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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Þul Óðins 1III

[5] Kjalarr: The name is of obscure origin (cf. ÍO: Kjalar(r)). In Grí 49/4-5 (NK 67) it is associated with kjálki m. ‘sledge’ and interpreted as ‘sledge-puller’ (enn þá Kialar, | er ek kiálca dró ‘and then [they called me] Kjalarr when I pulled the sledge’). The account of the construction of Ormr inn langi ‘The Long Serpent’, the famous ship of King Óláfr Tryggvason (Flat 1860-8, I, 433-4), shows that, in folk etymology, Kjalarr was alternatively derived from kjǫlr m. ‘keel’ (on the connection between kjálki and kjǫlr, see AEW: kjalki). According to that story, a stranger named Forni (= Óðinn) was the one who found a tree-trunk of desired length for a keel. Falk (1924, 22) assumes that this episode could have been motivated by the Óðinn-name Kjalarr. However, the name is more likely to have been connected etymologically to a weak verb *kjalask ‘take care of’ (cf. ModIcel. kjalast). According to de Vries (AEW: Kjalarr), the original meaning of *kjala was ‘feed’; cf. ON kilja f. ‘nutrition’. Thus Kjalarr could be the one who feeds the beasts of prey (so Falk 1924, 22). Other than in Grí and in the present stanza, the name appears in Gylf (SnE 2005, 22) and in skaldic poetry (see ÞSjár Frag 3/3).


  1. Bibliography
  2. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  3. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  4. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  5. ÍO = Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon. 1989. Íslensk orðsifjabók. Reykjavík: Orðabók Háskólans.
  6. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  7. Falk, Hjalmar. 1924. Odensheite. Skrifter utg. av Videnskapsselskapet i Kristiania. II. Hist.-filos. kl. 1924, 10. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  8. Internal references
  9. (forthcoming), ‘ Snorri Sturluson, Gylfaginning’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <> (accessed 5 August 2021)
  10. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Óláfr Tryggvason’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 383.
  11. Not published: do not cite ()
  12. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Þórðr Særeksson (Sjáreksson), Fragments 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 478.


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