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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Ragnars saga loðbrókar 39 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar, 9) — Trémaðr [Vol. 8, 701]

[4] Loðbróku ‘of Loðbróka’: The identification and form of the pers. n. here depends on whether the final letter of the word is understood as an abbreviation for ‑ar in the form of a superscript <r> or as a superscript <v>. The present ed.’s reading (cf. McTurk 1991a, 22-5) differs from that of all previous eds, who without exception have understood the superscript symbol as an abbreviation for ‑ar, and expanded the ms. form to loðbrókar, taking it as the gen. sg. of the strong f. common noun loðbrók ‘hairy breeches’, and as referring to Ragnarr, to whom loðbrók is applied elsewhere as a nickname. (The earliest known reference to a person whose name can be equated with ON loðbrók occurs in the Gesta Normannorurn ducum (c. 1070) of William of Jumièges, where the name is plainly that of a king: Lotroci Regis ‘of King Lothrocus’, see st. 37, Note to [All], above and the Note to Krm 1/8. Cf. also McTurk 2011b, 8; 1991, 39-50; van Houts 1992-5, I, xxxvii.) According to McTurk’s reading, on the other hand, the superscript symbol in question represents <v>. The use of superscript <v> for <u> (in ‘nockvt’ = nokkut) elsewhere in 1824b (at 57v, l. 2, cf. Olsen, Ragn 1906-08, ci and 124, l. 28) supports the reading given here; see further McTurk (2007a, 57-9)). The word loðbróku may then be understood as the gen. sg. of a weak f. noun loðbróka, not otherwise attested in Old Norse. (Although the Maeshowe inscription mentioned in the previous Note uses the f. pron. hennar ‘her’ to refer, apparently, to the sons’ parent, the pers. n. to which it refers is loðbrók, not loðbróka). Bróka is listed in Þul Kvenna II 2/6III as a poetic term for ‘woman’, and this may support the notion that loðbróka may be the pers. n., Loðbróka. McTurk has argued further (1991a, 16-30; 1991b, 343-52, 356-9; 2007a, 57-9; 2011b, 9-14) that this may be a variant of the goddess-name *Loþkona (‘woman with luxuriant hair’?), which Sahlgren (1918, 28-40) showed to be deducible from the Swedish p. n. Locknevi (<Loðkonuvé) and to refer in all likelihood, with its implications of luxuriant growth (its first element means ‘hairy’, ‘woolly’, or ‘grassy’), to a fertility goddess. It is then proposed that it was as part of this goddess’s cult that the trémaðr is here claiming to have been set up.


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