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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Rloð Lv 7VIII (Ragn 23)

[7-8]: The meaning is literally: ‘I know very many kings (to be) dead, when wealth lives’, and the construction acc. and inf. with the inf. vera ‘be’ omitted. Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson (Nj 1875-89, II, 17-19, n. 16) offer two possible interpretations of these lines: first: ‘I know of many a king whose wealth is his monument’, i.e. who is remembered more for his wealth than for his prowess or generosity; and second: ‘I know of many a king who died leaving wealth behind him’, i.e. at the height of his prosperity. They prefer the former interpretation, seeing the lines as contrasting semantically with Hávm 76/1, 4-6 (NK 29): Deyr fé …; enn orðztírr | deyr aldregi, | hveim er sér góðan getr ‘Cattle [i.e. riches] die …; but the good reputation of one who achieves it never dies’. Most who have offered a translation have preferred the former interpretation, and it is perhaps the likelier: Ragnarr may be saying here that if he invades with only limited resources (see the Context above) and is defeated and killed, then he will not be accused after death of having hoarded riches during his lifetime.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Nj 1875-89 = Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson. 1875-89. Njála: Udgivet efter gamle håndskrifter. Íslendingasögur udgivne efter gamle haandskrifter af Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskrift-selskab 4. Copenhagen: Thiele.
  3. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  4. Internal references
  5. Not published: do not cite ()


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