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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Pétrsdrápa, 23 [Vol. 7, 815-16]

[3-4]: Both Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald) take ms. fystr as p.p. of fýsa ‘to urge’ (cf. LP: fýsa: part. f. einarðar omtr. = einarðr). Finnur translates einarðar fýstr: opflammet af sin djærvhed ‘spurred by his boldness’, though ‘roused to boldness’ or ‘urged to frankness’ would fit the construction better (cf. Fritzner: fýsa: ‘tilskynde en til noget [e-n e-s]’). Finnur also silently omits the word orði in l. 3, and merely translates Svaraði Símón ... þannveg: Simon svarede således ‘Simon answered thus’. Taking einarðar ... orði as a tmetic form of einarðarorð ‘a sincere, truthful statement’ (see Fritzner) and ms. fystr as the scribe’s normal spelling of fyrstr ‘first’ provides a more satisfactory reading. The tmesis of einarðarorð introduces the emphatic use of dunhenda ‘echoing rhyme’ in the repetition of orð at the end of l. 3 and the beginning of l. 4 and, more importantly, highlights the fact that Peter is the first to acknowledge that Jesus is ‘the Christ’, the son of the living God. (Note the triumphal framing of the superlatives fystr and þarfligast in ll. 3 and 4.) The beginning of st. 23 has to be read in conjunction with the end of the preceding st. (22/7-8): ‘No one dared to give a response to the Lord except Peter’ (23/1-3) ‘Simon first answered ... with a statement of sincerity’. Patristic parallels for the passage are legion: cf., e.g., Hilary of Poitiers: hoc in Petro considerandum est, fide eum caeteros anteisse: nam ignorantibus caeteris, primus respondit: Tu es Filius Dei vivi ‘this ought to be observed in Peter – that he went before the others in faith: for while the rest knew not, he first answered: Thou art the Son of the living God’ (Hilarius Pictaviensis, Commentarius, col. 1002); Ambrose: licet caeteri apostoli sciant, Petrus tamen respondit prae caeteris: Tu es Christus ... ‘though the other apostles may know, Peter however answers before the others: Thou art Christ …’ (Ambrosius Mediolanensis, Expositio, col. 1693).

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