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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Eyv Hál 10I

[2] ǫlun ‘ale-feast’: This obscure word has caused difficulty in interpretation. (a) It is construed in this edn as dat. case of an otherwise unattested fem. noun *ǫlun ‘ale-drinking’, to be explained as a deverbative of a common type from *ǫlva ‘to ply with ale’ (Poole 2007b, 170-3). The inf. is not recorded but may be inferred from ǫlvaðr ‘drunk, inebriated’, and the 3rd pers. pres. indic. ǫlvir seems to be attested in Egill Lv 6/1V (Eg 10). A ModIcel. morphological counterpart is ölvun ‘intoxication, drunkenness’, where -v- reflects analogical reformation from the verb. For ale ceremonies or rituals, see ARG I, 425; Brink (1999a, 13) and cf. the account in Egils saga (ÍF 2, 108). The reading of Flat, jólum ‘at Yuletide’, refers to a kindred type of occasion. (b) Some previous eds (Kock NN §1056; ÍF 26; ÍF 29) construe ǫlun as acc. from ǫlunn m., the name of a fish, usually identified as ‘mackerel’, and retain ms. jarðar, also in l. 2. The kenning ǫlun jarðar ‘fish of the earth [SNAKE]’ is equated with the heiti linnr, which normally means ‘snake’ but also occurs as a heiti for ‘fire’ in Þul Elds 2/2III. Thus, by ofljóst, ǫlun jarðar would signify ‘fire’. This interpretation fits well with the mention of fire in the prose sources, but an ofljóst that hinges on linnr in the sense ‘fire’, unattested outside the þulur, is implausible; the acc. case, rather than the expected dat. (ǫlni) following í ‘in, at’, remains a problem (ÍF 26; ÍF 29); and this solution entails double alliteration (see Note to ll. 2-3). (c) Ǫlun f. is a variant form of ǫln, alin ‘forearm’, but would be difficult to accommodate in the stanza. (d) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) regarded the crux as insoluble.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. ÍF 2 = Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar. Ed. Sigurður Nordal. 1933.
  5. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  6. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  8. Brink, Stefan. 1999a. ‘Fornskandinavisk religion – förhistoriskt samhälle. En bosättningshistorisk studie av centralorter i Norden’. In Drobin et al. 1999, 11-56.
  9. Poole, Russell. 2007b. ‘Myth and Ritual in Eyvindr skáldaspillir’s Háleygjatal’. In Quinn et al. 2007, 153-76.
  10. ARG = Vries, Jan de. 1956-7. Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte. 2 vols. 2nd edn. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  11. Internal references
  12. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Elds heiti 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. 922.
  13. Not published: do not cite (Egill Lv 6V (Eg 10))


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