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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 1. Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, 1. Ynglingatal, 8 [Vol. 1, 21]

[5, 7] spakfrǫmuðr valteins ‘the wise wielder of the twig of the slain [SWORD > WARRIOR]’: (a) This is the interpretation offered by most eds (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B; Yng 1912; ÍF 26; Hkr 1991), and indeed valteinn is best regarded as ‘twig of the slain’, a variation on the common kenning pattern ‘twig or rod of wounds [SWORD]’ (Meissner 152). (b) Some commentators, in light of the report in Yng that Dagr learns of the death of his sparrow through a sonarblót ‘sacrifice of a boar’, see in valteinn a reference to a sacrificial twig used for divining or casting lots, cf. hlautteinn ‘sacrificial twig’ in Þvíðf Lv 1/4IV (see, e.g., Yt 1925; Turville-Petre 1978-9, 53; Sundqvist 2005a, 108). King Dagr would then potentially figure as a priest or seer. Yet such interpretations require val to have the sense ‘blood of the sacrificed’ (cf. valr m. ‘the slain’) or ‘casting of lots’ (cf. val n. ‘choice’), and neither these, nor the casting of lots with sacrificial blood, can be proven.

references

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