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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Arn Magndr 10II

[7] Hel: The axe Hel had, according to Snorri, been owned by Magnús’s father Óláfr (MgóðHkr ch. 28, ÍF 28, 43). Theodoricus, in his Historia (MHN 49) also reports that Magnús wielded his father’s axe (not there named) two-handed at Lyrskovshede (Hlýrskógsheiðr), and that it was shattered in the battle but is partly preserved in the cathedral at Trondheim (Niðaróss). Hel was the goddess of death and her realm in pre-Christian mythology, and by juxtaposing the name with himins ‘heaven’s’ and jǫrðu ‘earth’ (both l. 6) the skald seems to encourage these associations.


  1. Bibliography
  2. MHN = Storm, Gustav, ed. 1880. Monumenta historica Norvegiæ: Latinske kildeskrifter til Norges historie i middelalderen. Kristiania (Oslo): Brøgger. Rpt. 1973. Oslo: Aas & Wahl.
  3. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  4. Theodoricus = Theodrici monachi historia de antiquitate regum Norwagiensium. In MHN 1-68.


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