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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Rv Lv 23II

[8] einum hróki ‘for a certain scoundrel’: Hrókr appears in a list of derogatory terms for men in SnE (W 1924, 104; SnE 1848-87, II, 496), and ‘scoundrel’ is an appropriate meaning in this context (see Note to st. 14/2 for his probable use of another term in the same list). There may however be an intended ambiguity, a subtext derived from chess (see st. 1/1). Hrókr is also the OIcel. word for ‘rook’, first recorded in Mágus saga jarls, probably composed around 1300 and clearly based on a French source. The word is of Persian origin but seems to have entered northern languages from Lat. via French (AEW). Rǫgnvaldr could have encountered the French term in France, or in the British Isles, as it is recorded in Anglo-Norman texts from the late C12th (Rothwell et al. 1991, 661). The Lat. form rocus is attested in the British Isles around 1150 (Latham 1965, 410). In this st., the rook would be Eindriði, moving in a straight line, and attacked by the knight, i.e. Rǫgnvaldr, the only chess-piece that can move diagonally (i.e. in a roundabout, or ‘hooked’, fashion). Hrókr also occurs in KormǪ Lv 13/6V.


  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  4. Latham, R. E. 1965. Revised Medieval Latin Word-List from British and Irish Sources. London: British Academy and Oxford University Press. Rpt. with Supplement 1980.
  5. W 1924 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1924. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Codex Wormianus AM 242, fol. Copenhagen and Kristiania (Oslo): Gyldendal.
  6. Internal references
  7. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  8. Not published: do not cite (KormǪ Lv 13V (Korm 14))


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