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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þul Á 5III

Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Á heiti 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 847.

Anonymous ÞulurÁ heiti

Gilling ok Níl,         Ganges, Tvedda,
Luma, vervaða,         Leira ok Gunnþró,
Víð, Svǫl, Vegsvinn,         yn, Þjóðnuma,
Fjǫrm, Strǫnd ok Spé         ok Fimbulþul.

Gilling ok Níl, Ganges, Tvedda, Luma, vervaða, Leira ok Gunnþró, Víð, Svǫl, Vegsvinn, yn, Þjóðnuma, Fjǫrm, Strǫnd ok Spé ok Fimbulþul.

Gilling and Nile, Ganges, Tweed, Luma, one waded by men, Loire and Gunnþró, Víð, Svǫl, Vegsvinn, yn, Þjóðnuma, Fjǫrm, Strǫnd and Spey and Fimbulþul.

Mss: R(43v), Tˣ(45v), C(12v), A(19r), B(9r), 744ˣ(73v-74r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Gilling: ‘[…]ng’ B, ‘Gilling’ 744ˣ;    ok: om. A, 744ˣ, ‘[…]’ B;    Níl: nilus A, ‘[…]’ B, ‘nilus’ 744ˣ    [2] Ganges: ‘ga[…]’ B, ‘ganges’ 744ˣ;    Tvedda: ‘tedda’ B    [3] ‑vaða: ‘vóða’ A, ‘‑veda’ B    [4] ok: om. Tˣ, ‘[…]’ B, ok 744ˣ;    ‑þró: ‘‑þor’ C, ‘[…]’ B, ‘‑þro’ 744ˣ    [5] Víð Svǫl: ið svǫl A, ‘[…] suo᷎l’ B, ‘id suo᷎l’ 744ˣ;    Vegsvinn: ‘vegs[…]’ B, ‘vegsýn’ 744ˣ    [6] yn: ynn C;    ‑numa: ‑muna B    [7] Fjǫrm: ‘fiorn’ Tˣ, forn C;    ok: om. C;    Spé: ‘sp[…]’ B, ‘spe’ 744ˣ    [8] ok: om. Tˣ;    ‑þul: so all others, þyl R

Editions: Skj AI, 670, Skj BI, 667, Skald I, 331; SnE 1848-87, I, 577, II, 480, 563, 623, SnE 1931, 206, SnE 1998, I, 125.

Notes: [All]: Of the river-names listed in this stanza, only Leira ‘the Loire’ (l. 4) occurs in skaldic verse. The names Níl ‘the Nile’ (l. 1) and Ganges ‘the Ganges’ (l. 2) could have been taken from some learned source (e.g. Heimslýsing in Hb 1892-6, 150 and Landafræði in I, 6). — [1] Gilling (f.): A hap. leg. According to Rygh (1904, 71), present-day Gillinga, a river on the border between Lom and Vågå in Oppland, Norway. Bugge (1875, 223) identifies ON Gilling as the name of a small river in England, a tributary of the Ouse, but such a river is not mentioned in Ekwall (1928) and it cannot be traced on modern maps. The name seems to be related to the strong verb gjalla ‘resound’ (Finnur Jónsson 1933-4, 266). Cf. also m. Gillingr, the name of a giant (Þul Jǫtna II 2/5). — [1] Níl (f.) ‘Nile’: See Note to [All] above. The river-name appears in kennings for ‘poetry’ in the rímur (Finnur Jónsson 1926-8: Níl). — [2] Ganges: See Note to [All] above. — [2] Tvedda (f.) ‘Tweed’: The river Tweed which forms part of the boundary between present-day England and Scotland. The name is not known from other Old Norse sources. — [3] Luma (f.): The name is also recorded in the list of river-heiti added in a later hand in the lower margin of U(11r) (see SnE 1848-87, II, 277 n.; U 1962-77, II, 124). According to Rygh (1904, 149), this must be the name of a Norwegian river (cf. such place names as Lomeland, Lomnes and New Norw. lum ‘warm, mild’; see ÍO: Luma 4). Bugge (1875, 223-4) searches for possible modern English or Scottish equivalents, e.g. the Lunan River in Scotland and the Lune in Cumbria and Lancashire. The latter is unlikely, judging from the early spellings of Lune (Ekwall 1928, 270). — [3] vervaða (f.) ‘one waded by men’: A hap. leg. This could be a mythical name, possibly one of the poisonous rivers of Nástrǫnd ‘corpse-shore’ (Finnur Jónsson 1933-4, 268), because men (verar) who are oath-breakers and murderers are said to wade (vaða) through these rivers (Vsp 38-9; Gylf, SnE 2005, 53). Alternatively, Rygh (1904, 294) reports that Sophus Bugge interpreted the first element ver- in river-names as ‘calm’ (rolig, stille ‘calm, quiet’). Vervaða would then mean ‘one with a calm ford’ (vað n. means ‘ford’). — [4] Leira ‘Loire’: See Note to [All] above. — [4] Gunnþró (f.): The name of a mythical river (Grí 27/3; Gylf, SnE 2005, 33), in which the first element is gunn- ‘battle-, war-’. The second element is either þró f. ‘trough’ (Gunnþró lit. ‘battle-trough’) or -þrá, probably the f. form of the adj. þrár ‘stubborn’ (hence ‘battle-stubborn’). Alternatively, the second element may be connected with ON þrá f. ‘yearning, longing’. Finnur Jónsson (1933-4, 263) gives the translation den krigeriske ‘the warlike one’ and Hale (1983, 169-70) ‘one which travels swiftly or wildly in its course’. — [5] Víð, Svǫl: Lit. ‘wide one, cold one’ (both f. nom. sg.). So , C (spelled as a cpd in R). Both Víð and Svǫl are names of mythical rivers (Grí 27/1, 3 and SnE 2005, 9, 33; see also Víð in st. 1/3 above). Skj B (and Skald) adopts the A, 744ˣ variant ið svǫl ‘repeated cool one’, which may be interpreted as ‘very cold one’. Finnur Jónsson (1933-4, 268) has Víð, Svǫl, and Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 518) gives Viðsvǫl or Víðsvǫl. — [5] Vegsvinn (f.): The name of a mythical river (Grí 28/2), treated as two separate names, Veg and Svinn, in Gylf (SnE 2005, 33; see also Note to Þjóðnuma in l. 6). The meaning of this heiti is either ‘way-swift one’ (cf. Hale 1983, 176: ‘one which flows rapidly in its course’) or ‘way-clever one’ (Finnur Jónsson 1933-4, 263). — [6] yn: The name is repeated in st. 6/5, but it is not found elsewhere and its origin is obscure. Finnur Jónsson (1933-4, 268) suggests that yn may be related to the weak verb una ‘enjoy’ and could mean ‘good one, useful one’. See also ÍO: Yn. — [6] Þjóðnuma (f.): Lit. ‘people-seizer’ (so Finnur Jónsson 1933-4, 263) or ‘great/powerful seizer’ since þjóð- in compounds is often used as a substantival epithet with a qualitative meaning (on such heiti, see Gurevich 1992c, 47-50). The second element is most likely derived from the strong verb nema ‘take, seize, grasp’. This is a mythical river in Grí 28/3 and Gylf (SnE 2005, 33: Veg, Svinn, Þjóðnuma). Alternatively, the second element has been explained as related to ModNorw. dialects nome (ON *numi m.) ‘small lake close to a river, with whose water level it rises and falls’; ‘water container’ (cf. the farm-name Nomeland). Hence Þjóðnuma could possibly mean ‘one that contains a great deal of water’ (Hale 1983, 176). — [7] Fjǫrm (f.): Lit. ‘rushing one, hurrying one’. This is a mythical river (Grí 27/4; Gylf, SnE 2005, 9, 33), but cf. the Old Norse p. n. Fjarma(r)staðir, which seems to be derived from the river-name Fjǫrm, related to New Norw. fjarma ‘rush, spring forward’ (ÍO: Fjǫrm; Rygh 1904, 51; Finnur Jónsson 1933-4, 263; Hale 1983, 170). — [7] Strǫnd: See Note to st. 3/2. — [7] Spé ‘Spey’: The name does not occur in other Old Norse sources. According to CVC 780, this is the River Spey in north-eastern Scotland, but that interpretation is uncertain (Finnur Jónsson 1933-4, 267; see also ÍO: Spé 2). — [8] Fimbulþul (f.): Lit. ‘mighty mumbler’ (so Faulkes 1987, 161). A mythical river (Grí 27/4; Gylf, SnE 2005, 9, 33) whose first element is fimbul- ‘mighty, great’. The second element is related to the weak verb þylja ‘chant, murmur’ (cf. þula). The m. form, fimbulþulr, refers to Óðinn in Hávm 80/5, 142/5.


