðungar ędr narvngar ‘men are called njorðungar or nárungar’ (SnE 1848-87, II, 497; Finnur Jónsson 1924a, 105; LP: nrungar). The suffix –ungar usually indicates descent from some mythical or heroic being, as, e.g., with the Skjǫldungar or the Vǫlsungar. SnE provides two possibilities for the progenitor of the Nárungar. The first of these is Loki’s son Narfi, whom Gylf twice refers to as ‘Nari’ (SnE 1982, 27, 49). The prose continuation of Lokasenna suggests that Nari and Narfi were distinct characters: Nari is said to have been killed and his entrails used as fetters for Loki, while his brother Narfi is turned into a wolf. Snorri’s account of the binding of Loki (SnE 1982, 49/7-9) attempts to resolve this by conflating Nari and Narfi and introducing a second son, Váli. The other possible candidate is Nár, included in a list of dwarf-names in Gylf (SnE 1982, 16). Neither of these derivations is entirely persuasive.

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