Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞSjár Þórdr 2I/6 — ótta ‘of the terror’

Varði varga myrðir
vítt — svá skal frið slíta —
(jǫfur vildu þann eldask)
ǫndurt folk (at lǫndum).
Starf hófsk upp, þás arfi
ótta vanr, á flótta,
golls, es gramr vas fallinn,
Gunnhildar kom sunnan.

Myrðir varga varði ǫndurt folk vítt; svá skal slíta frið; vildu þann jǫfur eldask at lǫndum. Starf hófsk upp, þás arfi Gunnhildar kom sunnan, vanr ótta golls, es gramr vas fallinn á flótta.

The killer of outlaws [JUST RULER = Hákon] defended the front of the army widely; thus one shall tear apart peace; they wanted that prince to grow old in the lands. The trouble began when the heir of Gunnhildr [= Haraldr gráfeldr] came from the south, bereft of the terror of gold [GENEROUS MAN = Gamli Eiríksson], because the ruler had fallen in flight.


[6, 7] vanr ótta golls ‘bereft of the terror of gold [GENEROUS MAN = Gamli Eiríksson]’: (a) The kenning ótti golls ‘terror of gold [GENEROUS MAN]’ is similar to ótti fengins golls ‘the terror of seized gold [GENEROUS MAN]’ in Arn Hryn 16/1, 3II (see also LP: ótti). (b) Bjarni Aðalbjarnason (ÍF 26) also adopts the variant vanr ‘bereft of’ but reads vanr ótta á flótta golls ‘bereft of fear of the flight of gold’ (so also ÍF 29). He takes this as a reference to the generosity of Haraldr gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’, although, as Bjarni points out (ÍF 26, 191 n.), Haraldr was not known for his munificence (see also Eyv Lv 8-9, 11). A further objection is that the construction ótta á flótta ‘fear of the flight’ is unattested (the prep. should be at and not á; see Fritzner: ótti 1). (c) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald) retain the unmetrical variant ‘valdi’ in place of vanr (l. 6). Skj B reads valdi (m. dat. sg.) ‘ruler’ and construes the unlikely kenning valdi ótta golls ‘the causer of the terror of gold [GENEROUS MAN]’ as a dat. object for the verb hefjask upp ‘begin’ (l. 5). Kock (NN §2519; Skald) takes valdi as valði/valdi, 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of velja ‘choose’, and suggests the following reading: ótti golls valdi á flótta ‘the terror of gold [GENEROUS MAN] chose to flee’, but the expression velja á flótta ‘choose to flee’ is attested nowhere. Furthermore, the disyllabic valdi makes l. 6 hypermetrical (elision is not possible in this position in a Type A-line), and the reading is not supported by the other ms. witnesses.




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