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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 12. Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa, 5 [Vol. 1, 163]

[1, 2-3] setti … at því fljóði Ónars ‘placed … over that woman of Ónarr <giant> [= Jǫrð (jǫrð “land”)]’: For discussion of forms of the name Ónarr see Finnur Jónsson (1884, 84-5) and Note to Þul Dverga 3/6III. The noun fljóð means ‘woman given to a man’ (see Note to Þul Kvenna I 1/3III), but the few other earth-kennings involving Ónarr refer to earth as his daughter (Meissner 87; ÍF 26). It may be that the variation of base-word from ‘daughter’ to ‘wife’ reflects conflation with earth-kennings based on the idea of ‘Óðinn’s spouse/concubine’. The metaphor of the marriage of ruler to land occurs in other poetry of the late C10th and early C11th (e.g. Eyv Hál 12, Hfr Hákdr 3-6III, Edáð Banddr 3; cf. SnE 1998, I, 158). The language may be purely figurative and conventional (cf. Frank 2007, 177, 190), but it has been regarded as pointing to an ancient rite of hieros gamos ‘sacred marriage’ (Ström 1983; Steinsland 1986b; Steinsland 1991; Steinsland 1992), perhaps even to a revival of such a cult under Hákon góði or more especially under the jarls of Hlaðir (Lade; e.g. Åkerblom 1899a, 271-2). The exact region placed under Tryggvi’s protection is not specified in the stanza. The prose narrative may be correct in mentioning Vík (Viken, the area around Oslofjorden), but Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) suggests that the reference might be to the Danish lands subjugated by Hákon in his campaign. The mention of oak forests would fit best with the Danish islands or the Skåne coast (cf. Price 2000b, 32, map).

references

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