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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut, 31 [Vol. 7, 261-2]

[3] af dauða lýðs læknis ‘from the death of mankind’s [lit. people’s] healer [= Christ]’: The letter form of <a> in af is unusual, like an alpha; Rydberg 1907, 16 reads of but emends to af (51). Christ is also called læknir ‘healer, physician’ in Geisl 57/8 and Mdr 14/1. This common appellation is based upon Christ’s reference to himself as medicus ‘physician’ in Matt. IX.12 (Mark II.17, Luke V.31). For liturgical occurrences see Manz 1941, 292, no. 588-91 (medicus bonus, m. caelistis, m. salutaris, m. verus); Augustine’s use of the metaphor is discussed by Arbesmann 1954, 1-28. It is, of course, a sacred paradox that the physician heals by means of his own death. (On the Cross as healer, see Note to 40/1.)


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