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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, 2. Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi, 14 [Vol. 2, 102-3]

[5-6] en uggum alllítt Svía, kǫllum ‘but we fear the Swedes very little, I [lit. we] declare’: (a) The sense of the first four words is clearly that the speaker has little (or rather, by typical litotes, no) fear of the Swedes, but kǫllum is problematic. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28), followed by Hkr 1991, 597, takes kǫllum as a separate asseveration, ‘as we declare’ (at því er vér köllum). Though attractively simple, the assumption of a verb kǫllum without a stated object is slightly problematic, and is adopted here with some reservation. As to the understood subject of kǫllum, the 1st pers. expressions in the first helmingr encourage the supposition that, as often, the pl. has sg. meaning here, hence ‘I declare’, and other plurals in the helmingr (oss ‘us’, uggum ‘we fear’ in l. 5, hǫfum ‘we have’ in l. 7) could refer to the skald either alone or with his companions. (b) The mss’ text could also be retained if kǫllum was taken as dat. pl. of kall n. ‘call, shout’, hence ‘I fear the shouting of the Swedes very little’, but ugga takes an acc. object, not a dat. one. (c) A more drastic solution is to emend uggum to ugga and kǫllum to kǫllumk, giving ‘I declare that I/we fear the Swedes very little (Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901 and Skj B, also Kock in Skald). This assumes a mistaken scribal ‘correction’ of inf. ugga to finite uggum, which would not be unlikely. (d) The H-Hr reading kǫrlum, dat. pl. of karl ‘man, (old) fellow’ is clearly secondary to kǫllum: a back-spelling that must have arisen at a time (after c. 1300) when [rl] had assimilated to [ll], and the stemma shows it to be secondary.


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