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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ólhv Frag 7III

Tarrin Wills (ed.) 2017, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 307.

Óláfr hvítaskáld ÞórðarsonFragments

text and translation

Áðr grimmhugaðr gengi
af grjót-Móða dauðum.

Áðr grimmhugaðr gengi af {dauðum grjót-Móða}.
‘Before the fierce-minded one walked away from the dead rock-Móði <god> [GIANT].

notes and context

Cited as an example of antonomasia, that is, the use of a common noun for a proper noun (TGT 1927, 78): Antonomasia setr sameiginligt nafn fyrir eiginligu nafniAntonomasia puts a common noun in place of a proper noun’. This is the first of three types of antonomasia (see Note to [All] below), in this case a non-physical (af ǫnd ‘by the spirit’) attribute. The other two are illustrated by Anon (TGT) 31 and 32. Here the word grimmhugaðr ‘fierce-minded’ is used for the name of the person in question, which Óláfr identifies as Þórr (see Note to l. 1 below).

There are three types of antonomasia in Donatus, ab animo ‘by the spirit’, a corpore ‘by the body’ and extrinsecus ‘extrinsically’, in that order. The example for antonomasia ab animo in Donatus (Keil 1855-80, IV, 400) is magnanimusque Anchisiades ‘and the proud son of Anchises [Aeneas]’. This couplet exemplifies the ab animo (af ǫnd) type in TGT but Óláfr’s example is much closer to Donatus’s example of antonomasia extrinsecus (Keil 1855-80, IV, 400), infelix puer atque impar congressus Achilli ‘unhappy boy and unequally matched in his battle with Achilles’. Both refer to narratives in which heroes with supernatural strength (Achilles and Þórr) kill an opponent. This example is followed in Sedulius Scottus’s commentary (CCCM 40B, 381) with the explanation, Infelix puer ipse est Troilus ‘The unhappy boy himself is Troilus’, which is also similar to Óláfr’s commentary (TGT 1927, 78), Hér er grimmhugaðr settr fyrir Þór ‘Here “fierce-minded” stands for Þórr’. Óláfr’s example was probably influenced by the later example of the extrinsecus type of antonomasia in Donatus rather than the more relevant one for the ab animo type. Micillo (1999, 221) sees a correspondence between another Hiberno-Latin commentary and Óláfr’s further comments (TGT 1927, 78-9), Þar er óeiginlig líking, þvíat margir menn aðrir en Þórr váru grimmhugaðir ‘There is an improper comparison because many men other than Þórr were fierce-minded’. Murethach comments on the example Magnanimusque Anchisiades (CCCM 40, 240): similitudo non propria: nam superbus fuit ille, fuerunt et ceteri superbi ‘an improper comparison: because he [Aeneas] was proud, and so were the others’.


Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XII], D. Vers, hentydende til sagn og lign. 4: AI, 602, BI, 602, Skald I, 293; SnE 1848, 195, SnE 1848-87, II, 166-7, 422, III, 149, TGT 1884, 106, 222, TGT 1927, 78, 106.


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