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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Lilja, 15 [Vol. 7, 580-1]

[5] og bruggandi dauðans dreggjar ‘and brewing the dregs of death’: The image has many associations. Dregg, a relatively uncommon word in ON, can mean ‘yeast, lees, dregs’ or possibly ‘vinegar’ (see ONP: dregg). Here the pres. part. bruggandi ‘brewing’ makes it clear that the reference is to a drink. The image of the poculum mortis ‘cup of death, deadly cup’ is a commonplace of medieval Germanic (as well as Lat.) literature and occurs in a variety of contexts, pagan as well as Christian (see Hall 1993). A widely-circulated text in which the topos is used in a manner similar to here is the Easter hymn Rex aeterne domine: quem diabolus deceperat, / hostis humani generis, / per pomum ligni vetiti / mortis propinans poculum ‘[Adam,] whom the devil, the enemy of humankind, had deceived, giving him the cup of death to drink by means of the fruit of the forbidden tree’ (DH, 175; cf. AH 51, 6).

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