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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Lilja, 6 [Vol. 7, 568-9]

[3, 4] þrysvar þrennum … stiettar eingla ‘three times three orders of angels’: Medieval theologians reckoned nine orders of angels, a number they derived from nine names for angels mentioned in the Bible. Cf. the homily for All Saints in HomÍsl: þeir eſ gréinaſc inio svéiter. þat ero ę́rer. oc hofoþ ę́rer. craftar. veldes englar oc hofoþenglar. drótnar oc ſtólar cherubím þat es fylling speke. oc ſeraphím þat ero breɴeɴdr eþa logeɴdr ‘they are divided into nine choirs: angels and archangels, principalities, powers and virtues, dominations and thrones, cherubim (the fulfilment of wisdom) and seraphim, who are burning or flaming’ (HomÍsl 1993, 18v; cf. HómNo, 137 and Þorvaldur Bjarnarson 1878, 64-5). A popular tradition associated with Dionysius the Areopagite divided the orders or choirs into three groups of three, cf. the Lat. Eluc: M. – Propter Trinitatem: in novenario enim numero ternarius tertio fit repetitus ‘Master: On account of the Trinity: because in the nonary number the ternary is repeated three times’ (Le Fꜵvre 1954, 366). See also Note to 1/1, stietta.

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