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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þjóð Yt 4I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 4’ 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. 14.

Þjóðólfr ór HviniYnglingatal
345

viðbvrs ‘viðburs’

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Vísburs ‘of Vísburr’

Vísburr (noun m.): Vísburr

[1] Vísburs: ‘viðbvrs’ F

notes

[1] Vísburs ‘of Vísburr’: Legendary king of the Yngling dynasty. The name doubtless means ‘the wise son’.

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vilja ‘of the will’

vili (noun m.; °-ja): will, wish

kennings

byrði vilja
‘the ship of the will ’
   = BREAST

the ship of the will → BREAST

notes

[2] byrði vilja ‘the ship of the will [BREAST]’: This kenning is based on the idea that feelings and will-power reside in the breast, cf. Meissner 134-8. Both the ms. variants, (a) byrði ‘ship’ (Kringla group) and (b) byrgi ‘rampart’ (Jöfraskinna group), allow for satisfactory breast-kennings. (a) Byrði vilja ‘the ship of the will’: Byrði is listed among the ship-heiti (Þul Skipa 9/1III and Note) and in a Norwegian legal text (Fritzner: byrði). It derives from borð ‘planking’ and likely refers to the side of a ship (LP, Fritzner: byrði). Terms for ‘ship’ are attested several times as the base-word of a breast-kenning (Meissner 137). (b) Byrgi vilja ‘rampart of the will’: Also well attested as a base-word in kennings is ON borg ‘fortress’ (Meissner 137), including borg vilja ‘fortress of the will’ (SnSt Ht 51/5III). Byrgi, however, is not synonymous with borg. The word is rare, and it appears from the examples given in Fritzner: byrgi that it might have meant ‘rampart’; it appears in skaldic poetry only here and in Eskál Vell 4/3 byrgi bǫðvar ‘rampart of battle [SHIELD]’. Byrði ‘ship’ is preferred in this edn since it is the reading of the main ms. and since the kenning pattern ‘ship of the will’ is attested as early as the C10th and normally refers to the physical breast, whereas borg ‘fortress’ is not attested in such kennings until the C13th-14th and refers predominantly to the breast in the metaphorical sense of ‘soul’ or ‘inner self’.

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byrði ‘the ship’

byrðr (noun f.; °byrðar, acc. byrði/byrð(GrgKonᴵ 205¹¹); byrðar, acc. byrðar/byrðir): burden, load

[2] byrði: byrgi J2ˣ, byrgi with byrði as alternative in same line R685ˣ

kennings

byrði vilja
‘the ship of the will ’
   = BREAST

the ship of the will → BREAST

notes

[2] byrði vilja ‘the ship of the will [BREAST]’: This kenning is based on the idea that feelings and will-power reside in the breast, cf. Meissner 134-8. Both the ms. variants, (a) byrði ‘ship’ (Kringla group) and (b) byrgi ‘rampart’ (Jöfraskinna group), allow for satisfactory breast-kennings. (a) Byrði vilja ‘the ship of the will’: Byrði is listed among the ship-heiti (Þul Skipa 9/1III and Note) and in a Norwegian legal text (Fritzner: byrði). It derives from borð ‘planking’ and likely refers to the side of a ship (LP, Fritzner: byrði). Terms for ‘ship’ are attested several times as the base-word of a breast-kenning (Meissner 137). (b) Byrgi vilja ‘rampart of the will’: Also well attested as a base-word in kennings is ON borg ‘fortress’ (Meissner 137), including borg vilja ‘fortress of the will’ (SnSt Ht 51/5III). Byrgi, however, is not synonymous with borg. The word is rare, and it appears from the examples given in Fritzner: byrgi that it might have meant ‘rampart’; it appears in skaldic poetry only here and in Eskál Vell 4/3 byrgi bǫðvar ‘rampart of battle [SHIELD]’. Byrði ‘ship’ is preferred in this edn since it is the reading of the main ms. and since the kenning pattern ‘ship of the will’ is attested as early as the C10th and normally refers to the physical breast, whereas borg ‘fortress’ is not attested in such kennings until the C13th-14th and refers predominantly to the breast in the metaphorical sense of ‘soul’ or ‘inner self’.

