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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 68 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur, 21) — Gestumblindi [Vol. 8, 433]

[3]: A difficult phrase, of which the implications are unclear. It also appears as l. 3 of the following two riddles. The preposition at seems to mean that the father’s forvitni has somehow motivated the wave-maidens’ actions in ll. 1-2. If forvitni is understood in its usual sense of ‘curiosity’, and if Ægir is the faðir ‘father’ in question, a desire to know more about the world may be implied; the Ægir portrayed in the frame story of Skm is certainly curious about the Æsir and their deeds. Alternatively, Finnur Jónsson (LP) suggested that here forvitni may mean begœrlidhed, ønske ‘covetousness, desire’, and Clunies Ross (1994b, 175) thinks it probable that the sea was seen by early Scandinavian societies as ‘an entity where male and female principles met and mingled’, suggesting that ‘as both waves and ocean are formed from the same substance, it might be expected that the male-female relationship would have been thought of as incestuous’. On the formula as a potential reflex of traditions about valkyries or other supernatural women, see Burrows (2013).


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