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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Haustl 4III

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Haustlǫng 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 437.

Þjóðólfr ór HviniHaustlǫng

Fjallgylðir bað fyllar
fet-Meila sér deila
(hlaut) af helgum skutli
(hrafnásar vin blása).
Ving-Rǫgnir lét vagna
vígfrekr ofan sígask,
þars vélsparir vôru
varnendr goða farnir.

{Fjallgylðir} bað {fet-Meila} deila sér fyllar af helgum skutli; {vin {hrafnásar}} hlaut blása. {Vígfrekr ving-Rǫgnir vagna} lét sígask ofan, þars {vélsparir varnendr goða} vôru farnir.

{The mountain-wolf} [GIANT = Þjazi] bade {step-Meili <god>} [= Hœnir] share out to him his fill from the holy trencher; {the friend {of the raven-god}} [= Óðinn > = Loki] had to blow [the fire]. {The killing-greedy swinging Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> of killer whales} [GIANT = Þjazi] let himself sink down where {the stratagem-sparing defenders of the gods} [= Óðinn, Hœnir and Loki] were situated.

Mss: R(25v), W(55) (SnE)

Readings: [1] fyllar: so W, fullan R    [2] Meila: so W, ‘mela’ R;    sér deila: so W, ‘’ om. R    [3] hlaut: so W, ‘hl[…]’ R;    helgum: helgu R, W    [4] ‑ásar: ása W;    vin: ‘vm’ or vin W;    blása: lása W    [5] Rǫgnir: so W, ‘raungnir’ R;    lét: ‘le[…]’ W;    vagna: so W, om. R    [6] ofan: ‘o[…]’ R, W;    sígask: so W, ‘sigað’ R

Editions: Skj AI, 17, Skj BI, 15, Skald I, 10, NN §§1016, 2505; SnE 1848-87, I, 308-9, III, 41-2, SnE 1931, 111, SnE 1998, I, 31.

Context: As for st. 1, but the stanza is only in R and W. Ms. omits it and goes straight from st. 3 to st. 5.

