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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Arn Hryn 2II

[1] hlébarðs hanka ‘of the bear of the cleat [SHIP]’: Only the gen. sg. ‑barðs is compatible with the syntax of the couplet. The hanki ‘cleat’ is a loop or other device which holds the cordage for the sails in a given position (cf. Jesch 2001a, 166). Hanka here is taken as gen. sg. ‘of the cleat’, but gen. pl. ‘of cleats’ is also possible. Hlébarðr (also a giant name in Hárb 20, NK 81) is clearly an animal term forming, with hanka, a stereotypical ship-kenning, but the particular animal is not certain. (a) It occurs as a term for ‘bear’ in Þul Bjarnar 1/6III, in Grett Lv 15/5V and elsewhere, and ship-kennings with a base-word meaning ‘bear’ are well attested (Meissner 218). (b) Hlébarðr is a heiti for ‘wolf’ in Þul Vargs 1/6III, and ‘wolf’ is also attested in kennings for ‘ship’, although rather less frequently than ‘bear’ (Meissner 220). (c) Hlébarðr is held to be an adoption, altered by folk etymology, of MLat. leopardus (Alexander Jóhannesson 1951-6, 1026; AEW), and it is conceivable that Arnórr meant ‘leopard’ here (cf. bru léón ‘lion of the wave [SHIP]’ in Svtjúg LvI), but he does not in general show a taste for such exotic references. (d) Krömmelbein’s solution produces an implausible kenning (TGT 1998, 153).


  1. Bibliography
  2. 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.
  3. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  4. Alexander Jóhannesson. 1951-6. Isländisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2 vols. Bern: Franke.
  5. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  6. 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.
  7. TGT 1998 = Krömmelbein, Thomas, ed. and trans. 1998. Dritte grammatische Abhandlung. Studia nordica 3. Oslo: Novus.
  8. Internal references
  9. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Bjarnar heiti 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 895.
  10. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Vargs heiti 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 903.
  11. Not published: do not cite ()
  12. Matthew Townend 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sveinn tjúguskegg Haraldsson, Lausavísa’ 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. 379.
  13. Not published: do not cite (Grett Lv 15V (Gr 28))
  14. Not published: do not cite ()


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