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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to ÚlfrU Húsdr 2III

[6] hafnýra ‘the sea-kidney [STONE]’: Most scholars agree that this is a stone-kenning, and they have pointed to such parallels as Þjóð Yt 18/6I hjarta lagar ‘heart of the water’ or Eil Þdr 16/2 fjarðepli ‘fjord-apple’ (Ohlmarks 1937, 124; Schier 1976b, 583). These stone-kennings seem not to depend on the hardness of the objects a stone is being likened to, but on their form. Yet, opinion differs about what ‘stone’ means in the present helmingr. (a) This edn understands the stone as referring to rein ‘land’ from the first helmingr, i.e. the object of Loki’s and Heimdallr’s quarrel (see Note to l. 2 rein; Schier 1976a, 583-4; Marold 2000a, 296-7; Marold 2000b, 284). This interpretation can be supported by the use of hjarta lagar ‘heart of the water’ to denote an island in Þjóð Yt 18/6I. Hence, hafnýra could refer to a rock in the sea, which would fit very well with the depiction of the quarrel as a fight between seals and one of them in the end ruling over this rock. (b) Other scholars take Snorri’s remark about Brísingamen being the object of contention to mean that hafnýra is a stone-kenning that could also refer to a jewel (Meissner 91) and hence to Brísingamen (Mogk 1880, 331; Skj BI; LP: hafnýra). In most cases they believe that both hafnýra and Singasteinn refer to the necklace. But Singasteinn cannot denote Brísingamen because of its syntactical combination with the preposition at (see Note to l. 2 at Singasteini). Heizmann (2009, 512-21) tries to show that Freyja’s Brísingamen is connected to birth and regeneration. Loki’s theft would then correspond to his role as the gods’ antagonist and the enemy of regeneration. (c) Ohlmarks (1937, 124), Pering (1941, 211) and Schier (1976a, 584) object to the interpretation of hafnýra as Brísingamen; rather, they interpret hafnýra as ‘stone’, arguing that Snorri must have borrowed the notion of a fight over this necklace from elsewhere (see Introduction to st. 2 above). (d) De Vries (1933, 129) equates hafnýra with ‘amber’. (e) Pering (1941, 217-18), followed by Tolley (1996, 83) and Cöllen (2007, 67-70), compares the term ‘sea-kidney’ with later-attested expressions such as ModNorw. sjøbønner ‘sea-beans’ or vettenyrer ‘sprite-kidneys’ which refer to a stony fruit (Pusaetha scandens) with regenerative and other beneficial properties. On this basis he takes hafnýra for a stone amulet.


  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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Schier, Kurt. 1976a. ‘Húsdrápa 2: Heimdall, Loki und die Meerniere’. In Birkhan 1976, 577-88.
  6. Cöllen, Sebastian. 2007. ‘Der Ursprung des Feuers in nordgermanische Mythologie. Studien zu Húsdrápa 2’. ANF 122, 59-78.
  7. Marold, Edith. 2000a. ‘Die Húsdrápa als kosmologisches Gedicht’. In Barnes et al. 2000, 290-302.
  8. Marold, Edith. 2000b. ‘Kosmogonische Mythen in der Húsdrápa des Úlfr Uggason’. In Dallapiazza et al. 2000, 281-92.
  9. Mogk, Eugen. 1880. ‘Untersuchungen ueber die Gylfaginning. II: Die Quellen der Gylfaginning und ihr Verhältnis zu den sog. Eddaliedern. Anhang Ulfr Uggason’. BGDSL 7, 203-334.
  10. Ohlmarks, Åke. 1937. Heimdallr und das Horn. Heimdalls Horn und Odins Auge. Studien zur nordischen und vergleichenden Religionsgeschichte, 1. Buch (I-II). Lund: Gleerup; Copenhagen: Levin & Munksgaard.
  11. Pering, Birger. 1941. Heimdall: Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Verständnis der altnordischen Götterwelt. Lund: Gleerup.
  12. Schier, Kurt. 1976b. ‘Die Húsdrápa von Úlfr Uggason und die bildliche Überlieferung altnordischer Mythen’. In Guðni Kolbeinsson et al. 1976, 425-43.
  13. Tolley, Clive. 1996. ‘Heimdallr and the Myth of the Brísingamen in Húsdrápa’. Tijdschrift voor skandinavistiek 17, 83-98.
  14. Vries, Jan de. 1933. The Problem of Loki. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.
  15. Heizmann, Wilhelm. 2009. ‘Der Raub des Brísingamen, oder: Worum geht es in Húsdrápa 2?’. In Heizmann et al. 2009, 502-30.
  16. Internal references
  17. Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 16’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 111.
  18. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 18’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 40.


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