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skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 14I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 14’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 420.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar
131415

Mundit ‘would’

munu (verb): will, must

[1] Mundit: mundut 54, Bb, mundi Flat

notes

[1, 4] mundit varliga hrjóða ‘would hardly have cleared’: Mundit is literally negative, ‘would not’ (mundi, 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of munu ‘shall, will, may’, plus negative enclitic -t). The sense is clearly that the enemy had difficulty overcoming Ormr’s crew, so negative mundit plus adv. varliga ‘hardly’ presumably has intensifying effect. Skj B adopts Flat’s reading mundi, printing myndi (the forms are interchangeable).

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lung ‘vessel’

lung (noun n.): longship

[1] lung: lund Bb

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‘of the poison’

læ (noun n.): deceit, treachery < læsíkr (noun m.): [poison-whitefish]

kennings

læsíks —,
‘of the poison-whitefish —, ’
   = SNAKE = Ormr inn langi

the poison-whitefish —, → SNAKE = Ormr inn langi

notes

[2] læsíks ‘of the poison-whitefish [SNAKE = Ormr inn langi]’: The mention of a þíðan þrǫm ‘pliant rail’ suggests that læsíks refers to a ship, probably via a pun on the name of Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’, Óláfr’s ship (cf. Naðr in st. 10/1 and Note and, via a similar kenning to the present one, fiskr lyngs ‘fish of the heather [SNAKE]’ in Sigv ErfÓl 3/1; NN §477; Ohlmarks 1958, 451). The second element, síks, denotes a whitefish of the Salmonidae family, Coregonus lavaretus. The first element can be interpreted in various ways to produce a snake-kenning. (a) The usual meanings of are ‘malice, deceit, harm, poison’ (LP: 1, 2), and ‘poison-fish’ is plausible as a snake-kenning: cf. hrøkkviáll drekku Vǫlsunga ‘coiling eel of the drink of the Vǫlsungs [POISON > Miðgarðsormr]’ Bragi Þórr 5/3,4III, or ǫlunn eitrs ‘mackerel of poison [SNAKE]’ GunnHám Lv 6/5, 7V (Nj 10). (b) There is some evidence for meaning ‘land’, which could produce a standard snake-kenning of the type ‘fish of the land’ (cf. Meissner 112-14). Hár Lv 2/2, 3 has eikr læbaugs, which could mean ‘oak of the land-ring [SEA > SHIP]’ (see LP: læbaugr, and Note to st. 10/4 above on baugr; Simek 1982, 211 has an alternative explanation), and GunnlI Lv 7/5V (Gunnl 11) has ‘lesik’ or ‘lausik’, which could give læsík(r) ‘land-whitefish [SNAKE]’. According to Gunnlaugs saga (ÍF 3, 84) Gunnlaugr and Hallfreðr were shipmates and friends, and GunnlI Lv 7 was addressed to Hallfreðr. Textual variation of and láð ‘land’ occurs in Þhorn Gldr 8/8. (c) Skj B (following Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, II, 221) emends Hallfreðr’s kenning læsíks to láðsíks ‘land-whitefish’, and Gunnlaugr’s kenning to lautsíkr ‘dale-whitefish’, but emendation seems unnecessary. As to the syntactic role of the cpd, Kock (NN §477) takes læsíks with gram, i.e. ‘Ormr’s lord’, giving a simpler word order.

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síks ‘whitefish’

síkr (noun m.): fish, houting < læsíkr (noun m.): [poison-whitefish]

