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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Ragnars saga loðbrókar 32 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar, 2) — Liðsmaðr 1 [Vol. 8, 687]

[6] í öndvegi ‘in the high seat’: Bååth (1890, 4) questions the frequent translation of öndvegi, as ‘high seat’ (ModSwed. högsäte), presumably on the grounds that, as certain dictionaries (LP: ǫndugi, ‑vegi; CVC: önd-vegi and önd-ugi; AEW: ǫndvegi, ǫndugi; ÍO: öndvegi; cf. 2 vega) have since explained, the word probably meant originally ‘opposite seat’, i.e. a seat facing another across a table or making with its prominence a strong impression on a newcomer facing it. According to Shetelig and Falk (1937, 324), the application of the word to the high seat, the special seat for the host in the centre of the wall of a long hall (cf. Holmquist 1962, 291; Roesdahl 1987, 45), arose from the fact that this seat was given prominence by the ǫndvegissúlur, the pillars placed on either side of it. Use of the term here is evidently symbolic and implies a contrast between the world of the banqueting hall and that of the battlefield. On the rather different context of the word as used in Ragn 36/2, see the Notes to that line and to Ragn 37/8.


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