Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Þorfdr 20II/5 — réðusk ‘destroyed each other’

Óskepna varð uppi
endr, þás mǫrgum kenndi
hôligt róg at hníga,
hǫrð, þars jarlar bǫrðusk.
Nær réðusk ástmenn órir,
eldhríð es varð síðan
— ǫld fekk mein in milda
mǫrg — fyr Rauðabjǫrgum.

Endr varð hǫrð óskepna uppi, þás hôligt róg kenndi mǫrgum at hníga, þars jarlar bǫrðusk. Ástmenn órir réðusk nær, es eldhríð varð síðan fyr Rauðabjǫrgum; in milda ǫld fekk mǫrg mein.

At that time a harsh, monstrous thing came to pass, as mighty strife taught many to fall where jarls fought. Our [my] dear friends almost destroyed each other, as the sword-blizzard [BATTLE] came about then off Rauðabjǫrg; the gracious men received many injuries.


[5] réðusk ‘destroyed each other’: (a) Ráða occurs with the meaning ‘betray’ or ‘seal another’s fate’, often specifically by killing or causing death (see LP: ráða 9), and ráða e-n can mean ‘plot someone’s death’ (Fritzner: ráða 7). The juxtaposition of ráða in this sense with nær ‘almost’ is matched in ÞjóðA Magnfl 15/8. (b) The alternative translation ‘attacked each other’ is suggested by the context and would be supported by idioms with that sense such as ráða(sk) á and ráða til e-s, or expressions where ráðask implies motion, such as ráðask þangat ‘make one’s way there’, ráðask frá ‘leave’.



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