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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Hál 6I/4 — Hrísgrísnis ‘Hrísgrísnir’

Ok sá halr
at Hôars veðri
hǫsvan serk
Hrísgrísnis bar.

Ok sá halr bar hǫsvan serk Hrísgrísnis at veðri Hôars.

And that man wore the grey shirt of Hrísgrísnir <wolf> [WOLF-SKIN] in the storm of Hôarr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE].


[4] Hrísgrísnis: ‘hrísnis’ W, Hrungnis U, Hrímgrímnis A, Hergrímnis C


[3-4] hǫsvan serk Hrísgrísnis ‘the grey shirt of Hrísgrísnir <wolf> [WOLF-SKIN]’: This is one of the earliest references to berserkr practices. The two most familiar native terms are berserkr ‘bear/bare-shirted’ and ulfheðinn ‘wolf-skin’ (cf. Þhorn Harkv 8/5, 7 and Note); Eyvindr’s expression here, with its use of serk(r) and an allusion to a wolf, has elements of both. The correct form (-grísnir or ‑grisnir), etymology and meaning of the unique heiti Hrísgrísnir are unclear: for discussion see NN §2744; AEW: Hrísgrísnir. Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 319) suggests ‘one who gnashes his teeth in the bushes’. The phrase may be regarded as a kenning, albeit a unique one, on the basis of its structure and the figurative use of serkr ‘shirt’.




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