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sævar ‘of the sea’

sjór (noun m.): sea

[3] sævar: so J2ˣ, sjár var Kˣ, papp18ˣ, 521ˣ, 761aˣ, sjá far F, sævar with sjár var as alternative in same line R685ˣ

kennings

niðr sævar
‘the kinsman of the sea ’
   = FIRE

the kinsman of the sea → FIRE

notes

[3] niðr sævar ‘the kinsman of the sea [FIRE]’: This kenning deviates from other kenning types that refer to fire as the enemy of what it consumes (cf. Meissner 100-2), e.g. húsþjófr ‘house-thief’ in st. 20/5. Only one parallel is known: Þul Elds 1/3III bróðir Ægis ‘the brother of Ægir <sea-god>’. For the mythical kinship of water and fire see st. 21/7 and Note; Sveinn Norðrdr 2/2III and Note; Krause (1925a, 140; 1930, 17).

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niðr ‘the kinsman’

1. niðr (noun m.; °-s; niðjar/niðir, acc. niði): son, kinsman, relative

kennings

niðr sævar
‘the kinsman of the sea ’
   = FIRE

the kinsman of the sea → FIRE

notes

[3] niðr sævar ‘the kinsman of the sea [FIRE]’: This kenning deviates from other kenning types that refer to fire as the enemy of what it consumes (cf. Meissner 100-2), e.g. húsþjófr ‘house-thief’ in st. 20/5. Only one parallel is known: Þul Elds 1/3III bróðir Ægis ‘the brother of Ægir <sea-god>’. For the mythical kinship of water and fire see st. 21/7 and Note; Sveinn Norðrdr 2/2III and Note; Krause (1925a, 140; 1930, 17).

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svelgja ‘swallowed’

1. svelgja (verb): swallow

notes

[4] knátti svelgja ‘swallowed’: Knátti ‘could’ can be regarded as a pleonastic auxiliary and is therefore not translated. On the metaphor of svelgja ‘swallow(ed)’, see Note to st. 21/4, svalg.

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knátti ‘’

knega (verb): to know, understand, be able to

notes

[4] knátti svelgja ‘swallowed’: Knátti ‘could’ can be regarded as a pleonastic auxiliary and is therefore not translated. On the metaphor of svelgja ‘swallow(ed)’, see Note to st. 21/4, svalg.

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þás ‘when’

þás (conj.): when

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mein ‘the harmful’

mein (noun n.; °-s; -): harm, injury < meinþjófr (noun m.)

[5] mein‑: men‑ J2ˣ, R685ˣ

kennings

meinþjóf markar
‘the harmful thief of the forest ’
   = FIRE

the harmful thief of the forest → FIRE
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þjóf ‘thief’

þjófr (noun m.; °dat. -i/-; -ar): thief < meinþjófr (noun m.)þjófr (noun m.; °dat. -i/-; -ar): thief < menþjófr (noun m.)

kennings

meinþjóf markar
‘the harmful thief of the forest ’
   = FIRE

the harmful thief of the forest → FIRE
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markar ‘of the forest’

2. mǫrk (noun f.; °merkr; merkr): forest

kennings

meinþjóf markar
‘the harmful thief of the forest ’
   = FIRE

the harmful thief of the forest → FIRE
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setrs ‘of the seat’

setr (noun n.; °-s; -): seat, abode

[7] setrs: so F, J2ˣ, R685ˣ, setr Kˣ, papp18ˣ, 521ˣ, 761aˣ

kennings

verjendr setrs
‘the defenders of the seat ’
   = RULERS

the defenders of the seat → RULERS

notes

[7] verjendr setrs ‘the defenders of the seat [RULERS]’: Finnur Jónsson’s translation in Skj B, besiddelses krævere ‘those who claim possession’ and Noreen’s in Yt 1925, försvararna av sina rettigheter till tronen ‘those who defend their rights to the throne’, are attempts to accommodate the prose narration of Yng (see Context), in which both sons fight for their mother’s bridal gift. The interpretation of NN §1010 followed here is preferable, however, as it retains the central meanings of verja ‘defend’ and of setrs (gen. sg.) ‘of the seat’. It views the gen. phrase as a ruler-kenning, a variant on the pattern ‘guardian of the land’ (cf. Meissner 353).

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verjendr ‘the defenders’

verjandi (noun m.; °-a; -andr/-undr): defender

kennings

verjendr setrs
‘the defenders of the seat ’
   = RULERS

the defenders of the seat → RULERS

notes

[7] verjendr setrs ‘the defenders of the seat [RULERS]’: Finnur Jónsson’s translation in Skj B, besiddelses krævere ‘those who claim possession’ and Noreen’s in Yt 1925, försvararna av sina rettigheter till tronen ‘those who defend their rights to the throne’, are attempts to accommodate the prose narration of Yng (see Context), in which both sons fight for their mother’s bridal gift. The interpretation of NN §1010 followed here is preferable, however, as it retains the central meanings of verja ‘defend’ and of setrs (gen. sg.) ‘of the seat’. It views the gen. phrase as a ruler-kenning, a variant on the pattern ‘guardian of the land’ (cf. Meissner 353).

