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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Eskál Vell 32I

[5, 6] folkleikr fúrs reikar Heðins ‘army-game [BATTLE] of the fire of the hair-parting of Heðinn <legendary hero> [SWORD]’: (a) This edn follows Kock (NN §1887A), ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991 in regarding this problematic phrase as an elaboration of the expression ‘sword-battle’, of which Kock (NN §1887) adduces some examples. ‘Battle’ is replaced by folkleikr ‘army-game’ while ‘sword’ is rendered by the phrase fúrs reikar Heðins ‘of the fire of the hair-parting of Heðinn’ and interpreted as ‘that which flames against the head of Heðinn’. Reik f. ‘parting of the hair, hair-parting’ functions as a pars pro toto expression for ‘head’. ‘Fire’ is one of the commonest base-words in sword-kennings, but it is not usually determined by the object that the sword injures (cf. Meissner 157-64). (b) A totally different interpretation which contains a more standard kenning is proposed by Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Finnur Jónsson 1891a, 170-81; Skj B): reikar Heðins faldfúrsleikr ‘the game of the fire of the headgear of the head of Heðinn <legendary hero> [(lit. ‘headgear-fire-game of the head of Heðinn) HELMET > SWORD > BATTLE]’. This is problematic since it both includes an emendation of folk (all mss) to fald ‘headgear’ and configures the determinants in an unusual way, by inserting a freestanding noun from l. 5 (fúrs) between the two elements of a cpd l. 6 (faldleikr) to form fald-fúrs-leikr. There is a structurally similar kenning in Eil Þdr 12/8III Heðins reikar skálleik ‘the game of the bowl of the hair-parting of Heðinn [(lit. ‘bowl-game of the hair-parting of Heðinn’) HELMET > BATTLE]’, yet this does not match the extreme complexity assumed by Finnur Jónsson.


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  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. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  8. Finnur Jónsson. 1891a. ‘Vellekla: Tekstkritiske bemærkninger’. ÅNOH, 147-82.
  9. Internal references
  10. Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 12’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 101.


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