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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Refr Ferðv 2III

[4] úrsvǫl vǫlva Gymis ‘the spray-cold vǫlva <seeress> of Gymir <sea-giant> [= Rán]’: Rán is a sea-goddess and the wife of Ægir, the sea-god or sea-giant (Skm, SnE 1998, I, 36, 41, 95). She seems to personify the destructive power of the sea, as becomes clear in this stanza and above all in the eddic Helgi poems (HHund I 29-30; HHj 18) and in Egill St 7/1-2V (Eg 78). She is said to possess a net with which she fishes for everyone who drowns (see Note to SnH Lv 6/3II). In prose sources such as Eyrbyggja saga (Eb ch. 54, ÍF 4, 148) there are indications of a notion of a realm of the dead in which those who drown are received by Rán. On Rán, see also Note to Þul Ásynja 2/7. On the motif of the sea as a malevolent, threatening female being, see Clunies Ross (1998a, 166-7). The kenning vǫlva Gymis is formed according to the normal pattern ‘woman of …’ but is unusual in its choice of the base-word vǫlva ‘seeress’. Vǫlva must have negative connotations here, as in a few other instances in eddic and skaldic sources (see Kommentar IV, 292 and LP: vǫlva). The choice of base-word underscores the threatening character of the sea-goddess.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  3. Kommentar = von See, Klaus et al. 1997-. Kommentar zu den Liedern der Edda. 6 vols (continuing). Heidelberg: Winter.
  4. ÍF 4 = Eyrbyggja saga. Ed. Einar Ólafur Sveinsson and Matthías Þórðarson. 1935.
  5. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  6. Clunies Ross, Margaret. 1998a. ‘Land-taking and Text-making in Medieval Iceland’. In Tomasch et al. 1998, 159-84.
  7. Internal references
  8. Kate Heslop (forthcoming), ‘ Anonymous, Eyrbyggja saga’ in Tarrin Wills, Kari Ellen Gade and Margaret Clunies Ross (eds), Poetry in Sagas of Icelanders. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 5. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=10> (accessed 25 September 2021)
  9. (forthcoming), ‘ Snorri Sturluson, Skáldskaparmál’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=112> (accessed 25 September 2021)
  10. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Ásynja heiti 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 765.
  11. Not published: do not cite (Egill St 7V (Eg 78))
  12. Not published: do not cite ()
  13. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sneglu-Halli, Lausavísur 6’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 327-8.

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