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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Pl 7VII/8 — vandan ‘careful chooser of his’

Ok annan dag unnar
elg-Þróttr í stað sótti,
fyrr þanns flærðar þverri
framlyndum goð sýndisk.
Sannhugguðr leit seggja
snildar framr á hamri
hauks í hjartar líki
hirðvandan gram standa.

Ok annan dag sótti unnar elg-Þróttr í stað, þanns goð sýndisk fyrr framlyndum þverri flærðar. Sannhugguðr hauks, framr snildar, leit hirðvandan gram seggja standa á hamri í líki hjartar.

And the next day the Þróttr <= Óðinn> of the elk of the wave [(lit. ‘the elk-Þróttr of the wave’) SHIP > SEAFARER] sought the place where God had shown himself previously to the brave diminisher of falsehood [HOLY MAN]. The true comforter of the hawk [WARRIOR], outstanding in courage, beheld the ruler of men, careful chooser of his retainers [= God], standing on a cliff in the shape of a hart.


[8] ‑vandan: ‑vandin 673b, bandin 673bÞH


[7-8]: Cf. the wording of the C text síndist honum hann þar kominn í hiartarmind þeirri ‘he [God] appeared to him to have come there in the form of the hart’ (Louis-Jensen 1998, cxxii). The alliterating á hamri ‘on a cliff’ (l. 6) reflects the demands of the poetic form and is based on the location of Plácitus’s vision on a mountain (mons) in the Lat. text (cf. the A version’s fjall). The symbolic significance of the hart was particularly appropriate to the legend of the Christian convert Plácitus and would have been well understood by the poet and audience of Pl. On the one hand, the hart panting for cooling streams mentioned in Ps. XLII.1 was understood to represent the soul saved through baptism, and, on the other, the hart who tramples a serpent was understood as a type of Christ overcoming Satan according to the Physiologus. If 673b was originally part of a compilation together with 673a, there would have been a thematic connection between Pl and the Physiologus text in 673a, which includes the hart among the animals whose allegorical meaning is expounded (Halldórr Hermansson 1938, 20).




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