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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 51. Þórarinn loftunga, 2. Tøgdrápa, 3 [Vol. 1, 855]

[6] brimgaltar (m. gen. sg.) ‘of the surf-boar’: The position and meaning of this cpd within the helmingr is hard to construe, since the remaining words readily fall into place without it. (a) Innan is here taken as a prep., ‘on the inner side of’, with the gen. brimgaltar, so giving the sense that all the sea on the inner (landward) side of Knútr’s ship was filled with his fleet. Three further possibilities have been proposed. (b) Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 27 (followed by ÍF 29) takes Hádýr to be a p. n. (see Note to l. 3), and further proposes that brimgaltar (m. nom. sg. brimgǫltr) is here to be understood as an ofljóst designation for Hádýr: brimgǫltr is a ship-kenning, and hence equivalent to hádýr ‘rowlock-animal’, which is another ship-kenning but is also the p. n. Hádýr (Hådyret), already named in l. 3; thus innan brimgaltar means innan Hádýrs ‘within Hådyret’. However, such abstruse complexity would be uncharacteristic of the poem as a whole. (c) Finnur Jónsson’s solution in Skj B is to take innan sæ ‘in the sea’ as a prepositional phrase, and skíðum brimgaltar ‘skis of the surf-boar’ as a ship-kenning, and in Hkr 1893-1901, IV he points out the parallel between viðir hádýrs ‘the timbers of the rowlock-animal’ and skíð brimgaltar ‘the skis of the surf-boar’. However, as Kock observes (NN §788), the separation of the elements innan and is dubious, and skíð brimgaltar seems unsatisfactory as a kenning: skíð must be the base-word of a ship-kenning, but brimgǫltr ‘surf-boar’ is already a perfectly acceptable ship-kenning without it; see also Meissner 220. (d) Kock therefore emends to dat. pl. brimgǫltum, in apposition with sæskíðum (both kennings for ‘ships’), and with innan standing alone as an adv. ‘within’. However, a solution without recourse to emendation seems preferable.


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