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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eil Þdr 5III/3 — fríðrar ‘of the splendid’

Ok gangs vanir gingu
gunnvargs himintǫrgu
fríðrar vers; til fljóða
frumseyris kom dreyra,
þás bǫlkveitir brjóta
bragðmildr Loka vildi
bræði vændr á brúði
bág Sefgrímnis mága.

Ok vanir gangs gingu vers gunnvargs fríðrar himintǫrgu; kom til dreyra frumseyris fljóða, þás bragðmildr, bræði vændr bǫlkveitir Loka vildi brjóta bág á brúði mága Sefgrímnis.

And the ones accustomed to walking went to the sea of the battle-wolf of the splendid sky-shield [SUN > = Fenrir > MOUNTAINS]; [he] came to the blood of the foremost harasser of women [GIANT > RIVER], when the action-liberal, rage-familiar misfortune-destroyer of Loki [= Þórr] wanted to open hostilities on the bride of the in-laws of Sefgrímnir <giant> [GIANTS > GIANTESS].


[3] fríðrar: fríðar R, friðar , W


[2-3] fríðrar himintǫrgu ‘of the splendid sky-shield [SUN]’: This is a sun-kenning (Meissner 103-4) and not, as Kiil (1956, 105) believes, a reference to the mythical shield Svǫl (or Svalin) that protects the earth from the sun’s burning rays (Grí 38). Fríðr ‘splendid’ is appropriate as an adj. characterising the sun, making this emendation (already in Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 379-80; Skj B) more likely than Kock’s (NN §446) and Reichardt’s (1948, 346) emendation fríðra gen. pl., which could only qualify fljóða gen. pl. ‘of women’ (l. 3). — [2-3] gunnvargs fríðrar himintǫrgu ‘of the battle-wolf of the splendid sky-shield [SUN > = Fenrir]’: Despite repeated efforts to interpret this syntagm as a giant-kenning (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 379-80; Skj B; NN §446; Reichardt 1948, 345), there is no reason why giants should be enemies of the sun. The wolf Fenrir, on the other hand, is unambiguously said to destroy the sun in Vafþr 46/6 and 47/2 (cf. also Vsp 40 and SnE 2005, 14, where two wolves, called Skǫll and Hati, are said to pursue the sun). — [2-3] vers gunnvargs fríðrar himintǫrgu ‘to the sea of the battle-wolf of the splendid sky-shield [SUN > = Fenrir > MOUNTAINS]’: This kenning is based on an uncommon kenning pattern for ‘mountains, wilderness’, namely, ‘sea of the wolf’. This referent is confirmed by a kenning in the next stanza, ver gaupu ‘sea of the lynx [MOUNTAINS]’ (st. 6/4). Such kennings follow a pattern according to which ‘abode of a mountain animal’ refers to ‘mountains’. The base-word ver ‘sea’ can be explained by the occasional Austausch zwischen ganzen Vorstellungsgebieten ‘switching between complete conceptual domains’ (Meissner 33). Here, ‘land’ is replaced by ‘sea’ and vice versa; cf. þang hlíðar ‘sea-weed of the hill-slope’ for ‘forest’ (Þjóð Yt 17/11I) and vǫrr rádýris ‘wake of the roe-deer’ for ‘land’ (Sigv Frag 2/4). Davidson (1983, 580) has the same kenning, but interprets it as ‘river’, ‘the fishing-place of the brilliant heaven-targe’s (i.e. sun’s) war-wolf (i.e. giant)’. The base-word vers is in the gen., indicating direction (with gingu ‘went’; see NS §141 and Note to st. 2/8 above).




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