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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 12. Guthormr sindri, Hákonardrápa, 7 [Vol. 1, 166]

[5-8]: A very difficult passage, which at least on the basis of present knowledge cannot be construed without emendation or the postulation of rare forms and/or usages. There are variant readings for Eireks and snekkjum, and the readings brœðr, síns, rak and flœðu have been extensively debated. (a) In this edn, bríkar bǫðsœkir (l. 5) is construed as a warrior-kenning (cf. Meissner 167, 172, 305) and flœðu (l. 6) as ‘fled’, 3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. from flœja (later flýja) ‘to flee’. The noun brœðr (l. 6) is construed, following Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1886, 193-5), as gen. sg., qualified by síns, thus ‘of his brother’. Although generally a late and quite rare form (ANG §420, Anm. 1) and questioned by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26), gen. sg. brœðr could have arisen analogically, e.g. from the dat. sg., where bróður and brœðr both occur (LP: bróðir). It could be used here as a poetic licence. The adverbial á haf ‘out to sea’ is most readily explained as an apo koinou, going with both helt ‘held, steered’ (l. 5) and rak ‘drove, chased’ (l. 6). (b) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) reads bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum sínum á haf, ok brœðr, allar kindir Eireks, flœðu undan ‘the attacker of the battle-board [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR] held his warships out to sea and the brothers, all the sons of Eiríkr, fled away’. Rak ‘drove’ is omitted, as in J, but its absence from this ms. is clearly the outcome of simple error (cf. Reichardt 1928, 174). Also entailed is emendation of síns to sínum, qualifying snekkjum, and the resulting l. 6, brœðr sínum ok flœðu, with ok ‘and’ in fourth position, is suspect on metrical grounds. (c) Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1886, 193-5) reads bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum á haf, ok rak flœða undan allar kindir Eireks, brœðr síns ‘the attacker of the battle-board [(lit. ‘battle-attacker of the board’) SHIELD > WARRIOR] held [his] warships out to sea and drove away all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother, put to flight’. As Björn himself notes, the morphology and syntax of flœða are unclear; it should agree with kindir ‘sons’ as f. acc. pl. (cf. Reichardt 1928, 175). (d) Kock (NN §251) proposes a variation on Finnur Jónsson’s second clause, emending brœðr to bróður, síns to hans, and ok rak to auk: allar kindir Eireks, bróður hans, auk flœðu ‘all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother, also fled.’ Kock himself saw this as purely provisional and subsequently (NN §1933) modified it to read rak flœði ‘thrust over the wave’. (e) Reichardt (1928, 173-6; cf. ÍF 26; Hkr 1991), partly following Sveinbjörn Egilsson (LP (1860): flæðr f. 2. sea’), reads flœða bríkar bǫðsœkir helt snekkjum á haf, ok rak undan allar kindir Eireks, brœðr síns ‘the seeker of the battle of the board of the sea [(lit. battle-seeker of the board of the sea’) SHIP > SEA-BATTLE > SEAFARING WARRIOR] held his warships out to sea and drove away all the sons of Eiríkr, his brother’. (f) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) accepts Reichardt’s solution, modifying flœða to flœðu, still with the sense ‘sea’, a step already suggested by Reichardt (1928, 176). This entails accepting flœðu as gen. sg. of an unattested noun *flœða, corresponding to flœð(r) ‘flooding’.

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