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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Einarr Skúlason (biog. vol. 2), Geisli, 46 [Vol. 7, 44-5]

[5-8]: The helmingr works at two levels. The primary meaning is that Óláfr’s miracles are signs given by God as proof of the saint’s holiness. Þesss lið læknar ‘the one who heals men’ (l. 5) and lofðungs ranns himintungla ‘of the prince of the house of heavenly bodies’ (ll. 6, 8) clearly refer to Christ. But they can also refer to Óláfr: although the miracles are ultimately God’s, a point which Einarr emphasizes, they are also Óláfr’s in the sense that he is their efficient cause. The variant reading vinar ‘of the friend’ (vinar lofðungs ranns tungla ‘of the friend of the prince of the house of heavenly bodies [= God > = Óláfr]’), adopted in Skj B and Skald, makes the reference to Óláfr the Saint explicit in the Bb text. The two helmingar of st. 46 juxtapose not only Óláfr and Christ, but also the Óláfr who gave rings and the Óláfr who heals. These eight ll. thus concisely express the theme of the drápa, as is fitting for the st. that begins its slœmr, or concluding section.


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