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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Hardr 17II/3 — Girkja ‘of the Greeks’

Bœnir hefk fyr beini
bragna falls við snjallan
Girkja vǫrð ok Garða;
gjǫf launak svá jǫfri.

Hefk bœnir fyr beini falls bragna við snjallan vǫrð Girkja ok Garða; svá launak jǫfri gjǫf.

I raise up prayers for the dealer of warriors’ deaths [WARRIOR] to the wise guardian of the Greeks and of Russia (Garðar) [= God]; thus I repay the prince for his gift.


[3] Girkja: so , W, A, Grikkja R, U


[3] vǫrð Girkja ok Garða ‘guardian of the Greeks and of Russia (Garðar)’: Garðar or Garðaríki is Novgorod (Hólmgarðr) and its territory in north-west Russia. The kenning thus refers appropriately to the areas where the young Haraldr distinguished himself (1035-45/46; see Bagge 1990). Johnsen (1969, 50) suggested that it might additionally allude to the fact that Haraldr was long at odds with the papacy, and followed an ecclesiastical policy which in some respects resembled that of Byzantium and Russia. The normalised spelling Girk- ‘Greeks’ is based on the evidence of skaldic rhymes, including the contemporary virk : Girkjum (Stúfr Stúfdr 2/4 and Note). The juxtaposition of Garða, normally a territorial name, with Girkja might suggest that the skald is here applying it to the inhabitants of Garðaríki (so Kuhn 1971, 15), a usage that might have arisen by analogy with pairs such as Svíaríki : Svíar (Sweden and its inhabitants) and Raumaríki : Raumar (Romerike and its inhabitants).




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