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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Líkn 33VII

[1] skeið ‘ship’: Technically a warship of the long-ship (langskip) class (Falk 1912, 104-5; Jesch 2001a, 123-4). The noun can also mean ‘course, track’ (e.g. sunnu skeið ‘sun’s track’ in C14th Árni Gd 66/1IV), and the poet’s choice of word for ‘ship’ may be calculated to play on the Cross as braut ‘way’ (Líknarbraut) and on the poem’s frequent ‘way, path’ images (see Note to 51/4). The Cross as ship is a patristic and medieval commonplace, based mostly on commentary on Noah’s ark, which is usually glossed as the Ship of the Church, with the Cross as mast. But this is often simplified to the Cross itself as ship, as in a l. from the hymn Salve lignum sanctae crucis which addresses the Cross as: veri nautae vera nauta ‘true ship of the true seaman’ (AH 54, 194). Through reverse typology, Noah’s ark is sometimes represented as having been made from the wood of the Cross: ligno crucis fabricatur / Arca Noe (AH 8, 29). In the late medieval Gimsteinn 105/1 the Cross also makliga merkiʀ ‘fittingly symbolises’ Noah’s ark (ÍM I.2, 327). On the history of these ideas see Rahner 1964, 239-564 ‘Antenna crucis’.


  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. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  4. Falk, Hjalmar. 1912. Altnordisches Seewesen. Wörter und Sachen 4. Heidelberg: Winter.
  5. ÍM = Jón Helgason, ed. 1936-8. Íslenzk miðaldarkvæði: Islandske digte fra senmiddelalderen. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  6. Internal references
  7. Not published: do not cite (Árni Gd 66IV)


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