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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 11. Erfidrápa Óláfs helga, 28 [Vol. 1, 697]

[All]: Interpretation of this helmingr is complicated by the incompleteness of the stanza and lack of a prose context (which also raise doubts about its inclusion in the poem; see Introduction). Fidjestøl’s suggestion (1982, 121) that it refers to the baptism of Christ seems to assume that the fors in l. 3 (perhaps ‘watercourse’, but most likely ‘waterfall’) is equivalent to the River Jordan, but there is no evidence for this, and Christ’s baptism in the Jordan is attended by the spirit of God descending like a dove, not by angels (e.g. Mark III.6). It seems more likely that ll. 3-4 refer to the baptism of King Óláfr. He is called dróttinn hersa ‘lord of hersar’ in st. 13/6, above, and could be seen to be in the same relationship to Christ as his hersar (district chieftains) are to him. Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 202) cites with approval the suggestion in SnE 1848-87, III, 345-6 that the stanza is from ‘an otherwise unknown religious poem about some saint’.


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