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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to GunnLeif Merl I 29VIII (Bret 97)

[All]: Cf. DGB 112 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145.45-6; cf. Wright 1988, 102, prophecy 3): Sublimabit illum aequoreus lupus, quem Affricana nemora comitabuntur. Delebitur iterum religio ‘It [the Germanic worm] will be raised by a wolf from the sea, who will be accompanied by the forests of Africa. Religion will be destroyed again’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 144). The events prophesied here are narrated in DGB XI: the Saxons call for assistance from Gormundus, the king of the Africans, who has just subdued Ireland and therefore can be called the ‘wolf from the sea’; he brings an army composed of 160,000 Africans (J. S. Eysteinsson 1953-7, 100; for text see Reeve and Wright 2007, 256-7; on Geoffrey’s sources for the story of Gormundus see Tatlock 1950, 135-8). The first sentence is absent from some mss of DGB (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145) but must have been available to Gunnlaugr. Gunnlaugr rationalises the figurative ‘the forests of Africa’ and adds the idea that despite the breakdown of religion the English will in due course be baptised, as foreshadowed in DGB XI (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 258-9; J. S. Eysteinsson 1953-7, 100) and fully narrated in Bede HE I, 23-6 and Henry of Huntingdon HA Book III.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Eysteinsson, J. S. 1953-7. ‘The Relationship of Merlínússpá and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia’. SBVS 14, 95-112.
  3. Reeve, Michael D., and Neil Wright. 2007. Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. An Edition and Translation of De gestis Britonum [Historia regum Britanniae]. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  4. Tatlock, J. S. P. 1950. The Legendary History of Britain. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  5. Wright, Neil, ed. 1988. The Historia Regum Britannie of Geoffrey of Monmouth. II. The First Variant Version: A Critical Edition. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.


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