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Runic Dictionary

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Þjóð Haustl 2III l. 6

mar — the horse


2. marr (noun m.): horse


[6] mar: so Tˣ(26r), ‘ma[…]’ R(25v), ‘ma’ W


[6] mar ár-Gefnar ‘the horse of fruitfulness-Gefn <= Freyja> [= Gefjun <goddess> > OX]’: (a) The interpretation here follows that first suggested by Reichardt (1928, 163-4) and uses ’s readings Gefnar and mar. It is possible that R also read mar, although the final letter of the word is now illegible. The kenning must be understood against the background of the myth recounted in both Gylf and Yng, based on Bragi Frag 1 (q. v.), which tells that the goddess Gefjun ploughed up a large tract of fertile meadow-land from Sweden, using four oxen, who were her sons by a giant, and transported it across the sea to form the Danish island of Sjælland (Zealand). (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) read mat ‘food’ and construed ll. 5, 6 and 8 to form the main part of the helmingr: ǫrn settisk ár, þars æsir bôru mat á seyði ‘the eagle alighted long ago, where Æsir were putting food in an earth-oven’. He then included Gefnar in a structurally and syntactically awkward kenning with byrgitýr bjarga (l. 7), Gefnar bjarga byrgitýr ‘the god of the refuge of the Gefn <= Freyja> of crags [(lit. ‘the refuge-god of the Gefn of crags’) GIANTESS > CAVE > GIANT = Þjazi]’. This would be an inverted kenning, where ‘the Gefn of crags’ is a giantess, her refuge is a cave among the crags, giants typically being considered to live in rocks and mountains, while the ‘god’ of such a refuge is a giant, in this case Þjazi. LP: byrgi-Týr and Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 254: byrgitýr) also suggest that the giantess’s refuge should be understood as a cave. (c) Marold (1983, 154-5) adopts Skj B’s syntax but not the sense of byrgi- as ‘refuge’. She understands byrgi- as an agent noun, from byrgja ‘close, shut’, and construes ár-Gefnar byrgi-Týr bjarga as ‘the enclosing Týr <god> of the mountains of the harvest-Gefn <goddess> [= Iðunn > GIANT = Þjazi]’, looking forward to Þjazi’s abduction of Iðunn. (d) Kock (Skald and NN §2004) emends R’s reading ‘gnæfar’ to árgnæfa in l. 6, regarding it as the gen. sg. of a postulated giant-name Árgnæfi ‘the high-towering one’. He then understands mar Árgnæfa ‘horse of Árgnæfi <giant>’ as an ox-kenning.



case: acc.

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