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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Þjóð Yt 12I

[5-6] hábrjóstr Sleipnir hǫrva ‘the high-breasted Sleipnir <horse> of flax cords [GALLOWS]’: The base-word of this kenning, Sleipnir, is explained in terms of the idiomatic expression ‘to ride the gallows’, cf. Note to st. 9/10, 11-12. As the determinant, (a) most previous eds also adopt the reading hǫrva ‘of flax cords’ based on , and Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) refers to Egill Hfl 13/7V, where hǫrvar denotes bowstrings. (b) Wadstein (1895a, 68-9), however, followed by Noreen (Yt 1925) prioritizes the reading hurfu (J2ˣ), which he interprets as gen. sg. of *hvarfa according to ANG §77.10. In explanation he refers to Swed. dialectal hurfa, horfa and Norw. korve, kverva ‘withy’, a ring of willow. This is worthy of consideration in light of the fact that it was common to use a withy in hangings (Amira 1913, 241; ‘Hängen’, HDA, 3, 1438-1460). The assumption of Åkerlund (1939, 93) that a scribe had replaced a word unknown to him with hǫrva might also support this. Strangulation with a loop of twisted branches was probably the antecedent of the later practice of hanging with a rope noose (Amira 1922, 95-6).


  1. Bibliography
  2. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  3. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  4. Wadstein, Elis. 1895a. ‘Bidrag till tolkning och belysning av skalde- ock Edda-dikter. I. Till tolkningen av Ynglingatal’. ANF 11, 64-92.
  5. Yt 1925 = Noreen, Adolf, ed. 1925. Ynglingatal: Text, översättning och kommentar. Stockholm: Lagerström.
  6. Amira, Karl von. 1913. Grundriss des germanischen Rechts. Grundriss der germanischen Philologie 5. 3rd edn. Strasbourg: Karl J. Trubner.
  7. Amira, Karl von. 1922. Die germanischen Todesstrafen: Untersuchungen zur Rechts- und Religionsgeschichte. Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Philologische und Historische Kl. 31.3. . München: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
  8. HDA = Bächtold-Stäubli, Hanns and Eduard Hoffmann-Krayer, eds. 1927-1942. Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens. 10 vols. Berlin and Leipzig: de Gruyter.
  9. Åkerlund, Walter. 1939. Studier över Ynglingatal. Skrifta utgivna av Vetenskaps-Societeten i Lund 23. Lund: Gleerup.
  10. Internal references
  11. Not published: do not cite (Egill Hfl 13V (Eg 46))


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