Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Magndr 14II/2 — ballr ‘baleful’

Skeiðr tók Bjarnar bróður
ballr Skônungum allar
— þjóð røri þeirar tíðar
þingat — gramr með hringum.

Gramr, ballr Skônungum, tók allar skeiðr bróður Bjarnar með hringum; þjóð røri þingat þeirar tíðar.

The monarch, baleful to the Skánungar, seized all the warships of Bjǫrn’s brother [= Sveinn], every one; men rowed up at the right moment.


[2] ballr: baldr 39, FskBˣ, hallr Flat


[2] ballr Skônungum ‘baleful to the Skánungar’: (a) The idiom ballr e-m ‘baleful, harsh, fearsome to sby’ may be paralleled in Bdr 5/7-8 réðo ... hví væri Baldri ballir draumar ‘discussed … why his dreams were baleful to Baldr’ (NK 277), if dat. sg. Baldri ‘to Baldr’ is construed, as here, with ballir ‘baleful’, hence ‘discussed … why Baldr’s dreams were baleful’ (réðo … hví draumar væri ballir Baldri). There does not appear to be a more secure example of ballr e-m (e.g. ONP has none), but such a construction might have been encouraged by the phonetically and semantically similar bella e-m ‘harm sby’ (strong verb), or by adj. phrases such as reiðr e-m ‘angry with sby’ or hættr e-m as in hættr Serkjum ‘dangerous to Saracens’ (ÞjóðA Sex 2). The postulated phrase ballr Sknungum is also compatible with the tradition that the people of Skåne (Skáney, now southern Sweden but then Dan. territory) earned Magnús’s hostility by supporting his enemy Sveinn. This interpretation is adopted by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28, 58 n.). (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B and Kock in Skald, on the other hand, emend to gen. pl. Sknunga, which they take with gramr, hence ‘monarch of Skánungar’.



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