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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 12I/4 — bekk ‘of the bench’

Firrðisk vætr, sás varði
víð lǫnd, Breta stríðir
bleyði firrðr við bráðan
bekkdóm Heðins rekka.
Hann lét of sǫk sanna
(sverðjalmr óx þar) verða
— skilit frá ek — (fyr skylja)
skóð mǫrg roðin blóði.

Stríðir Breta, firrðr bleyði, sás varði víð lǫnd, firrðisk vætr við bráðan Heðins rekka bekkdóm. Hann lét mǫrg skóð verða roðin blóði of sanna sǫk; sverðjalmr óx þar fyr skylja; ek frá skilit.

The harmer of Britons [RULER = Óláfr], shunning cowardice, who defended broad lands, shunned nothing in the headlong judgement of the bench of the champions of Heðinn <legendary hero> [(lit. ‘bench-judgement of the champions of Heðinn’) = Hjaðningar > SHIELD > BATTLE]. He caused many harmers [weapons] to become reddened with blood in a true cause; sword-screech [BATTLE] grew there before the king; I was informed clearly.


[4] bekk‑: ‘brekk’ Flat


[3-4] bráðan Heðins rekka bekkdóm ‘the headlong judgement of the bench of the champions of Heðinn <legendary hero> [(lit. ‘bench-judgement of the champions of Heðinn’) = Hjaðningar > SHIELD > BATTLE]’: (a) Bekkr m. ‘bench’ is here taken as the base-word of a shield-kenning cf. brík ‘slab’, flet ‘platform’, setr ‘seat’ (Meissner 167, 169). Heðins rekka ‘the champions of Heðinn [= Hjaðningar]’ is then a minor elaboration of the pattern in which legendary heroes provide the determinant of shield-kennings. (b) Alternatively, bekkdómr ‘bench-judgement’ could be taken as a single kenning element, the base-word of a battle-kenning; so LP: bekkdómr, suggesting it is a final judgement, such as would be delivered by judges from their benches. But the cpd is otherwise unattested, and there is no evidence for the association of judges with bekkir. (c) Flat’s reading ‘brekk’ could yield brekdómr ‘deceit’, also unattested but cf. breksekð ‘deceptive sentence of outlawry’ (ONP: breksekð), and svikdómr ‘treachery’, Mark Eirdr 13/3II. Firðisk vætr bráðan brekdóm rekka Heðins ‘did not avoid the sudden deceit of the champions of Heðinn [WARRIORS]’ could then refer to Sigvaldi’s luring of Óláfr into battle, and would contrast with the sǫnn sǫk ‘true cause’ attributed to Óláfr in the second helmingr.




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