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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Þul Á 4III

[5] Víl: Or Vil (the length of the vowel ([i] or [i:]) cannot be determined). One of the two mythical rivers that flow from the mouth of the wolf Fenrir (see SnE 1848-87, II, 432, 515). The name is not known from other sources. It could be the same word as víl n. ‘misery, wretchedness’ (so AEW: víl 1). Cf. such semantically similar heiti in the present list as nauð  ‘need’ (st. 6/1), ekla ‘want’ (st. 1/7), mein ‘harm’ (st. 2/8), raun ‘ordeal’ (l. 1 above), none of which occurs elsewhere as heiti for ‘river’. If the vowel is short, it could be derived from vil f./n.‘wilfulness’. Finnur Jónsson (1933-4, 268) suggests den gode ‘the good one’, which most likely implies ‘good for fishing’ (cf. Nyt lit. ‘profit’ in st. 6/1 below and Ván ‘hope’ in st. 1/3 above).


  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  4. Finnur Jónsson. 1933-4. ‘Þulur’. APS 8, 262-72.


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