Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Lil 15VII

[5] og bruggandi dauðans dreggjar ‘and brewing the dregs of death’: The image has many associations. Dregg, a relatively uncommon word in ON, can mean ‘yeast, lees, dregs’ or possibly ‘vinegar’ (see ONP: dregg). Here the pres. part. bruggandi ‘brewing’ makes it clear that the reference is to a drink. The image of the poculum mortis ‘cup of death, deadly cup’ is a commonplace of medieval Germanic (as well as Lat.) literature and occurs in a variety of contexts, pagan as well as Christian (see Hall 1993). A widely-circulated text in which the topos is used in a manner similar to here is the Easter hymn Rex aeterne domine: quem diabolus deceperat, / hostis humani generis, / per pomum ligni vetiti / mortis propinans poculum ‘[Adam,] whom the devil, the enemy of humankind, had deceived, giving him the cup of death to drink by means of the fruit of the forbidden tree’ (DH, 175; cf. AH 51, 6).


  1. Bibliography
  2. AH = Dreves, G. M., C. Blume and H. M. Bannister, eds. 1886-1922. Analecta hymnica medii aeui. 55 vols. Leipzig: Reisland. Rpt. 1961. New York: Johnson.
  3. DH = Milfull, Inge B. 1996. The Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church: A study and edition of the ‘Durham Hymnal’. Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England 17. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Hall, Thomas N. 1993. ‘A Gregorian Model for Eve’s Biter Drync in Guthlac B’. Review of English Studies new ser. 44, 157-75.
  5. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.


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