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fǫður ‘father’

faðir (noun m.): father

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arin ‘the hearth’

arinn (noun m.; °arins, dat. arni): [stone, hearth] < arinkjóll (noun m.)

kennings

arinkjóli.
‘the hearth-ship. ’
   = HOUSE

the hearth-ship. → HOUSE

notes

[10] arinkjóli ‘the hearth-ship [HOUSE]’: This belongs to a pattern of kenning for ‘house’ with a base-word ‘ship’ determined by some part of a house, cf. nǫkkvi toptar ‘the boat of the building-plot’ (st. 17/14) and brandnór ‘hearth-ship’ (st. 17/10; cf. also Meissner 430). Noreen (1892, 211-12; Yt 1925) instead translated this kenning as skepp med lyfting ‘ship with a raised deck’ i.e. the command bridge of a ship, maintaining that this was no brenna, an act of setting fire to a house so that those inside are burned alive, but a cremation aboard a ship. S. Lindqvist (1921, 149-52) similarly argued for a ritual burning on a house-shaped funeral pyre which had been misrepresented in Yt as a brenna because Þjóðólfr misunderstood the Swedish original.

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kjóli ‘ship’

kjóll (noun m.): ship < arinkjóll (noun m.)

kennings

arinkjóli.
‘the hearth-ship. ’
   = HOUSE

the hearth-ship. → HOUSE

notes

[10] arinkjóli ‘the hearth-ship [HOUSE]’: This belongs to a pattern of kenning for ‘house’ with a base-word ‘ship’ determined by some part of a house, cf. nǫkkvi toptar ‘the boat of the building-plot’ (st. 17/14) and brandnór ‘hearth-ship’ (st. 17/10; cf. also Meissner 430). Noreen (1892, 211-12; Yt 1925) instead translated this kenning as skepp med lyfting ‘ship with a raised deck’ i.e. the command bridge of a ship, maintaining that this was no brenna, an act of setting fire to a house so that those inside are burned alive, but a cremation aboard a ship. S. Lindqvist (1921, 149-52) similarly argued for a ritual burning on a house-shaped funeral pyre which had been misrepresented in Yt as a brenna because Þjóðólfr misunderstood the Swedish original.

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glóða ‘of embers’

glóð (noun f.): ember

notes

[11-12] glymjandi garmr glóða ‘the roaring dog of embers [fire]’: This is not a kenning, since the notion described, ‘fire’, is already indicated by the determinant glóða ‘of embers’. Further, if ‘dog’ were the base-word one would expect a determinant denoting something damaged by fire, cf. Note to l. 3 niðr sævar. Therefore garmr glóða should be viewed as a gen.-case metaphor with imagery that involves beit ‘bit’ (l. 12).

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garmr ‘dog’

garmr (noun m.): dog

notes

[11-12] glymjandi garmr glóða ‘the roaring dog of embers [fire]’: This is not a kenning, since the notion described, ‘fire’, is already indicated by the determinant glóða ‘of embers’. Further, if ‘dog’ were the base-word one would expect a determinant denoting something damaged by fire, cf. Note to l. 3 niðr sævar. Therefore garmr glóða should be viewed as a gen.-case metaphor with imagery that involves beit ‘bit’ (l. 12).

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glymjandi ‘the roaring’

glymja (verb): resound

notes

[11-12] glymjandi garmr glóða ‘the roaring dog of embers [fire]’: This is not a kenning, since the notion described, ‘fire’, is already indicated by the determinant glóða ‘of embers’. Further, if ‘dog’ were the base-word one would expect a determinant denoting something damaged by fire, cf. Note to l. 3 niðr sævar. Therefore garmr glóða should be viewed as a gen.-case metaphor with imagery that involves beit ‘bit’ (l. 12).

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

Vísburr, son of Vanlandi, leaves his first wife, the daughter of Auði inn auðgi ‘the Wealthy’. When petitioned by their young sons, he refuses to return her mundr ‘bride-price, bridal gift’, which comprises a precious neck-ring and three large estates. The youths curse the neck-ring and later, empowered by magic (seiðr), attack their father and burn him alive in his house.

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