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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 5. Haraldsdrápa, 16 [Vol. 2, 278-9]

[6] ættstýrǫndum ‘ruler of men’: Lit. ‘rulers of generations’ or ‘rulers among their kin’. This dat. pl. form is difficult to place in the syntax of the helmingr, but since it could make no sense with the first cl. it must belong with the second, dýrri, frægri hilmir hnígrat til moldar ‘(no) prince more precious, more renowned, will sink to the soil’. (a) It is taken here to be a grammatical pl. used for sg., cf. Arn Hryn 19/1 and Note. In the present context the pl. form affords no metrical advantage, so the motivation may be Arnórr’s desire to flatter. Ættstýrǫndum, interpreted thus, fits very well as a dat. of comparison referring to Haraldr in the sentence ‘no prince more precious, more renowned than that ruler of men’. (b) Ættstýrǫndum could alternatively be construed, as by Kock, as a loosely used dat. meaning ‘among rulers of men’ (NN §842). There is no trace of such a usage among Nygaard’s entries for the dat. case (NS §§100-20), but since the use of the dat. is more flexible in skaldic verse than in prose, this interpretation may be considered possible.


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