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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, 27 [Vol. 1, 58]

[6] stjóri reiðar ‘the steerer of the carriage [RULER]’: (a) This interpretation (also adopted in Bugge 1894, 138; Yng 1912, 70; Noreen 1912b, 135; Brøgger 1916, 39) preserves the normal meaning of reið f. (LP: 1. reið). The use of carriages is proven by the Oseberg ship burial, which is dated to approximately the same period and contained a richly ornamented carriage as well as a tapestry depicting figures riding on carriages (Graham-Campbell 1994, 42-3). That Rǫgnvaldr is associated with a carriage is perhaps indicative of his involvement in cultic or royal processions akin to the Swedish custom of Eriksgata (cf. ARG I, 473-4). The base-word stjóri is primarily used to refer to a ruler and appears with designations for people, entourage etc. (Meissner 328; for a few exceptions see LP: stjóri). Here, however, stjóri may have a meaning comparable to that of the verb stýra ‘to steer’, which can be used for ships and carriages but also for countries and people (cf. LP: stýra). (b) Others (Wadstein 1895a, 82; Storm 1899, 139; Brøgger 1925, 185; Hkr 1991) have interpreted reið as ‘ship’, citing a ship heiti in Þul Skipa 3/8III. However, reið ‘carriage’ is normally used not as a ship-heiti but as the base-word in ship-kennings, with determinants such as hlunna ‘of launching-rollers’ or the name of a sea-king (see LP: 1. reið 1). (c) Noreen (Yt 1925; cf. Lindquist 1929, 73) suggests that reið meant a troop of riders, but the word is not attested in this meaning, and mounted warriors were not common in the Viking Age.

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