Notes: [All]: Stanza 4 is only extant in mss R and W, and as the writing on fol. 25v of R is rather faint, especially towards the edges of the leaf, some readings which were apparently visible to earlier eds cannot now be made out. Skj A claims to have read R’s ‘hlvt’ (where W has hlaut) at the beginning of l. 3 and ofan in l. 6. Skj A also claims to have read ‘sigaz’ in R at the end of l. 6, though the last letter is still visible and is almost certainly an <ð>. — [1] fyllar ‘fill’: Lit. ‘fills’ (pl.). — [2] fet-Meila ‘step-Meili <god> [= Hœnir]’: Most scholars have assumed that this kenning refers to Hœnir, rather than Loki, largely because Skm cites several curious periphrases for this god, about whose characteristic activities little is known. The etymology of Hœnir’s name is uncertain and many theories have been proposed (there are eight listed under AEW: Hœnir). The most plausible seem to be those (AEW’s numbers 2 and 3) that associate the name with words for some kind of bird, perhaps a hen (hœna). It is said (SnE 1998, I, 19) that Hœnir can be called sessa eða sinna eða mála Óðins ok hinn skjóta Ás ok hinn langa fót ok aurkonung ‘Óðinn’s bench-mate or companion or confidant and the swift god and the long foot and mud-king’. The last two terms, and the etymology of Hœnir’s own name, have suggested to some (e.g. Turville-Petre 1964, 141-2 and n. 34) that Hœnir might have been a god who assumed the form of a bird, perhaps a wading bird. If so, the determinant fet-(Meili) may be hinting in this direction. Meili was the name of one of Óðinn’s sons, and a brother to Þórr (cf. st. 14/7, Hárb 9/5). In an early work, Finnur Jónsson (1884, 45 but not in Skj) suggested emending bað ‘bade’ (l. 1) to bauð ‘invited’ (which takes the dat. of the person invited) and then emending fet-Meila to feðr Meila ‘the father of Meili [= Óðinn]’ (cf. LP: fet-Meili). These emendations are not supported by either ms. Marold (1983, 157) argues that fet-Meili should refer to Óðinn rather than Hœnir, basing her case on names for Óðinn like Vegtamr ‘Accustomed to the way’ (Bdr 6/1, 13/1). It might be natural for the giant Þjazi to address Óðinn, the leader of the gods, rather than Hœnir. — [3] helgum ‘holy’: As this adj. must be m. dat. sg., to agree with skutli ‘trencher’, it is necessary to emend both mss’ helgu. Presumably the trencher is holy because it belongs to the gods and contains their food. Holtsmark (1949, 22) was inclined to think that this phrase indicated that the meal was a sacrificial one, though the context does not seem to support this idea. Kock (NN §1016) takes af helgum skutli ‘from the holy trencher’ with the rest of ll. 3-4 rather than with ll. 1-2, and this is possible. — [3, 4] vin hrafnásar hlaut blása ‘the friend of the raven-god [= Óðinn > = Loki] had to blow [the fire]’: Many eds (e.g. Skj B; Skald) adopt the more common nom. form vinr ‘friend’ over the mss’ vin but this is not necessary as both forms are attested (cf. ANG §§285 Anm. 2, 388 and Anm.). Óðinn is the raven-god, for he possesses two ravens, Huginn ‘Thought’ and Muninn ‘Memory’, who fly around the world every day to bring him information about whatever is going on (cf. Grí 20, SnE 2005, 32-3); the raven-god’s friend is probably Loki here rather than Hœnir (so NN §1016), as there seems to be a contrast with the god referred to in l. 2. Blása ‘blow’ is assumed to refer to the need for the gods to blow on the fire to keep the earth-oven cooking; Kock (NN §1016), however, suggests that it means to get angry, puff with rage, citing Fritzner: blása 2 (cf. ONP: 2blása A. 4 ‘breathe heavily, sigh, blow, snort’) but this interpretation does not give weight to the sense of the verb hlaut ‘had to, was obliged to’. — [5] ving-Rǫgnir vagna ‘swinging Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> of killer whales [GIANT = Þjazi]’: There are three points of uncertainty in the interpretation of this kenning: the meaning of the element ving- in ving-Rǫgnir, the meaning of vagna and the meaning of the kenning as a whole. The element ving- is likely to have a similar meaning to its usage in a name for the god Þórr, Vingþórr, found in Þry 1/1, Alv 6/1 and Þul Þórs 1/7 (and Note), where it most likely means ‘swinging’ (cf. the cpd vingameiðr ‘swaying tree’ in Eyv Hál 5/3I and Note), alluding to the god’s habit of swinging his hammer, Mjǫllnir. See further the discussion of Holtsmark (1949, 19-20). The simplex Vingnir appears as a giant-heiti in st. 19/2 of this poem, as well as in Þul Jǫtna I 5/8. The determinant of this kenning, vagna, is understood here as the gen. pl. of vǫgn ‘killer whale, orca’, and the whole kenning, which refers to the giant Þjazi, may allude to the ability of giants to pull up whales from the ocean as though they were fish. Cf. SnE 1998, I, 63: Hér er kallat hvalir Viðblinda geltir. Hann var jǫtunn ok dró hvali í hafi út sem fiska ‘Here whales are called Viðblindi’s boars. He was a giant and pulled whales from the sea as if they were fish’; see also Hym 21/1-4. It is also possible to construe vagna as gen. pl. of vagn ‘carriage, chariot’, but such a determinant in a giant-kenning, as this must be, does not conform to normal kenning patterns. — [7, 8] vélsparir varnendr goða ‘the stratagem-sparing defenders of the gods [= Óðinn, Hœnir and Loki]’: A rather ironic kenning for the trio of gods, who, far from defending their fellows, are about to betray them, and are aptly described as ‘strategem-sparing’, as they are bereft of plans or tricks to get themselves out of the fix they are in.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. 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.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  8. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  10. Turville-Petre, Gabriel. 1964. Myth and Religion of the North. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
  11. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  12. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  13. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  14. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  15. Marold, Edith. 1983. Kenningkunst: Ein Beitrag zu einer Poetik der Skaldendichtung. Quellen und Forschungen zur Sprach- und Kulturgeschichte der germanischen Völker, new ser. 80. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  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. 1884. Kritiske studier over en del af de ældste norske og islandske skjaldekvad. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  18. Holtsmark, Anne. 1949. ‘Myten om Idun og Tjatse i Tjodolvs Haustlǫng’. ANF 64, 1-73.
  19. Internal references
  20. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)
  21. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Þórs heiti 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 758.
  22. Not published: do not cite ()
  23. Not published: do not cite ()
  24. Not published: do not cite ()
  25. Not published: do not cite ()
  26. Not published: do not cite ()
  27. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Háleygjatal 5’ 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. 203.
  28. Not published: do not cite ()

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