Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Arn Hardr 11II

[1, 4] hafðit lítit brjóst fyr sér ‘had no small courage in himself’: Brjóst can mean ‘breast, chest’, hence figuratively ‘courage’ or ‘defence, defender(s)’, and fyr sér can mean ‘in front of him(self)’, or ‘in, of him(self)’ as in the phrase mikill/lítill fyrir sér ‘great/insignificant in himself’. These alternative senses combine with the alternative readings hafði and hafðit to yield several possible interpretations of this st., the most satisfactory of which are: (a) The reading adopted here (and so Jón Þorkelsson 1884, 41, and Skj B), with the suffix -t negating lítit. (b) Reading hafði: ‘He had little defence in front of him’ (so ÍF 28), implying that Haraldr was in the forefront of the fighting.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  4. Jón Þorkelsson [J. Thorkelsson]. 1884. ‘Bemærkninger til nogle steder i versene i Heimskringla’. Aftryk af oversigt over det kgl. danske videnskabs selskabs forhandlinger 1884. Copenhagen: Luno.


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