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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Leið 9VII/5 — greddar ‘nourishers’

Hætt kveðr heilagr dróttinn
hyrskerðǫndum verða
arms, þeims eigi þyrma
alfríðs sonar tíðum.
Því ro fluggreddar fœddir
fleins með ýmsum meinum;
bæði bǫrn ok móðir
báglundask fyr stundum.

Heilagr dróttinn kveðr verða hætt arms hyrskerðǫndum, þeims eigi þyrma tíðum alfríðs sonar; því ro fleins fluggreddar fœddir með ýmsum meinum; bæði bǫrn ok móðir báglundask fyr stundum.

The Holy Lord says it will become dangerous for the diminishers of the fire of the arm [(lit. ‘arm’s fire-diminishers’) GOLD > GENEROUS MEN], for those who do not respect the festivals of the altogether beautiful Son. Therefore nourishers of spear-flight [(lit. ‘flight-nourishers of the spear’) BATTLE > WARRIORS] are born with various defects; both children and their mother quarrel from time to time.


[5] ‑greddar: ‑raddar B, 624


[5-8]: Attwood 1996a, 191-2 understood this helmingr to refer to the nature of the torments which will befall those who do not respect the festivals of the Church, drawing parallels with much more graphic and detailed descriptions in other versions of the Sunday Letter. However, it would be equally possible to understand st. 9 as stating that life will become dangerous for those who do not keep Christian observances because mankind is imperfect and sinful and there are even disagreements between those one would expect to be most harmonious, viz. mothers and their children. — [5-8]: These ll. are difficult to construe, largely because of the uncertain status of the kenning in ll. 5-6. Readings that attempt to construct a man-kenning here involve considerable emendation. On the other hand, failure to emend results in what appears to be a battle-kenning flugraddar fleins ‘flight-voices of the arrow’, which does not make sense in context and does not agree with fœddir (m. nom. pl.) ‘born’. It is possible that –raddar (l. 5) is a corruption of some agent noun designating men or warriors. Here it is assumed to form the base-word of a kenning for warriors by emending -raddar to -greddar ‘feeders, nourishers’, following a suggestion of Kari Ellen Gade. In ll. 5-6 B reads ‘þui eru flugraddar fędder fleins med ymsum meinum’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (notes preserved in 444ˣ and 1844, 59) suggested normalisation of ‘fędder’ to fœddir, m. nom. pl. of the participial adj. formed from fœða ‘to give birth to, be born, be brought up’, taken with B’s pl. verb eru (l. 5). He is followed by Skj B and this edn. Sveinbjörn and Skj B also emend l. 8 to bág lundar ferr stundum, constructing a man-kenning lundar fleins flugraddar ‘groves of the arrow’s flight-voice’ [BATTLE > WARRIORS]. The helmingr is then construed því eru fleins flugraddar lundar fœddir með ymsum meinum; bæði bǫrn ok móðir ferr stundum bág ‘therefore the groves of the arrow’s flight-voice are born with various defects; both children and the mother sometimes suffer difficulty’. Kock (NN §1260 and Skald), followed by Attwood 1996a, emend B’s ‘fędder’ to fœðir ‘feeder’, which requires only minor additional emendation to the sg. es ‘is’ in l. 5. This produces a warrior-kenning, fœðir fluggraddar fleins ‘feeder of the flight-voice of the arrow’ and a statement that he, presumably representing mankind, has various pains. The sg. usage here is rather curious, however, if the poet is alluding to human imperfections in general. In NN §2557 (and Skald), Kock introduces a further emendation to flughríðar fœðir ‘feeder of the flight-storm’, claiming that raddar is a garbled form of ríðar, i.e. hríðar. Although flugrǫdd ‘flight-voice’ is not attested elsewhere, battle-kennings on the model ‘weapon + rǫdd’ are very common in the skaldic corpus (see LP: rǫdd), though it is worth noting that LP does not list another cpd using an abstract concept such as flug instead of the word for ‘weapon’.



case: nom.
number: pl.


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