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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Stanzas Addressed to Fellow Ecclesiastics, 1 [Vol. 7, 472-4]

[7] aminaui: An anomalous form, possibly a scribal corruption. Kålund and Gertz emended to anime (= animae) vim ‘power of the soul’ ( III, 64); cf. ON sáluafli. The resultant trisyllable anime is awkward metrically, but if it is accepted, the st. acquires a specific learned frame of reference in the medieval theology of the soul. In his treatise De quantitate animae ‘The Magnitude of the Soul’, S. Augustine lists seven degrees or levels of animae vis through which humans may progress, culminating in an ideal state of contemplation of the divine (Augustinus Hipponensis, De quantitate animae ch. 33, cols 1073-7). The latter stages are only accessible to those with adequate faith, the basis of true Christian religious practice, through which the sinful soul may achieve reconciliation with God (ch. 36, cols 1079-80). In the context of the Lat. st., it might thus follow that while God has granted the dedicatee the innate power of the soul shared by all humanity, it is appropriate for the poet to wish upon him the vital gift of spotless faith through which he may reach the higher levels of spiritual advancement. An alternative interpretation of the ms. reading might take aminaui as a medieval morphological variant of aminui, passive inf. of Lat. a(d)minuere (ad + minuere ‘to diminish, make smaller’), dependent upon prebuisti ‘you have granted’. A contextually appropriate interpretation of this form as a hypothetical deponent verb ‘to be humble’ would be unparalleled, but not impossible. This reading would maintain the trochaic rhythm of the st., and the line-initial position of the first rhyming element. The sense of ll. 7-8 would then be ‘just as you, Godhead, have granted to that man to be humble’ (a suggestion made by Gottskálk Þ. Jensson, by email, July 2005). The only other solution that would preserve the metrical pattern would be to emend the text more drastically, supplying, for instance, a dependent inf. such as eminere ‘to excel, be pre-eminent’, or a direct object, such as aminiclum, a syncopated variant of the n. noun adminiculum ‘aid, support’.

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