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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Gyðja Lv 4VIII (Ǫrv 64)

[All]: There is an inconsistency between this stanza and the following one, both of which assume that Álfr bjálki is already dead, and the prose texts, which tell that, after Oddr has killed Gyðja, he finds Álfr still alive and finishes him off with his club (cf. Ǫrv 1888, 184-5). In the present stanza Gyðja, evidently assuming her husband is dead, indicates that she has conducted sacrifices and given four farms to the gods in order to try to bring Álfr back to life. Belief in reincarnation is one of the ideas ascribed to Nordic pagans by medieval Christian writers (cf. the prose comment at the end of HHund II (NK 161) that Þat var trúa í fornescio, at menn væri endrbornir ‘it was a belief in olden times that people were reborn’). Gyðja’s final claim that Álfr will fling their enemies into the fire may suggest that she imagines him as a revenant, capable of doing harm to the living.


  1. Bibliography
  2. 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.
  3. Ǫrv 1888 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1888. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Leiden: Brill.


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