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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Eil Þdr 1III

[1-2] felli* fjǫrnets ‘the preparer of the life-net [KILLER]’: Lit. ‘one who casts his net for the life (of a person)’. Most eds emend fellir m. nom. sg. (so all mss) to felli m. acc. sg.; only Genzmer (1934, 65) retains the nom. fellir (for his interpretation see below). Fjǫrnets has been emended in accordance with most eds, following Konráð Gíslason (see Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 375), as none of the ms. readings makes any sense (‘-niotz’ R, ‘‑motz’ or ‘natz’ W). Fjǫrnets has been explained in various ways. This edn follows Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1902, 201-3), who offers the most convincing interpretation. According to him, fjǫrnets must mean ‘the net in which life gets caught’; cf. laxanet ‘salmon net’ and þorskanet ‘cod net’. For fella net Björn Magnússon Ólsen (ibid.) arrives at the meaning ‘prepare the net’ in light of lexical material from Modern Icelandic and Norwegian; the resulting interpretation is ‘the preparer of the net for (the giants’) lives’. Guðmundur Finnbogason (1924, 173) and Davidson (1983, 567) concur. Davidson (ibid.) suggests that this could be an allusion to the myth of Þórr as the fisher who catches Miðgarðsormr. Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 376) interprets fjǫrnet as an image for ‘life’, livet set under bildet af et knytted næt ‘life reflected in the image of a meshed net’; hence fellir fjǫrnets is ‘killer’. Genzmer (1934, 65) points out that life cannot be killed and he adopts Björn Magnússon Ólsen’s interpretation ‘who prepares (casts) the net for the life’. He combines fellir fjǫrnets with goða ‘of the gods’ only, however, and interprets ‘the caster of the net for the lives of the gods’ as a kenning for Loki (Genzmer 1934, 68), which he takes as the subject of the sentence. Kock (NN §443) emends to fjǫrnjóts ‘one who enjoys living (or life) with another’, which he connects with goða flugstalla ‘of the gods of the mountains [GIANTS]’ to form a giant-kenning. However, fjǫr is not attested in the sense ‘living together’ and, moreover, fjǫrnjóts fails to supply the needed aðalhending in this line. Elsewhere, Kock (NN §2249, followed by Reichardt 1948, 332), gives a different and doubtful interpretation, suggesting that the correct word could be fjǫrnnet, meaning ‘earth-net’, supposedly a periphrasis for ‘sea’. He combines this with flugstalla, which results in ‘steep bluff by the sea’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Davidson, Daphne L. 1983. ‘Earl Hákon and his Poets’. D. Phil. thesis. Oxford.
  4. Björn Magnússon Ólsen. 1902. ‘Strøbemærkninger til norske og islandske skjaldedigte’. ANF 18, 195-210.
  5. Finnur Jónsson. 1900b. ‘Þórsdrápa Eilífs Goðrúnarsonar’. Oversigt over det Kgl. Danske videnskabernes selskabs forhandlinger 1900, 369-410.
  6. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1948. ‘Die Thórsdrápa des Eilífr Goðrúnarson: Textinterpretation’. PMLA 63, 329-91.
  7. Genzmer, Felix. 1934. ‘Die ersten Gesätze der Thorsdrapa’. In [n. a.]. 1934. Studia Germanica tillägnade Ernst Albin Kock den 6 december 1934. Lund: Gleerup; Copenhagen: Levin & Munksgaard, 1934, 59-73.
  8. Guðmundur Finnbogason. 1924. ‘Um Þórsdrápu. Nokkrar athugasemdir’. Skírnir, 172-81.


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