Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Auðunn Lv 2I

[3] herkir hyrjar serkja ‘giant of the fire of mail-shirts [SWORD > WARRIOR]’: Guðmundur Finnbogason (1928, 223-4) assumes that the kenning refers to an unnamed servant who has locked the gate of the yard in which the poets were imprisoned overnight. Alternatively, it might be addressed to a fictitious bystander, or even refer to the poet himself if in apposition to vér ‘we [I]’. Herkir is recorded as a giant-name in Þul Jǫtna I 2/3III. Etymologically the noun means ‘devastator’ or ‘noise-maker’, and can also refer to fire (cf. LP: herkir; AEW: herkir; Note to Þul Jǫtna I 2/3III). A man-kenning (in this case specifically a warrior-kenning) with ‘giant’ as base-word is usually pejorative (cf. SnE 1998, I, 40), and this would be appropriate if the referent were a servant.


  1. Bibliography
  2. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  3. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  4. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  5. Guðmundur Finnbogason. 1928. ‘Smávegis 2. Vísurnar í Skáldasögu’. Skírnir 102, 223-5.
  6. Internal references
  7. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Jǫtna heiti I 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 709.


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