kennings

læsíks —,
‘of the poison-whitefish —, ’
   = SNAKE = Ormr inn langi

the poison-whitefish —, → SNAKE = Ormr inn langi

notes

[2] læsíks ‘of the poison-whitefish [SNAKE = Ormr inn langi]’: The mention of a þíðan þrǫm ‘pliant rail’ suggests that læsíks refers to a ship, probably via a pun on the name of Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’, Óláfr’s ship (cf. Naðr in st. 10/1 and Note and, via a similar kenning to the present one, fiskr lyngs ‘fish of the heather [SNAKE]’ in Sigv ErfÓl 3/1; NN §477; Ohlmarks 1958, 451). The second element, síks, denotes a whitefish of the Salmonidae family, Coregonus lavaretus. The first element can be interpreted in various ways to produce a snake-kenning. (a) The usual meanings of are ‘malice, deceit, harm, poison’ (LP: 1, 2), and ‘poison-fish’ is plausible as a snake-kenning: cf. hrøkkviáll drekku Vǫlsunga ‘coiling eel of the drink of the Vǫlsungs [POISON > Miðgarðsormr]’ Bragi Þórr 5/3,4III, or ǫlunn eitrs ‘mackerel of poison [SNAKE]’ GunnHám Lv 6/5, 7V (Nj 10). (b) There is some evidence for meaning ‘land’, which could produce a standard snake-kenning of the type ‘fish of the land’ (cf. Meissner 112-14). Hár Lv 2/2, 3 has eikr læbaugs, which could mean ‘oak of the land-ring [SEA > SHIP]’ (see LP: læbaugr, and Note to st. 10/4 above on baugr; Simek 1982, 211 has an alternative explanation), and GunnlI Lv 7/5V (Gunnl 11) has ‘lesik’ or ‘lausik’, which could give læsík(r) ‘land-whitefish [SNAKE]’. According to Gunnlaugs saga (ÍF 3, 84) Gunnlaugr and Hallfreðr were shipmates and friends, and GunnlI Lv 7 was addressed to Hallfreðr. Textual variation of and láð ‘land’ occurs in Þhorn Gldr 8/8. (c) Skj B (following Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, II, 221) emends Hallfreðr’s kenning læsíks to láðsíks ‘land-whitefish’, and Gunnlaugr’s kenning to lautsíkr ‘dale-whitefish’, but emendation seems unnecessary. As to the syntactic role of the cpd, Kock (NN §477) takes læsíks with gram, i.e. ‘Ormr’s lord’, giving a simpler word order.

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þrǫm ‘rail’

þrǫmr (noun m.; °dat. þremi; gen. þrama): rail, rim

[3] þrǫm: þrum 54, Bb

notes

[3] þíðan þrǫm ‘pliant rail’: Kock (NN §3215) suggests þíðan ‘thawed’ is used in the sense of ‘wet’ here, not ‘agile, flexible’, but his arguments lack sufficient evidence to convince (Foote 1984a, 229; Jesch 2001a, 141).

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þíðan ‘the pliant’

þíðr (adj.): [pliant]

notes

[3] þíðan þrǫm ‘pliant rail’: Kock (NN §3215) suggests þíðan ‘thawed’ is used in the sense of ‘wet’ here, not ‘agile, flexible’, but his arguments lack sufficient evidence to convince (Foote 1984a, 229; Jesch 2001a, 141).

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varliga ‘hardly’

varliga (adv.): barely

notes

[1, 4] mundit varliga hrjóða ‘would hardly have cleared’: Mundit is literally negative, ‘would not’ (mundi, 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of munu ‘shall, will, may’, plus negative enclitic -t). The sense is clearly that the enemy had difficulty overcoming Ormr’s crew, so negative mundit plus adv. varliga ‘hardly’ presumably has intensifying effect. Skj B adopts Flat’s reading mundi, printing myndi (the forms are interchangeable).

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hrjóða ‘have cleared’

1. hrjóða (verb): clear, destroy

notes

[1, 4] mundit varliga hrjóða ‘would hardly have cleared’: Mundit is literally negative, ‘would not’ (mundi, 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of munu ‘shall, will, may’, plus negative enclitic -t). The sense is clearly that the enemy had difficulty overcoming Ormr’s crew, so negative mundit plus adv. varliga ‘hardly’ presumably has intensifying effect. Skj B adopts Flat’s reading mundi, printing myndi (the forms are interchangeable).

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meðan ‘while’

meðan (conj.): while

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ítr* ‘the glorious’

ítr (adj.): glorious

[5] ítr*: ítrs all

kennings

ítr*vini Áta
‘the glorious friends of Áti ’
   = SEAFARERS

the glorious friends of Áti → SEAFARERS
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æta ‘’

ætr (adj.)

