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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Eskál Vell 37I

[2] við son Bestlu ‘with the son of Bestla <giantess> [= Óðinn]’: The helmingr is one of the few attestations of the notion of a ruler having an obviously close, confidential relationship to Óðinn. It is reminiscent of the motif of the fulltrúi ‘one in whom one puts full confidence, patron deity’, on which see Halvorsen (1960) and Zernack (1998). The sagas of Icelanders contain several reports of people from the heathen period enjoying a special relationship with a god, e.g. the relationship of Hrafnkell or Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’ to Freyr (Hrafnkels saga, ÍF 11, 99; Víga-Glúms saga, ÍF 9, 34). Whether such beliefs belonged to the religion of the late heathen period is controversial, and this stanza is relevant to the debate (as is Egill St 22-24V). Further comparisons can be made with legendary accounts of kings who are consecrated to Óðinn, who provides them special protection, e.g. Haraldr hilditǫnn ‘War-tooth’ Hræreksson in several C13th sources. The most elaborate account is in Saxo (2005, I, 7, 10, 3, pp. 492-5 and 2005, I, 7, 10, 6, pp. 494-7; cf. Höfler 1952b).


  1. Bibliography
  2. ÍF 9 = Eyfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Jónas Kristjánsson. 1956.
  3. ÍF 11 = Austfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Jón Jóhannesson. 1950.
  4. Höfler, Otto. 1952b. Germanisches Sakralkönigtum. Tübingen: Niemeyer and Münster: Böhlau.
  5. Halvorsen, Eyvind Fjeld. 1960. ‘Fulltrúi’. KLNM 5, 24.
  6. Zernack, Julia. 1998. ‘Fulltrúi’. In RGA, 10, 243-5.
  7. Internal references
  8. Not published: do not cite (GlúmV)
  9. Not published: do not cite (Egill St 22V (Eg 93))


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