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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Ragnars saga loðbrókar 26 (Ragnarr loðbrók, Lausavísur, 9) — Ragnarr [Vol. 8, 676]

[All]: The notion of Ragnarr’s death in a snake-pit seems to have been influenced by traditions of the hero Gunnarr’s death in the same circumstances, reflected in Akv 31 and Vǫls ch. 39 (Ragn 1906-8, 101) and elsewhere in Norse tradition, as well as in Þiðr (Þiðr 1905-11, II, 314), which is based predominantly on German sources (Finch 1993b). As applied to Gunnarr the snake-pit motif seems to be of German origin, though it is likely to have had its ultimate origin in the Orient or North Africa (Krappe 1940-1; cf. Dronke 1969, 65-7). According to de Vries (1923a, 252-3), it was the similarity of the names Ælle (Ella) and Atli that attracted the motif to the biography of Ragnarr; according to Krappe (1940-1, 24), it was the fact that Ragnarr was known to have slain a serpent (cf. Ragn 1, above).


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