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vini ‘friends’

vinr (noun m.; °-ar, dat. -/(-i OsvReyk 92.17); -ir): friend

[5] vini: vina all

kennings

ítr*vini Áta
‘the glorious friends of Áti ’
   = SEAFARERS

the glorious friends of Áti → SEAFARERS
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Áta ‘of Áti’

Áti (noun m.): Áti

[5] Áta: so 54, ‘átu’ 61, ‘ęta’ Bb, ‘atti’ Flat

kennings

ítr*vini Áta
‘the glorious friends of Áti ’
   = SEAFARERS

the glorious friends of Áti → SEAFARERS
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innanborðs ‘on board’

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at ‘in’

3. at (prep.): at, to

notes

[6] at morði ‘at the battle’: Most eddic and some skaldic examples of simplex morð (often ‘murder’) are clearly pejorative (Hamð 11/6, Akv 32/4, 42/3; Sigv Erlfl 8/8, ESk Eystdr 2/1II), but this is not usually the case for the common phrase at morði (e.g. Þhorn Gldr 4/2, Glúmr Gráf 8/8).

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morði ‘the battle’

1. morð (noun n.; °-s; -): killing, battle

notes

[6] at morði ‘at the battle’: Most eddic and some skaldic examples of simplex morð (often ‘murder’) are clearly pejorative (Hamð 11/6, Akv 32/4, 42/3; Sigv Erlfl 8/8, ESk Eystdr 2/1II), but this is not usually the case for the common phrase at morði (e.g. Þhorn Gldr 4/2, Glúmr Gráf 8/8).

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‘they’

1. sá (pron.; °gen. þess, dat. þeim, acc. þann; f. sú, gen. þeirrar, acc. þá; n. þat, dat. því; pl. m. þeir, f. þǽ---): that (one), those

notes

[7] sú gerðisk vel ‘they performed worthily’: refers to the retinue (verðung f.).

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gerðisk ‘performed’

1. gera (verb): do, make

[7] gerðisk: gerðisk at Flat

notes

[7] sú gerðisk vel ‘they performed worthily’: refers to the retinue (verðung f.).

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vel ‘worthily’

vel (adv.): well, very

notes

[7] sú gerðisk vel ‘they performed worthily’: refers to the retinue (verðung f.).

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varði ‘defended’

3. verja (verb): defend

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verðung ‘the retinue’

verðung (noun f.): troop, retinue

notes

[6] at morði ‘at the battle’: Most eddic and some skaldic examples of simplex morð (often ‘murder’) are clearly pejorative (Hamð 11/6, Akv 32/4, 42/3; Sigv Erlfl 8/8, ESk Eystdr 2/1II), but this is not usually the case for the common phrase at morði (e.g. Þhorn Gldr 4/2, Glúmr Gráf 8/8).

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jǫfurs ‘of the prince’

jǫfurr (noun m.): ruler, prince

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sverðum ‘with swords’

sverð (noun n.; °-s; -): sword

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

The defenders’ swords become blunted and, as Óláfr is distributing new ones, his men notice for the first time that he is wounded. Men on board Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’ fall from wounds and exhaustion, first in the forecastle and bow, and then amidships.

[5-8]: The helmingr is problematic. In l. 5, ms. vina (m. gen. pl.) ‘of friends’ is difficult to accommodate in the syntax, and the last word is highly variable in the mss. Gen. sg. ítrs ‘glorious’ would seem to qualify jǫfurs ‘of the prince’, but since this is a Type C-line the words occupying positions 2-4 (here ítrs vina) belong together syntactically (cf. Gade 1995a, 123-4). Further, varði ‘defended’ in l. 7 lacks a direct object. (a) Two small emendations are adopted here: of vina to vini (m. acc. pl.), giving a direct object for varði, and of ítrs to ítr, which then forms a cpd with vini, ‘glorious friends’; cf. ítrfermðum ‘splendidly laden’ in st. 17/1. The last word in l. 5 is taken here as Áta ‘of Áti’. The resulting kenning is unusual, but cf. ætt Endils ‘clan of Endill <sea-king>’, hence ‘seafaring princes’ in general, Arn Þorfdr 22/5, 6II. This interpretation is indebted to Kari Ellen Gade. (b) Skj B takes the last word in l. 5 as ôttu ‘had’ (3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. of eiga), and emends twice: vina (m. gen. pl.) ‘of friends’ to vinir (m. nom. pl.) ‘friends’ and varði (3rd pers. sg. pret. indic.) ‘defended’ to varða (inf.) ‘to defend’. Vinir is then the subject of an auxiliary and inf. construction: vinir ítrs jǫfurs ôttu varða sverðum ‘friends of the glorious prince had to defend with swords’, but this does not avoid the difficulty with ítrs jǫfurs mentioned above.

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