  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. 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.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  6. = Kålund, Kristian and Natanael Beckman. 1908-18. Alfræði íslenzk: Islandsk encyklopædisk litteratur. 3 vols. SUGNL 37, 41 and 45. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Gurevich, Elena A. 1992c. ‘Þulur in Skáldskaparmál: An Attempt at Skaldic Lexicology’. ANF 107, 35-52.
  8. Faulkes, Anthony, trans. 1987. Snorri Sturluson. Edda. Everyman’s Library. London and Rutland, Vermont: J. M. Dent & Sons and Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. Rpt. with new chronology and synopsis 2005.
  9. Finnur Jónsson. 1926-8. Ordbog til de af samfund til udg. af gml. nord. litteratur udgivne Rímur samt til de af Dr. O. Jiriczek udgivne Bósarímur. SUGNL 51. Copenhagen: Jørgensen.
  10. ÍO = Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon. 1989. Íslensk orðsifjabók. Reykjavík: Orðabók Háskólans.
  11. Bugge, Sophus. 1875. ‘Biskop Bjarne Kolbeinssøn og Snorres Edda’. ÅNOH, 209-46.
  12. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  13. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  14. Hb 1892-6 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1892-6. Hauksbók udgiven efter de Arnamagnæanske håndskrifter no. 371, 544 og 675, 4° samt forskellige papirshåndskrifter. Copenhagen: Det kongelige nordiske oldskrift-selskab.
  15. U 1962-77 = Grape, Anders et al., eds. 1962-77. Snorre Sturlasons Edda: Uppsala-handskriften DG 11. 2 vols. Stockholm and Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell.
  16. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  17. Finnur Jónsson. 1933-4. ‘Þulur’. APS 8, 262-72.
  18. Hale, Christopher. 1983. ‘The River Names in Grímnismál 27-29’. In Glendinning et al. 1983, 165-86.
  19. Rygh, Oluf. 1904. Norske elvenavne. Efter offentlig foranstaltning utgivne med tilføiede forklaringer af K. Rygh. Kristiania (Oslo): Cammermeyer.
  20. Ekwall, Ellert. 1928. English River Names. Oxford: Clarendon.
  21. Internal references
  22. Not published: do not cite (GylfIII)
  23. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Jǫtna heiti II 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 721.
  24. Not published: do not cite ()
  25. Not published: do not cite ()
  26. Not published: do not cite ()

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