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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞHjalt Lv 2I/7 — henda ‘catch’

Illr varð ǫlna fjalla
auðkveðjǫndum beðjar
til Svíþjóðar síðan
sveimr víkinga heiman.
Þat eitt lifir þeira,
— þeir hǫfðu lið fleira —
— gótt vas her at henda
Hundings — es rann undan.

Sveimr víkinga heiman til Svíþjóðar varð síðan illr auðkveðjǫndum beðjar ǫlna fjalla. Þat eitt þeira lifir, es rann undan; þeir hǫfðu fleira lið; gótt vas at henda her Hundings.

The vikings’ surge from their home to Sweden turned out afterwards [to be] disastrous for the wealth-demanders of the bed of fish of the mountains [SNAKES > GOLD > MEN]. Only that part of them survives, that ran away; they had the more numerous force; it was good to catch Hundingr’s army.

readings

[7] henda: ‘hannda’ or ‘hennda’ Flat

notes

[7] henda ‘catch’: This fits well in context, providing an inf. to follow at, and producing a collocation which is paralleled in hendi hermenn ‘captured warriors’ in Arn Þorfdr 10/7-8II. It is marked as an emendation here since Flat’s reading consists of <h> with a horizontal bar through the ascender, which is the normal abbreviation for hann, followed by <anda>, so ‘hannda’, normalised handa, seems the likeliest expansion, though henda is written in 761bˣ, printed in Skj A and B and preferred in Flat 1860-8, which notes handa as an alternative. Meanwhile, neither henda nor handa provides skothending, so the line may be corrupt. — [7-8] gótt vas at henda her Hundings ‘it was good to catch Hundingr’s army’: Or, as Skj B has it, it was easy (let) to catch them. (a) Reading Hundings, these troops could be the vikings of l. 4 (so Kock, NN §380), though the identity of Hundingr is unknown, and it is even uncertain whether Hundingr is a pers. n. here or a heiti. A heiti is possible since Hundingr is a legendary king in the Nibelung legend and the word is among the heiti for sea-kings (Þul Sækonunga 3/3III). (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends hundings to hundmargs and her to hers, hence hundmargs hers ‘immense host’, cf. hundmargr herr in Hfr ErfÓl 5/1, 2. He further takes hundmargs hers, not with the rest of l. 7, but with the subject of the principal clause, hence þat eitt þeira hundmargs hers ‘only that part of their immense army’. As well as removing the shadowy Hundingr, this improves the semantic context for þat eitt ‘only that, only that part’ in l. 5, which might seem oddly dehumanised, but it is at the cost of two emendations, and a very contorted word order. For another context in which the readings hundmarg- and Hunding- are both possible, see Bjbp Jóms 22/4 and Note.

grammar

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