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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 2. Haraldr hárfagri Hálfdanarson, 1. Snæfríðardrápa, 1 [Vol. 1, 68]

[1, 2] hneggi ótta ‘in the rock of fear [HEART]’: The base-word hneggi is dat. sg. from hnegg n., which in this context appears to have the sense ‘rock, small skerry’ which is attested for its evident cognate ModIcel. (h)naggur ‘small skerry, cliff’ (AEW: hnegg; Árni Böðvarsson 2002: naggur). Parallel would be the kennings for ‘heart’ with base-word steinn ‘stone’ or mýll ‘ball’ cited by Snorri (SnE 1998, I, 108; cf. Meissner 138). The determinant ótta (gen. sg.) ‘fear’ accords with Snorri’s statement (loc. cit.) that words denoting emotions such as harmr ‘grief’ and tregi ‘sorrow’ can be used in kennings for ‘heart’. Snorri does not cite ótti, but the word may be selected here to express the poet’s humility towards his addressee (cf. Ormr Woman 1/1-2III). In skaldic usage the word (h)negg is otherwise attested solely as a heiti for ‘heart’, as seen in Þul Hugar ok hjarta 1/1III, in the kennings hnegg foldar ‘heart of the earth [STONE]’ (HSt Frag 7/2III) and hneggverǫld ‘heart-world [BREAST]’ (Anon (SnE) 101/3III), and in SnE (1998, I, 108). It seems necessary to posit the sense ‘rock, small skerry’ for this stanza, however, in order to avoid the complex emendations that are required if the sense ‘heart’ is selected instead (see Note to ll. 1-4).


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