Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Arn Hardr 5II

[1] gengr í ætt ‘it runs in the family’: The two main interpretations of the idiom, which is not precisely paralleled in ON, and of the st., were examined by Konráð Gíslason (1879b, especially 158-9), and much of the following discussion is indebted to his. (a) That gengr í ætt means ‘it runs in the family’ is suggested by the adj. ættgengr ‘characteristic of the family’ and by ModIcel. ganga í ætt ‘run in the family’. If this interpretation is correct, the subject to gengr í ætt is the cl. þats yngvi brenndi rǫnn Upplendinga ‘that the prince burned the dwellings of the Upplendingar’ and the overall sense, ‘the prince [Haraldr] takes after his half-brother Óláfr in that he burned the dwellings of the Upplendingar’. The Context above shows that at least some compilers or scribes understood the st. thus, and this is the solution favoured by Konráð Gíslason. (b) Ganga can have the figurative sense ‘it is current’ (of a report or story), as in geingr þersi saga ... mest af Suerri konungi ‘this story is much told about King Sverrir’ (Flat 1860-8, II, 533), and í ætt can mean ‘down the generations, from generation to generation’ as in SnSt Ht 89/4III þat spyrr framm í tt ‘that will be heard for generations’. Lines 1-2 could hence be rendered, ‘It is related from generation to generation, how the prince burned the dwellings of the Upplendingar’. But this would fail to explain how the st. came to be associated with Óláfr helgi, for whom Arnórr is unlikely to have composed.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  3. Konráð Gíslason. 1879b. ‘Et par bemærkninger til et vers af Arnórr jarlaskáld’. ÅNOH, 154-60.
  4. Internal references
  5. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 89’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1199.


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