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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 38. Óttarr svarti, 1. Hǫfuðlausn, 8 [Vol. 1, 750]

[1-4]: The syntax and kennings in these lines can be construed in a variety of ways. (a) Kock (NN §727), followed here, adopts gunnþorinn, the reading of Holm2 and other A- and C-class mss of ÓH, takes linns as a determinant for lǫnd (‘the lands of the serpent [GOLD]’), and reads kennir éla Yggs, gunnþorinn ‘master of the storms of Yggr [BATTLES > WARRIOR], battle-daring’. A reference to gold is fitting since in the pre-Norway stanzas of Hfl the emphasis is precisely on Óláfr’s viking exploits and his consequent accumulation of booty (see e.g. sts 7 and 11). (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B also adopts gunnþorinn, but assumes an elaborate warrior-kenning, kennir linns éla Yggs ‘master of the serpent of the storms of Yggr <= Óðinn> [BATTLES > SWORD > WARRIOR]’. However, this involves complex syntax and a statement that Óláfr won lǫnd ‘lands’ in England, and there is no evidence of this. (c) ÍF 27 follows interpretation (b), refining it by retaining the reading veðrþorinn and reading kennir linns éla, Yggs veðrþorinn ‘master of the serpent of battles [SWORD > WARRIOR], daring in the weather of Yggr [BATTLE]’. The assumption that él ‘storm’ alone can mean ‘battle’, is, however, problematic.


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