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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bragi Þórr 5III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Bragi inn gamli Boddason, Þórr’s fishing 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. 51.

Bragi inn gamli BoddasonÞórr’s fishing

text and translation

Þás forns Litar flotna
á fangboða ǫngli
hrøkkviáll of hrokkinn
hekk Vǫlsunga drekku.

Þás {hrøkkviáll {drekku Vǫlsunga}} hekk of hrokkinn á ǫngli {fangboða {flotna forns Litar}}.
‘When the coiling eel of the drink of the Vǫlsungar [POISON > = Miðgarðsormr] hung coiled up on the fishing hook of the wrestling-challenger of the followers of ancient Litr <giant> [GIANTS > = Þórr].

notes and context

This helmingr is cited (immediately before Rdr 3-7) in a section of Skm that narrates a number of heroic stories concerning Sigurðr Fáfnisbani ‘Fáfnir’s slayer’ and his kin in order to explain the origin of various gold-kennings. At the point where this helmingr is cited, the narrative explains that Sigurðr’s father Sigmundr, son of Vǫlsungr, was so tough that he could drink poison without ill effect, thus providing the rationale for Bragi’s kenning drekka Vǫlsunga ‘drink of the Vǫlsungar’. The helmingr is introduced in R with the words Því hefir Bragi skáld svá kveðit ‘Therefore Bragi the poet has composed in this way’.

This helmingr is a dependent clause, obviously following another helmingr containing a main clause. — [3] hrøkkviáll … of hrokkinn ‘the coiling eel … coiled up’: Hrøkkvi- and of hrokkinn (p. p.) both derive from the verb hrøkkva ‘curl, move violently, coil’, producing a stylistic effect similar to what Snorri Sturluson identified in Ht (SnE 2007, 22) as iðurmælt ‘repeatedly spoken’ or dunhent ‘echoing-rhymed’.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Bragi enn gamli, 1. Ragnarsdrápa 18: AI, 4, BI, 4, Skald I, 2; SnE 1848-87, I, 370-1, III, 58-9, SnE 1931, 134, SnE 1998, I, 50.


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