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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Lilja, 17 [Vol. 7, 583-4]

[1] svá vátta ljósin ‘as the lights affirm’: ljós may be here be used metaphorically of the theologians and exegetes who analyse Eve’s reply. Cf. e.g. HomÍsl, which refers to the apostles as ‘lights’: Maclega kallaſc poſtolar lióſ. þuiat keɴingar. þeirra lýſto of allan heim ‘It is fitting that the apostles are called lights, because their teachings illumine the whole world’ (HomÍsl 1993, 7v). Finnur Jónsson (1772-8, II, 407) translates teste Scriptura; Kock suggests lumina ecclesiæ, dvs. kyrkofäderna eller andra stormän inom kyrkan ‘Lights of the church, i.e. the Fathers of the Church or other important men in the church’ (NN §1520). Cf. the Lat. Eluc: Primo igitur sacerdotes, si bene vixerint, exemplo sunt lux mundi; si recte docuerint, verbo sunt sal terrae. Reliqui vero ministri sunt fenestrae in domo Domini, per quos lumen scientiae splendet his qui sunt in tenebris ignorantiae ‘Priests, if they live well, are by example the light of the world; if they teach well, they are by word the salt of the earth. Other ministers are windows in the house of the Lord, through whom the light of knowledge shines on those who are in the shadows of ignorance’ (LeFꜵvre 1954, 427). Hill (1969) points out that according to commentators like Hugh of S. Victor, ‘Eve doubted God’s command even before the devil came to tempt her’. Hill suggests that in Lil, Eve’s casual disregard for God’s command is contrasted with Mary’s trust and obedience. Cf. Mary’s response to Gabriel: Heyrði og trúði, en undraz orðin ‘she heard and believed, though she was amazed at the words’ 29/1. Skj B adopts a reading of l. 1 found in no single ms., and construes Léttliga fann þar í reiki svaranna ljósa váttan léttleika ‘Easily he found there in the uncertainty of the answers clear evidence of freedom from care’.

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